Brady: Kane “Asleep at the Switch” in AG’s Office

brady kane
Congressman Bob Brady, Philadelphia’s top Democrat, has harshly criticized Attorney General’s Kathleen Kane’s handling of the “abandoned sting” case — raising more doubts about her continued political viability.

The Inquirer reports that Brady said he has “no faith” in Kane as the state’s top law enforcement officer, though it did not provide a quote of him saying so. But his quoted comments were still plenty clear.

“People make mistakes,” he said. “There’s plenty of time to see how she handles herself, but this is certainly a misstep. It looks like she was asleep at the switch.”

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How Do I Cure My Online Rage?

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

What would I like for Christmas? How about some small bit of my lost humanity?

It was a reader (of course) who accidentally let me understand I’d misplaced some of my soul. I’d co-written a column about last week’s Senate Torture Report — for publication elsewhere — in which I suggested that torture is evil and that the United States has a moral duty to be better than it was in the first frenzied, terrifying days after 9/11.

My reader disagreed.

“Hope the next flight you or your family take is not forced into a building,” she wrote, “but if it is well what goes around comes around.”

Friends, I’ve been insulted so many times through the years, as both a straight reporter and as an opinion writer, that my skin is usually nice and thick. When somebody sends me hate mail, I pick the juiciest quotes and post it to my Facebook page for the amusement of my friends.

This time, I snapped.

“You are a horrible person to wish death on my family,” I wrote. “Kindly go to hell.”

I pressed send. I felt good for about a half-second. Then: Enormous regret.

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Time to Fix Eminent Domain

James Dupree's studio.

James Dupree’s studio.

Congratulations to James Dupree.

After a long fight with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), the artist last week learned that he can keep his studio in the Mantua section of the city. The fight began back in 2012 when the PRA, citing the city’s eminent domain authority, seized his property and offered him what they considered a fair market value to vacate. Dupree disagreed on that. The PRA claimed, and still claims, that the area is a “food desert” and needed his block so that a private developer could build a supermarket. Dupree also disagreed. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “A developer could easily build around my studio or on the vacant block next to me.”

The reasons can be debated. But there’s one thing that requires no debate: The eminent domain process has to change. Eminent domain is defined as: “The power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners.”

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CIA Was Right: Waterboarding Works

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

To read Larry Mendte’s criticism of torture, as depicted in the new Senate report, click here.

To say the killing of Osama bin Laden created a patriotic euphoria would be a gross understatement. Spontaneous celebrations broke out across the nation. The image of thousands chanting “U-S-A” from Ground Zero was simply awe-inspiring. It was a great day for America.

According to CIA officials, that achievement was made possible in large part because their enhanced interrogation methods extracted information about the al-Qaeda courier who led the U.S. to bin Laden. If that’s not the definition of “success,” nothing is.

Yet, despite that, the United States is still not fully committed to winning the War on Terror, since we continue to debate whether waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” should be used on terrorists hell-bent on destroying us.

Front and center is the newly-released report from U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats —loaded with inaccuracies — blasting the CIA for its handling of terrorists. Such criticism is akin putting up a sign saying, “Welcome, al-Qaeda! How can we make your day more pleasant?”

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Torture Report Sickens Me

In this March 3, 2005 file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. Senate investigators have delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits. The torture report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA deceived the nation with its insistence that the harsh interrogation tactics had saved lives. It says those claims are unsubstantiated by the CIA's own records. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In this March 3, 2005 file photo, a workman slides a dustmop over the floor at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Va. Senate investigators have delivered a damning indictment of CIA interrogation practices after the 9/11 attacks, accusing the agency of inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners with tactics that went well beyond legal limits. The torture report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee says the CIA deceived the nation with its insistence that the harsh interrogation tactics had saved lives. It says those claims are unsubstantiated by the CIA’s own records. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Read Chris Freind’s defense of “enhanced interrogations” here

I am sickened by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture during the War on Terror after the attacks of 9/11.

I didn’t expect to be. I thought those decrying waterboarding and other methods of enhanced interrogation were dangerously blinded by their own naivete in a world where our enemies behead Americans and fly planes into buildings. I thought it too easy to look back from a time of peace and judge the methods used at a time when our country was reeling in the wake of 9/11.

And then I read the report.

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Pot Advocate to Guide Policy in Wolf Administration

john-press-kit-2

One of Pennsylvania’s highest-profile voices for marijuana legalization will guide policy in the administration of Governor-Elect Tom Wolf.

Wolf’s transition team on Wednesday afternoon announced that John Hanger will be the Secretary of Planning and Policy in the new administration. Hanger served under Governor Ed Rendell as leader of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, but he’s possibly better-known for his short-lived run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination this year — a campaign in which he put up billboards in Erie and Scranton urging voters to legalize and tax marijuana. He dropped out before the primary election, however.

“We are spending $300 million, approximately, chasing down and arresting people who are possessing small amounts of marijuana,” Hanger told Philly Mag last spring. “If we get it out of the underground economy and start taxing it, instead of spending that $300 million we will raise $200 million dollars of new revenue. That’s a big deal for taxpayers.”

And it may be a big deal that Hanger is now in such a prominent position. Aside from it being ground-breaking — could an official with such a plainly pro-pot agenda have ascended to the governor’s cabinet a decade ago? — the appointment could signal an opportunity for progress, at least, on passage of a medical marijuana bill, which has passed the State Senate but made little headway otherwise.

The transition team announced two other appointments on Wednesday: Mary Isenhour as Secretary of Legislative Affairs, and Obra S. Kernodle IV as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director, Office of Public Liaison.

Seamus McCaffery Collects $11,000 Monthly Pension

mccaffery-940x540

It’s good to be an ex-judge.

You remember Seamus McCaffery, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who retired earlier this fall just as the Judicial Conduct Board was beginning an inquiry stemming from the porn email scandal uncovered by Attorney General Kathleen Kane? (The investigation ended when he stepped down.)

Looks like retirement will treat him well: The Associated Press reports McCaffery will collect a $11,000-a-month pension in retirement. That’s on top of cashing out $455,000 of his own contributions, plus interest.
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Casey Asks Aldi to Keep Pa. Stores Open

We told you last month that Bottom Dollar is preparing to close its 46 Philly-area stores at the end of the year, shedding jobs and potentially turning underserved city neighborhoods into “food deserts.”

Those plans are apparently on hold. And Sen. Bob Casey is intervening, asking Aldi — the new owner of the stores — to keep those locations open. Lehigh Valley Live reports:

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