Warren Court: Debunking Elizabeth Warren's "Social Contract"

There's a video going around of Harvard Professor/TARP supervisor/MA Senate candidate giving the progressive's rationale for raising taxes. It's all about the social contract: 

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody," she said at a campaign event. "You built a factory out there—good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. . . . You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea—God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay it forward for the next kid who comes along."

What words don't capture is Warren's hectoring humorless tone, especially the sneering sarcastic way she says "good for you." It might be the 21st century, but we still have aristocrats looking down on grubby merchants and money changers. 

Still, this line of argument is evergreen on the left, and just the sort of thing that stokes the sort of resentment that leads to full ballot boxes in November, so Republicans, especially Scott Brown, will need to counter it. Russ Roberts offers the best I've seen 

There's much truth in Ms. Warren's statement. But if government stuck to what it does fairly well—roads, police, fire and the courts; enforcing contracts that help businesses interact with their customers and other businesses—the federal government wouldn't need to spend over $3.5 trillion a year, as it now does. And of course it's state and local governments—and not Washington—that primarily fund police, fire and education, so it's a bit strange to ask the rich to pay their fair share of federal income taxes because they enjoy police protection.
Much government spending supports activities that are ineffective or even harmful to the economy, often helping the politically powerful at the expense of the rest of us. Wouldn't it be great for the federal government to stop federal export subsidies, propping up financial institutions, meddling in the education system, and trying to engineer the entire health system from the top down?

Warren loves to talk about roads, police, and teachers because she knows that even conservative voters will accept that government must pay for these. But they are just cover for everything else that the left wants "us" to pay for. If what you care about is basic government services, well, there's plenty of tax revenue coming in to pay for that. What we can't afford are bloated school budgets, unsustainable entitlements, and Obamacare, not to mention the interest on the stimulus that was supposed to fund shovel ready projects, but never did. 

Anyway, Warren doesn't really care about cops and roads. I'm sure she supports the sort of  green legislation and union contracting rules that make it so expensive to even begin contemplating building "roads." And, I'll bet she has no problem with the sort of procedural shackles that the left always wants to load on to the police. (wanna bet she was on Henry Gates's side on the night when the Cambridge police "acted stupidly?") 

Still, Warren's video has proved very popular with the resentful left. It's hard to imagine she could win a Senate race, given her sourpuss style, but Massachusetts is probably the one place where that might work. 

Union Dues: Did a Replacement Worker Kill A Patient During A Nurse's Strike?

The California Nurse's Association called a one-day strike last week, including at three East Bay hospitals.. The hospitals had to bring in replacement workers. Now a patient has died, apparently because one of the replacements put the wrong tube in the wrong incision: 

The cancer patient who died because of a medical error at Oakland's Alta Bates Summit Medical Center was killed by a nutritional supplement that a replacement nurse mistakenly put into a catheter meant for delivering medicine to her bloodstream, The Chronicle has learned.

The supplement was supposed to be put into a tube that ran into 66-year-old Judith Ming's stomach, said one source close to the investigation. Ming, who suffered from ovarian cancer and had been hospitalized since early July, died early Saturday, soon after the replacement nurse made the mistake.

The nurse, a 23-year-old woman from New Orleans, was in a state of shock after realizing what had happened, said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because patient privacy laws prevent public discussion of many of the case's details.
The woman was one of about 500 replacement nurses brought in by Sutter Health to staff its Oakland hospital and two Berkeley campuses when the California Nurses Association called a one-day strike for Thursday. Sutter kept its replacements for five days, locking out its regular nurses until today.
The union employees were among 23,000 nurses in Northern and Central California who walked off the job to protest possible cuts to benefits and services.

The spin from the CNA - last seen connecting Gloria Allred with Meg Whitman's illegal alien maid - is that management "killed" the patient by setting into motion the events leading to the strike, thus leading to the hiring of incompetent replacements, thus leading to a needless death of an innocent patient while self-less, experienced nurses were on the outside looking in. 

Nursa, please!

What did the CNA think would happen when they called a strike? The patients certainly weren't going to leave the hospitals. It was inevitable that replacement nurses would be brought in. Apparently, the company providing the replacements required a minimum of five days service (which ought to give you an idea of what a hassle this strike was for patients and management). Everyone involved says this was a tragic mistake, but that hasn't stopped the CNA from waving the bloody hospital gown of of the late patient. (As if "regular" nurses don't make mistakes). Uhh, maybe the real problem was that the actual nurses decided it was much more important to walk around the hospital waving mass-produced signs, rather than caring for patients, which they always profess to be so concerned for - that's the message of the pro-strike radio ads I keep hearing, anyway. 

There was a tragedy here, no doubt about it. It's too bad the tragedy is little more than a talking point for whiny union members. 

Google Guy: Asking Obama To Raise His Taxes

Obama's Bay Area fundraisers always generate some headlines as Obama must speak a lot more left-wing than the rest of the country wants to hear. Former Google marketing executive Doug Edwards's request that Obama "raise his taxes" is the latest:

Tax increases on the wealthy, one of the most controversial issues currently facing the country, just got an outspoken defender: Google's 59th employee, Doug Edwards. On Monday, in a town hall meeting in Mountain View, Calif., President Obama called on a seemingly-anonymous member of the audience to ask a question. What happened next was surprising. 
"Thank you, Mr. President," the man began. "I don't have a job, but that's because I've been lucky enough to live in Silicon Valley for a while and work for a small startup down the street here, that did quite well. So, I'm unemployed by choice. My question is: Would you please raise my taxes?"
Big Laffs from the assembled Silicon Valley-ites. The obvious riposte is, what's holding you back from sending a check to the government?

More important, Edwards makes the Elizabeth Warren pitch - I was able to use certain resources (he mentions Pell Grants, "infrastructure," and "job training")  so we should raise revenue to keep those resources available for future generations. I'm sure Edwards received some Pell Grants in college, but the rest of his list is just silly. I know talking about "infrastructure" makes liberals feel butch and concerned about the future, but it's a crock. For one thing, we were supposed to be doing a whole heap of "infrastructure" spending in the stimulus, and it didn't happen. Does Edwards honestly think this time will be different? And does he not realize that the government takes in trillions of dollars in taxes every year? There's plenty of money for infrastructure, but it's crowded out by unsustainable Great Society programs that pay $$ to a dependency class, rather than pay for the sort of common goods that liberals profess to be so concerned about.

Edwards says he's "unemployed by choice," meaning he is a multi-millionaire living off of dividends and capital gains. Of course, he's paying the 15% capital gains rate, not the 36% income tax rate, but he doesn't acknowledge the difference in his question. He is simply asking that Obama "raise my taxes," by which he means raise taxes on everyone else, in order to keep paying for "infrastructure" and "job training" but what we're really paying for is the unsustainable entitlements that are bankrupting us. 


The Big Sleep: REM Breaks Up

REM's announcement last week that they were retiring/breaking up brought forth a lot of snarky "they were still around"/"shoulda broken up years ago" type commentary. Which is fine, maybe even true. Looking back, their days of vital music making ended when Bill Berry left the band, and they'd already begun to fall off even then. Still, this is a band with a real legacy that is well worth looking at.

1.) Murmur: REM began their career with what was basically a folk-rock album that got all sorts of "four stars in Rolling Stone" reviews. Mostly a quiet, hushed atmosphere prevails. Even the rock tracks like "Shaking Through" have a feathery feel.

The Hit: "Radio Free Europe"

Deep Tracks: "Catapult" "Shaking Through"

2.) Reckoning: a rousing rock record with the "jangly" sound we all think of when we think of early REM. This has some of Peter Buck's best riffs. I've probably listened to this more than any other REM album.

The Hits: "So. Central Rain" "Don't Go Back To Rockville"

Deep Tracks: "Seven Chinese Brothers" "Harborcoat" "Pretty Persuasion"

3.) Fables Of The Reconstruction: the last of their jangly college rock records. Begins with the brilliantly odd "Feeling Gravity's Pull" followed by folk-rock songs that are more folk than rock. "Driver 8" was the hit, and provided the basic chord changes for a ton of REM songs.

The Hits: "Driver 8" "Can't Get There From Here"

Deep Tracks: "Feeling Gravity's Pull" "Green Grow The Rushes"

4.) Life's Rich Pageant: a real rock record (recorded by John Cougar's producer) with distorted guitars, rousing anthems, and gorgeous ballads. One of REM's great ones, even the dopey songs about the environment are good. This is the album that really launched them into the mainstream.

The Hits: "Fall On Me" "Superman"

Deep Tracks: "I Believe" "Swan Swan H"

5.) Document: Kind of mediocre, but the hits were definitive REM songs, so everything worked out OK. Had to love how they recorded a Wire song, thus ensuring that the members of one REM's foundation bands could enjoy a comfortable retirement. Side 2 showed that REM was as capable of making forgettable filler as any LA glam metal band.

The Hits: "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" "The One I Love"

Deep Tracks: "Finest Work Song" "Strange"

6.) Green: another "big" rock record. Buck's guitar sound on this album is almost perfect. A lot of old REM fans threw their hands up in disgust when they heard "Stand," and became even more disgusted when it became one of those hit songs you literally couldn't escape from. Some of the songs on here were in heavy rotation on the world's alternative radio stations for years.

The Hits: "Stand" "Orange Crush" "Pop Song 89"

Deep Tracks: "World Leader Pretend"

7.) Out Of Time: A great album hearkening back to the folky Murmur and Fables, only this time REM was a world-famous, wealthy band with limitless time and resources. They use their opportunity well, as this is one of those rare records that is both timeless and very much of its moment. Most days I think "Losing My Religion" is the definitive REM song.

The Hits: "Shiny Happy People" "Losing My Religion"

Deep Tracks: the whole album is one deep track after another, but special mention should go to the impassioned "Half A World Away" and the two songs that Mills sings ("Texarkana" and "Near Wild Heaven")

8.) Automatic For The People: REM recorded a lot of great albums, but this it probably their best, which is remarkable when you realize they'd been making music for over a decade at this point. A grateful nation agreed, making this a mega-seller on par with Back In Black and Joshua Tree. Quite an achievement for what is an atmospheric, moody album dominated by piano and acoustic guitars with string arrangements by John Paul Freakin' Jones.

The Hits: "Drive" "Everybody Hurts" "Man On The Moon"

Deep Tracks: again, every track is a deep track, so I will simply point you to "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight," which is usually one of my favorite songs ever.

9.) Monster: the fall off begins. This isn't a bad album. It's a return to their rocking side and certainly better than, say, Document. But, the guitars were monochromatic, the art work uninspired, and the filler was just filler. I've had trouble developing a "personal" relationship with this album.

The Hits: "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?" "Crush With Eyeliner" "Bang and Blame" "Star 69"

Deep Tracks: I don't know, "King Of Comedy?"

10.) New Adventures In Hi-Fi: ugh. whenever a band announces they are releasing an album made up of tracks they either wrote and recorded during soundchecks, or left off their not-very-good previous album, you know you're not going to be getting Abbey Road. Still, it's shocking how literally unlistenable this is. REM had always excelled at making murky, atmospheric music, but this time the murk was just murk. Incredibly, this got rave reviews, but the People knew better. So, did Bill Berry. He quit the band soon after. You can mark this as the end of REM's creative road, but that didn't mean they didn't stop making music.

The Hits: "E-bow The Letter" "Bittersweet Me"

Deep Tracks: gotta go real deep. "How The West Was Won And Where It Got Us," maybe?

11.) Up: electronica was being hyped up the wazoo at the time, so REM "went electro" using synths and drum machines in place of guitars and drums over most of this album's tracks. Yes, this was the dreaded "we're taking our sound to new places" record. Not as bad as you would think. Actually, it's quite good, but it's the sort of thing that ends up on people's lists of "underrated" and "overlooked" albums. Also, it wasn't really REM, and it pretty much killed their career as platinum-sellers.

The Hits: are you kidding?

Deep Tracks: "Daysleeper" "Lotus" "The Apologist"

12.) Reveal: kind of a return to form, only without memorable songs. This album sounds great with reverb-drenched, jangly guitars and string arrangements. But, there's only a couple of songs that stick with you. Mostly, it's in one ear, out the other. "Imitation Of Life" brings back the "Driver 8" chords for one last go around, and they still work.

The Hits: "Imitation Of Life"

Deep Tracks: "All The Way To Reno"

I know REM put out more albums after Reveal, but for me this was the end. I never bought an REM album after this, so I can't really give those a fair appraisal.

Perry Moment: The Governor Defends His Debating Skills

Following his awful, candidacy-destroying debate performances, which have depressed and appalled his supporters, Rick Perry says, don't judge on the failure of my smooth patter

After another rocky debate performance, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a candidate for the White House, said in a Friday speech that Republicans should not necessarily back "the smoothest debater" for president.

"As conservatives we know that values and vision matter. It’s not who is the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to elect. We need to elect the candidate with the best record and the best vision for this country," he said at a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida. "The current occupant of the White House can sure talk a good game, but he doesn’t deliver."

Legal Insurrection has the pithiest response. We don't want glib, but we do want minimal competence.

We don’t need the smoothest debater, but we do need someone with the minimum required debating smoothness.

Like it or not, in September and October 2012 there are going to be debates which will be watched by an enormous percentage of the electorate, and the mainstream media will be unforgiving of mistakes by the Republican nominee. A miserable performance, on par with the one Perry had Thursday night, would be a disaster.

By contrast, strong debate performances against Obama, holding Obama accountable in front of tens of millions of people, exposing his failures for what they are, could seal the deal. The mainstream media will not perform that task for us, so our nominee needs to do it. Perry has not shown so far that he is capable of that; it’s not smoothness, its preparation and execution.

The problem isn't that Perry is bad at public debate. It's that his responses have revealed more than he realizes. His mangled attempt at leveling a "flip-flopper" tag on Romney failed because Perry couldn't remember his lines, showing an utter failure at preparation. His response to the 3 AM question was incoherent, showing he has little to offer on foreign policy, and even less knowledge.

And, his "you have no heart" if you don't support in-state tuition for illegal aliens? It wasn't just the disdain he showed for his own supporters. There are good arguments to make in support of this policy (in-state illegals have to jump through the same hoops as out-of-state Americans, better to educate than to leave kids in ignorance), but Perry didn't make them. Instead, he lashed out. This tells me he either wasn't quick enough on his feet to remember the policy arguments, or that he wasn't aware of them in the first place and supported the law because he "has a heart." Neither of these speak well of Perry. They certainly aren't the hallmarks of someone who claims to be the conservative standard bearer.

The Nine: How Are the GOP Presidential Candidates Doing?

We've had three debates since Rick Perry entered the race and "solidified" the field. Say what you will about tactics, consultants, southern strategies, and Ed Rollins, it never fails to amaze how the awesome task of running for president always comes down to the candidate themselves. In the last three weeks, we've seen some people help themselves immensely, and we've seen others do incalculable harm, often while being themselves. Let's go down the roll call.

Michelle Bachmann: Just three weeks ago, Lady Icarus was running in second, had driven Tim Pawlenty from the race, and was offering witheringly effective critiques of the president. Then Rick Perry entered the race, and Bachmann went on TV and announced that vaccines cause "mental retardation." From Tea Party Queen to Lunatic Fringe in the space of one sentence. Depressing.

Herman Cain: I keep hearing how Cain can't win, that he's nothing but a pizzaman, and that he'll never rise from the second tier. But, he keeps winning these debates, at least according to the Luntz focus groups, and the hive mind of the right-wing blogosphere. He's also been admirably above the fray, refusing to violate Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment.

Newt Gingrich: yesterday's man has been putting his intellect and debating skills on full display, but he'll never escape his past. Gingrich deserves all praise for the 1994 revolution, and his toe-to-toe battles with the Clintons, but he legislated as a Big Government Republican, thus frittering away the '94 mandate. He is fundamentally untrustworthy.

John Huntsman: the one thing Huntsman has going for him is his tax reform/economic plan, which is serious and conservative. That is undercut by his smarmy presentation and his smug certitude about global warming and evolution.

Gary Johnson: the cool kids have been agitating for Johnson to be included in these debates, and he brought...poop jokes. Cribbed from Rush Limbaugh.

Ron Paul: agreed that Paul's foreign policy is to the left of Dennis Kucinich, but on economics and the role of government in society, he is - incredibly - still a lonely voice. His answer describing what society would do for the hypothetical dying young man was very thoughtful and even moving (in describing his medical practice pre-Great Society Paul said "we never turned anyone away"). Shades of 2008 when Paul was cast as the "crazy uncle" when he started ranting about the Fed, Wall Street, and the overweening government that was driving us all to ruin.

Rick Perry: "the race is very fluid," "it's a long time before Iowa," "it's a marathon, not a sprint." But, Rick Perry's lackluster debate performances have been killing him. You can be as conservative as you want, but if conservatives can't see that you will be able to beat the glib Obama in a debate, then it's no sale. Perry's outrageous claim that "you have no heart" if you don't support in-state tuition for illegal immigrants may be his "vaccines cause mental retardation;" the line that kills his candidacy. Sorry, jerk, but I just don't see how failing to support special privileges to illegal immigrants is racist or cruel.

Mitt Romney: I have no great eagerness to see Romney as the nominee, but I gotta say he has really stepped up his game since Perry got into the race. His presentation has been solid. His critiques of Obama have been sharp. And, John Nolte points out that he has demonstrated a real ability to neutralize the anti-GOP media. But, Romney remains fundamentally untrustworthy because he has already demonstrated that he would govern as a Big Government conservative. Romney certainly fits the ABO role well. But, a Romney win could easily mean that Obamacare will not be repealed. If he is to be the nominee, we'll need a lot more Tea Party members of Congress.

Rick Santorum: another second-tier guy who has been putting in first-tier debate performances. This is why you include some of the lower eschalon candidates in these early debates. One of them always shines, even as his campaign is little more than his wife and kids knocking on doors. If nothing else changes, I think Cain or Santorum will "shock the world" in Iowa, and emerge as this cycle's Huckabee.

Technical Delays

Just hooked up my Apple TV and I'm, uh, busy. Be back later after the Free Will Daughter has had an Elmo session on YouTube.

UPDATE: well, on the one hand, Apple TV is pretty impressive. It practically sets itself up. The platform is simple and very intuitive. It's great to finally be able to watch YouTube on a big TV screen, rather than on my laptop. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how many radio stations are on it (there are dozens of genres, with hundreds of stations for each type of music). And, I can use my I-pad to play videos, music, etc.

On the other hand, entering information into the search box is a little laborious. You have to scroll around with the remote and enter numbers and letters that way. Shouldn't "internet on the TV" have a keyboard instead of a goofy little remote? More important, shouldn't "internet on the TV" have more than what Apple is willing to give you? Netflix is there, but no Amazon. MLB and NBA, but no NFL or NHL. And so on.

All in all, a great tool, but it's only a supplement. No one is going to cut the cable cord after buying Apple TV.

Clothes Make The Man

The media double standards that disfavor Republicans are so pervasive that they invade the very clothes on our backs. If, say, a Democrat like BJ Clinton or Barak Obama wears jeans, it's a sign of youth and vitality. But, if a GOP politicians dares show up in Iowa in some Levi's, then it's, well, unpresidential:

How do a Harvard-schooled private-equity titan, a Mandarin-speaking former ambassador, a libertarian physician-congressman and the nation's longest-serving governor convince Americans that they are men of the people?

Campaign casual.

Fashion observers say the men in the Republican presidential primary race are setting a new standard for studied sartorial ease. Working the campaign trail in shirt-sleeves and jeans, they're tossing off their neckties—and with them, a century of tradition.

"Good lord, what have we come to?" says Daniel James Cole, professor of fashion history at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "I read that Mitt Romney's wife bought him Gap skinny jeans…We don't think of jeans as being presidential." The Romney campaign didn't respond to requests for comment.

A Republican former White House aide suggests the 2012 candidates have gone far beyond what he calls the "three F's" rule: A president looks better without a tie only when appearing at a fair, on a factory floor or at the scene of a flood.

Indeed, Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, went tieless when kicking off his candidacy.

Much goofing at the link on Mitt Romney's wife buying him some skinny jeans at the Gap, and then rolling up his sleeves just so.

Giving an informal air to the formal announcement, he wore a roomy shirt in a tattersall pattern—a plaid first used in 18th-century British horse blankets—with sleeves "rolled as if he [had] entered an impromptu hot-dog-eating contest," wrote Kurt Soller, Esquire's style editor. The magazine's Web story was titled, "Mitt Romney's New Strategy: Stop Dressing Well."

Also, Ron Paul has posted pictures on Facebook where he's in a bathing suit. My eyes!

You can't win with this sort of thing because if Romney showed a little more gravitas in his wardrobe, we'd be hearing about how stiff and dull he looks. And, it also ignores the virtual universality of business casual in the upper eschalons of business. Indeed, here is the Bay Area the joke is that the richest guy in the room is usually the one in the rattiest T-shirt. You're more likely to see someone in a tie at the Olive Garden, than you are at some of San Francisco's ritziest restaurants, which threw up their hands years ago at enforcing any kind of dress code beyond "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service" for fear of throwing out the next teen-aged internet billionaire. Now, we're supposed to get upset if Rick Perry shows up at a pig farm in a polo shirt? America's fashion enforcers are kindly requested to make up their minds.

Train Wreck A Comin': The High Speed Rail Lawsuits Pile Up

On the one hand, California is busily going about building a high speed rail between SF and LA. On the other, no one actually expects it to get built. That's because virtually every mile of track is rapidly becoming the subject of litigation up and down the state. Hey, sometimes burdensome lawsuits are a good thing.

Even if state officials can scrape together the billions of dollars needed to fund California's ambitious high-speed rail plans, lawsuits from cities and opposition groups could delay, divert or derail the project.

In the Bay Area, cities and nonprofits are suing over issues with the route and environmental studies. In Southern California, the city of Palmdale (Los Angeles County) has gone to court over fears that rail officials will abandon a planned Antelope Valley line through the city and reroute the tracks up Interstate 5 instead.

Perhaps the hardest-fought battle is yet to come in the Central Valley, where Kings County officials and residents say they'll do everything in their power to stop a 100-mile stretch of track from wiping out thousands of acres of prime farmland between Fresno and Bakersfield.

The biggest obstacle facing the beleaguered bullet train is probably its uncertain financial future. But lengthy court battles also could affect the project by delaying construction, increasing costs and altering the course the train takes through the state.

According to estimates by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, rerouting the high-speed line to satisfy stakeholders could add hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars to the final price tag.

The Free Will Sister is a transportation planner, and even she thinks HSR is dumb. For one thing, there are stations being planned for no better reason than to placate this or that assemblyman whom you've never heard of. For another, there's already a high speed connection between SF and LA. It's called an airplane. And, she never gets tired of pointing out that the $10 billion HSR bond was not a construction bond, but was little more than a mechanism for setting up the bureaucracy to "study" HSR.

What's absurd is that there are very few vocal proponents of HSR...yet the HSR bond passed convincingly back in the year of hope and change, wafted along by gassy "We Are The Future" rhetoric from the Governator. In my town of Burlingame, the proposal is for the HSR line to cut right through the middle of town on an elevated platform, which just might interfere with our sleepy small town atmosphere. A lot of folks are up in arms, but you really have to wonder how many of them actually voted for this thing without considering the consequences.

Special Delivery: Two New Books About the Anthrax Attacks

The Wall Street Journal reviews a pair of new books about the anthrax attacks, which happened nearly 10 years ago.

Biological warfare came to America soon after the 9/11 attack. In Florida, a photo editor died of inhalation anthrax. At the time it was thought to be an isolated incident. But then anthrax was found in New York in the newsrooms of NBC and the New York Post, together with letters dated "09-11-2001" and warning: "Death to America Death to Israel Allah Is Great." These were followed by anthrax-laced letters, with a similar message, sent to Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, and Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The clouds of trillions of spores closed down Congress. In all, five people died from the killer anthrax, and more than a dozen required treatment.

It was quickly established that all the anthrax was from the deadly Ames strain. All the envelopes carried the same Trenton, N.J., postmark, but the FBI had little else to go on. There were no fingerprints, fibers or DNA traces on the envelopes, on the tape used to seal them or on the photocopied letters inside. After testing every mailbox that used that postmark, the FBI found one in Princeton, N.J., that tested positive; investigators found no witnesses to the mailings. Though the FBI eventually identified a few suspects and ultimately insisted that it had found its man, no one was ever prosecuted.

Now two excellent books give a thorough chronicle of the anthrax terror campaign and try to clarify what happened. "American Anthrax" is Jeanne Guillemin's brilliant examination of how America responded, while David Willman's "The Mirage Man" focuses more tightly on the FBI investigation, exposing the inner workings of one of the most extensive efforts in the bureau's history.

Incredibly, there are still a lot of loose ends, including new questions about who really was behind the biggest germ warfare attack in American history. Steve Hatfill, of course, saw his life ruined as the FBI spent literally years trying to build a case against him. Nicholas Kristof even got into the act, publishing FBI leaks supposedly establishing Hatfill's guilt that were pure fiction. (you would think someone at the FBI would have realized their investigation was going off the rails when they started relying on a professional bed-wetter like Kristof).

After giving up on Hatfill (and paying him millions to settle a lawsuit), the FBI turned its focus on a troubled colleague of Hatfill's, Bruce Ivins. Ivins, you will recall, was identified with great fanfare as the anthrax killer after genetic tests established that the anthrax could be traced to some of Ivins' lab equipment. This time, there was no need to "break" Ivins, as they had tried to do with Hatfill, because Ivins was already broken. The man killed himself, although he may have just as likely been upset about the FBI's finding pornography on his work computer, as he was about being prosecuted for bio-terrorism.

But, here's a newsflash I hadn't heard until I read the linked review: the tests establishing Ivins's guilt were independently reviewed and found wanting:

The report concluded that the FBI's key assertion—that its genetic fingerprinting showed that the killer anthrax could have only come from the flask in Ivins's custody—was flawed. "The scientific data alone do not support the strength of the government's repeated assertions that 'MR-1029 was conclusively identified as the parent material to the anthrax powder used in the mailings,' " the report stated. "It is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the B. anthracis in the mailings based on the available scientific evidence alone." Without a scientific basis for tracing the killer anthrax to Ivins's lab, the FBI's case against him was reduced to inferences from his behavior.

Not only that, there was a third suspect, Barry Mikesell, also a scientist, who was part of the small group of scientists with access to the Ames strain of anthrax. I had never heard of him before (had you?) but that might be because he drank himself to death soon after becoming aware of the FBI's unhealthy interest in him.

In other words, we are really no closer to solving the anthrax murders now than we were 10 years ago, except there are shattered lives littered along a trail that has gone cold. Your tax dollars at work.

Like TWA 800 and 9/11, the anthrax attacks were a shocking event that was never satisfactorily resolved. But, unlike those two events, the anthrax case hasn't attracted the usual crazed conspiracy theorists. Maybe that's because the crazy conspiracy theorists are working for the feds.

Rump Party Hosts Rump Convention. Stacy McCain Notices

Sarcasm alert! Someone has told RS McCain that there is a California GOP and that they are holding a convention down in SoCal

For several weeks now, I’ve been hearing rumors that there was something in California called a “Republican Party” with elected officials and stuff.

But I dismissed all those rumors as crazy talk, because it has been years and years since any actual Republican has won any important election in California. Somebody told me that Maria Shriver’s ex-husband once claimed to be a Republican, but I never believed a word that guy said (and as it turned out, Maria shouldn’t have believed him either).

Imagine my surprise, then, when my buddy Joe Fein in L.A. wrote a blog post saying that not only is there a “Republican Party” in California, but they’re having what they call a “state convention.” I figured this meant that three or four guys were getting together in the corner booth at a diner on Wilshire Boulevard or something, but Joe has some pictures and at least one of them shows what appear to be at least half a dozen people in what looks like a hotel lobby.

Joe also has pictures of what he calls the “media department” of this alleged California GOP — I dunno, to me it looks like a dude with a laptop – and also a photo of a chick in front of a “Rick Perry for President” sign. Rick Perry probably heard the rumors, too, and figured what the heck, if they say they’re having a convention, might as well send a chick with a sign.

More at the link. Underneath the sarcasm is a serious point: the CA GOP is a rump party because it does not act like a political party. Instead, it acts like a party-party, meaning a party to which only insiders are admitted. And when they are admitted, the insiders do things like piss away a once in a lifetime recall election on a "moderate" who turned out to prove the rule that moderates are just liberals who don't want to admit their real political affiliations.

There are California Republicans. Heck, there have been some vigorous Tea Parties here in the Bay Area, including in SF and Oakland. And, most Californians aren't really progressive or even particularly liberal; they're apathetic. But, I've never been aware of much in the way of any effort to communicate with these folks. I mean, when you go through the trouble of nominating a well known CEO of a world famous internet company to run against Jerry Brown, and her campaign is derailed without much effort by Gloria Allred and an illegal alien maid, we've got a real failure to communicate on our hands.

The basic problem with the CA GOP (the organization) is not just a failure of leadership or GOTV efforts. It's a failure to connect with the people who - against all odds - actually vote Republican in California. It's really not hard to find us. With a little effort, we even manage to find one another. And Californians are ripe for a vigorous conservative message. That was the marvel of the recall election of 2003. There was an energy around the GOP back then that was palpable. And the party elders frittered it away. Given California's present pathetic state, it shouldn't be that hard to do it again, but only if you are willing to try.

Art For Art's Sake

Nothing like a cheesy art scandal to liven up the end of the week. The San Francisco Art Commission awarded NYC artist Tom Otterness a $750,000 contract to install some art in the new Central Subway. Turns out that Otterness has a scandalous past. Back in his young and foolish days in the Seventies, Otterness adopted a dog from an animal shelter and, uh, shot it. Dead. With a movie camera rolling. This upset some people back in the day, even as it gave Otterness his initial burst of noteriety. He feels bad about it now, though:

Tom Otterness, a Brooklyn-based artist, has created public art all over Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States, with an emphasis on New York City.

But he garnered notoriety in 1977 when he adopted a black-and-white dog from an animal shelter and shot it to death with the camera rolling. The footage ended up in his avant-garde movie "Shot Dog Film."

Otterness has since apologized, telling the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 2008, "Thirty years ago when I was 25 years old, I made a film in which I shot a dog. It was an indefensible act that I am deeply sorry for. Many of us have experienced profound emotional turmoil and despair. Few have made the mistake I made. I hope people can find it in their hearts to forgive me.

Otterness has produced a lot of public art, most of it of a whimsical nature. Knowing that the guy shot a dog does tend to color your reaction, regardless of the charm his work might carry.

Now, talk to a lot of social conservatives who have been at the front lines of the "Piss Christ"-style controversies of the last few decades, and I'll bet most of them will agree that the majority of modern artists are driven by "profound emotional turmoil and despair." For his part, SF mayor Ed Lee seems to agree. The project has been put on hold.

Hands In Pocket: CA Dems Betrayed By Embezzler

I kind of slept on this story when it broke in the local papers, but the Wall Street Journal has made a national story out of a Californian woman who has served as treasurer for dozens of California Democratic campaigns, and who (it turns out) was embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from her clients.

Kinde Durkee was arrested Sept. 2 and accused by federal authorities of stealing campaign funds and using the money to pay for an array of personal expenses, including mortgage payments, cosmetics and nursing-home care for her mother. Based in Burbank, Calif., the 58-year-old had long managed money for scores of Democratic campaigns.

According to the federal criminal complaint, Ms. Durkee "misappropriated money from her clients' bank accounts and filed false disclosure reports to hide the misappropriations." Ms. Durkee "admitted that she had been misappropriating her clients' money for years," according to court documents.

Her lawyer didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The complaint against Ms. Durkee focused solely on her alleged misappropriation of more than $600,000 from the campaign accounts of state Assemblyman Jose Solorio's campaign accounts. But prosecutors said the case is set to widen as evidence surfaces that more politicians were alleged victims and millions of dollars in campaign donations may be missing.

The best part is that her current clients have no idea how much money they may or may not have in their campaign coffers. Some of them even claim to be locked out of their accounts! Hilarious!

What's not so funny: no one among her clients seems worried that they might have some exposure to campaign finance violations. But, Durkee was able to get away with her crimes by, at least in part, by commingling federal and state campaign donations, and then mixing up those accounts with her own as well as those of other clients. Don't candidates have some responsibility for where their campaign donations go? Didn't Tom DeLay get a prison sentence for what was essentially depositing the wrong funds into the wrong account? Durkee, for her part, had previously been flagged for major violations, but these never seemed to affect her career, or redound against her liberal clients.

While some California political figures expressed shock at the allegations against Ms. Durkee, there are growing indications that there were potentially serious problems in her operation for years.

"There definitely had been red flags that have gone off in the last few years," said Stephen Kaufman, a campaign attorney who worked for clients of Ms. Durkee's. Mr. Kaufman said he was working with a number of clients to find out the status of the bank accounts that Ms. Durkee had controlled.

Ms. Durkee was cited for financial reporting misdeeds 11 times by the state agency that oversees campaign finances, starting in 2002. The fines totaled $190,000.

Compared to other campaign treasurers, the number of citations stood at "an extreme level," said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state oversight agency. Ms. Durkee was "the subject of quite a few major violations."

One of the investigations found unusual fluctuations in the campaign accounts of a statewide regulatory board candidate. Investigators noticed similar irregularities in the accounts of other clients of Ms. Durkee, including one official for a federal office, prompting the state agency to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ms. Ravel said.

A "statewide regulatory candidate," huh? Names, please. Like I say. Why didn't these violations redound against her clients? If there were "unusual fluctuations" in campaign accounts, doesn't that deserve a little more scrutiny of the candidate?

Also, note that the guy who seems to be her biggest victim was State Assemblyman Jose Solorio, who lost $600,000 to his rogue treasurer. California's government is too big, and its legislators too powerful, when a mere state assemblyman can have a campaign account so large that it takes a while for him (or whomever) to realize it was $600K short.

Durkee was motivated, in part, by greed - she clearly wanted to live a larger lifestyle than that which a political bookkeeper could afford. But she was also paying for her mother's rest home bills. Looks like Utopia wasn't coming quickly enough for Durkee.

There's a lot of talk in the article from people like Diane Feinstein bemoaning the betrayal of trust. Personally I would never trust a liberal, but I certainly would never trust someone who looks like this:


Geeesh! My eyes! When conservatives talk about fighting Leviathan, they aren't kidding.

The Death of the West: CA's Latest Poverty Numbers

Recently released census data indicates that 6 million Californians live below the national poverty line, and one in five are without health insurance (what about Obamacare? Where's my Utopia?!) Cue the one millionth "California Nightmare" headline.
Poverty levels increased for a fourth straight year in California, according to census data released Tuesday.

Nearly six million California residents fell below the national poverty threshold of $22,113 for a family of four in 2010, while one in five lacked health insurance.

The numbers represent a negative trend sweeping the nation as close to 46.2 million Americans reported living in poverty last year -- the fourth year in a row the country has seen an increase in poverty.
Unmentioned in the linked article: in addition to the lousy business/economic climate, California has spent the last decade importing a lot of poverty. Something like 30% of the welfare recipients in the United States live here because the state never really adopted Gingrich-era welfare reform. Then there are the folks who come here from, ah, down there. We are assured that these are all hard working salt of the earth types who do the jobs Americans won't do, but, as VDH has documented, a lot of California's rural poverty now comes with some Spanish lingo thrown in.

Around here, it's enough for people to say "It's Bush's Fault!" But, how true can that be? California has been a left-liberal state since at least the mid-Nineties with the bloated state payroll, unsustainable entitlements, crushing regulatory environment, dimwitted global warming laws, scummy lifestyle crimes, and high speed rail boondoggles to prove it. Sure, we have had a Republican governor for most of the last decade, but he wasn't able to move an ostensibly Republican agenda since 2005, and basically governed as a liberal for the latter half of his time in office. The state legislature hasn't had a Republican majority for as long as I can remember. San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Los Angeles have been one-party (guess which one) political jurisdictions for years, if not decades. And, millions of Californians hopped, skipped and jumped to the polls in November 2008 to elect Barack Obama president. Then they compounded their error by returning Jerry Brown - the one guy in state politics who wasn't term limited out of the governor's office despite already having served two terms - to the governor's mansion. A sort of lazy "save the whales" brand of gentry liberalism has been the state's default political setting since the days of the (first) Jerry Brown administration. So, yeah, it's Bush's fault.

No one has been louder in "fighting" poverty than California Democrats. But the result of all their efforts has been (drumroll) more poverty. Did the Evil Rich do this? Did stoopid conservatives? No, we fought against it. Liberals won! And look where we are.

They can blame Bush all they want, but Texas bore the Bush millstone, too, yet it's thriving. That could have happened in California, as well. Sadly, people here chose to rely on government, rather than on themselves.


Michelle Bachmann has run an admirably uncompromising campaign, but her appearance on Fox News became a disaster when she said this about the supposed effect of the sort of vaccines Rick Perry tried to mandate (with an opt-out) for Texan teens:

Bachmann said last night on Greta that a woman came up to her after the debate, crying, and said that her daughter had been given the Garadsil vaccination and as a result had suffered mental retardation. Bachmann says that Perry shouldn’t just be given a mulligan on this because there are significant consequences to the decision he made to mandate Gardasil.

I'm sorry, but...are you kidding me? First of all, who walks up to a total stranger and starts unloading about their daughter's "mental retardation?" And who turns around and goes on television to announce this breathlessly to a national audience whom you are trying to persuade to support you in a long-shot bid for the White House? And why in the world is this sort of anti-vaccine hysteria - which was whipped up by the left-wing Lancet magazine - seemingly a grave concern for so many conservatives?

(I'm going to agree that Rick Perry's efforts to mandate the administering Gardasill were ill-conceived, and heavy handed, but for all the strenuous denunciations you hear about this issue, you would never know that Perry rescinded his order, and no one ever received a dose, at least not because the Republic of Texas told them to. That's right. Perry (1) made a decision, (2) received a lot of blowback that convinced him he was overreaching and (3) reversed himself. Isn't that we supposedly want our leaders to do? Isn't that what we wanted Dems to do before voting on Obamacare?)

Bachmann has developed an unfortunate reputation for credulously repeating misinformation. At this point, you have to wonder if rival campaigns are paying people to make flakey claims to Bachmann in hopes that she will, in all sincerity, repeat them over the airwaves. What an embarrassment.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin shows how to make the vaccine/crony capitalism connection without bringing up autism, "mental retardation" and other fringe-y matters. Of course, the length of Malkin's post proves the difficulty of making this argument in the rapid-fire setting of a debate or a TV appearance. That's why it was such a mistake for Bachmann to keep expanding on her point, rather than sticking with the basic (bad) facts: that Gov. Perry was trying to make the vaccination of pre-teens mandatory when the vaccine had been on the market for less than a year. It calls into question Perry's claim to be a small government superhero. These sort of mandates add up, one by one, until people spend more and more time and money complying with "feel-good" mandates rather than making intelligent choices for themselves. Stick with that and you've got a good line of attack from the Tea Party right. But move beyond that to Jenny McCarthy territory and you are literally surrendering the intellectual high ground.

The One Giveth, And The One Taketh

Jeez, another Republican debate? These might be coming too rapid-fire to be effective, but apparently this was a good one with Romney and Bachmann coming on strong, Perry getting bloodied, and the second-tier guys each getting their licks in. Newt Gingrich, again, had one of the good lines of the evening, this time on the topic of scaring seniors with talk of reforming Social Security:
Great line by Newt, Obama scares seniors every day. He made a strong substantive point, which is that why should be have to live in a system where a President can threaten to withhold social security benefits. It goes to the heart of individual autonomy. My wife responded, “Newt for V.P.” I think he’s earning that spot but may also be the comeback kid in this primary season.
How easily Republicans forget that, for all the talk that they want to "destroy" Social Security - and with it America - the only president who has ever come close to refusing to send out checks was the great progressive hope Barack Obama. Obama has actually been threatening the credibility and viability of Social Security from two directions. His threats during the debt ceiling debate to refuse to send out checks was an acknowledgement that the "trust fund" is little more than a lock box full of empty promises. His repeated use of cuts in the payroll tax as his only (grudging) acceptance of tax-cuts-as-stimulus threatens the very funding of the program itself. No Republican would dare to do either of these things without first putting on some aesbestos underwear to protect against the liberal politico-media onslaught, but Obama knows he can get away with it.

These are the times you realize Obama is truly a sinister figure: once ensconced in office, the smiling "pragmatic moderate" of 2008 has become a cruel tyrant, blithely frightening old people about cutting off the lifeline that Democrats have spent decades conditioning people to count on. It's literally a living example of the old Ford line about a government that can give you everything you want, can also take it all away.

Waste On Waste: CA's Useless Reform of its Green Laws

The headline says "(CA) Lawmakers OK Bill To Soften Environmental Reviews" and CA Greens are making the expected noise about the destruction of the Earth as a result of the pathetic efforts of Sacramento Democrats, but don't believe it.

California lawmakers on Friday approved a bill that would soften parts of a landmark, 4-decade-old environmental law and could pave the way for the quick approval of large developments across the state.

In the final hours of the year's legislative session, Democrats pushed through a measure that would give the governor the power to speed up the environmental review process on some large construction projects, including sports stadiums and green manufacturing plants. It was sent to the governor late Friday.


If signed by the governor, AB900 would allow projects costing $100 million or more to request streamlined judicial review under the California Environmental Quality Act, known as CEQA. That law, passed in 1970, requires public agencies to identify the environmental impacts of construction and other projects and mitigate them.

This is nothing more than standard New Deal-style corporatism. It's a gift to labor unions, big developers, and a few urban pols who want to build sports arenas. The bill's main proponents are city fathers in Sacramento, who want to build a new basketball arena, and the city of Los Angeles, which wants to build a new football stadium. Liberals are the "smart" party, of course, so I guess they know something about economic benefits (economically, they are a loser) of the public funding of sports stadiums that the rest of us don't know.

The bill's limitations are a cruel joke. You need to have a project costing at least $100 million in order to qualify for expedited review. So a dry-cleaner who wants to expand his business, or a developer who wants to build a dozen homes, has to go through every regulatory hoop in creation, while billionaire sport team owners, and their political patrons, sail through.

We don't need $100 million sports arenas or solar panel plants (the bill's proponents are talking grandly about how "green" factories can also benefit from streamlined review, as if the Solyndra BK happened in an alternate reality). We need hundreds of little "developments" - AKA new businesses - that provide permanent jobs, not temporary jobs for a few thousand construction union members. But, Democrats don't understand economics, they understand politics. And politics says the opportunities for graft and corruption lie in "big" projects, not small business.

If you want to reform CA's environmental laws, you need to get rid of them (and the state's enforcement agencies) and rely on federal law, which is bad enough, but would still be an improvement.

The Broken Clock: Jerry Brown Gets One Right

Gov. Brown put on his "maverick" hat, and vetoed a bill sponsored by SF State Senator (and mayoral hopeful) Leland Yee that would have mandated that kids wear helmets while skiing. Along the way he had this to say:
"While I appreciate the value of wearing a ski helmet, I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state. Not every human problem deserves a law."
Amen and a half. Needless to say, the bill's proponents did not agree:

Supporters were quick to criticize the veto, pointing out that Brown's Republican predecessor supported an identical bill last year and that the bill mirrored existing bicycle helmet laws for children. Jo Linder Crow, executive director of the California Psychological Association, said Brown "chose to ignore the scientific evidence (and) the ski industry's support."

Wow, so the science is "settled" and "industry" supports it! Also Schwarzenegger supported an "identical" bill! How could Brown resist this avalanche of appeals to authority?I'm guessing it was easy enough. Some things are too dumb, even for government.

Obama's Enron? The FBI Raids Solyndra

Unbelievable. A week after Bay Area solar panel company filed for bankruptcy, the FBI has raided the Green company's corporate offices.

FBI agents executed search warrants Thursday at the California headquarters of Solyndra LLC, which was awarded more than $500 million in federal stimulus loans in 2009 to make solar panels in what the Obama administration called part of an aggressive effort to put more Americans to work and end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But the firm filed a bankruptcy petition Tuesday in Delaware, shedding more than 900 full-time employees, leaving just a “core group” of 113 employees, according to bankruptcy records.

FBI spokesman Peter D. Lee said multiple search warrants were served at the company’s Fremont, Calif., headquarters in what he called a joint investigation by the FBI and the Energy Department's Office of Inspector General. But he said he could not provide any details about the ongoing probe.

Energy spokeswoman Karen Sulier confirmed that the department was involved in the investigation but would not elaborate. Solyndraspokesman David Miller said the company was cooperating in the investigation but did not know the reason for the search.

News of the raid prompted key Republicans in Congress, who already were investigating the loan to the company, to issue a statement calling for answers from the company.

The right-wing paranoia aspect of this raid is that the feds are not seeking evidence, but grabbing incriminating documents and sequestering them in the Justice Department. Eh.

Better is the progressive criminality aspect, which is so delicious it's almost chocolate flavored. Conservatives have to listen to liberals talk about how smart they are, how rational they are; and, contrariwise, how dumb and "anti-science" we are. But, I don't remember conservative leaders lining up to praise the expenditure of public money on a corporation that could not make it in the market place on its own, but was able to collect $500 million because its executives were Obama donors. You know how there's "book smart" and then there's "street smart?" This is Exhibit A.

There's also a report out there that Solyndra executives visited the White House no less than 20 times, no doubt bringing extra bags to carry all of that stimulus money that Barak Obama, Joe Biden, and Steven Chu noisily gave them. Honestly, these guys would have been perp-walked in orange jumpsuits during a Republican administration, while liberals railed about Republican corruption. But, at least we don't countenance a fraud like green jobs.


On a night when MSNBC provided a forum for a Republican presidential debate, this essay about the dumb things liberals believe about conservatives is worth a few rueful chuckles:

Myth #3: The Republican party is moving to the right. When things go wrong for liberals, as they did in last November’s elections, and politics seems especially divisive, it is never because liberals have moved out of the mainstream. There’s only one possible explanation: Republicans must be moving to the right. But in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected, Republicans stood for lower taxes, less federal spending, smaller deficits, less government regulation, a strong defense, free trade, limits on abortion, and First and Second Amendment rights. Sound familiar? This is the platform of today’s Republicans. The Democratic party, however, has careened far to the left. Who in 1980 could have imagined today’s federal budget of $3.6 trillion, 25 percent of GDP? Or today’s deficit of $1.3 trillion, up from just $161 billion in 2007? Or today’s national debt of $15 trillion? Or today’s defense spending below 4 percent of GDP? Or government control of health care and automobile companies and banks? Or marriage itself redefined? Who’s kidding whom here?

That's a point that can't be emphasized enough. Reagan was the most popular Republican of my lifetime, winning elections not through tactics and "Southern Strategies," but through his strong conservative message, one that could appeal to voters now, of only there was one Republican willing to run on it.

Protest Re-Test: Anonymous Prepares For More BART Protests

The Anonymous protesters say they will be returning to the breach and will disrupt BART service in downtown San Francisco this Thursday during the evening rush hour. The plan is simple, but the rationale is incomprehensible.

BART protesters vowed to block the fare gate exits at the Powell Street Station Thursday in a direct confrontation with transit district officials.

A handful of demonstrators gathered in front of the Civic Center fare gates Monday to detail their plans for Thursday's planned protest.

By shutting down the fare gates at 5 p.m. Thursday, the protesters hope to force BART officials to open the emergency gates and let passengers at the station leave without paying their fares, said Krystof Lopaur, an organizer for No Justice, No BART.

If BART officials refuse to open the fare gates for the protests, as they would after a baseball game, then it will prove that their main concern isn't public safety, but blocking the protest, Lopaur said.

That's right! If you don't release trapped commuters, then you must hate free speech and civil rights! Wow, how will BART officials cut through this Gordian Knot? Uh, can I suggest arresting these idiots and actually charging them with a crime that will keep them in jail for more than two hours?

(btw, I don't get this idea that BART should open the fare gates "as they would after a baseball game." BART doesn't go anywhere near the SF ballpark. As for Oakland's baseball stadium, I've taken BART to A's games several times and never gone through an open fare gate).

As I've explained before, these repetitive protests arise from the shooting of a drunken bum who committed suicide by BART cop back in July. But, the protests really took on a life of their own when BART officials turned off the wi-fi in some stations after it became clear that protesters were coordinating their actions - which included climbing on trains and blocking doors - via Blackberry and Facebook. Turns out that there is a constitutional right to wi-fi access in public transportation systems, even when the "speech" at issue is criminal. Thanks for the update, guys.

These are some of the least attractive, least sympathetic protesters I've even seen. Their cause is not just. Indeed, it's ridiculous. Yet, no one seems able to stop them. They announced their latest action at a BART station, for Heaven's sake! I know San Franciscans are supposed to be liberal, but I can guarantee that nobody will mind if, just this once, these protesters get a whiff of grapeshot, or the 21st century equivalent.

Best Retirement Invesments Auto Search