Monday, June 19, 2006

The Next Kennedy to Die?

Interview: Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Journalist Q&A
PR Week USA Jun 19 2006 11:00

This month, Rolling Stone ran an investigative feature claiming that Republicans used a systematic combination of voter disenfranchisement and fraud, centered in Ohio, to rob John Kerry of a win in the 2004 presidential election.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and son of liberal icon Bobby Kennedy, wrote the article, available, along with supporting research, at Kennedy spoke to PRWeek about the story.

PRWeek: How did you come to write this piece?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: I had not paid much attention to this issue. And then a number of books came out, and I read them because I [wanted to use them] to interview people on my radio show. And then I read the [Rep. John] Conyers report, [a 2005 Congressional inquiry into the election], and started talking with people in Ohio. And at one point, I said, "Holy cow, this is real." And then I talked to [RS editor] Jann Wenner about it. I encouraged him to do a piece, and he said "We'll print one if you write it."

PRWeek: Tell me about the process of putting the story together - it obviously took a while.

Kennedy: I read the literature out there, and read the articles. Then I interviewed voters in Ohio, and public officials, and people who were involved in the election from all over the country.

PRWeek: Why do you think this wasn't covered heavily by major media directly after the election?

Kennedy: I think the mainstream media took up the Republican echo chamber, and just echoed the right-wing talking points.

PRWeek: Why didn't the Democrats themselves pursue this?

Kennedy: Well, there was a lot of complaining; there were a lot of lawsuits. But it got very little traction in the media. But you know, the Democrats on this issue have been abysmal as well.

PRWeek: Your story wasn't based on any secret information, correct?

Kennedy: No, that's the whole thing. This was not a secret conspiracy. This was done openly and shamelessly. Across Ohio, there were people who did everything they could to stop this.

PRWeek: Have you had any indication that the national media will take another look at this issue?

Kennedy: I had a good indication [June 7]. The New York Times, as its lead editorial, did a piece on [Ohio secretary of state] Kenneth Blackwell's current efforts to suppress registration drives in Ohio. And the Republicans are doing the same thing in Florida, and the Times talked about that, as well.

PRWeek: What reaction have you seen from the general public?

Kennedy: There's a huge reaction. Rolling Stone told me that it's gotten two and a half times as many e-mails [about this article] as it's ever gotten for any other story in its history. So there's a huge appetite for this story.

PRWeek: This story didn't have a 'smoking gun'; was there one person coordinating this entire operation?

Kennedy: There's never going to be 100% certitude that the election was stolen, because the only way you could get that is by recounting the ballots, and the recount was illegally derailed by Republican operatives. The mastermind behind the efforts in Ohio was Kenneth Blackwell, along with…[Toledo elections official] Bernadette Noe. But on a national level, it's [Republican National Committee chairman] Kenneth Mehlman and Karl Rove.

PRWeek: Have you gotten any reaction from the Republican Party on this?

Kennedy: I've gotten, certainly, reaction in the blogosphere. But most of the reaction has been supportive.

PRWeek: Is there a next step?

Kennedy: I've been meeting with attorneys... to devise a litigation strategy. And I would say that very soon we'll be announcing lawsuits against some of the individuals and companies involved.

PRWeek: Who exactly would that litigation be targeting?

Kennedy: I wouldn't say, right now.

PRWeek: The election is over. Is it too late now?

Kennedy: There's another election soon. And as the Times [just] reported, the same people are up to the same shenanigans.

From PRWeek.

Read Kennedy's Rolling Stone article here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Daddy's Day

Friday, June 16, 2006

How You Gonna Come?

When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

When the law break in
How you gonna go?
Shot down on the pavement
Or waiting on death row…

—The Clash, Guns of Brixton

Top court upholds no-knock police search
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press WriterThu Jun 15, 7:05 PM ET

The Supreme Court made it easier Thursday for police to barge into homes and seize evidence without knocking or waiting, a sign of the court's new conservatism with Samuel Alito on board.
The court, on a 5-4 vote, said judges cannot throw out evidence collected by police who have search warrants but do not properly announce their arrival.

It was a significant rollback of earlier rulings protective of homeowners, even unsympathetic homeowners like Booker Hudson, who had a loaded gun next to him and cocaine rocks in his pocket when Detroit police entered his unlocked home in 1998 without knocking.

The court's five-member conservative majority, anchored by new Chief Justice John Roberts and Alito, said that police blunders should not result in "a get-out-of-jail-free card" for defendants.

Dissenting justices predicted that police will now feel free to ignore previous court rulings requiring officers with search warrants to knock and announce themselves to avoid running afoul of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches.

"The knock-and-announce rule is dead in the United States," said David Moran, a Wayne State University professor who represented Hudson. "There are going to be a lot more doors knocked down. There are going to be a lot more people terrified and humiliated."

Supporters said the ruling will help police do their jobs.

"People who are caught red-handed with evidence of guilt have one less weapon to get off," said Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

The case provides the clearest sign yet of the court without Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Hudson had lost his case in a Michigan appeals court. Justices agreed to hear his appeal last June, four days before O'Connor's surprise announcement that she was retiring.

O'Connor was still on the bench in January when his case was first argued, and she seemed ready to vote with Hudson. "Is there no policy of protecting the home owner a little bit and the sanctity of the home from this immediate entry?" she asked.

She retired before the case was decided, and a new argument was held this spring so that Alito could participate, apparently to break a 4-4 tie.

Four justices, including Alito and Roberts, would have given prosecutors a more sweeping victory but did not have the vote of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a moderate conservative.
Ronald Allen, a Northwestern University Law professor, said the ruling "suggests those four would be happy to consider overturning" a 1961 Supreme Court opinion that said evidence collected in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be used in trials. "It would be a significant change," he said.

Kennedy joined in most of the ruling but wrote to explain that he did not support ending the knock requirement. "It bears repeating that it is a serious matter if law enforcement officers violate the sanctity of the home by ignoring the requisites of lawful entry," he said.
Kennedy said that legislatures can intervene if police officers do not "act competently and lawfully." He also said that people whose homes are wrongly searched can file a civil rights lawsuit.

Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that there are public-interest law firms and attorneys who specialize in civil rights grievances.

Detroit police acknowledge violating the knock-and-announce rule when they called out their presence at Hudson's door, failed to knock, then went inside three seconds to five seconds later. The court has endorsed longer waits, of 15 seconds to 20 seconds. Hudson was convicted of drug possession.

"Whether that preliminary misstep had occurred or not, the police would have executed the warrant they had obtained, and would have discovered the gun and drugs inside the house," Scalia wrote.

Four justices complained in the dissent that the decision erases more than 90 years of Supreme Court precedent.

"It weakens, perhaps destroys, much of the practical value of the Constitution's knock-and-announce protection," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for himself and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Breyer said that while police departments can be sued, there is no evidence of anyone collecting much money in such cases.

The case is Hudson v. Michigan, 04-1360.
On the Net:
Supreme Court decisions:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Amurrikans R Stoopid

Once again, research has proven the obvious. Haven't they heard all those numbskulls asking, "If evolution is real, how's come we don't have three arms?" I mean, duh! Special thanks to Turkey for keeping us out of last place. Reminds me of a Mississippi/Arkansas joke I heard once.

Friday, June 02, 2006

More On That Faith Thing

I was reminded recently of this passage from Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut:

America is the wealthiest nation on earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, “It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.” It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power or gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” There will also be an American flag no bigger than a child’s hand glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.

Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.

I'd say that about sums it up.