Uncategorized

Rotting Fist in Glove

Homes of Calif. Lawmaker, Defense Contractor Raided: “Federal agents investigating the relationship between Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and a defense contractor searched the congressman’s California home and the contractor’s home and yacht, the U.S. Attorney’s office said on Saturday.

Skip to next paragraph Reuters

Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, declined comment on whether any materials were seized in Friday’s raids, saying that the search warrants were under seal.

The Internal Revenue Service, the Pentagon’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI have joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in the investigation of Cunningham and Mitchell Wade, who until recently was chief executive of MZM, a Washington-based government contractor that provides highly classified intelligence work for the Pentagon.

The investigation began after news reports that Wade had purchased Cunningham’s home in Del Mar, California, in late 2003 for more than $1.6 million and then sold it months later at a loss of $700,000. Cunningham also was living rent-free on Wade’s boat at the Capital Yacht Club on the Potomac River.” (New York Times )

Uncategorized

Conservative Groups Rally Against Gonzales as Justice

“Within hours after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s announced retirement from the Supreme Court, members of conservative groups around the country convened in five national conference calls in which, participants said, they shared one big concern: heading off any effort by President Bush to nominate his attorney general, Alberto R. Gonzales, to replace her.

Late last week, a delegation of conservative lawyers led by C. Boyden Gray and former Attorney General Edwin Meese III met with the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., to warn that appointing Mr. Gonzales would splinter conservative support.

And Paul M. Weyrich, a veteran conservative organizer and chairman of the Free Congress Foundation, said he had told administration officials that nominating Mr. Gonzales, whose views on abortion are considered suspect by religious conservatives, would fracture the president’s conservative backers.

The groundswell of opposition to Mr. Gonzales was just one sign of the conflicting forces suddenly swirling around Mr. Bush this weekend as he headed to Camp David to begin considering a replacement for Justice O’Connor, a decision his aides said would not be announced before he returned from a trip to Europe at the end of next week.

Senate Democrats demanded that he consult them before making a choice and appoint a pragmatist in Justice O’Connor’s mold.

Conservatives, flexing their muscles in a battle they have spent a decade preparing for, described the nomination as a test of Mr. Bush’s convictions and past promises, and his biggest opportunity yet to assure that the Bush presidency will leave a conservative stamp for a generation to come.” (New York Times )

Uncategorized

O’Connor Held Balance of Power

New York Times news analysis: “The phrase has been used so many times over so many years to describe the Supreme Court that it is nearly a cliché. Yet the simple words capture an equally simple truth: to find out where the court is on almost any given issue, look for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

If you are a lawyer with a case at the court, pitch your arguments to her. If your issue is affirmative action, or religion, or federalism, or redistricting, or abortion, or constitutional due process in any of its many manifestations, you can assume that the fate of that issue is in her hands. Don’t bother with doctrinaire assertions and bright-line rules. Be meticulously prepared on the facts, and be ready to show how the law relates to those facts and how, together, they make sense.

And it is because Justice O’Connor has played such a pivotal role on the court for much of her 24-year tenure that her unexpected retirement is such a galvanizing event. Much more than the widely anticipated retirement of the predictably conservative Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, her departure creates an opportunity for President Bush to shape the court.”

Uncategorized

The Mall That Would Save America

“Robert Congel, a commercial real-estate developer who lives in upstate New York, has a plan to ”change the world.” Convinced that it will ”produce more benefit for humanity than any one thing that private enterprise has ever done,” he is raising $20 billion to make it happen. That’s 12 times the yearly budget of the United Nations and more than 25 times Congel’s own net worth.

What Congel has in mind is an outsize and extremely unusual mega-mall. Destiny U.S.A., the retail-and-entertainment complex he is building in upstate New York, aspires to be not only the biggest man-made structure on the planet but also the most environmentally friendly. Equal parts Disney World, Las Vegas, Bell Laboratories and Mall of America — with a splash of Walden Pond — the ”retail city” will include the usual shops and restaurants as well as an extensive research facility for testing advanced technologies and a 200-acre recreational biosphere complete with springlike temperatures and an artificial river for kayaking.” (New York Times )

Obscene. Just skip the mall, skip the artificial river, and simply go out kayaking…

Uncategorized

Incroyable!

The French Remake a U.S. Film: “I always thought Fingers felt like a French film, anyway,’ says James Toback, who wrote and directed it and who now, 27 years later, is enjoying the strange experience of seeing Fingers become French not just in feeling but in fact.

Jacques Audiard’s film The Beat That My Heart Skipped, which relocates Mr. Toback’s violent, willfully unstable psychodrama from 70’s New York to 21st-century Paris, has to be one of the unlikeliest remakes in the history of the movies, and not only because The Beat That My Heart Skipped, which opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles, is actually a strong picture in its own right. It’s also unusual in that the original film is not the sort of proven, marketable commodity that generally inspires (if that’s the word) the urge to remake: Fingers was a box-office flop in the United States, and although it attracted some critical enthusiasm in France, it quickly, Mr. Audiard says, ‘fell into a kind of purgatory’ – largely forgotten and rarely revived. And it’s practically unheard of for a French filmmaker to redo an American movie. Even the auteurs of the French New Wave maintained a reverential, hands-off attitude toward the work of their Hollywood idols; they contented themselves with homages, fleeting evocations of the manner, rather than the matter, of the movies they loved.” (New York Times )

Looking forward to this; I thought Fingers was a minor masterpiece when it came out.

Uncategorized

Rotting Fist in Glove

Homes of Calif. Lawmaker, Defense Contractor Raided: “Federal agents investigating the relationship between Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and a defense contractor searched the congressman’s California home and the contractor’s home and yacht, the U.S. Attorney’s office said on Saturday.

Skip to next paragraph Reuters

Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, declined comment on whether any materials were seized in Friday’s raids, saying that the search warrants were under seal.

The Internal Revenue Service, the Pentagon’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI have joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in the investigation of Cunningham and Mitchell Wade, who until recently was chief executive of MZM, a Washington-based government contractor that provides highly classified intelligence work for the Pentagon.

The investigation began after news reports that Wade had purchased Cunningham’s home in Del Mar, California, in late 2003 for more than $1.6 million and then sold it months later at a loss of $700,000. Cunningham also was living rent-free on Wade’s boat at the Capital Yacht Club on the Potomac River.” (New York Times )