War Protesters Are Acquitted of all Major Charges...

The Justice Department's attempt to make a federal case out of an antiwar protest collapsed Monday, when a jury in US District Court in Binghamton, New York, acquitted four war resisters of felony conspiracy charges related to an act of civil disobedience that took place on March 17, 2003.

A big victory indeed.


More Kozlowski and Swartz

In the post below, I forgot to include a link to Ellen Podgor's argument about shame and white collar crime. In which she actually asserts that men like Kozlowski and Swartz should get short sentences because (and I kid you not) "the SHAME in the community is by far the harshest punishment felt by the white collar offender. That shame is felt irrespective of whether the sentence is 10 years or 25 years."

Arguments like this really do make me wonder if some law professors have practiced much law or dealt with real clients with any regularity. I doubt professor Podgor has, (prosecuting people doesn't count) but on the off chance I'm wrong about that, I'd wager quite a bit that the clients were white and rich. No one who actually has real experience with a broad class of criminal defendants would allege such a thing. Then again, her argument is based on rap lyrics (again I kid you not). It seems to me (as I note below) that this entire line of argument is really just a proxy for race and class.

You can find her post here.

Hard Time and Deterrence of White Collar Crime

Now that Ex-Tyco CEO Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz have each been sentenced to 8-1/3 to 25 years for stealing from Tyco,
Professor Bainbridge has opened up a discussion on his blog about about my piece in the Nation.


Alfred Taubman?

The comments are quite interesting, and they sadden me just a bit. What becomes clear to me reading over them is just how profoundly intertwined are the notions of criminality, race and class. The commenters write as if poor criminals don't experience shame, or loss or fear. What only rich white guys care about what their golfing buddies think? It's absurd, and, by the way, untrue. That my clients might feel an acute sense of shame being dragged away from their families and friends in handcuffs was never an issue I ever heard a judge or prosecutor even contemplate. And second, the suggestion that shame is a deterrent for this class of criminal is bollocks. Look at Alfred Taubman or Martha Stewart. Both came out of prison to nice dinner parties hosted by their old pals. Both picked up where they left off and went along their merry ways. None were shunned, and to read the gossip pages, neither even lost a friend over the little supposedly shameful matter of their criminality. The shame argument is both unsupportable and grotesque.



Here's a lovely little thing from the blonde blogosphere.

It seems that Legally Blonde went for an interview with the prosecutors office.

Sadly she didn't read Blonde Justice's tips for interviewing at prosecutor's offices before she showed up. If she had she'd have known that Blonde warns her that they "might ask her ethical questions and that the correct answer would always seem to be the exact opposite of what your Professional Resposibility teacher would choose. In fact, the correct answer is just "Whatever puts the most bad guys in jail for the longest time."

But did she listen? Ah no...

So here, without further ado, Legally Blonde's account of her interview and then Blonde Justice's suggested answers to the questions...

"Tuesday was my interview with the prosecutor's office. It was horrible. All he did was throw 3 hypos at me which were completely ridiculous. Just so you can see what I was dealing with:

Neighbors hearing fighting and call police, police and neighbors see husband strike wife, arrest husband, wife will not testify against him, what do you tell her? Do you press charges still? I first stressed how I would inform her of all the options and safehavens there are for battered women (which he did not seem to care about). He just kept pressing the issue of whether I'd charge the spouse. I finally said I could not make a decision like that without a prior history of the husband's in front of me. With a victim unwilling to testify I didn't know if it was the roll of the state to interfere with a family matter. Not to mention that regardless of whether she testifies or not if he is sent to jail she'll probably face violence from that-so how is that really helping the victim. Plus the family is loosing wages while the husband is in jail. While my instinct is to lock up all spousal abusers I'm just not sure proceeding with that case and wasting valuable time is worth it.

1. The answer is "Jail." And jail for the wife for obstructing justice or perjury or something. And threaten to take away her kids if she doesn't like it. Also, are they here legally? Because, as a prosecutor, you also have a duty to make sure the immigration laws are being followed... Oh, don't worry, by now she's starting to see things my way, and she'll be happy to testify.

2. 85 year old man is mugged, starts carrying a concealed weapon out of fear and is unlikely to be a repeat offender, do you charge him? If you choose not to charge him what do you do when the arresting officer gets upset with you for not doing what he considers to be your job? I said I would not charge him with the CCW Violation provided I was certain he wouldn't be a repeat offender because it seemed like a waste of valuable time. And as for the officers-it's not really a shocker that police and lawyer's don't get along and this is one of the reasons. While I wouldn't want to intentionally get an offiver mad at me I also am not going to be told how to do my job by one. (I think he liked this answer).

2. The answer is "Jail." Being old doesn't excuse you from the law. Being scared doesn't excuse you from the law. Jail, jail, jail. And some more jail.

And if any officer is ever mad at me, I'd stop by the station house with a box of donuts, and that'll solve that.

3. 80 year old lady has china stolen out of her car, print on the glass matches man who lives 3 blocks down, search his house, find the plates, his attorney want to waive the preliminary examination and just go to trial-do you? I explained that I hadn't had criminal procedure and while saving time was obviously a benefit of waiving it I wasn't fully aware of what happens at the preliminary exam (they don't show that on "Law and Order") and couldn't really make an educated decision. (Prosecutor then presses the issue and forces me to make an uninformed choice). I decide to wave it. (He then skips ahead 6 months to trail and decides the 80 year old lady died-he then informs me I don't have a case since I don't have her testimony from the exam). UMM THANKS JACKASS-DIDN'T I JUST TELL YOU I DIDN'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT IT TO MAKE A CHOICE! WAY TO ASK ME A TRICK QUESTION AND THEN WHEN I TELL YOU I DON'T THINK I CAN ANSWER IT COERCE ME INTO ANSWERING WRONG SO YOU CAN FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOURSELF.

3. What do you mean "jail" isn't an acceptable answer? Ok, then it should've been, "I don't know, whatever gets the guy in jail sooner?"

Or, how about, "I'd exhume the body, and make her talk. And threaten her with jail if she refused to comply."

And then tell him, "Oh, and by the way, no officer is really dusting a car for prints, so get real, JERK!"

Why it is nearly impossible to be a good Prosecutor

Not only is there institutional pressure to convict, there is, it seems real pressure to stay away from politically sensitive targets like...say...

Jack Abramoff.

This from the NYT:

The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.

They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.

Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges.


War Protesters on Trial...

It’s pathetic that I’ve failed thus far to blog about the War Protesters on trial in New York.

After a state jury deadlocked 9-3 in favor of acquittal, the feds took over the case and have prosecuted quite vigorously. The four defendants - who also include Peter J. De Mott, 58, and Daniel J. Burns, 45 - are facing federal charges that include damaging government property and conspiracy to impede an officer, stemming from their protest at a military recruiting office on March 17, 2003. They are looking at up to 6 years in prison.

On Wednesday, Miroslav Lovric, the assistant United States attorney, finished his case after three police officers and a military recruiter testified. The recruiter, Staff Sgt. Rachon Montgomery, described two protests. During the first, in December 2002, he said, activists, including those on trial, entered his office in the Ithaca suburb of Lansing, lay down as if dead and refused to leave. On March 17, 2003, the four members on trial returned to the office, poured a few ounces of blood on the wall and again refused to leave. Other protesters stayed outside and prayed.

Sergeant Montgomery testified that he was inconvenienced by the disruption and was upset when he discovered he had gotten their blood on his hands. But he also said he found the group to be friendly.

The judge, apparently didn’t. He's held 3 of the defendants in contempt.

A small step

MONTPELIER — Vermont inmates, like those in many other states, often find upon release that they are no longer enrolled in federal housing, health care, veterans' and other benefits.

Offenders sometimes leave prison with only a few dollars in their pockets, and may have to wait weeks or months to be re-enrolled in federal programs. That makes it more difficult for former inmates to rejoin society and increases the chance they will commit another crime, officials and advocates said Thursday.

A vast majority, up to 85 percent by some estimates, of roughly 2,000 people in Vermont's prisons suffer from mental illness, substance addiction or both, according to the state.

For inmates who have a psychiatric disorder, the daunting task of applying for federal benefits becomes even more difficult, according to Eileen Elliott, a lawyer and former deputy secretary of human services who has been hired as a consultant by Vermont Association for Mental Health. That is why it is important to ensure that those inmates get help in completing the paperwork, she said.

Job Listing...

A pro-marijuana group based in Washington, D.C., is looking for activists in seven states to build grass-roots support for legalized marijuana, with the eventual goal being to get the drug legalized for all adults.

Potential Applicant

The nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project is targeting New Hampshire, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana and Oregon.

The effort is in its infancy, and project officials emphasize they have no master plan for the seven states.

Instead, the group is looking for local activists whose efforts would be funded by the project's grant program. The eventual goal is to put marijuana in the same category as alcohol, with the same kind of taxes and regulation.

Now I have to think that given how absurd the war on drugs is, and how many committed public defenders read this blog, that the organizers should have no problem filling these positions. Click above to get the link...


Death Row inmate skips his clemency hearing...

The inmate, Matheney, 54, was set to testify Monday morning in the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. When he didn't show, his attorneys left the room to speak to him privately. About 15 minutes later, they returned to announce he would not appear.

Alan Matheney

Matheney attorney Carol Heise, explained her client is delusional and psychotic, urged the board still to consider clemency.
"It's a matter of life and death, and you're the chairman of the board," she told Rizzo. "There's a mentally ill prisoner here."
Rizzo replied: "We can't conduct a hearing without that prisoner. That's that."

The decedent's father, Eugene Bianco, who attended the hearing, explained that Matheney's refusal to testify was an attempt to manipulate the system. "He's not mentally ill," said Bianco who has no formal psychiatric training but does visit his daughter's grave every week. "It's just the way he is."


Why Write?

I got this e-mail a few days ago.

It concerns a guy in California I'd written an OpEd about.

Hi David,

Last February you wrote a piece, "A prison without hope is a dangerous place" regarding California's unfortunate supreme court decisions surrounding "lifers"

Just wanted to follow up with you and let you know that today, John Dannenberg received a parole date. Of course, we will find out what that means over the course of the next five months, but it is a welcome start. As his daughter's husband, I was allowed in as a 'support person', and was pretty amazed at what I saw. John, with a 20 year record of no discipline action, was BARELY given a date. It does not look good for the other lifers in prison, who do not have as clean a record.

I look forward to reading Indefensible...


Now let's be clear: I don't think John Dannenberg got a parole date because I wrote some OpEd in the LA Times. But I do think that the sustained attention that this issue has received recently has helped. And the fact that his family saw fit to let me know means a lot to me. It suggests that writing can have a genuine impact on the world--something I've really missed since leaving direct service work.


Bush seeks to blame environmentalists for N.O. Disaster

Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."

Cynthia Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said Thursday she couldn't comment "because it's an internal e-mail."

Whoever is behind the e-mail may have spotted the Sept. 8 issue of National Review Online that chastised the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for suing to halt the corps' 1996 plan to raise and fortify 303 miles of Mississippi River levees in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

The corps settled the litigation in 1997, agreeing to hold off on some work until an environmental impact could be completed. The National Review article concluded: "Whether this delay directly affected the levees that broke in New Orleans is difficult to ascertain."

The problem with that conclusion?

The levees that broke causing New Orleans to flood weren't Mississippi River levees. They were levees that protected the city from Lake Pontchartrain levees on the other side of the city.

These folks are sick. There's no other way to describe it

Oops...Lawyer Smuggled Pills To Inmate

Anon Lawyer wrote to ask me what I thought of this story and whether I knew the lawyer involved. Yes I do.

Some things to know about Dawn:
--She was a prosecutor in the Bronx who was actually looking to be a judge.
--She also resigned or was fired from the DA's office after providing a false alibi for a defendant in a burglary case.
--She was actually a pretty zealous defense lawyer--not that a little decent advocacy excuses years of putting people in prison, mind you.


How my life feels...

So, what do you think? Should I move to LA?


Treatment that looks (gasp) just like prison:

Detox beds are so scarce in Massachusetts that women are being treated for heroin addiction at a prison hospital at Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Framingham.

They are addicts and alcoholics who have been involuntarily committed for detox treatment after a civil court determination that they pose a danger to themselves or others because of their disease. Fifteen civilly committed women are being detoxed at the prison, including an 18-year-old, said Department of Correction spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.

MCI-Framingham, Massachusetts, 1993

And it's not just the women. The state has drastically slashed the number of rehabilitation beds for addicts in Boston from 310 to 190. Statewide, the number of beds has dropped from 950 to 500. Men who cannot get a detox bed are committed to MCI-Bridgewater, officials said, but there are more beds available for men than women.

73 year old church lady imprisoned for 'looting' food

A perfect parable of New Orleans Justice:

Merlene Maten, a 73-year-old church deaconess, never before in trouble with the law, spent two weeks in jail after a judge (I'm STILL LOOKING FOR HIS NAME) set her bail at $50,000.

Her offense? Police say the grandmother from New Orleans took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli the day after Katrina struck

Maten was moved from a parish jail to a state prison an hour away. Her daughter had evacuated to Texas. And the original judge who set $50,000 bail by phone -- 100 times the maximum $500 fine under state law for minor thefts -- hadn't returned a week's worth of calls. She's been IN for two weeks.


Just Thinking...

Every once and again, the strange divide between the halves of my life comes into sharp focus. Yesterday was one of them. I'm in Lexington Kentucky covering the Yearling auction at the Keeneland racetrack--something Bob Baffert described to me yesterday as "The superbowl of horse auctions." And make no mistake about it--I'm having fun, learning a lot, enjoying the company and getting more than enough to turn in a really fun piece. But there are moments of the utterly surreal. In one action packed auction minute yesterday, I watched (from about 5 or 6 feet away) as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the richest men in the world bid 9.7 million dollars for an unproven race horse. Applause erupted, the Sheikh gave a little fist pump, hugged his wife and went along his way.

9.7 million--that's just about as much as Ernie asked the state legislature for just 24 hours earlier in his attempt to keep the state public defender system going strong. One flick of the Sheikh's finger, dozens of lawyers for poor people all across Kentucky.

Weed Wackers

Those of you who read regularly know just how wrongheaded I think the "war" on drugs is. Today, a little newsflash from Alternet on one particularly pernicious front in that war--the battle over cannabis:

"In a November 2002 letter to the nation's prosecutors, the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) didn't bother beating around the proverbial bush. "No drug matches the threat posed by marijuana," began the letter from Scott Burns, deputy director for state and local affairs.

The truth of the matter, as reiterated throughout that letter in terse language, was that marijuana was an addictive and dangerous drug linked to violent behavior on the part of users. To make matters worse, a subtle but powerful threat was identified as exacerbating the problem: well-financed and deceptive campaigns to normalize and ultimately legalize the use of marijuana.

Prosecutors were instructed to keep in mind the crucial importance of their role in fighting this threat of normalization in going after traffickers and dealers, and to tell the truth about marijuana to their communities: "The truth is that marijuana legalization would be a nightmare in America."

And did the dutiful little prosecutors head the call? Oh you bet. Here are some of the results:

--There are roughly 30,000 prisoners doing time for marijuana-related charges.

--the U.S. drug control budget grew from $65 million in 1969 to nearly $19.2 billion in 2003, and we are now spending nearly 300 times more on drug control than just 35 years ago.

--marijuana-related arrests added up to nearly half of 1.5 million drug-related arrests annually and marijuana arrests actually increased by 113 percent between 1990 and 2002, while overall arrests in the nation decreased by 3 percent.

--Of the marijuana arrests in 2002, nearly 9 in 10 were for possession, not dealing or trafficking.

--In fact, traffickers and dealers were actually getting shorter prison terms than those sentenced on possession charges: People sentenced for trafficking received a median of 9 months in prison, while those sentenced for possession received a median of 16 months in prison.

--The annual cost of marijuana criminalization? $5.1 billion in 2000.

--Replacing the current criminalization model with one of taxation and regulation (not unlike that used for alcohol), he projected, would produce combined savings and tax revenues of $10-14 billion per year.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


Go Ernie

I'm actually in Lexington now--doing a piece about as far from my usual legal beat as possible--horses. I'm doing a magazine piece about the yearling auction at Keeneland and having a blast.

Of course my life wouldn't be mine if there weren't concurrent news from the world of indigent defense, from, you guessed it right here in Kentucky.

As it turns out, Kentucky's chief public defender said today that his agency will seek a $10 million budget increase in the next few years aimed at helping lawyers manage growing caseloads.

"We are a very cost-efficient system but we've got too many cases," Public Advocate Ernie Lewis said.

The Department of Public Advocacy spends $34.5 million annually to represent more than 134,000 people whom judges find unable to afford their own lawyers.

About $10 million more is ultimately needed to bring the caseload down from an average of 489 cases per lawyer to 400 cases, Lewis said. The extra funding will also improve the attorney/staff ratio and add social workers and alternative sentencing workers, Lewis said.

It's always hard to ask for more money and explain why it's necessary, and Ernie deserves kudos for being willing to do it, and for putting clients first. That being said, some of the stats in Kentucky are a bit scary: Public defenders currently average only about 3.8 hours per case, Lewis said. Most of the cases - about 64 percent - are misdemeanors involving jail time. Twenty-three percent involve felony charges, with juvenile cases accounting for 13 percent of the workload.


Getting the Stories Out..

Reporters would have greater access to prison inmates under a bill passed Thursday by the CA Legislature.

Limits on interviews with inmates have been in place since 1996. Why? Because prison cases and inmate stories tend to suffer under the same constraints as stories about bodies coming home from Iraq. Officials don't want the public to hear about them so they impose restrictions to make it virtually impossible to report.

SB239, sponsored by Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, would override the restrictions placed by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. A companion bill, AB698 by Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Murrieta, was sent to the governor earlier this week.

The bills allow reporters to bring pens, pencils, notepads, television cameras and radio equipment into prisons. Inmates must consent to the interviews and cannot receive payment. Crime Victims United of California won a provision that victims and victims' family members be notified in advance when a media interview has been scheduled with a criminal convicted in their case.


Prosecutor's misconduct during murder trial results in 7 years on death row

The N.C. State Bar has charged a former district attorney and his assistant with prosecutorial misconduct in a 1996 murder case that ended in a death sentence.

Disgraceful Prosecutor Kenneth Honeycutt

The defendant, Jonathan Hoffman, remains in Central Prison awaiting a court-ordered retrial after spending seven years on death row.

The bar filed the charges of prosecutorial misconduct last week against Kenneth Honeycutt, the former district attorney of Union County, and his assistant, Scott Brewer. The bar charged that Honeycutt and Brewer committed 23 violations of the rules that govern lawyers.

Honeycutt and Brewer lied to the trial judge, the jury and the defense attorneys, and knowingly used false evidence at the trial, the bar charged. If they are found guilty in a hearing before the bar, punishment could range from a written reprimand to the loss of their law licenses.

So what happens to these liars? What happens to lying prosecutors who violate ethical standards resulting in people on death row?

Honeycutt is a former president of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys who retired as district attorney in October after an unsuccessful run for the state House of Representatives. Brewer is a District Court judge based in Rockingham.


A must read.

They knew. Everyone knew. FEMA knew. This from the Houston Chronicle in 2001. I admit, it scared me.

Daily Kos: Bush's use for firemen: props

This is shocking:

A thousand firefighters from around the country volunteered to serve in the Katrina devastation areas. But when they arrived in Atlanta to be shipped out to various disaster zones in the region, they found out that they were going to be used as FEMA community relations specialists. And they were to spend a day in Atltanta getting training on community relations, sexual harassment awareness, et al. This of course while life and death situations were still the order of the day along a whole stretch of the Gulf Coast.

As specific orders began arriving to the firefighters in Atlanta, a team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.

Bush is so thoroughly a PR vessel that he can't even tour a disaster zone without his human backdrop. Everything is political. Everything.


If I had a million dollars...

A scary statistic: If, instead of buying a pack of cigarettes a day, a 16-year old would invest the same amount of money and earn 7 percent a year, he/she would see his/her investment fund grow as shown below:

End of age 16 $775
End of age 23 $7,939
End of age 30 $25,883
End of age 37 $66,188
End of age 44 $156,688
End of age 51 $360,265
End of age 58 $819,908
End of age 65 $1,860,958

1.8 million dollars per pack a day smoker.

Minnesota Pays the Piper...

After spending nearly two decades of getting tougher on crime, Minnesota lawmakers will be asked next year to pay a steep price for their policy changes.

The state departments of Corrections and Human Services are seeking about $140 million to expand prisons and build state hospital lockups for sex offenders. That would fund the largest construction program for those agencies in more than 10 years.

Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, says more convicted sex offenders are being committed to state hospitals because of fallout from "the Rodriguez case." She was referring to Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a registered sex offender charged with kidnapping and murdering Dru Sjodin in late 2003, after he was released from prison.

"That's the most expensive mistake state government has made in some time," said Berglin, chairwoman of the budget committee that oversees state hospitals.

Since then, state corrections officials, county attorneys and judges have been sending more sex offenders to hospitals after they are released from prison. Before that policy change, state hospitals were admitting about 18 sex offenders a year. Now, they are taking in about 60 new sex offenders each year, and that number might grow, said Wes Kooistra, assistant state human services commissioner.

The Human Services Department projects the hospitals' sex-offender population will increase from the current 306 patients to 500 by 2011. The hospitals need more secure facilities to house those patients.


Cops Quit in NO.

The Times reports that one Baton Rouge police officer said he had a friend on the New Orleans force who told him he threw his badge out a car window in disgust just after fleeing the city into neighboring Jefferson Parish as the hurricane approached.

The officer said he had also heard of an incident in which two men in a New Orleans police cruiser were stopped in Baton Rouge on suspicion of driving a stolen squad car. The men were, in fact, New Orleans officers who had ditched their uniforms and were trying to reach a town in north Louisiana, the officer said.

'They were doing everything to get out of New Orleans,' he said. 'They didn't have the resources to do the job, or a plan, so they left.'"

Rehnquist Dies. We're toast.

Chief Justice Rehnquist is dead.

Goodbye liberty.


Michael Moore's Open Letter

It might be a bit silly to quote him, but it is a good read:

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there.


Michael Moore


FBI Abandons Controversial Bullet-Matching Technique

Yep. They've bitten the bullet at last. The FBI said Thursday that it had discontinued the use of bullet-lead matching,. a forensic technique used for at least 25 years that had been heavily criticized as inaccurate and misleading.

"It's a victory for good sense and good science over the kind of nonsense the FBI was representing in court," said William C. Thompson, a professor of law and criminology at UC Irvine.

So now that they've discontinued the use of some junk science, what, you might reasonably ask will they do about it?

Ah... Nothing.

The FBI said it would alert about 300 courts and prosecutors that since 1996 had received bullet-lead laboratory reports indicating positive results.

"These agencies may take whatever steps they deem appropriate, if any, given the facts of their particular case," said an FBI statement released Thursday.

Oh yeah--that's a strong call to review some potentially bad convictions which were based on polluted scientific testimony.

"It's All Bush's Fault" Says Liberals

Actually, yes. If our tragic experience with the New Orleans hurricane tells us anything, it is just how bankrupt and idiotic republican policies are. Guns good, government bad is nice as a slogan, but doesn't really work when the chips are down, and the casinos are sinking.

Why are people starving at the Superdome? Where are our choppers and MRE's and National Guard? This is shameful, and it's the sort of thing it would be well to remember next time Bush wants to eliminate the estate tax. The billions in revenue from the 20,000 richest families pays for things like saving, and feeding and clothing those left homeless and hungry and naked by Katrina.