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Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites|
Friday, July 30, 2004
Let Them Eat Prozac
A campaign worker for President Bush (news - web sites) said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
It was brilliant on many levels -- not the least of which is that it managed the neat trick of being deeply impassioned, while at the same time being so indisputably reasonable that the Right is now twisting itself into knots trying to figure out what to attack.
If the meaning of "awesome" hadn't been sucked out of the word from overuse, this would be a fine time to use it. Add "inspiring," and you're getting there...
I'm not surprised
Yesterday, after a pretrial hearing to determine who owns Rocco's, Justice Ira Gammerman of State Supreme Court in Manhattan granted a motion barring Mr. DiSpirito from the restaurant. The justice had issued a temporary restraining order last month at the request of Mr. DiSpirito's partners, Jeffrey Chodorow and China Grill Management.
Mr. DiSpirito testified at the two-day hearing that he had made an oral agreement with Mr. Chodorow to be a 50 percent partner in the ownership of Rocco's. His lawyers referred to drafts of contracts that were being negotiated as Rocco's was hurried into business to meet the scheduling demands of the reality show. The agreements were never finalized.
So let me get this straight, Rocco. Someone puts up $4 Million for you to open a restaurant. You screw it up royally, and yet you still imagine that you own half of it, on the strength of an oral agreement?
Friday, July 23, 2004
Starbucks, Move Over
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Here's the core of it:
No court created by Act of Congress shall have any jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, section 1738C or this section.In other words, if this turkey gets past the Senate, no Federal Court will be able to hear matters concerning the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act -- at least until this idiotic piece of legislation is itself rule unconstitutional.
This is driving me nuts.
Funny thing, there would be no need to tell the courts they can't consider a matter of constitutionality -- if they didn't know perfectly well that they the law they don't want them to consider would never pass constitutional muster.
So much for liberty and justice for all.
[UPDATE: Josh Chafetz at Oxblog agrees that this thing is totally unconstitutional. Referring to the article III language used to justify this bill, Josh explains: "But the exceptions and regulations language is clearly talking only about the Supreme Court's appellate jurisdiction. Congress cannot strip jurisdiction over a federal question from the federal judiciary as a whole."]
Punditry You Won't See on TV
Two Toronto women who were among the first same-sex couples to marry in Canada are now seeking what may be the first Canadian same-sex divorce.
The women married on June 18, 2003, a week after a landmark court decision legalized same-sex marriage in Ontario, Canada's most populous province. They had been together for nearly 10 years, but separated after five days of marriage.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Plan B for Marriage Foes
We've been watching the wrong game.
With attention focused on the doomed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the media, general public, and gay rights supporters are overlooking a more lively threat: H.R. 3313, the so-called Marriage Protection Act.
The constitutional amendment was merely an opportunity for conservative members of Congress to throw red meat to the base. Opponents of same-sex marriage knew the amendment wouldn't pass, so they crafted a fallback plan: the Marriage Protection Act, which says federal courts may not hear cases from gay couples challenging the eight-year-old federal law that prohibits them from marrying. If the bill passes, many states will refuse to recognize the marriage of a gay couple hitched in another state. Under today's rules, the couple could bring suit in federal court, asking that the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, be ruled unconstitutional. If the Marriage Protection Act becomes law, no federal court could take the case.
Read the rest.
Burden of Proof
Stephen Sestanovich has an op-ed in this morning’s Times, wherein he argues that “Bush was right” to put the “burden of proof” on Saddam Hussein. To make his argument work, however, he relies on a weak analogy and ignores inconvenient details. (Could there be a pattern here?)He starts by bringing up an incident that occurred during the
To apply this thinking to
Further, you have to ignore the fact that processes were underway that might have brought real clarity to the matter (it’s telling that he makes no mention of David Kay, or of the inspections that were taking place and were ultimately cancelled during the run-up to the war), and ignore that fact that the Administration treated every failure to find evidence as evidence of dissembling – even as inspections were repeatedly failing to find weapons where we thought they were.
Finally, by arguing about burden of proof, Mr. Sestanovich is merely distracting us from the more critical question, which is what is the standard of proof required to lead a nation to war.
I could go on, but you see the point: like the Administration itself, he blithely ignores evidence that doesn’t fit his argument, and likes to keep us focused on anything but the real issue.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
In Other Food-related News
Not the KFC We Know
When West Virgina native Private Lynndie England first made it into the news, this quote made the Daily Mirror:
Colleen Kesner, a local in her home town, said: "To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way that girls like Lynndie are raised.
"Tormenting Iraqis, to their mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey."
Or, apparently, torturing chickens:
An animal rights group has released a videotape showing slaughterhouse workers with a KFC Corp. supplier [in Moorefield, W. Va.]jumping on live chickens and slamming them into walls, apparently for fun, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Rickshaws with Pedals
In the current New Yorker, Adam Gopnik ruminates on the pedicab & the ever-widening gap between the wealthy few and everyone else:
The pedicab may merely suggest rather than entirely embody the new America of puller and pulled, but it is a sharp symbol of a new reality. It even evokes new metaphors. For instance, the thing about George W. Bush is not that he was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. It is that he has been in a bicycle taxi all his life but has not yet bothered to notice that someone else is pedalling.Go read.
Friday, July 16, 2004
Packing in Virginia
heard, for example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and
Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but still,
it seems a bit risky.").
So I was not altogether surprised when I ran across this:
On July 2, Fairfax County police received a 911 call from a ChamppsIt get's weirder:
restaurant in Reston. Six men are seated at a table, the caller said.
They're all armed.
Turns out, packing a pistol in public is perfectly legal in Virginia.
And three times in the last month, including at Champps on Sunset Hills
Road, residents have been spotted out and about in the county, with
guns strapped to their hips, exercising that right.
Virginia law 18.2-287.4 expressly prohibits "carrying loaded firearms in public areas."Comforting, isn't it?
But the second paragraph of the law defines firearms only as any
semiautomatic weapon that holds more than 20 rounds or a shotgun that
holds more than seven rounds -- assault rifles, mostly, Van Cleave
said. Regular six-shooters or pistols with nine- or 10-shot magazines
are not "firearms" under this Virginia law.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Southern Longevity Secrets Revealed
Keep Your Eye on This
Realizing that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage faces little chance of passing soon, if ever, House Republicans yesterday discussed alternative approaches, including stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over the issue, passing a federal law to define marriage and using the appropriations process to ban gay marriage in Washington.Jurisdiction-stripping has already made it past the House Judiciary committee. Not that denying people their rights, and their legal recourse, is anthing new for these folks... |
Marriage Amendment Defeated
It’s especially gratifying that even some Republicans (Snowe, McCain, and four others) had the courage to stand up for fairness and common sense.
But don’t expect proponents of the amendment to shut up about it. And don’t expect them to stop pretending that they are “protecting marriage.” They’re not: they’re just pandering to bigotry, and the religious extremists who put them in office, as they always have.
What disappoints me is that the Democrats have done such a poor job of countering that central meme, that preventing same-sex couples from sharing in the civil and legal “incidents” of marriage somehow “protects” anyone. It doesn’t.
What this is about is fear.
The notions advanced by the Right – that same-sex marriage will “undermine the family” or some such silliness – are all, in the end, to expressions of fear. There is not, nor will there be, any solid evidence to support these claims.
What is clear, and unequivocal, is that denying same-sex couples the rights of marriage causes real harm.
What is remarkable is how few Democrats seem to be willing to tackle the misleading framing advanced by the right – and move the question back to the one of fairness that has gone before the courts.
The judges in Massachusetts were never asked whether they were “for” or “against” same-sex marriage – or whether they disapproved or approved. Those are personal matters that are rightly beyond the reach of the law.
They were asked to rule on a matter of fairness. Is it fair, in a country that values individual autonomy, under a constitution that explicitly requires that each of its citizens be treated equally, to deny to same sex couples the civil and legal protections that married opposite-sex couples take for granted?
The courts concluded that it wasn’t.
At this point, the Right will no doubt try to paint opponents of the amendment as “opposed” to traditional marriage – which is arrant nonsense. Sadly, the Democrats are likely to continue the tap-dance and take cover under a phony states’ rights banner – when what they are really for is a proud tradition of fairness and equality under the law.
It is sad that they should let the issue become so clouded, when the merits are so clear.
Monday, July 12, 2004
I know the feeling...
We Should Be So Lucky...
"I hate to say it, but the conservatives, for the most part, are not excited about re-electing the president," warned Paul Weyrich, the longtime Christian conservative organizer, in an e-mail newsletter on Friday. "If the president is embarrassed to be seen with conservatives at the convention, maybe conservatives will be embarrassed to be seen with the president on Election Day."
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Bush on Marriage
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. The United States Senate this past week began an important discussion about the meaning of marriage. Senators are considering a constitutional amendment to protect the most fundamental institution of civilization, and to prevent it from being fundamentally redefined.Protect from what? What precisely is the harm? Please explain to me what it is about your marriage, or anyone else's marriage, is being "redefined?"
This difficult debate was forced upon our country by a few activist judges and local officials, who have taken it on themselves to change the meaning of marriage.Nothing was “forced on us:” judges only rule on the matters that come before them; in this case, that of several couples who felt they had been unfairly deprived of the rights and privileges of marriage. The judges looked at the case, the law, and the arguments, and agreed. It is utterly misleading to suggest that the judges “took it upon themselves."
In Massachusetts, four judges on the state's highest court have ordered the issuance of marriage licenses to applicants of the same gender. In San Francisco, city officials issued thousands of marriage licenses to people of the same gender, contrary to the California family code. Lawsuits in several states, including New Jersey, Florida, Nebraska, and Oregon, are also attempting to overturn the traditional definition of marriage by court order.No where do you seem to recognize that every single one of these actions has its basis in the constitutional principles of individual autonomy and equal protection under the law. Nor, I should note, have you bothered to question any of the judges' decisions on the merits.
In 1996, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, and President Clinton signed it into law.We all know this was a craven and regrettable act, put to a vote for purely political reasons during the run-up to the 1996 elections, just as you are putting this amendment to a vote now.
That legislation defines marriage, for purposes of federal law, as a union between a man and a woman, and declares that no state is required to accept another state's definition of marriage.Which is why it is likely to be declared unconstitutional.
Yet an activist court that strikes down traditional marriage would have little problem striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.Precisely. Because, in other words, you readily admit that, under the law, you haven't got a freaking case.
Overreaching judges could declare that all marriages recognized in Massachusetts or San Francisco be recognized as marriages everywhere else.As long as we agree that the definition of "overreaching" is "conforming to tenets of the United States Contitution," such as Article IV, which clearly states: "Full faith and credit shall be given in each sate to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state."
When judges insist on imposing their arbitrary will on the people, the only alternative left to the people is an amendment to the Constitution -- the only law a court cannot overturn.
I guess you're cornered here. Your prejudices just won't square with our constitutional principles. Oh -- and am I overlooking something, or did I miss the part where you explain how judges who respect the Constitution are "arbitrary?"
A constitutional amendment should never be undertaken lightly -- yet to defend marriage, our nation has no other choice.Since what you want to do obviously violates the constitutional rights of a large segment of our citizens, the only way to do this is to change the constitution. (And it would never occur to you that other choices, such as the option to act honorably and fairly, are even a possibility).
A great deal is at stake in this matter.I guess that would be your re-election.
The union of a man and woman in marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, and the law can teach respect or disrespect for that institution. If our laws teach that marriage is the sacred commitment of a man and a woman, the basis of an orderly society, and the defining promise of a life, that strengthens the institution of marriage. If courts create their own arbitrary definition of marriage as a mere legal contract, and cut marriage off from its cultural, religious and natural roots, then the meaning of marriage is lost, and the institution is weakened. The Massachusetts court, for example, has called marriage "an evolving paradigm." That sends a message to the next generation that marriage has no enduring meaning, and that ages of moral teaching and human experience have nothing to teach us about this institution.Yeah, yeah. You no doubt would be much happier if wives were still defined as the property of their husbands, with neither voting nor property rights. All kidding aside though, no one is trying to turn anyone elses marriage into a “mere” legal contract: what we want is simply the same legal and contractual rights that accrue to everyone else, under civil law, the moment they get married. As for all that stuff about sacredness…well that’s up to your church. Last I checked, no government official ever made any marriage sacred.
For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that traditional marriage is critical to the well-being of families. And because families pass along values and shape character, traditional marriage is also critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure.Back on this again, huh? That idiotic notion that allowing others to enjoy the rights you take for granted, will somehow "undermine the family structure..." Evidence, please?
On an issue of this great significance, opinions are strong and emotions run deep.
Which is absolutely fine. Emotion and opinion are individual matters, and we all have the right to them. That doesn't justify giving them the force of law.
All of us have a duty to conduct this discussion with civility and decency toward one another.
Using Mr. Civility, Dick Cheney, as your model.
All people deserve to have their voices heard....until richer and more powerful people can drown them out...
And that is exactly the purpose behind the constitutional amendment process.Which means you are forgetting “exactly the purpose” of the Bill of Rights, which was to prevent a majority from depriving others of their rights – which is precisely what is going on here, and precisely what those judges have held.
American democracy, not court orders, should decide the future of marriage in America.Screw our constitution; let’s just take a vote and see who gets to keep their rights.
The process has now begun in the Congress. I urge members of the House and Senate to pass, and send to the states for ratification, an amendment that defines marriage in the United States as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
Thank you for listening.
Aaaaarrgg! This wouldn't be a bad time to write your senators & congressmen, and make sure they know where you stand on this.
Friday, July 09, 2004
Questions for Tom Ridge
"Credible reporting now indicates that al-Qaida is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the U.S. in an effort to disrupt our democratic process ... ," Ridge said. "We lack precise knowledge about time, place and method of attack. But along with (the CIA, the FBI) and other agencies, we are actively working to gain that knowledge."
Ahem. With all due respect, Mr. Ridge:
- Since you are merely asserting that you have “credible reporting,” without actually offering any evidence, why should we believe you?
- Specifically, given the administration’s track record with regard to intelligence matters, why should we treat this announcement as any more credible that the claim – to cite just one example – that Iraq had WMD?
- Even if we assume, for purposes of discussion, that your belief that such plans exist is correct, how is it that you are able to infer that the purpose of these plans is “to disrupt our democratic process?”
[Tresy over at Corrente offers up a "Shorter Tom Ridge: If we fail to keep you from getting killed between now and November, it will mean that we are winning the war on terror and deserve re-election."]
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Cutting and Running
A clearly-rattled President George W. Bush walked out of a media briefing Thursday, refusing to answer questions about his close relationship with indicted Enron executive Kenneth Lay, a campaign benefactor Bush nicknamed "Kenny Boy" when the two were up-and-comers in Texas.
The President, visibly upset, stomped off the stage when reporters pressed him about his relationship with Lay and left White House press secretary Scott McClellan to deal with the questions.
The San Francisco Chronicle characterizes the scene more neutrally -- but tells essentially the same story:
Bush was asked about the indictment Wednesday at an appearance in Waterford, Mich., but he walked away without answering.
If anyone out there sees a video clip of this, let me know.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
The top general at the North American Aerospace Defense Command was on the telephone and prepared to order an F-16 fighter to shoot down an unidentified plane that turned out to be carrying the governor of Kentucky to President Ronald Reagan's funeral last month, according to two federal security officials briefed separately about the incident.|
On June 9, the Beechcraft King Air was flying with a broken transponder, a device that transmits an identifying signal picked up by ground controllers. After takeoff, the pilot, as required, notified Federal Aviation Administration officials in Ohio about the problem at 2:56 p.m.
But the FAA failed to notify military and homeland security officials, who monitored separate radar displays, about the broken transponder. To everyone but the FAA, radars showed an unidentified intruder entering restricted Washington airspace at 4:24 p.m.
At 4:31 p.m., with the plane a minute or two from downtown Washington, officials ordered the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol, where thousands had gathered to await the arrival of Reagan's coffin.
I see that Bush is now running an ad noting that McCain was Kerry's first choice for Vice-President.
The Dems should run an ad noting that Al Gore was the country's first choice for President.
Cheney Lying Gasbag, Concludes 9/11 Panel
After the commission reported its finding June 16, Vice President Dick Cheney said he "probably" knew things that the commission did not know that demonstrate greater links than the commission found. Commission chairman Thomas Kean and vice chairman Lee Hamilton called on Cheney to provide such information.In other words (in the spirit of frank discussion) Cheney is -- quite probably -- full of shit.
Yesterday, Kean and Hamilton said in a written statement that the commission "believes it has access to the same information the vice president has seen regarding contacts between al-Qaida and Iraq prior to the 9/11 attacks."
As, apparently, is Condi Rice:
As part of the White House reaction to the Sept. 11 commission's report, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) who said she believed the panel was actually denying that Saddam had control over al Qaeda. Kean and Hamilton flatly rejected her interpretation.
Not that any of this is a surprise, of course. It's just pleasing to see that the panel has a spine.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
You may breathe now...
Sick of the stink, the Stephenses joined 10 other neighbors and took the hog producer to court, suing for a loss of quality of life. A Nebraska appeals court has sided with them, ruling late last month that the hog producer, Progressive Swine Technologies, must compensate its neighbors for living with the noxious fumes. It was left to a state court to determine the damages. The state of Iowa has also delivered a blow to the confinement livestock industry, the factory-like farms where thousands of pigs or cattle are caged in small pens. The Iowa Supreme Court recently decided that residents could sue livestock producers, striking down the state's Right-to-Farm law. The court ruled that the constitutional right to own property "includes the right to use and enjoy it." Pig and cow manure has always been part of country life. But the huge livestock operations, with manure lagoons the size of football fields, are a bit more rank than Old MacDonald's farm.
Left unanswered is who in the world thought it was a good idea to name a concentrated animal feeding operation “Progressive Swine Technologies.”
Great Moments in Journalism
Mo. Rep to get VP NodOops.
John Kerry has chosen Rep. Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri, to be his running mate, The Post has learned.
Here's the article on the on-line edition -- though who knows how long it will stay there. I had to rush out and get a couple of souvenir copies of the actual print, which far more graphically illustrates the magnitude of the error (complete with the requisite photo, in the lower right quadrant, of Kerry and Gep smiling at each other, and a little inset photo-bio, with wife Jane, accompanying the full article inside).
I'm betting that long before the day is out, we'll have a shot of actual (and much wiser) pick John Edwards, duplicating the Dewey-beats-Truman moment, holding up a copy of the paper and having a very good laugh at the Post's expense.
[UPDATES: Atrios has the screen shot; the goof itself makes news worldwide. Josh Marshall hits the right note: "not only did Kerry manage to make a solid VP pick he was able to take a bit of hide out of the behind of the Murdoch media empire."]
Monday, July 05, 2004
F 9/11 Still Holding Strong
Last weekend's top film, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," held up strongly, taking in an estimated $17 million from Friday to Saturday. Doubling its theater count to 1,725, "Fahrenheit 9/11" pushed its total to $56.1 million and has a good shot at becoming the first documentary to top the $100 million mark....and it looks like the DVD will be coming out in October, just before the election. Sweet.
Hot Dog News
(And thanks, JJ, for the tip...)
Court the Protest Economy
MAYOR BLOOMBERG clearly went to great lengths to lure the Republican National Convention to New York City, and now he's busy making sure the convention-goers have a great time once they arrive, offering them special performances of Broadway shows, fancy parties sponsored by Wall Street firms and more.
Mr. Bloomberg justifies the effort and expense he's dedicated to the convention - at least in part - by saying that New York will reap major economic and public relations benefits by playing host to the Republicans. But what about the economic benefits that will accrue thanks to the one million protesters who are expected to visit New York City to demonstrate?
Even if you add the 15,000 journalists who will be swarming around the Republican convention to the 13,000 convention-goers - and, for good measure, throw in 50,000 stray lobbyists and vendors selling talking Ann Coulter dolls - the protesters will outnumber and may well outspend the Republicans and their entourage.
Look at the numbers. Protest organizations are chartering buses and mobilizing people around the country to come to New York. If 500,000 out-of-staters visit for one night - a reasonable number in light of past demonstrations - they could easily drop a total of $150 million or more.
Last month, Mr. Bloomberg made a good start by issuing some permits to protest groups. But if he truly had the interests of New Yorkers in mind, he would immediately start a major marketing campaign, encouraging protesters from across America to demonstrate at the Republican convention. This campaign would emphasize that protesters are welcome in New York - and that they'll have a good time and be kept safe. As a sign of his commitment, Mr. Bloomberg should ensure that the demonstrators be given access to a prime venue, like Central Park, for their big event.
If protesters were properly invited and assured of a safe place to protest, who knows how many would come? Two million? Three million? This could translate into a billion dollars or more for the city.
As a former businessman, the mayor should understand that cash-carrying people are cash-carrying people, even if they don't like President Bush. So, Mr. Bloomberg, roll out the red carpet to protesters.
...the General has a video link.
Oh, and folks: and it’s painlessly, stupidly easy. It imports saved passwords and bookmarks, so even crap like a “My Yahoo” page survives intact – and all of the bookmarks convert (even getting alphabetized in the process…).
Instantly, some of the odd aberrant browser behaviors*, such as IE’s occasional refusal to navigate within the NY Times site, or the “Reply” function in Hotmail failing, have gone away. These annoyances, along with the recently announced security problem in IE, finally got me to make the change.
If this posts in blogger, without that function hosing, well then, that’s another problem solved.
In short, if you’re still using IE – go, now, and get Firefox.
*In Micosoft's world, there is no such thing as a software bug: instead, they deploy a distinct hierarchy of euphemisms, ranging from the "known issue" to the "undocumented behavior."
Friday, July 02, 2004
The Spirit of the Law
The Bush-Cheney reelection campaign has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives.
Campaign officials said the instructions are part of an accelerating effort to mobilize President Bush's base of religious supporters. They said the suggested activities are intended to help churchgoers rally support for Bush without violating tax rules that prohibit churches from engaging in partisan activity.
"We strongly believe that our religious outreach program is well within the framework of the law," said Terry Holt, spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign.
But tax experts said the campaign is walking a fine line between permissible activity by individual congregants and impermissible activity by congregations. Supporters of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, charged that the Bush-Cheney campaign is luring churches into risking their tax status.
Somehow, I can't help reading that "we strongly believe" statement as "our lawyers have looked at this, and we feel we can get away with it."
Best Take Yet on F 9/11
And for all its flaws, "Fahrenheit 9/11" performs an essential service. It would be a better movie if it didn't promote a few unproven conspiracy theories, but those theories aren't the reason why millions of people who aren't die-hard Bush-haters are flocking to see it. These people see the film to learn true stories they should have heard elsewhere, but didn't. Mr. Moore may not be considered respectable, but his film is a hit because the respectable media haven't been doing their job.