Bob Franken

DASVEDANYA SPACE STATION

June 19, 2007
Dasvedanya, Space Station (Bob Franken)
@ 10:25 am

It’s nice to know we have something in common with the Russians. And what, you might ask, is that?

Well, I appreciate the question. What we have in common is technical people — geekskies. In both languages, their slogan is “If it ain’t broke, BREAK it.”

I speak, of course, of the Space Station, where things were going just fine until U.S. astronauts installed that solar panel “upgrade.” Then the Russian computers crashed. Of course they crashed.

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HAM SANDWICHES

June 18, 2007
Ham Sandwiches (Bob Franken)
@ 6:54 am

If he feels like it, a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. It’s a cliche, but it speaks to the power we give those who can and sometimes do sweep aside our so-called presumption of innocence. They can easily get life-ruining indictments from poorly informed grand juries, based on dismally low standards of proof.

Let’s be clear There is no comparison between Patrick Fitzgerald and Mike Nifong. Unlike Nifong, Fitzgerald has scrupulously followed the rules that delineate his power. But do the rules give him and all prosecutors too much power?

And do the pliant judges who rule in their favor care more about protecting a legal system than the rights of those who run afoul of it?

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PARDON OR WARDEN

June 15, 2007
Pardon or Warden (Bob Franken)
@ 10:47 am

The question has us all atwitter: Will the president keep Scooter Libby out of prison? But actually, here’s the tougher question: SHOULD Libby go to prison? I’m having great difficulty with this.

Let’s face it. This is a political conviction. The investigation into the leaks of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity was the result of a political uproar over the sleazy way her cover was blown as retribution. The administration had been embarrassed by her husband’s disclosure of the president’s Iraq weapons deceptions.

But should Libby go behind bars for lying and malicious conduct? If that’s the standard, we in Washington should be worried. Very worried.

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ILL SUITED

June 14, 2007
Ill Suited (Bob Franken)
@ 10:19 am

Tort reform. No, it is not about the pastry business. For years various interest groups have complained that the unscrupulous have abused the right to sue. They’ve tangled business, medicine, all of us, in a fear of litigation. Far too many decisions are based less on merit than on protecting one’s legal butt.

And now, they have another poster child — that D.C. lawyer and his pants suit. He’s demanding $50 million-plus from a dry cleaner who allegedly gave him the wrong trousers. Even when he loses, his small-business defendants will have also lost — their attorney fees will just about wipe them out.

It just goes to show, the reformers argue, that there must be protection against these frivolous, malicious lawsuits. Or at least limitations.

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NEWS BLUES

News Blues (Bob Franken)
@ 11:40 am

I attended an awards dinner last night put on by the Society of Professional Journalists and came away with a number of questions:

1) In TV news, is it really only a choice between buffoonery and news from the crypt? Why is it so often a choice between Paris Hilton and something akin to watching paint dry?

2) In print: Actually, the questions are the same.

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