29 October, 2005

I Wonder Sometimes

Today, while at work, I was perusing the dead-tree version of the Rocky Mountain News when I came across this article. Apparently, there are 8 people (vile, vicious, and among the worst of the worst, in my opinion) that are probably going to walk free after a court reporter failed to properly transcribe their trials. Definately not good news for anyone who doesn't like child molesters and murderers running around their neighborhoods.

So I come home, flip on the computer, and run through my blogroll just like I always do. Lots of stuff about Fitzmas, the (I-can't-believe-this-is-still-an-)on-going Miers flap, random top-tens, and cats taking unscheduled trips to France. Just another day in the life of the blogosphere.

Except for this. Which really made me do some serious thinking.

Apparently there's a guy named Richard Paey in Florida who is parapalegic, suffers from multiple sclerosis, and (from reading between the lines) a victim of possible malpractice. He needs his morphine prescription filled, but it is in such a high dosage that most doctors and pharmacists won't touch it. So he goes back to his old doctor in New Jersey, who proceeds to authorize the script and later reverses said authorization. Which gets poor Richard in deep water with the local DA's office, ending up with him being charged with possession with intent to distribute narcotics.

There's a saying among some people in this country that goes along the lines of "No jury in the world will convict me if..." We pretty much all have heard it at some point in time, as did Mr. Paey who insisted on his right to a jury trial. And said jury not only convicted him, but sent him to a medium-security prison for twenty five years.

Now, compare this to a sampling of the pond-scum that is about to be released from Arapahoe County due to what amounts to a clerical error writ large:

Darkhanbayar Tumentsereg, 30, was convicted on Nov. 29, 2001, of four counts of sexual assault and received a prison sentence of 16 years to life.

Richard Carmichael, 38, was convicted on Oct. 15, 2001, of sexual assault on his 13-year-old niece. He received a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Clevia Firethunder, 31, was convicted on April 23, 2002, for stabbing and killing her live-in boyfriend in Aurora in 2001. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

James McNurlen, 49, was convicted of sexual assault against a child on March 18, 2002. He has been out on bond pending his appeal.

Notice anything odd about this? Sexual predators and murderers get less time on their prison sentences than a guy who was just trying to fill his prescription, all because the size of said prescription put him over a certain statutory mark for possessing a controlled narcotic.

Seems to me that our country seriously needs to re-examine our priorities and policies regarding drugs, legal or illegal. I don't like people that use illegal drugs. I happen to believe that they are weak, but they damn well shouldn't get more jail-time than either child molesters or stone-cold murderers. Period.

[Side note = As for me, I have only three addictions: caffiene, nicotine, and chocolate. The day I need a fourth crutch is the day one of those three goes the way of (not)Justice Miers, and that ain't going to happen anytime soon. In fact, the phrase "cold dead hands" comes to mind.]

25 October, 2005

Hammer Down?

By now, we all know way too much about the minutae of Tom DeLay's legal troubles. I know I do, and I'm getting tired of the excessive bloviating whenever the country's third most-powerful elected official takes a half-second-deeper-than-normal breath these days.

Yet this survey caught my eye. Literally. I sat there juggling the numbers in my head for at least 15 minutes before coming to a firm conclusion: DeLay is in serious trouble.

Even if his political carreer survives the trial itself (not necessarily a foregone conclusion) he has to survive an electorate that is increasingly tired of him. His pos/neg numbers, when divided by party affiliation, tell the tale. No incumbent, not even in a district that is so heavily aligned to their own party, can survive the alienation of 36% of his own party, not to mention well over half the independents out there. For this analysis, just forget the Democrat column. They were going to go 90% against DeLay anyways.

The only thing that could save the Hammer's career is that a) he makes it through the trial with either the charges being dropped or a not-guilty verdict and b) he then pulls together the top shelf of the GOP spin machine to run his campaign. Anything less and he goes from holding almost absolute power (which is actually kinda neat, according to one quote) to either jailbird or all washed up.

And I really don't care which. He's been a pimple on the assets of the GOP since 2001, and only the amount of power he had a death-grip on has kept him in the driver's seat. (And anyone that doesn't think that Blunt is purely DeLay's creature yet... Well, I've got a mountain in Florida to sell you. Cheap.)

[Turn signal: Sam Rosenfeld]

23 October, 2005

Thank God For Legal Manuevers

Now this is really obnoxious of them.
High school Superintendent Mark Masterson and faculty adviser Joe Magno are scrambling to keep WAVM, the school radio station, at the long-familiar 91.7 FM.
The new owner of the frequency is a network of Christian broadcasting stations the Federal Communications Commission has ruled is a better use of the public airwaves.
"People are furious," Magno said.
The network granted the frequency was identified as Living Proof Inc. An Internet search found a group by that name in Houston, Texas. Phone calls to Living Proof were not returned.
WAVM, which has been broadcasting from the high school for 35 years, found itself vulnerable when it applied to increase its transmitter signal from 10 watts to 250 watts.
According to Magno, that "opens the floodgates for any other station to challenge the station's license and take its frequency."
Using a point scale that considers such factors as audience size, the FCC ruled the Christian broadcasting network the better applicant for the frequency. WAVM is given 30 days to appeal, which has been done. If the FCC refuses to overturn its decision, WAVM will fall silent.
"The little guy does not stand much of a chance. Legally, we don't have a leg to stand on," Magno said.
Five years ago, WAVM finally applied for an increase, which led to this week's ruling.
Along with the application to upgrade, WAVM also planned to share its frequency with the University of Massachusetts Boston radio station, WUMB. UMass-Boston and Maynard arrived at the shared arrangement when WUMB also applied for the 91.7 frequency.
The two stations agreed that if Maynard was awarded the power increase, they would share the frequency when the time came.
Roos said the agreement is derailed because the FCC awarded 91.7 FM to Living Proof Inc.
"As far as I know at this point, they (WAVM and WUMB) are not actually sharing frequencies at the moment," Roos said.
They cannot share it until the proceedings are over and the FCC rewards joint ownership to the stations.
Although WAVM applied for the power increase five years ago, the group just heard about the outcome of the application process and were told the frequency was designated to another applicant.
"The FCC has a set of regulations on its books. In terms of this particular decision, they have simply followed their own rules, which they are bound to do," Roos said.

Not only does Living Proof Inc. not answer their phones, but they have what seems to be no web presence whatsoever, which makes life difficult indeed for the average amatuer researcher and blog writer. (Namely, myself.) If the MetroWest Daily Herald, with an open Lexis/Nexis account can't find much about them, I don't feel bad about when my little googling fails miserably to find something. However, I did find the posted decision by the Federal Communications Commission (pdf).

Basically, I hate this concept. Since when is a multi-station religious conglomerate more important than an established high school public affairs station, and one that already broadcasts religious services, in addition to providing valuable work experience to the students, some of whom have gone off to highly successful broadcast media careers? The service to the local area is vastly important. They do good work. And they get an education at the same time.
So, what should we do? Take this lying down?

Oh hell no. Blow up the Commission's e-mail addresses with a constant barrage of messages demanding that they change the ruling. Send your elected Congresscritters emails at the same time. And send the victims here as much support as you can. Let them know that we're behind them eight hundred and fifty percent. And if they still lose, then...

Game on.

[Turn signal: Fiat Lux]

18 October, 2005

A Newt-Less Democratic Party

I was cruising around the blogroll a few days ago when I came across the "thank you for..." post by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson over at WaMo. Fairly standard stuff, but when I came to their last bullet point, my brain started to go into that wierd overdrive mode. Some of you know what I'm talking about: time seems to slow, every movement of the air around you becomes crystal-clear, and your vision tunnels down to the point of interest. Emphasis mine.
The focus of our book is on where the GOP’s organizational and institutional advantages came from and how they are exploited to pursue extreme goals and protect incumbents. We don’t focus on what agenda Democrats should present. In fact, we largely agree with Jon Chait’s excellent piece this summer, “The Case Against New Ideas," that the importance of the specific ideas, or even their tone, tends to be exaggerated. We should make clear that we do think ideas matter (thanks, "cmdicely," for the call for clarification), particularly for governance, and indeed one of us has been arguing for making economic security a key Democratic theme for a while. Still, the crucial challenge for the Democrats over the next year is to work in as unified a fashion as possible. It was the creation of that unity, after all, that was Gingrich’s greatest contribution to the GOP’s success—in 1994 and since.
Now, what does this mean, exactly? Does it mean we need a Newt-like political creature of our own? If it does, we are all up that nameless creek after leaving our paddle at the dock, as there are no Democrats that would fit the mold that Gingrich created. Nor is it possible to use the GOP plan for our own political success.

First to the Newt-less point. Show me one House Democrat that is capable of real leadership. Any one will do. And I'll have to wait around for someone to come up with someone that will even hold a candle to the GOP leadership of the last decade.
  • Nancy Pelosi: Even today, I consider her the biggest appeasement that the Democratic Party has ever put up. Listen to her remarks on the Crooks and Liars clip of the "Shame! Shame! Shame!" affair. And after doing so, I challenge any of you to come up with a less-convincing orator for the party. Nancy is far from possessing the smooth tones of Gingrich, which is what made him such good copy for the media and, therefore, highly effective in the driver's seat of 1994.
  • Steny Hoyer: The little-known House Whip (which, admittedly was Gingrich's position before the '94 Revolution) has little known about him outside of his own district, with the most recent item of high google-rank being his "failed leadership" on the Bankruptcy Bill. That's not necessarily the highest profile person we can send up now, is it? That and he's considered to be well into the Moderate side (antithetical to the Newt-standard rabid partisan) and, from the above example as well as others, not trusted fully by the mainstream Democratic media voices. (More on this point to come.)
  • Robert Menendez: Again relatively unknown outside of the 13th New Jersey district. Aside from the occasional press release, he doesn't have much to go on for an opinion. I haven't heard his appearances on the weekly address, nor have I ever caught him on C-SPAN. Possible candidate, but doubtful. His voting record is far to the populist side, according to these guys, and while that is the direction the party should run (much to the dismay of my libertarian side), he would need a major appearance overhaul to appear as being the standard bearer for the New Democratic Party.
  • Many many others: Sorry, but no. Just as with Hoyer and Menendez, you need to be well known outside of your own district. Perhaps the younger of the Brothers Salazar will have the opportunity once he gets some seasoning in him.
As for the second point, there have been many attempts to "redefine" the Democratic party over the last few years. And nowhere have those been more prevalent than over that the Daily Kos. Of all the attempts I've read, the one by Black Maned Pensator happens to be the closest, even if he still uses the buzzword of "manifesto" for it. (Step 1 when writing a piece calling for a new path for the Democratic Party: Avoid all uses of the word manifesto. It is a negative buzzword that can and will be twisted around like a wet towel by the conservatives and Republicans. Trust me on this.) Scroll down to Section 3 of his (Ye gods, this is what I call a long one!) diary and you'll see his attempt. (Her attempt? Ah well, you can't tell these days, can you.) Now open THIS link in a new window.

See the difference yet?

The Republican version is short, concise, and to the point: consistant, brief sentences that said exactly what they wanted them to and little else. The only way the authors could've made the points shorter would be to leave out the punctuation.

I highly doubt that we can do that. And why is that?

Because we're Democrats. By nature, we hem and haw and debate our way into making our official publications 20 times larger than they really should be, even without the seriously verbose natures that some bloggers have. (Myself included. Or at least, I better be included.) We seem to have this institutional need, almost a pathological weakness, to open the tent as wide as possible. And this is a good thing, this drive towards diversity, but in doing so, each and every single one of those diverse groups will want their own list, if only the top 5 or so, tacked onto the big release. And that will make it highly unwieldy for the average voter, not to mention the average citizen that sees no reason to vote.

And for a second twist on the point, one of the main reasons the RCFA was so highly successful, and resonated so well, with the voters was not the simplistic nature of the document. Instead, it was the effectiveness of the public relations campaign that pushed it over the top. Print media, broadcast media, internet media; the "unofficial" wing of the GOP was in full shriek well before the Contract came out. This gave them plenty of practice in the art of public relations in all its glory before time came for the big push, and they used their experience expertly.

Where is the Democratic version of the noise machine? Almost non-existant.

Sure, we've got the blog-writing powerhouses of Josh Marshall, Duncan Black, Markos Zuniga (Sorry, Kos. Don't know how to make Blogger do the emphasis mark over the "u" up there.). And we have the loyalties of countless, quality newspaper editorialists and reporters out there. But we're still missing something. And I know how to describe it in just two words...

Rush Limbaugh.

Where's our version of him? Franken? Hell no. Riley? Nein. Malloy? Nyet. ANYone on Air America? Non, negative, and no chance in hell. Oh, they're good (at least some of them) and they're learning. But they need to go up against the major leagues here, and they just aren't up to facing down a Limbaugh.

So for all those hoping to see the Democratic Manifesto For America turn around and bite the Republicans in the tuckus next November, think again. We've got a long way to go, just in the prep work alone, before we can touch them with a whamm-o like that.

17 October, 2005

And They're Off

For those who want to know the starting lineups for the race to replace Beauprez in the Fighting 7th of Colorado, check out my inaugural post over there on OurCongress.org. In the interests of being fair and balanced (snark!), I will not be giving out any personal preferences over there.

That's what this place is for!

16 October, 2005

Holy Toledo!

Yikes! Just sat back down to the computer, and see what I missed. Riots in Toledo. And all due to our good friends (read: hurry up and DIE already, you anachronistic morons!) of the KKK.

Admittedly, there was justifications given on both sides of the issue. The city couldn't stop them from marching, thanks to the Skokie, IL case. The cops couldn't protect them when things got nasty. And the Klukkers couldn't get out of Dodge fast enough when things went south on them (Pity, that. I need new bedsheets. And a good flamethrower should take that atrocious symbol right off.)

Unfortunately, the city council will still get a good chunk of the blame from the local citizenry, at least if this quote is any indication.
Keith White, a black resident, criticized city officials for allowing the march:
"They let them come here and expect this not to happen?" said White, 29.

And I have to stand by the city on this one. They could not keep the Klan from marching, regardless of how utterly wrong and pathetic their cause is. Why? That little thing called the Constitution. Specifically, the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It protects us all, from me to you to the scared Klukker who just pissed their bedsheets just like Mommy always told him not to.

Just as the ACLU had to come to Limbaugh's defense when he got hit with an illegal warrant, I'm coming to the defense of a city that had no choice but to let the foolish folks with pointy hats walk, carrying their stolen ideological symbol high, down the streets least likely to view them with tired amusement and most likely to view them through the sights of an automatic weapon.

Don't blame the city. Blame the Klan. They chose to walk that street, so let them reap the whirlwind of their decisions.

[turn signal: Wash Park Prophet]

UPDATE: Okay, I made an error. The march was done by a group of American Nazis rather than the KKK. Same perjoratives apply.

15 October, 2005

By The Beans of Java

One of my favorite signature lines (e-mail, AIM, or message boards) ever refers to coffee.

It is by coffee alone I set my mind in motion,
It is by the beans of java that thoughts acquire speed,
The hands acquire trembling, the trembling becomes a warning.
It is by coffee alone I set my mind in motion.

And with that in mind, here is the newest find of mine. Fortunately, it's been around for a while, so there's plenty in here.

The Mile High Buzz: Denver Coffee House Blog!

Le sigh. Talk about finding something to do on your days off, no? I don't know how long it'll take me to hit all those spots, but damn if I won't try.

[Turn signals: Wash Park Prophet via Colorado Luis]

13 October, 2005

The West Shall Rise?

An old idea is being bounced around again: namely, the concept of a Western Primary day, bringing the 8 intermontaine states together as a single bloc. Only this time, I think it's got some muscle behind it.

This interests me. Just the concept behind it would be enough to make anyone that is interested in politics sit up and take notice. (Well, make that anyone that isn't part and parcel of the organized parties, that is.) So I've done some digging over the last couple of days.

The idea started in 1998 with this concept paper from the Western Governor's Association:
The West has had the least amount of impact historically on the presidential primary process because many of the states have smaller numbers of delegates at stake and that several of them have primary or caucus dates late in the process. As a result, Western issues are rarely mentioned by candidates, and candidates spend little time campaigning in the region. The presidential primary process has been essentially an east to west phenomenon starting with Iowa and New Hampshire, followed by the New England states, and then Super Tuesday in the South. By the time the race reaches the West, voters are merely endorsing the candidates that have already locked up their parties' nominations.

To remedy that situation eight western states created a Western Presidential Primary Task Force to discuss creating a regional presidential primary. Participating states, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, met on November 16-17, 1998 to discuss whether and when the interior western states should hold a coordinated regional primary. As a result of the meeting and subsequent discussions, the Task Force has agreed to recommend to their legislatures that each state move its presidential primary or caucus to March 10, 2000. By national party rules, the legislatures have until July 1, 1999 to change their state's primary or caucus date for the 2000 presidential election.
Well, that was all well and good for back then. So what's happened in the meantime? From a Utah Daily Herald editorial:
If Utah Gov. Huntsman and his New Mexico counterpart, Gov. Bill Richardson, have their way, Western states will have a greater say in the 2008 presidential election by holding primary elections on the same day.

Huntsman, a Republican, and Richardson, a Democrat, are seeking to revive the idea of a Western states primary for the presidential election.

So far, Utah and New Mexico are the only states seriously on board, while Montana, Colorado and Arizona have expressed interest. We hope they sign on, along with Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.
And the "Unofficial Voice of the Utah Senate Majority" gets this:
Huntsman was accompanied in his trip to New Mexico by Republican and Democratic legislative leaders from Utah as well as the chairmen of the state's Democratic and GOP parties.

He and Richardson expressed confidence that at least three states -- New Mexico, Arizona and Utah -- will hold their presidential contests in early February 2008.

"That to my mind is critical mass," Huntsman said. "That's enough to do it outright. But if we can add to that another two or three, that would be icing on the cake."
From Michael Stratton, the recently appointed member of the Presidential Nomination and Scheduling Commission:
"A regional primary would change the system so that western issues and values would be front and center," Stratton added. "It would give voters in Western states more say in the process and a louder voice in our democracy . It would also give more focus and attention to the growing Hispanic populations--which are very important to Democrats--in western states such as Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada."
The idea's also gotten tacit approval from the Commission on Presidential Reform.

Because the races for the presidential nominations in recent elections have generally concluded byMarch, most Americans have no say in the selection of presidential nominees, and intense media and public scrutiny of candidates is limited to about 10 weeks. Moreover, candidates must launch their presidential bids many months before the official campaign begins, so that they can raise the $25 to $50 million needed to compete.

The presidential primary schedule therefore is in need of a comprehensive overhaul. A new system should aim to expand participation in the process of choosing the party nominees for president and to give voters the chance to closely evaluate the presidential candidates over a three- to four-month period. Improvements in the process of selecting presidential nominees might also aim to provide opportunities for late entrants to the presidential race and to shift some emphasis from Iowa and New Hampshire to states that more fully reflect the diversity of America.

Now, those guys aren't just intellectuals and high-brows. The CFER has James Baker III and Jimmy Carter as co-chairs, so it's not simply a partisan analysis. Nor is it strictly a West Region concept, this need to overhaul the primary system, as seen on this chart by the National Conference of State Legislators. A good chunk of states have overhauled their primary and caucus systems as a trial run for the 2004 elections. This not only saved the states money, but also increased voter turnout by a few percentage points as well.

And with that, the CFER went a bit further than most, reccomending that the various Secretaries of State "create four regional primaries, after the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, held at one-month intervals from March to June.The regions would rotate their position on the calendar every four years."

Now, some of you are going to say "Wait a moment! Why do Iowa and Hew Hampshire get to keep their slots and the rest of us get to rotate?" Well, my stubborn friend, the Commission understands that Iowa and New Hampshire are fully ingrained into the political mythos of the country. Anyone and everyone interested in a run for the White House sends both themselves and their operatives to those two states in order to test the waters over 18 months before the two states even cast a ballot.

Now, this concept isn't universally supported. Not by a long shot. This editorial by the Standard-Examiner (again, those wacky Utahns) rakes Governor Huntsman over the coals for even thinking about picking up the torch that Mike Levitt started carrying. And a commenter over at Charging RINO thinks that "ALL states need to hold their primaries at the same time, to give all states a say on who they want as a candidate." And this is just a small sample of the polite ones. You don't want to even read the impolite ones. Trust me on this.

So what do I think with all this blather going on? This is probably one of the best ideas to come down the pike in a very long time, and is highly overdue. Time after time, the nominees are decided long before some states even hold their primaries, and with a rotating schedule, no one region will be left out of getting first crack at the candidates.

Of course, there are significant logistical hurdles to overcome, not to mention the resistance from those states that will damn-all want to be first. But it will be worth it, if only for the fact that every 16 years, every voter in the country will have first crack at thinning out the herd. The concept is inherently fair for the country and should be adopted.

Probably won't have a chance of happening before 2008 rolls around, though. I'm too much of a realist to think that all these intense negotiations will be completed before July of 2007 (the congressional deadline for changing the primary/caucus day). However, we can get a good running start for 2012.

Ladies and gentlemen, game on.

[turn signal: Colorado Luis]

09 October, 2005


You know, I've been living in this area for over 4 years. And by that time, you'd expect me to get used to this kind of thing.






Yup. Snow. And it's barely October.

Le sigh. Time to pull back out the heavy comforters and winter coats. It's going to be one of those winters.


06 October, 2005

Me Like Hockey!

Well, it's been a year now since hockey disappeared from our collective sports radars. But it's back, and into full swing.

And I know of only one thing that says what I want to say:

Me work hard five days a week
Sweeping garbage from the street
Come home not want book to read
Not 'nuff pictures for me see
Sit right down in favourite chair
Wearing only underwear
Favourite night is Saturday night
'Cause me can watch hockey fights
Me like hockey! Me like hockey!

Me no like pro basketball
'Cause me short and they all tall
Baseball slow like Forrest Gump
'Cept when Robbie spits on ump
Wrestlemania not so great
Me like to see Hulk Hogan skate
TV soccer not that hot
You play bad then you get shot
Me like hockey! Me like hockey!

Swedish players must be geeks
'Cause they still got own real teeth
Not like Finnish players names
What's a Teemu anyway?
Russians worst in history
Got stupid names like Valerie
Me like Sergei Federov
Me like him more if head were off
Ha ha ha!
Me like hockey! Me like hockey!
Me like hockey! We like hockey!

Please mister linesman let the players fight
Please mister linesman let the players fight
Please mister linesman let the players fight
Please mister linesman let the players fight
Let them fight, let them fight, let them fight
Let them fight, let them fight, let them fight
Let them fight, let them fight!

Friends come over put game on
Argue then we lay bets down
Got bag of chips and case of Bud
Should last 'til end of first period
But yankees they win the world cup
Me think they cheat use glowy puck
Maybe if we want to win her
Maybe we should play in winter
Me like hockey! Me like hockey!
Me like hockey! Me like hockey!

Welcome back, guys. Have a good season. And as for me, I've got to stock up on beer again.

04 October, 2005

And Now Is The Time To Fight

You know, things have been pretty calm over here, notwithstanding my continuing conniptions over the whole Intelligent Design/Creationism issue. But thanks to Kevin Drum, I just had my blood pressure raised by about 30 points. But not about anything he said. Instead, it's what he linked to.

On May 21, Albert G. Mauti Jr. and his cousin Joseph hosted a fundraiser for Assemblyman Joseph Cryan at the Westmount Country Club in Passaic County. The two developers and family members picked up the $10,400 dinner tab, donated another $8,000 and raised more than $70,000 that night for the powerful Union County Democrat, according to state election records.

Three days later, the governing body in Cryan's hometown of Union Township -- all Democrats -- introduced an ordinance paving the way for the Mautis to build 90 or so townhouses on six acres of abandoned industrial land along the Conrail line in town.

There is just one problem: Union Township doesn't own the land.

It is owned by Carol Segal, a 65-year-old retired electrical engineer. Over the past 10 years, the Union Township resident says, he has spent about $1.5 million to acquire the property, and he, too, wants to build townhouses there.

Segal said he met with Cryan, who is head of the township's Democratic Party, and other local officials "scores of times" over the past five years to discuss the project. He claims the talks turned adversarial after he rejected proposals to work with various developers they proposed.

On May 24, the five-member township committee voted unanimously to authorize the municipality to seize Segal's land through eminent domain and name its own developer.

"They want to steal my land," Segal said. "What right do they have when I intend to do the exact same thing they want to do with my property?"

And later on in the article...

After the May vote, Segal sued the township, and on Sept. 7 a Superior Court judge in Union County issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the township from hiring its own developer. Six days later, the township committee unanimously voted to start negotiating -- but not sign a contract -- with the Mautis' company, AMJM Development.

Segal, meanwhile, signed a contract last week to sell his property to Centex Homes for about $13 million, contingent upon local approval. Centex, a nationally known developer with projects in Middlesex, Morris and Monmouth counties, would then build 100 townhouses on Segal's property, with a potential for profits of $15 million to $20 million, Segal said. Township Mayor Joseph Florio and Deputy Mayor Peter Capodice, both members of the township committee, said they were unaware of Segal's involvement with Centex when they voted Sept. 13 to negotiate with the Mautis.

But a proposal Centex submitted to the township committee on Sept. 1 said the company "has been in negotiations with (Segal) for quite some time." When the item came up at the Sept. 13 meeting, the committee did not allow Segal's attorney to speak before the vote was taken.

Florio and Capodice said they preferred AMJM because it is a local company.

"I've never heard of Centex," Capodice said. "They're not Union County people."
The first draft of the development proposal for Segal's property, submitted in January, called for officials "to work with any property owner within the redevelopment area." That language was removed from the final plan introduced May 24, which authorizes the township to choose its own developer.

So a bunch of Democrats in New Jersey want to seize a landowner's property in order to build a bunch of condos. Which is exactly what the owner wants to do in the first place. Then the city (or township, I suppose it's officially called) wants to turn it over to a local developer. And this developer happens to be a major contributor to the county's Democratic party. Then the local Demos change the language of their proposals to benefit the folks that line their war chests, refuse to allow the owner's attorney to speak before the council voted, and defy a restraining order. All of which to put one over on one of their own citizens.

Got all that?

And that just infuriates me. The whole lot of it. Every single one of these unmitigated bastards should be strung out to dry by every Democrat in the country. The national party should shun them and not a single cent should flow into their coffers.

And that's even if they don't seize the land. If they do, then every single one of us should go down there with a nail-studded baseball bat in one hand and a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in the other. Then tie the bastages down in the middle of Main Street and read both the Declaration and Constitution aloud, punctuating the monologue with whacks of the bats at every single full stop and semi-colon in the documents.

And then sue them for every cent they are, and will ever be, worth, ban them permanently from holding any political position more important than dogcatcher and PTA member, and declare them persona non grata for the rest of their unnatural lives. And after their political lives are destroyed, take the case all the way to the Supreme Court and get that piece of judicial dung known as the Kelo decision overturned before anything else like this happens.

[sound of deep, soothing breaths]

Okay. Maybe we ought to leave the baseball bats out of it. But as for the rest of it...

Game on.

UPDATE (06 OCT 05): One of my favorite bloggers, if not my absolute favorite, on the other side of the line, John Cole, decided to do Kevin one better. He's assembled a good-sized list of other eminent domain projects throughout the country. Unfortunately, it's not all of them, as most of these end up going unreported. Still, for those interested more in the practice of eminent domain, here is a brief for you.

02 October, 2005

On Bennett's Big Foot

Well, for those that haven't been paying much attention to the news over the last few days, everyone's favorite target is Bill Bennett, also known as the former Secretary of Education. And he said something that got just about everyone ticked. Including the White House.
Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," said Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues."

He went on to call that "an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky."

Responding later to criticism, Bennett said his comments had been mischaracterized and that his point was that the idea of supporting abortion to reduce crime was "morally reprehensible."

Okay, maybe not everyone is bothered by what Bennett said. But there's not anything about it on Little Green Footballs. Or Hugh Hewitt. So I can't say for certain that someone isn't bothered by it.

But a little time on Goggle brought me to this blog called Cut On The Bias. And what Susanna had to say was, to put it lightly, illuminating.
From reading the article on the controversy, I think I get his point: The caller was saying that abortion had removed people paying into Social Security so that's why it's in trouble. Bennett was saying, yes, but an economic calculus is not the reason to decide for or against abortion, because the segment of society more likely to get abortions is the same segment of society that is disproportionately arrested and incarcerated for crime. So if you use an economic calculus as your standard, you would be for abortion as a means to reduce crime. The cost-benefit analysis from an economic standpoint is actually in favor of abortion if you consider only the effects on crime and social programs - because the segment of society that uses social programs the most heavily is also the segment of society most likely to get abortions. However, such a cost-benefit analysis is truly morally reprehensible, because people are not spreadsheets and the value of their lives should not be assessed based on whether they will give more to society economically than they take away.
Actually, I think that was just Bennett's point: Cost-benefit analysis using just economic considerations is wrong. His example was... stupid. I don't think the FCC should kick him off the air, but I do think someone should put him on time delay just for his own benefit.
Now, I know what some of you are saying. "That's just someone spinning!" Actually, no. That's someone putting logical thought and analysis into what Bennett was saying. By now, you should know that I leave the shrillness to certain members of the Society of the Shrill.

Namely the Kossacks (especially Armando), Atrios, and (ugh) Amanda. But to Amanda's credit (can't believe I'm writing this), she hasn't even commented on this one.

So what's my verdict? It's simple. Open mouth disease struck the good Doctor and established a magnetic resonance with his foot. Said foot travelled directly to his mouth, where it is stuck for the next two news cycles. After that, few people will remember this ever happened.

Those that hate Bennett will continue to do so. Those that love him will continue to do so. And those that couldn't care less about him will go back to caring less.

And now, time for me to go back to caring less about Bennett.