Just saw over on Fox News this story, currently ongoing. A man claiming to have a bomb strapped to his chest has taken over the Rochester, NH campaign office of Hillary Clinton. Situation is progressing as I write this and is being covered live on Fox.
Update: The situation was resolved and it was discovered that the bomb was a fake. Leeland Eisenberg was taken into custody safely with no one injured during the incident. Thank God for that. And well-deserved thanks to the Rochester, NH authorities who handled the issue with the right touch. I could have been much worse.
Eisenberg is reported to have had drug abuse issues as well as some pretty hefty self-inflicted stress from a divorce proceeding brought on by his own abuse of his wife. I think we should just keep him off the streets until all that passes. To the volunteers and employees of Clinton’s campaign office I’d like to pass along my wishes that peace will return to their lives, soon. That goes for Hillary Clinton, too. (At least, peace regarding this issue. What lack of peace she’s seeing as a result of running for President, well, I’m afraid that’s to be expected.) They’ve closed their campaign offices nationwide, for some reason. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that this was an isolated incident.
In any case, here’s to them that no one was hurt.
The folks at the State Sunshine and Open Records blog have certainly taken notice of the situation here in Loudoun and, I’m proud to say, my recent post on the court ruling that a public official is basically to be denied any privacy in communications. A new post over there asks the extremely pertinent question of what makes a campaign e-mail private or public. The post is so well written and so tight, I can’t think of a way quote any piece of it without quoting the whole thing, so I’m just going to send you over there to read it yourself. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Welcome back. OK, the question asked in this post is whether a public official is to be allowed to run a private campaign. Before going any further, let me go ahead and state the policy that should be considered normal regarding the use of government computers and networks. When I was an IT manager for a medium-sized firm several years ago, I came up with a general policy regarding the use of the company’s networks. It read, succinctly put, that anything created on, stored on, or transmitted through the company’s networks were considered company property. In my duties as the administrator of the system, I was fully authorized to open, read, archive and/or delete anything that existed on the network without any further notification to a specific employee. In other words, I was fully authorized to read every single e-mail or open any file on the network. Employees were to understand they had no expectation of privacy.
The same should go with the use of government computers. Anything created on them, stored on them, or transmitted by them should be considered public record and subject to a FOIA request. (Bearing in mind that certain items are protected from such requests as defined in the FOIA itself.) Just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about e-mails sent to or from government owned systems in any way. The point of contention is dealing with private systems paid for by private money – no government systems involved.
I believe it should be obvious that a public official still has a private life that is, in no way, connected with the execution of his public office. Letters and calls to family and friends regarding personal matters should be as equally protected as those of people who are not holding office. I believe that campaign communication is a function of a private endeavor and is not a matter of the execution of a public office. When a sitting Supervisor discusses campaign strategy, finance, or events with members of their campaign, that communication does not meet the standard of a public document.
If, however, public business is discussed in a given e-mail then that part of the document – what was said regarding that public business and with whom the communication was made – is very much part of the execution of that public official’s job. That makes it subject to a FOIA request, yes, but not in its entirety unless the entire e-mail is a discussion of that public business. In those circumstances, I feel the best move by the court is to appoint a court mediator to go over the e-mails and release the parts that qualify.
If a given e-mail account is not used by the public official for public business, then nothing about it should be released to the person filing the FOIA request. Ah, but do we just accept the word of the public official?
Yes, we do. Unless someone has a reasonable suspicion that the official is conducting business in that e-mail account, then the concept of innocent until proven guilty should apply. The penalty for lying about that should be extremely painful for the official making such a fraudulent claim. I’m unsure what level of law is currently making the conduct of public business from a private account a no-no (whether it’s an actual law or just a general ethical agreement) but we should look to codify that much more tightly to avoid situations like this judge has given us. To simply assume the reverse, as has been done in this case, is to presume guilt and open a person’s private life up to potentially hostile strangers. That’s too high a price to ask of our public officials.
In the meantime, I would suggest a number of actions on the parts of our public officials who do not want to have their private, family conversations handed over to political enemies. First, do not ever conduct public business on private accounts. If you ever have, open a new account immediately and send out a “change of address” notification to personal contacts so they avoid sending anything personal to the old account.
When accessing the personal account, never pull the e-mail from the e-mail server to your home PC. Access it using a web interface to keep copies of those personal e-mails from ever being stored on your home PC.
Should anyone send you an e-mail that talks about public business, reply to them to send any such inquiries to your work e-mail and nothing else. Keep any mention of public business separate. Forward anyone who does this a link to this ongoing story by way of explanation. They’ll understand.
I’ll post more as I get more.
Don’t look now but it looks like we’re getting into higher-grade topics at the HoodaThunk? blog. If you’ll recall, the last time I did a readability test on the blog I came in at high school level, which was fine by me. I just ran the same test and look what happened.
I guess we’re all thinking more.
I’m wasn’t a huge fan of Newt Gingrich when he was in office and he still says and does things that crank me the wrong way. He does, however, have a huge point in a talk he was giving where he spoke of the Two Worlds concept he’s got: the World That Works and the Word That Doesn’t.
The clip is over at Bacon’s Rebellion and I recommend it. It’s funny and it’s on point.
If you thought the mainstream media didn’t want to report on the Iraq surge, try finding stories on the Pakistani army’s offensive in Swat. I know it’s an important issue, because the New York Times ran an op-ed yesterday claiming that Pakistan never does anything about Islamists in its northwest. So where is the Times’s coverage of the gains made yesterday by Pakistan’s army in Swat? Clearly the Times has been put to shame by the Washington Post, which devoted at least three whole sentences to the issue today.
How many people in the United States know that for the past week or so Pakistan’s army has been shelling Swat, attacking with helicopter gunships, cutting off food to the area, taking strategic hills, and reportedly, yesterday, driving Taliban opponents out of their headquarters and several key entrenched positions, and forcing them into the mountains. Much of the civilian population of the area fled some time ago, after being warned by the army of an imminent offensive. Where are the in-depth stories on all this in our mainstream outlets?
Like they say, read the whole thing.
A photo montage by a couple of “artists” showing President Bush and 5 other members of his administration, current and former, is being displayed by the New York Public Library. Each member is shown holding a DC police placard of the type used for arrest booking photos. Not only is the library management guilty of misuse of public funds but they think we’re all dumb as a box of rocks, too.
“This exhibition has no political agenda,” the library said in a statement issued Thursday. “The work described in the media has been presented out of context and is not a complete or fair representation of the entire exhibition — which showcases 23 different contemporary printmakers from around the world, featuring a range of subject matters.”
The library also said that nothing in the exhibit is reflective of the views of the institution.
“Portions of this exhibition … should not be viewed as a political statement by the library,” it said.
Oh, sure, I can understand that any old art exhibit would contain doctored photos of the duly elected leader of this nation being booked by the police force of Washington, DC and not making a political statement in any way. Sure I can.
Garbage. This little photo essay is nothing but a political message and the management of the library made a decision to display it publicly. If there had been a thought in their heads that they didn’t want to make a political statement, they would have hung a sign up next to the display saying exactly that because any reasonable person would come to the conclusion that the library thought it would be entertaining simply by the fact that the pictures wouldn’t get hung up if the management hadn’t thought so.
That they would indulge in this kind of treatment of the President and his staff without so much as a clarification before they got busted for it says they’re fine displaying this message. What’s the message? That the President and his staff are crooks and should be treated as such. Once someone complained – and, gee, who would have seen that coming? – suddenly they’re complaining about context and agendas.
Here’s a thought. Since they’re taking it upon themselves to allow partisan political messages, how about we revoke their public funding? Or mandate that they should display something they had a political issue with before. For example, they can display the Danish Mohammed cartoons in the same spot this grouping currently sits. Or they can give the space over to the local Right-to-Life organization so they can display anti-abortion material. How about they do like the 1 person quoted in the story suggested and fake up similar booking photos for Democrats like Bill Clinton and Sandy Berger. Oh, wait – you can just post Sandy Berger’s real one.
People like those in charge of the NYPL are the first ones to squeal about “the message” things send. “Messages” like displaying Christmas Trees or pictures of Christopher Columbus are routinely decried by the type of left-wing bigots that would display such a photo array as described in this story. If there’s no intent of sending a political message in something like this, then perhaps they can demonstrate their advocacy of such a notion by putting up a tree for the Christmas Season and a big, honkin’ Merry Christmas sign over the top.
I’m not holding my breath.
Michelle Malkin has the scoop on last night’s CNN/YouTube debate wherein CNN chose questions sent in via YouTube. The questions were all supposed to be from just your average joes and chosen specifically to bring critical issues to light, allegedly without becoming a partisan Democrat gotcha-fest. Well, the debate did bring out the issues but it’s coming to light that CNN didn’t put too much research into the partisan membership of the questioners.
One question regarding gays in the military was posed by retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr. What CNN failed to tell anyone was that Kerr is a Clinton/Kerry supporter actively involved in Hillary’s campaign. Another was from a mother asking about lead in imported toys. Turns out she’s an activist with the United Steelworkers, which has endorsed John Edwards. Another one regarded abortion from a young woman, allegedly undecided, who turned out to be another John Edwards supporter who’s put up other YouTube vids actively supporting him while sporting an “Edwards 2008″ shirt. Finally, a man portraying himself as an undecided Log Cabin Republican is on record in a profile written by himself as being a Barak Obama supporter.
These items have come to light with simple Google and other search engine use inside of 16 hours of the debate. How much work could CNN have possibly have done in vetting these questions when they had weeks to perform the task others have accomplished in hours?
Anderson Cooper at CNN made an on-air apology about General Kerr’s question saying that CNN was unaware of his association with the Dems’ campaigns and would have said so before using the question, if they had used it at all. Will they own up about the rest of these that have come to light (with more, possibly, to come)? I cannot imagine for a moment the level of shrieking that would be coming from the Kos Kidz and HuffPo if Fox were to have done the same thing to the Dem candidates and chosen only questions from GOP supporters.
That is, assuming the Dems develop the fortitude to actually appear on Fox News.
You may recall about 6 months ago that an Atlanta lawyer, diagnosed with drug-resistant TB, ignored orders from the CDC to seek medical attention in Italy and not return to the US until treated and flew back, exposing a couple of hundred fellow passengers to the disease. Well, several months of testing are proving promising. No other passengers have contracted the disease thus far.
My take on the situation stands as it did back in June when I wrote about it the 1st time. The fact that the passengers on that plane resisted contamination is great news and I’m thankful for it. The lawyer, Andrew Speaker, says he’s relieved. I’ll just bet he is. You have to love the weasel words he uses when asked for comment by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“I’m relieved that the results came back that way,” Speaker told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.
Speaker also said he hopes the test results give “a sense of peace and closure for the people who may have been concerned.”
The clever little introduction of the term “closure” is lawyer-speak for “don’t sue.” And I’d wager a guess that there were people who actually were quite a bit concerned, not may have been concerned. The fact that the immune systems of the people on that plane were robust enough to hold off the infection does not, in any way, absolve Speaker of his reckless actions. He knew full well he was exposing people to that danger and I’m sure if he were pressing a product liability case he’d make the point that the actual injury or avoidance thereof isn’t the issue. It’s the exposure, the potential, and the knowledge of the person or persons responsible for putting others in the path of that risk that’s key.
I’m glad everyone’s OK and I’m glad Speaker feels fine, I really am. But this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. Let him off the hook scott-free and you’ll see others asking why they should bother listening to the CDC’s rulings. We dodged a bullet this time and we should realize that it was luck. We don’t get to be that lucky all the time.
Back in 2006 a half-mile wide asteroid made a close pass to us and it generated real fears of an impact scenario as far back as 2004. When I reported on the near-miss in June of last year, I took note of another large piece of gravel that’s likely going to come a lot closer. That asteroid, Apophis (and I found that to be a very appropriate name, given one of the shows I watched regularly), is supposed to get within 20,000 km of the planet, which is actually inside the orbit of our geosynchronous satellites.
In 2004, scientists were giving it a 1-in-37 chance of hitting us but they are now sure it won’t as it passes in 2029. However, it’s going to make a return trip in 2036 and whether it’s slated to whack us on that pass or not is still anybody’s guess. They say we’re going to have to observe it for another 4 to 6 years to be sure.
Better start firing up that old innovation machine. Given everyone else’s track record, it’s likely going to fall to America to step up if the numbers work out to an impact.
Niagra Falls City Court Judge Robert Restaino has been removed from the bench after an incident where he jailed all 46 people in his courtroom after someone’s cell phone rang.
Niagara Falls City Court Judge Robert Restaino “snapped” and “engaged in what can only be described as two hours of inexplicable madness” during the March 2005 session, Raoul Felder, chairman of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, wrote in the decision to remove Restaino from the $113,900-per-year post.
A phone rang while Restaino was hearing the cases of domestic violence offenders who had been ordered to appear weekly to update the judge on the progress of their counseling. A sign in the courthouse warns that cell phones and pagers must be turned off.
“Everyone is going to jail,” Restaino said. “Every single person is going to jail in this courtroom unless I get that instrument now. If anybody believes I’m kidding, ask some of the folks that have been here for a while. You are all going.”
Nobody came forward so this excuse for a servant of the people ordered all 46 people in the court taken into custody. They were taken to the jail, searched, packed into holding cells and those who were not able to come up with bail were shackled and bused to yet another jail. The judge ordered them released later that afternoon.
His excuse? He’s been under some stress in his personal life.
Two hours of inexplicable madness? Not hardly. There’s nothing inexplicable about this action. This judge got his knickers in a twist that someone would dare disturb him in his little kingdom and is clearly so wrapped up in his superiority complex, his obvious assurance of his own entitlement, that he just decided to take it out on everyone and guilt or innocence be damned. This is precisely the kind of man that doesn’t need to be on the bench and he certainly has lost any standing to pass judgment on anyone else. The only people I’ve ever seen that punished a whole roomload of people over the actions of 1 person were elementary school teachers and they were usually the worst teachers I’ve ever run into. That kind of tactic is wrong when applied to kids and it’s inexcusable when an allegedly professional adult applies them to other adults. That goes double for someone granted the kind of power a judge holds.
Thankfully, I’m not in Niagra Falls and if this is the caliber of people they’re electing to the bench, I’ll be staying well clear of that city.
The State Commission did the right thing in getting this clown off the bench. Now they need to make that permanent. Every person this judge abused had better have the entire incident expunged from their records (employers look for past arrests in the background checks and if someone is denied an interview over this…) Frankly, I hope every one of them sues.