Saturday, December 29, 2007

Short Attention Span Musing

...Is state Sen. Jack Harper (R-Surprise!) trying to move up? Right now, most of his blog coverage is limited to "That's our Jack! Isn't he a nut?" posts, but a bill that he has proposed for the looming session of the Arizona lege may support moving him from the "loon" category of coverage into the "follow the money" category.

If passed and enacted, his SB1042 would remove from state law the provision that a privately operated toll road is allowed "only if a reasonable alternative route exists."

In other words, it would allow the creation of 'sole option' toll roads. Such roads would compel members of the public, without consideration to their financial status, who wanted to travel to a destination served by that road to pay a toll because they would have no other options.

When someone who is elected as a public servant does something that seems to only screw over the public that he was hired to serve, it raises some questions about his motivations.

So far, anyway, I haven't any direct financial links between Harper and the toll road industry. The closest link that I could find in a few hours on a Saturday was a number of campaign contributions to Harper over the years from lawyers with the national firm Greenberg Traurig, a firm that has worked with PBSJ Corporation, an engineering consulting firm that specializes in, among other things, toll roads. Both Greenberg Traurig and PBSJ have offices in Phoenix.

That link is *not* strong enough to start throwing around corruption allegations. However, it is strong enough to serve as a guide to further investigation.

It should be noted that Jack Abramoff is a former employee of Greenberg Traurig.

Edit on 12/30 to clarify - I suppose a better way to put it is that there is smoke here, but that doesn't mean there is fire, just a very good reason to look for fire.

End edit.

...Is protecting Iraq's finances the primary motivation behind Bush's latest veto?

George Bush is set to 'pocket veto' HR1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. He objects to a provision that allows victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism (the relevant section, 1083, starts on page 334 of the .pdf file linked above.)

He believes this could unfairly penalize the current government of Iraq for crimes committed under the rule of Saddam Hussein.

The vast majority of Hussein's victims were Iraqis; in fact, the only Americans that I could find that could be reasonably considered to victims of Hussein were American soldiers captured during the Gulf War in 1991. According to the VA, there were 47 American POWs during the Persian Gulf War.

The provision at issue was proposed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Iraq doesn't seem to be the primary target of his proposal.

From the New York Times, via the SF Chronicle -

"My language allows American victims of terror to hold perpetrators accountable - plain and simple," Lautenberg said in a statement.

Consider this -

- Left unsaid is the likelihood that as a senator representing New Jersey, a number of Lautenberg's constituents were victims of the 9/11 attacks; a number significantly larger than 47.

- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; in fact, Osama bin Laden, 14 of the 19 hijackers, and a significant part of the financing for the attacks were Saudi, not Iraqi.

- And Saudi Arabia has far more money than Iraq these days.

Combine those considerations with the Bush Administration's well-documented predilection for protecting its Saudi friends and the fact that there has never been an unfettered investigation into the events of 9/11.

Is Bush really protecting Iraq, or is he using Iraq's interests as a front for his real reason for the veto?

The transcript of the White House press briefing where the veto was announced is here.

I have one question (of the non-snarkily rhetorical variety) - A pocket veto takes place when the President doesn't sign a bill within 10 days and the Congress is adjourned, and that seems to be the situation right now, with all of the members of Congress home for holiday break.

However, the Senate has been holding 'pro-forma' sessions every few days to block the president from utilizing 'recess appointments' to get around the confirmation hearings required for most of his nominees.

Do those session obviate the effectiveness of the pocket veto? Do they in fact mean that the Congress is legally in session, so that instead of vetoing the bill after 10 days, it actually becomes law without the President's signature?

Does anybody with a better knowledge of Constitutional law than me know the answer? Thx.

...One of the few good points in the aftermath of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been that many of the presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle are waking up to the need for a cogent foreign policy campaign plank.

So why isn't the MSM talking to and about the candidate with more nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize (3) than all of the other candidates combined (0)?

Why are the media pundits inviting the likes of Clinton, McCain and Edwards (or their reps) to pontificate on the assassination of Bhutto and its effects on Pakistan and stability in the region?

Why are they ignoring the only one among the entire gaggle of candidates that has real diplomatic experience?

Why aren't they shoving a microphone in the face of Bill Richardson?

The Patriots are on national, non-premium cable, TV in a little while. Should be fun... :)


1 comment:

jobsanger said...

Happy New Year, cpmaz!
I hope 2008 is a great year for you and your blog.