July 2005
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Posted July 29, 2005
Would you believe... a Flying Tram? Link This

Transit, transit, transit. It's on everybody's lips these days.

New L.A. Mayor Pushing Public Transit (AP)
Getting drivers to take the train or bus has never been easy in this car-crazed city of endless freeways, where gridlock is so awful that rush-hour speeds average less than 30 mph.
     The new mayor wants to change Los Angeles' car culture, though his push for mass transit comes in the same month of the London subway and bus bombings.
     Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is starting small, asking Los Angeles residents to give up driving just one or two days a week. The theory is that getting a few more cars off the road would go a long way toward easing gridlock and air pollution that are the worst in the nation.
     "Los Angeles has a history of over-reliance on the single-passenger automobile, and we're going to have to change that history," said Villaraigosa, who went to Washington last week to lobby for more funding for transportation projects.
    The rail system's four lines extend over 73 miles, but many residents have no idea where their local bus or subway station is, if they even have one. Villaraigosa and others acknowledge some people live too far from mass transit for it to be convenient, but hope those commuters will occasionally walk, bike or car pool.

Is he kidding?

If conventional mass transit is to have a chance in La La Land, it's going to need to appeal to the image & lifestyle-conscious Hollywood elite. Transit would have to be luxurious and, above all, exclusive. It would have to say, "I take transit, in doing so I am better than you, envy me!" There is only one option. May I suggest: the Stretch Bus®:

But seriously, the Mayor did get one thing right:

"We don't have a system that can take you anywhere you want to go," said Villaraigosa. "Until we do, and we make it convenient, safe, affordable, reliable and fast, we're not gonna change those habits."

I got your anywhere and superior right here.

Along similar lines, Prof. Hubert G. Locke of my old alma mater has authored a guest op-ed in the Seattle P-I. The subject: Monorail. His thesis:

The monorail idea was borne of frustration that traffic in this town was getting progressively worse and little was being done to remedy the situation... The issue is -- and in one sense has always been -- larger than whether to build a monorail. It is what solutions to the current transit bottleneck will be proposed and implemented, before Seattle's streets become a permanent parking lot. Source

He's characterized the public's expectations correctly: they want something done about traffic.

But focusing on the "bottleneck" is not the answer, because the nature of that problem is political and financial, not one of transportation.

For if we examine the urban transportation technologies in play in our community, those are clear cut: Monorail, light rail, and buses. But no serious transportation experts are claiming they will attack congestion--how could they? Total ridership would be in the range of 400-450,000 a day, versus millions of car trips.

Prof. Locke needed to get back to the public policy basics, to ask the question Do the proposed solutions address the problem to be solved? The answer is clearly No if the problem is Congestion. But the answer is also No if the problem is Providing Alternatives To Driving—limited capacity (for capacity includes the components of access, flexibility, average speed, etc. as well as numbers of seats) of buses and trains means they are alternatives for only a limited number of people.

Locke concludes:

it's especially urgent and timely for city officials to step forward with some realistic solutions to Seattle's transit needs. Source

He's right. But it means considering all options. Sound Transit and Seattle Monorail Project must be coaxed into returning to the technology alternatives screening stage, this time giving full and fair consideration to other choices, such as Personal Rapid Transit, given the bum's rush by agencies that had already decided they wanted some sort of train.

And the criteria needs to include what the public expects: congestion reduction. Otherwise, Light Rail and Monorail are nothing more than public works projects—jobs, and business for contractors.

Also today: Rep. Walter Jones, (R-NC)

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Posted July 28, 2005
The Stranger follows the money

...And it leads to City Hall. Erica C. Barnett's investigation reveals a clear strategy by developers Paul Allen to trade political donations for zoning changes and publicly-subsidized, property-value boosting amenities like the Streetcar:

Strippergate in Suits: South Lake Union Cash Warrants Attention
Strippergate-- the 2003 scandal in which associates of Rick's strip club in Lake City were accused of conspiring to illegally funnel campaign contributions to three members of the Seattle City Council at a time when the club was seeking a controversial parking-lot zoning change--has become the scandal that refuses to die. ...did employees and affiliates of Rick's "bundle" campaign contributions to get around $650 limits imposed by campaign-finance law? it fair for one wealthy business owner to exert a greater influence over public policy than you and I, just because that business owner is rich and powerful?
     But as long as we're asking that question, some say, we shouldn't stop at strippers and North Seattle parking lots. [Paul Allen's] Vulcan [Ventures]... has benefited far more handsomely than Rick's from policies the council has adopted. And for years the company has rewarded council incumbents who have voted for its policies with generous campaign contributions. A Stranger analysis shows that of the five incumbents who are currently up for reelection (Jan Drago, Richard McIver, Nick Licata, Richard Conlin, and Mayor Greg Nickels), three--Drago, McIver, and Nickels--have received donations that total more than $29,000 from Vulcan, its employees, and other companies that will potentially benefit from city policies in South Lake Union. Vulcan contributions amount to more than $8,000 of that total. South Lake Union property owners and businesses affiliated with Vulcan (such as Parsons Brinkerhoff, a large engineering consulting firm [the obvious pick to create the Streetcar line]; Foster Pepper & Shefelman, the company's law firm; and Sellen Construction, a South Lake Union–based construction firm) account for the rest.
     ...Drago and Nickels in particular have been among the biggest city backers of Vulcan's policies. So far, Drago has received $2,800 from Vulcan and its employees, and approximately $7,900 from other companies with interests in South Lake Union; Nickels has received more than $3,400 from Vulcan and its employees, and approximately $10,700 from companies with South Lake Union interests.
     ...Drago sponsored a fundraiser for the Vulcan-backed Build the Streetcar campaign just 10 months before the council approved the 1.3-mile trolley line. "There's more than enough grounds for an investigation on a par with Strippergate," [Seattle Displacement Coalition John V.] Fox says.
     ...[Vulcan's donations] don't need to be [illegally bundled]. Vulcan, which is privately controlled by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, is one of the largest and most influential landowners in the city, with $2 billion invested in real estate in South Lake Union alone. Also unlike Rick's, Vulcan has hundreds of white-collar employees with an interest in promoting its political agenda. Source

Conclusion: it may not be strictly illegal, but it has the appearance of sleaze.

Judge John Coughenour has sentenced Ahmed Ressam to 22 years, but also issued a figurative indictment against the War on Terror:

"The tragedy of Sept. 11 shook our sense of security and made us realize that we, too, are vulnerable to acts of terrorism," said Coughenour in a voice edged with emotion. "Unfortunately, some believe that this threat renders our Constitution obsolete. ... If that view is allowed to prevail, the terrorists will have won." Source

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Posted July 27, 2005
Where Are They Now File: Timothy Noah Link This

Traitorgate couldn't go away fast enough for Slate's political gossip Timothy Noah, aka Chatterbox:

Say goodbye to Plamegate
...Chatterbox spares Plame Whopper status, possibly on grounds of misplaced gallantry. But Plame's extended striptease, enthusiastically barked by her husband, now has Chatterbox wondering how much of Wilson's story to believe. (It also has Chatterbox wondering when the couple will start renting themselves out for birthday parties.) Regardless of the merits, this photograph will surely give the Bush Justice Department whatever slim justification it seeks in dropping its Plamegate investigation.
     [Update, Jan. 5, 2004: The striptease continues. Perhaps sensing inconsistency in his position on whether his wife may or may not be photographed, Wilson changed his story yet again...] Dec. 3, 2003

After such vigorous poo-poohing, it's a good thing Noah's adept at the positional backflip:

7/6/05: "Valerie Plame's career in the Central Intelligence Agency was destroyed by whoever leaked her name to Robert Novak, and that is a terrible wrong."
7/15/05: "If it is indeed true that Rove is guilty only of passing along information from one reporter to another, then obviously my calls for Rove's resignation were premature. But I don't believe it."
7/18/05: "But the more important point is that Rove and Hadley were in communication about Joe Wilson... it sure as hell would look like a firing offense to me."

The Blogosphere judge awards Noah a 5.4!

Compliments to El Cocinero. One would not normally associate a traditional English-style pub with great Mexican food, but but one of the weekly specials at Phinney Ridge's 74th Street Ale House is the exception. It's the Monster Burrito, and here's all I need to say about it: plate-sized; spicy chicken, tequila black beans, rice; chipotle sour cream; pico de gallo; a pool of velvety-smooth tequila molé sauce. I don't usually do restaurant reviews—does Mr_Blog want the world descending on his favorite hangouts and sitting at his favorite table?—but this dish cries out for wider gastronomic exposure. Head on over and sample it.

Advance: Rev up your outrage. Lately I've been critical of The Stranger and writer Erica C. Barnett for their Kool-Aid influenced refusal to see the Seattle Monorail Project's problems until the very very, very last minute (Elevated Journalism, June 16). But The Stranger's new radio ad, pimping the edition to hit the newstands today (web tomorrow), has me ready to go back into praise mode. Apparently Barnett has identified a money trail going to Seattle City Council members from certain South Lake Union property interests Paul Allen. What with the mild outrage about the ongoing investigation of illegal donations made by strip club owners to the previous Council, it will be interesting to see what dirt Barnett has, and whether the current Council gets a pass from the public because the money comes from a more reputable citizen Paul Allen. Check The Stranger tomorrow on the web, locals pick one up today on the street, I know I will.

re: Blogrings. A few words about the blog webrings in the sidebar. We wanted to note that Pacific Northwest Portal, Northwest Progressive Institute's nerve center for progressive information with a northwest flavor, has completed its "version 3.0 upgrade." Mr_Blog doesn't know how he was lucky enough to be included on their list in the first place, but he's thrilled and honored to be counted among other sharp, liberal folks.

Another blog ring, one I took affirmative steps to join, is Sea-Blogs. There's a huge list of blogs, some good, some great, all interesting. Check out A Nightcap With Jyl.

Finally, a big boo to the PNW Bloggers blogring, which has had a list of 45 bloggers, including yours truly, waiting—for weeks—for membership approval.

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Posted July 25, 2005
What we learned over the weekend about Great Britain

Even though the country is led by a New-Labour neo-fascist ("The Warmonger Who Cares®"), in the wake of the killing of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes by London police we saw some surprising indications of actual accountability:

  • Prompt, official admission of error: After initially claiming de Menzies was "directly connected" to terrorism, the police rapidly admitted this, as well as the killing, were wrong. No denials, no pathetic clinging to an official story.
  • Victim not officially smeared: government did not swing into action to dig up any dirt it could find about de Menezes and his family, which it would then leak to friendly networks and columnists.
  • Official inquiry immediately announced: No excuse-making, no stonewalling.
  • And now there's a nationwide discussion over the merits and reasons behind the "shoot to kill" policy, which 71% of Britons currently support. There have been official apologies, from Tony Blair and others. Scotland Yard is reviewing its procedures, no doubt rushed into practice after the July 7 bombings. And maybe our mother country will understand why someone from a hot country would wear a coat during the summer in a cold country.

    Meanwhile, the Bush White House continues its policy of "no comment on an ongoing investigation." Valerie Plame's cover company and fellow operatives are out of the hunt for WMD (some of them possibly dead), and Karl Rove walks free.

    Blair 'desperately sorry' over tube shooting
    CIA's Plame/Brewster Jennings Damage Assessment Report

    'I forgot.' Judge Roberts can't remember joining the right-wing Federalist Society, even though he's listed in the group's 1997-98 directory. Maybe Sen. Bill Frist MD should make Roberts's confirmation hearing an Alzheimer's screening instead.

    Super Weed (and not the good kind). Today's Guardian reports that plants genetically-modified for herbicide resistance have cross-pollinated with weeds, transferring that resistance and creating herbicide-resistant super-weeds. I'm thinking that my neighbors must be responsible, and the lab is in their backyard.

    Today's Shit List. Iomega Support. These guys advertise an Ethernet Network Hard Drive that's Mac OS X and "wireless compatible." So far as I can tell, that is a complete and utter lie. And I don't know about you, but when I call tech support, I expect them to do more than spend most of the 45 minutes (NOT toll-free) talking to me, not silently looking things up on his computer because he obviously hadn't received any training on Macs or wireless networking (I'm talking about you, "Brad").

    Story Problem. Mr_Blog buys an Icrapola Network Hard Drive for $189, from the Dell online store. He then wants to exchange it (see above) for the non-network version, priced at $146. Dell requires exchanges be made only for identical products, but Prakash at the Dell Call Center says he can "help." Just send the $189 drive in for an exchange, and he will provide a $35 coupon to apply to the cost of the $146 model. How is Prakash not full of crap? Show your work. Extra Credit: Mr_Blog tells Dell to forget an exchange, now he just wants to return the Icrapola drive for a full refund. Again trying to "help," Prakash emails that he has scheduled a "free UPS pickup" at Mr_Blog's house for July 23, and provides a reference number. Mr_Blog waits around all day, but UPS fails to show up. Mr_Blog looks up the reference number at and discovers it is assigned to a package UPS has already delivered to an "Amber" in Salt Lake City. In how many ways is Prakash a lying liar?

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    Posted July 22, 2005
    Gravy Train
    Nice work if you can hold onto it Link This

    As a followup to yesterday's hints at staff cuts at the Seattle Monorail Project: it has been announced that SMP will lay off 20 people at a savings of $370,000 per month.

    In another monorail development, the agency yesterday said it will cut its 67-member staff by about 20 as part of an efficiency move long discussed but taking place as the agency feels pressure to cut costs.

    [Acting agency executive director Tom Horkan] said the cuts will be made agencywide and will involve line staff as well as senior management. Nearly half of the cuts will be from among the 23 staffers paid more than $100,000 annually. Full-time consultants will be cut by nearly half, from 19 positions to 10. Source

    Twenty-three SMP staffers are paid more than $100,000???!!! And what's more,

    ...spending averaged $2.9 million per month for the first quarter of the year. Source

    SMP was on course to spend nearly $35 million this year, with ground for the Green Line yet to be broken! The car tab revenue going to the agency was only $3.8 million per month as of just a couple of months ago—meaning 76.3% of their income was going to go for administration. That would leave only $10.8 million per year to pay off the project's debt. From where the system's annual operating subsidy would originate is anybody's guess.

    No wonder debt retirement would have taken 50 years.

    Rebidding monorail explored
    Monorail agency to lay off 30 percent of its staff

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    Posted July 21, 2005
    Implausible Deniability

    How does Judge Roberts explain away his 1990 view of Roe v. Wade?

    [Tony] Perkins [of the Family Research Council] had nothing but praise Wednesday for Roberts, who said in a legal brief to the Supreme Court in 1990 that the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade should be overruled. Roberts has since said that the statement did not necessarily reflect his personal views. Source

    That's not the point. The point is that his personal views ought not to matter. As a liberal I believe Roberts can hold whatever personal view of Roe that he wants. What I want to know is his professional view of what the Constitution has to say about Roe.

    It's Perkins et al who want to know what Roberts's personal, religious opinions are, because that's what they believe should be the law of the land. And since he loves Roberts so much, it's a sign that those views are already known, to Perkins at least.

    So don't just assume that Justice Roberts will keep his personal views separate. That will be what we find out during the confirmation process. Would you expect a religious fanatic to keep Church and State separate? Of course you wouldn't—they're all about the Theocracy.

    Lifestyles of the Rich & Monorail Staff. Link This News comes today of a proposal to cut nearly a third of the staff at the moribund Seattle Monorail Project. Sit up and take notice, because the more drastic cut would be 24 staff at a savings of $410,000 per month. Permiso, but that's a whopping average of $17,083 per person per month, or $205,000 per person annually. Is the $187,000 salary of already-departed Joel Horn included in that???

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    Posted July 20, 2005 | 1255 PDT
    So delicious, it must be fattening

    Skeleton cribbed from conservative magazines

    A column penned by the doyenne of right-wing rhetoric Ann Coulter has come under fire for alleged plagiarism, RAW STORY has learned.

    Much of Coulter's Jun. 29, 2005 column, "Thou Shall Not Commit Religion," bears a striking resemblance to pieces in magazines dating as far back as 1985—and a column written for the Boston Globe in 1995. More

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    Posted July 19, 2005
    Mr_Blog's Epistle to the Trainheads Link This

    Chapter One

    1 O tribe of the One True One Rail, yours is the kingdom of Dick of Falkenbury.
    2 Ye were once well-known and beloved by the people of Irony City. Prophets proclaimed thine glory, and sayeth thou art superior to the overbudget false god of the tribe of the One True Two Rails, whose kingdom is but 14 of the 21 miles originally promised.
    3 "The One True One Rail shalt be built on time, on budget, all or nothing," sayeth King Joel and Prince Tom. Surely goodness, great views and high ridership would follow you for the rest of your debt retirement period.
    4 But there came in those days a revenue shortfall, and there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. "Eleven billion shekels," didst the tribe protest, although some said it was less, and others blamed inflation. And lo, it came to pass within a few days that the King and his Prince did fall on their own swords.
    5 And one consultant crying in the Starbucks exclaimed, "Ye shouldst build the Green Line in sections, there art probably 30 options."
    6 The tribe wouldst pay shekels to ride the short sections, but how those shekels wouldst exceed the number of shekels it wouldst take to operate the sections, so as to repay the moneychangers early, was not explained. Consultants move in mysterious ways.
    7 Yea, this meaneth the One True One Rail could commence construction, but there art a chance it will be shorter than originally promised. Verily, the irony is palpable.

    Chapter Two

    1 Laugh not, O Tribe of the One True Two Rails, lest ye be laughed at. For thou hast thine own problems.
    2 Thou worship the One True Two Rails because thou thinketh it maketh dense urban villages, and serveth dense urban villages.
    3 The shining urban village on First Hill was already such a dense and perfect place to build a temple to the One True Two Rails, and there was great rejoicing among the yuppies and guppies.
    4 But it came to pass that the ground in which the underground temple would be built is not firm. Not sand. But not exactly rock either. Something in betweenest.
    5 So the palace didst float a trial balloon on a Friday, when the Sabbath approacheth and fewer people wouldst hear about it: "verily, a temple for this dense urban village is not so important as connecting to a temple at the North Gate." And they didst not see the irony, or pretendeth not to.
    6 When they got wind of it didst the Pharisees hit the roof. "Thou shalt build it for not too many shekels, for it is a dense urban village" the council did agree, even though the palace hast already spake that it wouldst take 350 million shekels, as many shekels as there are grains of sand at the seashore.
    7 Rejoice and say hosanna, O tribe of the One True Two Rails, for thine is the power and glory of the multi-county taxing district, forever and ever. Amen.

    Idea: Build Green Line in sections
    Sound Transit wants to eliminate First Hill station
    Council wants to keep $350M station

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    Posted July 15, 2005
    Irony City Link This
    A growing excited community

    Welcome to our little town. We may be small now, but more people are moving here all the time, attracted by traffic gridlock, the size of the public schools budget deficit, and the smell of coffee and Joel Horn's blood in the water.

    We've got a race for mayor this year too. Of course, it is full of irony.

    Our Mayor. He's a bulldog of a leader, and he chooses his battles carefully.

    Transportation & Development: He supports rail transit, but only if it increases the value of adjacent property owned by the town's second-richest man. And if you can't afford to live near the new train line? Well that's your problem, jeez you ungrateful people, he's trying to give you a 2.5 mile-long world-class mid-19th-century transportation system! Have some gratitude! If you had studied gene splicing in college, maybe you could afford to have nice things, and be the kind of person we want living in our new urban villages! But nooooo, you had to major in communications, political science or philosophy.
           At the same time, he's not some kind of gambler with our transit dollars: Any risky new technologies invented after 1886, such as monorails and personal rapid transit, are right out.

    The environment: He cares deeply about the environment, it is vital to the sustainability of his political image. Did you see the recent publicity offensive surrounding his heroic grandstanding at the U.S. Conference of Mayors? Now THAT was some leadership on the environment!
           But he's not afraid to ask us to sacrifice—separating your kitchen trash is just what you do if you're his kind of responsible citizen. What's environmentalism about if not having as many different sizes and types of recycling containers as possible? Besides, if you're lucky to live in a rich zip code, you get an attractive, dust-green bin with a tan lid. The rest of you who can't afford to give very much to his reëlection fund will have to settle for a bright grass-green monster to wheel out to the curbless, sidewalkless street.
           But woe be to the environment if it stands in the way of someone's ability to make money. One upstart candidate for mayor actually believes that woodlands where birds live should actually take precedence over hundreds of new, expensive homes. C'mon, get real. Birds don't pay taxes, they don't even vote!

    What's that? Questions from the back? Reports that the new green city hall building uses more energy than the old one? That's someone else's fault, the Mayor only works there. Next question.
           You want to know about the city's illegal filling of Hamm Creek? I'm sorry, our fearless Green Mayor has no comment on that. None.

    Christal Wood For Mayor

    Definitely not Kosher. Oh look: you have to be the right kind of Christian to adopt children through Bethany Christian Services:

    Adoption agency rejects Catholic parents (AP)

    JACKSON, MS -- A Christian adoption agency that receives money from Choose Life license plate fees said it does not place children with Roman Catholic couples because their religion conflicts with the agency's "Statement of Faith."

    Bethany Christian Services stated... "It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Bethany's state director Karen Stewart wrote. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."
    "I can't believe an agency that's nationwide would act like this," [rejected applicant] Loria Williams said. "There was an agency who was Christian based but wasn't willing to help people across the board."

    Bethany, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has 75 offices in 30 states... The offices are independently incorporated and are affiliated with various religions, spokesman John Van Valkenburg said...

    He said the Jackson office is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America.

    "They included this practice of not including Catholics," Van Valkenburg said Friday.
    The agency's Web site says all Bethany staff and adoptive applicants personally agree with the faith statement...

    "As the Savior, Jesus takes away the sins of the world," the statement says in part. "Jesus is the one in whom we are called to put our hope, our only hope for forgiveness of sin and for reconciliation with God and with one another."

    [Rejected applicant] Sandy Steadman said she was hurt and disappointed that Bethany received funds from the Choose Life car license plates. "I know of a lot of Catholics who get those tags," she said.

    I can't wait to see who's In and who's a Heretic when the Resmuglicans carry this to its logical extreme and install an official National Denomination, can you?

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    Posted July 13, 2005
    Supreme Court Time Tunnel, Part III Link This

    The Time Justice for the Temporal Continuity Bureau, Alberto Gonzales surfs the time waves of U.S. Constitutional history. His only connection to his own time is Ed Klein, a Holographic Mission Advisor who only Gonzales can see and hear. A malfunction in his locator beacon means the TCB cannot retrieve him; his time surfing is now random.

    TCB Mission Report
    Operative: Alberto Gonzales, Time Justice
    Mission Time: May, 1954
    Overview: Revise Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

          I am stranded in time with a busted locator beacon, awaiting retrieval. The last thing I remember, it was 1803, and I was in my Secret Chambers at SCOTUS having just invented the vodka gimlet.
          The time surfer had hummed to life without warning, and I had barely time to jump on when it went to full power. Good thing my ankle had healed in just a few weeks. The surfer's readout read "No Destination Specified," but that didn't stop it from catching a time wave and landing me here.
          It turned out "here" was still SCOTUS, but now it was 1954. The first thing I became aware of was the chief bailiff from 1963, Clyde, who greeted me with a nonchalant "Ah, Secret Justice Gonzales. We'd wondered where you'd gotten to."
          Which was weird, since I hadn't been here since the 30s. At least not yet.

          I was getting resettled with another cocktail, when my eye fell across a copy of the current docket. Of course! Brown v. The Board of Education, one of the most notorious examples of judicial activism in the Republic's history. The TCB had been working for years on a timeline that would alter Brown, but suddenly here was a golden opportunity.
          I needed an ace in the hole. I decided to reveal myself as a TCB Agent to Chief Justice Warren for the first time again. To keep our first 1963 meeting intact, as well as the successful outcome of Murray v. Curlett, I would later have to suppress his memories of my participation.
          A Justice Marshall had been an obstacle in my previous mission, and now I was confronted by another tough Marshall: Thurgood, counsel for the 13 Brown plaintiffs. It was he who would acquire the aura of Brown which he would carry with him upon his own elevation to the high court. So I had an opportunity to kill two birds.
          Holographic Mission Advisor Ed Klein said he had the answer. "I've uncovered something damning in his alternate-past," Ed said one morning after materializing.
          "Don't tell me—he's a lesbian?" The HMA's obsession with the Sapphic had worn thin.
          "Very funny, Alberto. Wait, it's almost that good. It turns out he may have dated Angela Davis's mother."
          "So you're saying...?" I was liking where this was going.
          "We're almost positive he could be Angela Davis's father!"
          "And you're sure about this?"
          "He once had a case in Birmingham in the 1940s, where she's from. The K.A.R.L. mainframe reports 99.9% confidence. Alberto, it's a slam dunk."

          I went to Warren with the information that plaintiffs' counsel is the father of America's future leading Communist. Ed provided even more further research, and it was not long before the plaintiffs' case had been taken over by celebrity lawyer Melvin "Bellicose" Belli. The Court hates grandstanders.
          I created a sealed brief in which I convincingly argued that prejudice is protected speech, and "separate but equal" is permissible so long as there is no intention to inflict serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.
          The tide had turned. I cited the record of future history that shows the U.S. becoming a nation of magical, egalitarian market forces. Americans will associate with each other based upon what we have to offer by way of goods and services, irrespective of race—rendering quaint the concept of court-ordered desegregation.

          The pro-Freedom side carried the day. A 6-3 majority ruled for the Board of Education. Marshall would never become a Supreme Court Justice; the Civil Rights Insurgency of the 1960s was blunted, averting decades of painful, divisive desegregation. The revised timeline shows no one has ever heard of reverse discrimination.

          As I write this, it occurs to me that the Constitution is like a tin can, but the label has fallen off. You're curious about the contents, but the can opener inevitably fails to cut through all the way 'round. Then you have to pry up the lid and grasp it with two fingers, and wiggle it until the offending remnant of metal fatigues and snaps. Meanwhile, you've had to touch whatever is on the inside of the lid—fine if it's chicken broth or cranberry sauce, but not so good if it's cat food.
          On second thought, maybe the Constitution is more like Pandora's Box—opening it can cause all sorts of difficulties. Best to just admire its surface and not think about what's inside.

    The End?

    The Time Justice will return, in: "The Pentagon Papers," New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713

    Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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    Posted July 11, 2005
    Supreme Court Time Tunnel, Part II Link This

    From John Jay to Rehnquist, from 1790 to 2005, Temporal Continuity Bureau Agent Alberto Gonzales surfs the time waves to keep the U.S. Supreme Court on the straight and narrow. His only connection to his own time is Ed Klein, a Holographic Mission Advisor at TCB Control who only Gonzales can see and hear. It's hard work, but someone has to be: The Time Justice.

    TCB Mission Report
    Operative: Alberto Gonzales, Time Justice
    Mission Time: February 24, 1803
    Overview: Stop the travesty of Marbury v. Madison

          As President George Walker Bush has said, it's the executive branch's job to interpret the law. Therefore it came as no surprise that I was given the assignment to change the outcome in Marbury v. Madison.
          My access to the President of 1803 was a straightforward surf-in. A true Renaissance man, Jefferson was fascinated with my time surfer, my Field Video Unit, and temporal communicator. That evening when I arrived at SCOTUS, my screened-off, identity-protecting seat on the bench was waiting for me.
          The facts of the case were straightforward, as was the motivation: William Marbury had the gall to suggest that a President was not above the law. Chief Justice Marshall's questions were soft and leading; that he was engineering a ruling against Jefferson was clear. I jumped into the debate, voicing the key Constitutional principle: a President's authority regarding judicial appointments should be unfettered so long as there is no intention to inflict serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.
          As I concluded, Marshall caught my eye; he shook his head slightly. "No, Mr. Chief Justice, I am not wrong on this," I said, taking an aggressive tack. He pointed his gavel at me.
          "Our new 'Secret Justice' must be careful he does not overstep his bounds," Marshall said. "I am going to move we rule, and I am going to urge we issue the writ of mandamus ordering the Administration deliver to Mr. Marbury his judicial commission. The Executive will not intimidate this Court." He smiled a smile worthy of Osama bin Laden on the morning of 9/11.
          "Not if I have anything to say about it," I cried, charging him. I ducked as Marshall threw the gavel at me, and it struck the bailiff. I tripped over a spittoon, and when I regained my footing I saw the Chief Justice of the United States ducking out a side door.
          I emerged into the corridor, and Holographic Mission Advisor Ed Klein materialized next to me, pointing to the left. "Alberto, he's over there," Ed shouted. I looked, and glimpsed Marshall's robes disappearing up a flight of stairs. I pursued. We emerged on the roof, into a driving rain. He raced to the opposite side and stood, one foot up on the parapet, and looked over the side into Capitol Street.
          "You're under arrest, Marshall," I yelled over the wind. "It's over, you can't get away." He fixed me with a cold stare.
          "You can defeat me. But there are others who will take my place."
          "Who? Who are you working with?" I hadn't detected any co-conspirators. I had to get the names of the others in his cabal, by any means necessary. "Come on, talk!"
          "That would be telling," he laughed.
          "I'll MAKE you talk!" I said, taking a step toward him. "Don't make me waterboard you!"
          "As though it could get any wetter," Marshall said. He threw back his head and stretched his arms out to the sides, catching the rain. "One way or another, we WILL rule for Marbury. This holding shall enshrine judicial review as the law of the land!" The eyes behind the stare now gleamed with madness. "The power of this Court will be unstoppable!"
          "Where is it in the Constitution? Show me where it is," I screamed at the Chief Justice, "Show me the words!!!"
          "The words don't need to be there," Marshall sneered, "it's an evolving document."
          "Then I'll see you in Hell!" I tackled him and we fell from the parapet.

          Which should have killed us. I wouldn't have minded, I am willing to die for the principle of strict interpretation. But instead an awning broke our fall. We fell through it, surprising two beggars sheltering from the rain.
          Marshall and I landed on each other in a pile. He leapt up and dashed off into the dark. I started to rise, but immediately collapsed; my ankle was broken. I watched as John Marshall made good his escape. The revised timeline shows he disappeared the night of February 24, 1803, never to be seen again.

          My locator beacon was damaged in the fall, the temporal carrier wave is intermittent. Ed informs me my recall signal isn't being received, and TCB Control cannot get a fix on my position.

          As I write this, it occurs to me that Freedom is a precious thing. So precious in fact that it must be locked up in a safe place, preferably Cuba or Diego Garcia, with access closely restricted. Citizens will be able to visit and exercise a selected number of their Freedoms, provided they pass a background check and swear a loyalty oath. Our Freedom will be safe for future generations!

    Part One | Part Two | Part Three

    A phone call: July 11, 2003

    White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove: Hello, Matt?
    Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper: Yes?
    KR: It's Karl. Rove.
    MC: Oh, sure. Hi Karl, what can I do for you?
    KR: You know the diplomat who is saying our Niger yellowcake intelligence is wrong?
    MC: Joe Wilson?
    KR: That's him. I just wanted to tell you his wife is a CIA agent.
    MC: Is that so.
    KR: Yup. Covert operative; WMD hunter; Non Official Cover--the works.
    MC: A regular Jane Bond. Okay, thanks for letting me know.
    KR: Anytime. Oh, and Matt?
    MC: Hmm?
    KR: I didn't give you her actual name, did I?
    MC: Uh, no...
    KR: Good. Sometime I may need you to tes- er, vouch for that.
    MC: Karl?
    KR: Yo.
    MC: Is Wilson by any chance a polygamist?
    KR: Matt, you know I can't comment on that.

    Rove Told Reporter of Plame's Role But Didn't Name Her, Attorney Says

    Not sure how this happened, but "Mr_Blog" is now the #1 Mr_Blog on Google. I guess I owe all you linkers something alcoholic.

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    Posted July 8, 2005
    Supreme Court Time Tunnel, Part I Link This

    Recruited by the ultra-secret Temporal Continuity Bureau of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Pantemporal Supreme Court Justice Alberto Gonzales now travels through history, reversing judicial activism, confounding liberalism, and advising the Framers on original intent. Alberto Gonzales is: The Time Justice.

    TCB Mission Report
    Operative: Alberto Gonzales, Time Justice
    Mission Time: June 17, 1963
    Overview: Overturn anti-Christian school prayer decision in Murray v. Curlett.

          I've been in Camelot for 5 months, and it's not been easy. The Kennedy brothers are the Arthur and Lancelot of this kingdom, and they don't impress easily. Not even a TCB Agent on a titanium time surfer, materializing in the White House Map Room while the C in C is getting a hummer, hardly raises an eyebrow. Well it wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last.
          The holographic timecall from TCB Agent Joe Kennedy Jr., telling his brother of the importance of ensuring a win for Jesus in the School Prayer case, won full coöperation with the mission from the President, shocked to see his "dead" brother. Soon, I was once again secretly nominated and confirmed as a Secret Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. And they still had my Pierre L'Enfant-designed anonymity screen at the end of the bench.
          The formal hearing of arguments mostly followed the original timeline. But there was one major obstacle: the liberal anti-American William O. Douglas. The O'Hair attorneys had the weight of recent precedents on their side, but I could deal with that. But who is Justice Douglas trying to fool with his fancy principles and integrity? What's in it for him?
          Mission success would hinge on neutralizing Douglas. Holographic Mission Advisor Ed Klein was instrumental in this part of the mission, providing me with copies of suspicious pro-environment and anti-business writings by Douglas. I was able to start a whisper-campaign at Sans Souci that Douglas was in fact a practicing tree-worshipping Druid Communist. Ed insisted that he could also prove Douglas is a lesbian, but I told him to save it for Eleanor Roosevelt. After two weeks of swirling rumors Douglas was forced to recuse himself, and the court was at a stalemate.
          Weeks passed, and the month of June approached. I decided to restore Chief Justice Warren's memory of our 1954 encounter. Warren greeted me warmly, and allowed me to introduce a sealed brief attesting to the fact that America's destiny is to be a Christian nation.
          I then circulated the following suggestion to the other justices: that an officially sanctioned classroom prayer is not coercive so long as there is no intention to inflict serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. Desiring an end to the stalemate, a majority accepted this compromise. Classrooms were made safe for God.

          As I write this, it occurs to me that the waves of time are also like threads. Sometimes a careless, lazy, liberal mind can drop the spool of freedom, which unrolls and causes the threads to tangle. They become knotted, and fray as you try to untangle them. How then can they be used to sew the fabric of a Christian America? The liberal would throw away the entire spool, and the garment of the nation unravels. It is up to the TCB to re-weave the fabric and perform alterations to the garment. Lady Justice will be clad head to toe in righteousness!

          I will activate my locator beacon shortly, and await the time wave to surf to my next assignment.

    Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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    Posted July 5, 2005
    The Buck Stops There Link This

    Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was all over the media recently, aligning himself for reëlection as an environmentalist. If news releases were snow, the taxpayer-funded, pro-Nickels PR job surrounding his sponsorship of environmental resolutions at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors would have resulted in a snow pack deep enough to cancel this summer's drought emergency.

    So it's delicious this morning to note that the news that Seattle's new, supposedly "green", city hall uses more energy than the old one brings one response from the Mayor's Office: to blame someone else.

    "Marianne Bichsel, a spokeswoman for Nickels, noted that plans for the new City Hall began during the administration of former Mayor Paul Schell." Source

    Marianne, how do you sleep at night? That's rhetorical.

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    Posted July 1, 2005
    Bits against terror Link This

    Good morning, this is Tim Snide with a special Entertainment Edition of the Slam Book.®

    The Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case is sending reverberations throughout the world of online piracy. Internet services report increased traffic and system crashes caused by people rushing to download as much as they can, in case Justice/Homeland Security moves against this threat to the vital national security interests of the major movie studios and record labels.

    Grokster spokesperson Captain Long John McQueue commented, "Arrrr! This be the biggest shot in the arm for Grokster since we captured that Spanish man o'war in the Sargasso Sea," he said. "Our site traffic is through the roof in the last 48 hours," said Captain McQueue, adding, "we will have to reproject our plunder estimate upwards for the just-completed 2nd-quarter, Jim lad."

    Meanwhile at the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas was meeting with the court's IT advisors on the subject of how to find and erase a PC download log.

    Folks, let me pause here, take off my half-glasses, look earnestly into the camera, and offer this commentary.

    My friends, I don't mind if illegal pay-to-P2P sites are shut down. But if we are barred from sharing MP3s, DiVXs, RAMs and WMV files with each other at no charge, what's next? Our VHS? Our mix tapes? Our answering machine parodies? "They came for the AVIs, and I said nothing."

    File sharing isn't the enemy. File sharing can actually be our most potent weapon in the war on terror, if we are smart enough to use it.

    File sharing should be MORE prevalent. It should receive WIDER overseas distribution. The U.S. should develop and implement a free wi-fi network to blanket the Mid East and South Asia. Free Peace Corps Powerbooks with pre-installed Bittorrent and Emule should be handed out outside all the madrassahs.

    The raunchy comedies, prime time dramas and irresistable reality shows of the Western Democracies will overwhelm their will to make revolution.

    The terrorists can't build bombs if they're too busy waiting for the latest Doctor Who to finish downloading.

    I'm Tim Snide, your next Secretary of State, with the Slam Book.®

    Why File-Sharing Piracy Will Never Die
    Blarchives: The Slam Book

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