Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gregg Easterbrook:
"In 2007, Bill Clinton complained that taxes on the rich are too low, yet did not voluntarily tax himself by mailing a check to the United States Treasury. Yours truly wrote, "It is self-promotional hypocrisy for Clinton, or any wealthy person, to proclaim a willingness to be taxed more but then not voluntarily tax himself. Clinton and other rich people who make claims about favoring higher taxes on the wealthy, then hoard their money, want to be admired for seeming to be willing to sacrifice -- without the annoying complication of actually making any sacrifice."

No, that's stupid. And no! I'm not going to bother to explain why!

In other news, it turns out that in Easterbrook's chief complain about the realism of the new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, regarding whether there is a luxury hotel in the Atacama Desert, he's full of shit.

Note to Gregg: for a tv show you tell us we should all be watching, you sure do bitch about Friday Night Lights a lot.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Brian McNamee, the former trainer of Roger Clemens, has submitted sworn statements by a federal prosecutor to back up his claim that he was coerced into naming the pitcher as a steroid user in a 2007 baseball investigation. McNamee may be granted immunity in a defamation suit Clemens has lodged against him if his evidence convinces a judge that federal agents threatened to prosecute him unless he told a panel led by former Senator George Mitchell what he’d already told prosecutors about Clemens.

In papers filed in Houston federal court today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella, who is investigating the use of banned substances by professional athletes, said he told McNamee that the trainer may become a target if he didn’t cooperate. Parrella said McNamee was given immunity for anything he said during the investigation.

Parrella said in the document that McNamee could have faced criminal charges if he refused to talk to Mitchell. "As part of the Northern District of California's criminal investigation, I requested that McNamee speak to the Mitchell Commission," Parrella wrote. "I told McNamee that speaking to the Mitchell Commission was part of his cooperation with the investigation."

"Why was the federal government there?" Hollingsworth asked. "Why do they care if McNamee talked to Sen. Mitchell? Mr. Mitchell was a private individual doing a private investigation for a private client. Without law enforcement having a purpose, to extend privilege is unheard of in the law. It is a very dangerous precedent to set."

Yeah, yeah, yeah... Clemens is an asshole and steroids are destroying America's youth. That said - why was our federal government threatening anyone with prosecution unless they cooperated with baseball's internal witch hunt/coverup? Because this is Bush's America, of course, which ironically, Clemens once supported so strongly, until it came back to bite him in ass - literally.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is That a Lot?

Bank of America today said it is working
on a plan to eliminate 30,000 to 35,000 jobs
in the next three years across all businesses.


Reporting from Washington and Chicago - President-elect Barack Obama today reasserted his pledge to overhaul the nation's healthcare system when he takes office, signaling that despite the economic downturn he would attempt a major reworking of the sector that has eluded presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"The time is now to solve this problem," Obama said at a Chicago press conference, where he formally announced that former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle would head his healthcare team."It's not something that we can sort of put off because we're in an emergency," Obama said.
"This is part of the emergency."


Abu Dhabi, armed with oil wealth and a $500 billion spending plan, is providing the escape route for engineers as their bets on Dubai’s construction boom turn sour. AAbu Dhabi, where 1 million people sit atop 8 percent of the world’s oil reserves, is pumping money into developing tourist attractions and manufacturing to break away from its dependence on crude. Oil prices have fallen to below $50 a barrel from $147 in July. The spending project, titled “Plan Abu Dhabi 2030,” includes the world’s first Ferrari-branded theme park and museum ventures with the Louvre and Guggenheim.

As Abu Dhabi plans and invests, the economic slump has taken the shine off of Dubai, which borrowed $80 billion to finance its transformation through projects such as the world’s tallest building, the biggest hotel and man made palm-tree shaped islands packed with luxury homes for bankers and professional athletes. Dubai’s focus on financial services, luxury homes and mass tourism attracted skyscraper designers and road-network planners. It also made the emirate dependent on industries that have been hit hard by the economic slump.


Belgium Arrests 14 Al-Qaeda Suspects Plotting Attack

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Belgian authorities detained 14 suspected al-Qaeda members, including one Belgian
national who may have been given instructions to carry
out a suicide attack against an unknown target.

Or Hercule Poirot

Now They Figure It Out



WASHINGTON — A case brought by a Muslim man accusing John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of complicity in post-9/11 abuses reached the Supreme Court for arguments on Wednesday on the most preliminary of questions: How specific must a plaintiff’s accusations of misconduct be before he is allowed to pursue a lawsuit? That is in a sense a garden-variety question of civil procedure. But the case of Javaid Iqbal, a Muslim man from Pakistan who used to be a cable television installer on Long Island, seemed freighted with something much larger, and many of the justices’ questions concerned whether the context in which the case arose, in the charged atmosphere in the fall of 2001, should alter or underscore ordinary legal principles.

Mr. Iqbal was among thousands of Muslim men rounded up after the Sept. 11 attacks. Some of them were considered to be “of high interest,” and they were held in a special housing unit of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. While there, Mr. Iqbal said, he was subjected to daily body-cavity searches, beatings and extreme temperatures. He said he was kept in solitary confinement with the lights in his cell constantly on, that he was called a terrorist and a “Muslim killer,” and that he lost 40 pounds during six months in the special unit.

His lawsuit contends that he was singled out for mistreatment based on his religion and national background. Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Mueller, his lawsuit says, implemented the policies that led to the abuse and condoned it. The two officials say that they are immune from suit, a contention rejected by the federal appeals court in Manhattan last year, at least at the most preliminary stage of the case. In the Supreme Court, the officials argued that Mr. Iqbal’s assertions that they were responsible for any abuses he suffered were speculative and lacked supporting factual allegations.

There was general agreement among the justices that the bar for starting a lawsuit, however low, must at least include plausibility. But the justices seemed divided over whether it was conceivable that the defendants here created or condoned a policy rooted in unlawful discrimination.

Justice David H. Souter said he considered plausible the claim “that the attorney general or the director of the F.B.I. was establishing a policy centered on people with the same characteristics as the hijackers.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that a 2003 report from the Justice Department’s inspector general may “lend some plausibility” to Mr. Iqbal’s claims. The report found serious abuses by the facility’s personnel. Mr. Garre urged the justices to ignore the report, saying it was outside the scope of the litigation. But he said the report had made findings helpful to his clients’ contention that their own actions, at least, were lawful.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer asked a hypothetical question: would a plaintiff be allowed to pursue a lawsuit against the president of Coca-Cola on the bare accusation that the president had personally put mice in soda bottles? Other justices engaged the question, considering whether such a lawsuit would be subject to sanctions on the grounds that it was frivolous and whether the company’s president would have to submit to questioning under oath at a deposition. “How are we supposed to judge whether we think it’s more unlikely that the president of Coca-Cola would take certain actions,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked Mr. Iqbal’s lawyer, Alexander A. Reinert, “as opposed to the attorney general of the United States?”

Justice John Paul Stevens suggested that he was uneasy about lightly letting claims against high officials proceed, mentioning his majority opinion in Clinton v. Jones, the 1997 decision that allowed Paula Jones’s sexual harassment case against President Bill Clinton to go forward. A prediction in that decision about the burden the suit would place on the president — “it appears to us highly unlikely to occupy any substantial amount of petitioner’s time” — turned out to be incorrect.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

George Weston In Talks with Bimbo

George Weston Ltd., the majority owner of Canada’s largest
supermarket chain, said it’s in talks with Grupo Bimbo about a possible sale of its Dunedin U.S. fresh bread and baked goods unit.

Don't get any fresh ideas.