Toni Atkins Becomes America’s First Gay Big City Mayor

Planet Out:

It took the resignation of one mayor and the extortion conviction of his replacement for openly gay San Diego Councilwoman Toni Atkins to ascend to the top spot in the nation’s seventh-largest city. But the fact that she landed the position is what’s important to LGBT political groups, who finally — if temporarily — have a big-city mayor to call their own.

The results of Tuesday’s municipal election guaranteed that Atkins will serve as appointed acting mayor until December, following a November run-off between the two top vote-getters in the mayoral race. Until the end of the year, San Diego will be the largest American city with an openly gay mayor…

According to gay political groups, the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor had been Providence, R.I., whose population of 174,000 is dwarfed by San Diego’s 1.2 million.

War on Terror Can’t Beat ‘Muslim Desperados’

In the wake of Gen. William Westmoreland Jr.’s recent death, many commentators reflected on how the general — during the Vietnam conflict and in the decades after — never really “got it.” He tried to fight a conventional war against an unconventional foe.

Similarly, the chickenhawks in the Bush administration who loudly advocate for the War on Terror are showing Westmoreland-esque signs of a disconnect with a reality that is quickly outstripping their capacity to understand it. As in Vietnam, in Bush’s War on Terror, its proponents think the enemy is Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, but in reality, it is a decentralized, disenfranchized, band of “Muslim desperados” organized at the cellular level whose aim is far different from al Qaeda’s.

So argues Jamal Dajani in 21st Century ‘Muslim Desperados’ — Why London Bombers Don’t Fit ‘War on Terror’ Frame” for the Pacific News Service.

Dajani says it is a mistake to lump in the recent London and Egypt bombings by home-grown “desperados” with al Qaeda’s actions as a consolidated target of the War on Terror:

This rationale, which has subsequently appeared in several op-ed articles, goes like this: Since 9/11 happened before the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no cause and effect relationship between terrorist actions now and the war in Iraq and foreign troop presence in Afghanistan.

Starr Karma Could Force Roberts to Reveal Notes

As part of his harassment of Hillary Clinton, Starr convinced rightwing activists judges to rule that government lawyers do not have the same right to keep secrets as private attorneys. Now Democrats want John Roberts’ notes from his time as a government lawyer and Republicans say the rules don’t apply to them.

There is no more sanctimonious figure in modern politics than Ken Starr. So it would be more than a little delicious if a piece of the legal legerdemain Starr pulled off – with the help of rightwing court decisions – to “get” the Clintons were to bite President Bush in his nether parts now:

The White House is citing the attorney-client privilege as the basis for refusing to reveal memos written by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. when he was representing the government before the high court. At the time, Roberts was the top deputy to Solicitor Gen. Kenneth W. Starr.

But it is not clear that this legal privilege shields the work of government lawyers from the eyes of government investigators — thanks to a legal ruling won by Starr himself, when he was independent counsel investigating President Clinton.

Usually, the attorney-client privilege protects private lawyers from being forced to reveal what their clients told them. It also shields their notes and memos from prosecutors. This rule of secrecy is seen as vital to the adversarial process.

But in 1996, Starr challenged the notion that White House lawyers who worked for Clinton could invoke the attorney-client privilege when Starr sought notes they had written.

Starr argued that the lawyers worked for the people of the United States, not for the president… The dispute … resulted in a broad appeals court ruling that held that government lawyers did not have the same right to keep secrets as private attorneys did.

Starr was in pursuit of First Lady Hillary Clinton at the time. He wanted the notes taken by White House lawyers who were advising Mrs. Clinton over the course of her years of legal harassment by Starr – who we now know was working in concert with his friend Ted Olsen, who was the bag man for the rightwing nutcase philanthropist, Richard Mellon Scaife, and others in what Hillary referred to as the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy.

Starr finally got the notes after appealing all the way to the Supreme Court.

The likelihood that Democrats will prevail in this matter ranges from slim to none – providing another example, as if one were needed, of the way the Republicans play hardball and then squeal like babies when nasty ol’ libruls try to make them abide by their own rules.

Plame Leak: Why Time Inc. Caved

In a long, comprehensive (and free on-line) page one article in the Wall Street Journal the reporters explore “the legal differences between defending an individual and defending a corporation.”

Time Inc. technically owned an electronic file that contained Mr. Cooper’s notes, he says. As a result, the parent company could potentially be held in contempt of court and forced to pay large fines if its magazine and reporter didn’t cooperate.

Ms. Miller, by contrast, apparently kept personal possession of her notes, and the Times’s view is that it never had them.

Here’s the legal difference in a nutshell: corporations don’t go to jail, people do.

Roll Out the Barrels — Congress Blows Energy Bill

Nobody should be happy with the way the energy bill has been compromised into toothlessness and rushed through the conference process so the boobs on the Hill can appear to be addressing this essential issue before they take their summer break.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has analyzed the conference bill and found that it would save a lot less energy than the Senate’s version (much of which was dropped in conference) — especially on reducing oil consumption.

ACEEE’s preliminary analysis found that the Senate bill would have saved a million barrels per day, or about 4% of total oil demand in 2020. The conference report, on the other hand, would save only about 100,000 barrels per day, or less than .005%.

Most of the bill’s energy savings come from energy efficiency standards that ACEEE estimates would save about 30,000 megawatts of capacity and 90 billion kilowatt-hours in 2020, offsetting about 3% of total U.S. power plant capacity and 2% of total electricity use.

Tax incentives provide the other big source of energy savings — about 0.5 quads, or just under .005% of projected 2020 energy use.

Other efficiency provisions include:

* Increased R&D spending authorizations
* Improved appliance labeling
* Voluntary agreements to increase industrial energy efficiency
* A study and pilot program for states to expand use of Energy Efficiency Resource Standards
* Requirements for states to facilitate development of combined heat and power and other distributed generation technologies
* A national public education campaign on energy efficiency

ACEEE concluded:

While these efficiency provisions save modest amounts of energy, Congress dropped more substantial provisions in the Senate bill, including the one-million-barrel-per-day oil savings target, efficiency standards for vehicle tires, combined heat and power incentives, and a requirement for states to consider energy savings targets for utilities (similar to the standard President Bush approved when governor of Texas). These and other provisions would have doubled overall energy savings and increased oil savings tenfold. ACEEE’s earlier analysis of an enhanced bill that would tackle these issues more seriously showed that it could produce four times the total energy savings and 15 times the oil savings of the conference report.