Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, September 30, 2005

Social Security Outrage

I received my annual social security statement this week. It included this footnote to my expected benefits, "These benefits may change because by 2041, revenue will only be sufficient to cover 74% of the benefits under current law." That is, of course, Total Bush B.S.

The truth is that under *some* studies, if the tax rate of social security is not increased, and if social security is funded only from a separate tax, rather than the general fund, there will be a shortfall in expected revenue. But look at predictions from 1995 and see how accurate they were for 2005 before predicting 40 years into the future. In fact, the whole thing teeters on what expected increases are in the annual COLAs. The Social Security Administration should not be promoting political propaganda like this.

Obviously, Congress can do many things, e.g., raising the tax, extending it to all income (rather than only the first $90,000 earned) or just make up the shortfall from the general fund until the boomer generation is no longer on the books and demographic stability returns.


Thursday, September 29, 2005


Judge orders release of Abu Ghraib photos

Hellerstein said in his 50-page opinion that he respected Myers' arguments. But he added that his job was "not to defer to our worst fears, but to interpret and apply the law, in this case, the Freedom of Information Act, which advances values important to our society, transparency and accountability in government."

This is why I'm glad I joined the ACLU.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Reactions

I don't think we're breaking this news here, but it's worth repeating: Tom DeLay was indicted and will step aside (for now) as House Majority Leader. Let's take a tour of the blogosphere and see what people are saying:

    Right-wing blogs:
  • The Free Republic is taking aim at the prosecutor, Ronnie Earle.
  • As usual, on RedState.Org, the comments are more interesting than the post. They wonder what the reaction will be to a "gay" House Majority Leader (Dreier).
  • Powerline also predictably takes aim at Ronnie Earle.
What do our fans in cyberspace think?


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Heck of a Job Brownie

Did you all hear former FEMA director and former Horses' Ass inspector, Brown testify before the Republican led House committee on Katrina? Brown blamed the whole thing on the Democratic leadership of Louisiana. He said that things went smoothly in Mississippi and Alabama which are governed by Republicans. He also said that he was at a loss as to what else he should have done other than advise the governor and mayors to evacuate. That he said constituted his duty to "coordinate" the response. There are many even more outrageous statements by this ass but I get too mad to type when I think about them.

To their credit, House Republicans - especially one from Mississippi - did not let him get away with it. Only a Texas Republican came to his defense (what a shock!). Of course, criticism was limited to Brown who is being set up as a fall guy for the Homeland Security Agency (or as I like to call it "Heimatssichersheitsdienst") and the Bush administration in general.

The combination of rank incompetence and arrogance present in Brown is astounding. How Bush could even think about putting this man in a position of responsibility, let alone praising him on TV while he is obviously completely out of his depth is proof of Bush's unfitness for his own position! But what should I expect from a current President and former Governor who claims to need to observe the Rita response in order to find out how state and federal authorities interact!? I can only guess that the rumors that Bush is hitting the sauce again are true.

By the way, Brown got his BA from Central State University. Central State University is a traditionally black college in Ohio. I'm a little puzzled that Brown would have gotten his B.A. there in the 1970s judging from his age. Perhaps he really got his BA from the University of Central Oklahoma. Brown got his law degree from Oklahoma City Univerity School of Law - LTG or Seventh Sister please advise as to quality and/or existence.

Oh, and get this....He's still working as a "consultant" at FEMA!!


Monday, September 26, 2005

Because we have nothing better to do

Recruits Sought for Porn Squad

Still waiting for this administration to do one thing I don't think is asinine.


Another Rant About What Liberalism Is

I have a pet peeve. The abuse of the word "liberal" by Americans. Americans, both on the right and the left, use the word "liberal" to mean left-wing. American conservatives abuse it further by equating liberal with socialist which they further equate with communist. But this is not what liberal means to political scientists, economist or anyone outside of the United States. To everyone else in the world "liberal" refers to a group of political parties around the world that emphasize individual liberty (thus the name). These parties are all secular (unlike the American Republican party which is de facto a Christian Democratic party) and all espouse strong support for civil liberties (again unlike the Republicans and their Democratic supporters who passed the Patriot Act). Liberal parties also tend to support market based solutions over statist solutions thus distinguishing them from Social Democrats, Christian Democrats, Conservatives and Fascist parties who all espouse various combinations of corportism and mercantilism.

Anyway, my new favorite party is the British Liberal Democratic Party. If you want to see a good argument against the British Labour Party's version of the Patriot Act and against the war in Iraq read this address by Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy.

I fear I'm waging a pointless struggle but I think Americans would naturally take to a truly Liberal Party if only they were given the option. Back in olden tymes, both the Democrats and the Republicans were essentially Liberal parties in the classical sense. They disagreed about which aspects of the Liberal ideology should be emphasized but they were both Liberal. Now neither party is Liberal but the Democrats are closer than the Republicans. The Democrats have a large faction that are essentially Social Democrats and a faction that has the potential to be a true Liberal party (the Democratic Leadership Council - see link to the right). The Republicans have completely abandoned Liberalism in favor of corporatist economic policy merged with "Christian" social policy. That's why I hope that the Democratic party will embrace its Liberal origins and challenge the Republicans' new anti-market, pro-corporate, anti-liberty ideology.


Going after the wrong people

(Lynndie) England convicted on six of seven counts

No surprise there. But are we supposed to believe that she was really the ringleader? Or that this was all done without higher-ups knowing anything about this? Andrew Sullivan discusses this, bringing up RbR's favorite theme, accountability.


Effects of Katrina

I just received an interesting e-mail from a friend who has lots of relatives in New Orleans; he is now taking care of them in Austin, Texas. Here's a little excerpt:

It's interesting; it seems the effect of Katrina is somehow worse now than it was initially. I guess the transition from acute survival mode to a more long-term change in living condition is a hard one to make. My father and siblings seem lost at this point, and it may take a while for them to figure out where they want to/can be and what they can/want to do.
This is something that the rest of us are going to have a hard time understanding, as we have never really gone through anything like this. Just a bit of food for thought.


Militarizing the Police and FEMA

Hi All,

As Rita bypassed Houston and central Texas slamming instead into the Texas-Louisiana border area, Bush was among the first San Antonio. There he gave a valiant press statement where he advocated making the military the primary responder to natural disasters. Other Republicans have started making noises about repealing the 130 year old law that prohibits the military from being used a police force inside the United States (a main component of making the military the primary "first resonder"). Even Arlan Specter asked pointedly last week if this law was the reason that the Defense department destroyed evidence that they had collected on Mohammed Atta (in connection to the brewing "Able Danger" story).

So here is the strategy of the New Republican party: Step one) make sure that every federal agency other than the military is incapable of doing its job. Step two) argue that the military take over those jobs. Step 3) ....Trust us.

Folks, I'm not saying that Bush is trying to pull off a coup d'etat, yet. But this is what coups d'etat look like when they happen slowly.


Friday, September 23, 2005


An article in Der Spiegel describes a genuine medical miracle. Under full anaesthesia, pigs and dogs are bled nearly to death--the blood is collected and kept warm--and their veins are filled with a saline solution cooled to just above freezing. Then the pigs hearts are stopped by electric shock.

Wait an hour.

Then begin pumping back in the warm, oxygen-enriched blood, and use electric shocks to re-start the heart. The animals come back to life over a few hours, with no detectable neurolgical damage. The animals perform just as well on behavioral tests as they did before! Preliminary animal trials report 87% success. This number will significantly improve as the trials continue.

Human trials are set to begin in 18-24 months. The idea is to save patients from bleeding to death during surgery, to give the doctors time to finish their work. It's a form of suspended animation... but if the heart stops dead and no blood flows in the brain, and then they come back to life--that's resurrection.

Forget about cloning. Now we're really playing god.


Common Ground Collective

I was listening to NPR this morning when I heard what must be one of the best quotes of the year. The reporter asked a volunteer to describe the efforts of the Common Ground Collective, the first organization on the ground (yet still 1 week after Katrina hit!) in one of the poorest parishes in New Orleans, St. Algiers. She explained simply,

The anarchists came down and set up a free medical clinic in a mosque at the request of an ex-Black Panther.

Using their loose network to organize, the people of the "Common Ground Collective" arrived from all across the country on their own nickel. They have already helped over a thousand people receive much-needed medical assistance, and are now trying to set up a permanent primary care clinic for the people down there. Now that's America coming together.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Storm in Iraq

The NY Times reports that the Saudi family is deeply concerned that Iraq is falling apart. It is the bleakest assessment of Iraq I have heard from any ally.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said Thursday that he had been warning the Bush administration in recent days that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, a development that he said could drag the region into war.

"There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together," he said in a meeting with reporters at the Saudi Embassy here. "All the dynamics are pulling the country apart." He said he was so concerned that he was carrying this message "to everyone who will listen" in the Bush administration.

Combine this with statements from former Iraq prime minister Allawi (which I quoted on an earlier post) that Iraq is "practically in stage one of a civil war," and the Sunni/Shia religious-ization (what is the word?) of the conflict, with al-Zarqawi leading thousands or more, and things are looking grim. While Katrina and Rita wreak devestation, is the storm in Iraq upgrading to a Category Four?


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This is what we were afraid of

This eminent domain thing might just be getting silly.

Jersey City, New Jersey wants to force a tavern to sell its property to help a Catholic school expand its athletic fields. Yes, you read that right. Please go read the article.

Tune in next week when someone wants to raze an abortion clinic to put in a "Straight Camp".


Monday, September 19, 2005

SPD and CDU-CSU Virtually Tied in Germany!

Hi All,

You may have missed that there was an election in Germany over the weekend. Apparently, the ruling SPD (34.3%) was barely edged by the opposition CDU-CSU (35.2%). The CDU-CSU was hoping for a clear victory. But a late surge by the SPD eliminated the early lead the CDU-CSU had enjoyed. The current chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder (SPD) is refusing to concede defeat. Given the overall results he may be right.

Here is the total picture:
CDU-CSU = 35.2% (225 seats)
SPD = 34.3% (222 seats)
Free Democrats = 9.8% (61 seats)
Left Party = 8.7% (54 seats)
Greens = 8.1% (51 seats)

So here is the reason behind Schroeder's statistician like claim of victory with a 1 percent deficit. The CDU-CSU (Christian Democrats, a heavily Catholic, Christian conservative party with factions ranging from "compassionate conservative" to "Mel Gibson") has been in coalition mostly with the Free Democrats (a secular, classical Liberal party favoring business and markets). There was once a CDU-CSU coalition with the SPD and there has been speculation of such a "Grand Coalition" in this situation.

Now, here is the situation on the left. The SPD (Social Democrats, a center left party with ties to labor unions) has been ruling in coalition with the Greens (a "new left" environmentalist party) for years. In addition, the SPD has been in local collations (on city councils etc) with the Left Party (used to the Party of Democratic Socialism which used to be the old East German communist party - SED).

HOWEVER! The German constitution REQUIRES A MAJORITY GOVERNMENT. This is important because if this election result happened in a country like Denmark, the CDU-CSU would be the clear winner. But in Germany the majority requirement means that there three options:

1) A CDU-CSU/SPD "Grand Coalition" with 69.5% of the seats.
2) An SPD/Green/Left coalition with 50.1% of the seats.
3) An SPD/FDP/Green coalition (Trafic Light Coalition: Red, Yellow, Green) with 52.2% of the seats.

The BBC is reporting a fourth option, a Christian-Liberal coalition (CDU-CSU/FDP). This is a traditional coalition in Germany. The problem is the BBC forgot to check the German constitution especially with regard to the majority government requirement. CDU-CSU/FDP coalition would only have 45% of the seats. Oops!

The FDP has been in coalition with the SPD and I believe has even worked with the Greens at the local level. But the FDP is a party much like the Libertarians here in the USA. They may not like working with the Greens on the national stage. But they've been out of government for a long time after being in nearly every government since World War II so...

So you see the problem. While the CDU-CSU won the plurality of the votes, the left over all won the majority. That means that, unless the FDP comes out and says they'll work with the Greens, Scrhoeder is in the drivers' seat. He can choose which coalition he wants: a left coalition with the Greens and the former East German Communists, or a Grand Coalition with the Christian Democrats. Schroeder has been an advocate of reforms that were often opposed by the Left Party. The CDU-CSU has been taking the position that Schroeder hasn't gone far enough. From a policy point of view, the Grand Coalition makes the most sense. But would Schroeder give up his position as chancellor to get such a coalition?

Let the games begin!!


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Not Just a Pretty Phrase

Last Wednesday (Sept. 15, 2005) the US House of Representatives passed the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act" by a vote of 223-199. To Federal hate crime classes, the bill adds actual (or perceived) sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability. The bill also gives grants to the states to help prosecute hate crimes at the local and state levels.

Congress has finally decided that gay bashing is not just a pretty phrase. Even many Republicans realize that gay bashing can be taken too far--and at that point it is no longer a good thing. We've come a long way from Bowers v. Hardwick, haven't we?

While such a law would probably not do much to deter hate crimes, it is comforting to know that even in this Congress--which has been no friend to gays and lesbians--a majority of lawmakers understand that when hatred of homosexuals spills over into actual violence, society suffers as a whole. Now, if only we could stop the hatred...


Drowning in Debt

President Bush has not only ruled out any tax increases to pay for the estimated $200 billion federal relief and recovery effort after Hurricane Katrina, he continues to push for more tax reductions--specfically, to make permanent the cuts he previously sold to Congress with sunset clauses, which would cost $1.4 trillion over the next decade.

The Republicans will try to cut social programs for the poor and elderly across the nation even while Bush proclaims he is trying to help the poor and elderly in New Orleans and the gulf. It's Robin Hood in Bizzaro World: they will be robbing the poor to give to the poor. But the trouble is, even if they manage to squeeze a few billion out of the unemployed and uninsured, there is no way in hell they can find anywhere close to the two hundred billion required.

Even House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R), that paragon of compassion, says that there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget. "My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet." According to the Washington Times, when Delay was asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good." Thus, as the Director of White House National Economic Council Al Hubbard said on Friday, the result will be that we add to the defecit.

And that's like throwing water on a drowning man. According to the Bureau of Public Debt (part of the Treasury Dep't), as of 9/15/2005, the national debt as of September 15, 2001 was: $7,918,009,471,434.33. Bush and the Republican Congress have added $2.2 Trillion dollars to the national debt so far--that's $15,000 every single second. At this rate, the federal debt will reach $10 trillion before Bush leaves office--and that doesn't include any funds for the Katrina Recovery, the additional tax cuts, or any other disasters that are likely to bust the budget before 2009.

But here's the worst part: our public debt is now snowballing out of control. The federal budget defecit for FY05 (not including Katrina) amounts to $400 billion in new public debt, while our interest payments for FY05 on the existing public debt were $336 billion! You read that right: nearly all the money we are borrowing on one credit card is going to pay interest on another. That's the oldest financial mistake in the book! Didn't our MBA President take Economics 101? Don't the Republicans know anything about money?


Friday, September 16, 2005

They Need Homes, not Homilies

There was much to admire in Bush's speech last night. He acknowledged racism and slavery as the roots of poverty in the gulf area (a no-brainer, but still an accomplishment for any Republican); he accepted responsibility for the failures of the Federal government (again, a no brainer, but an accomplishment for Bush); and he laid out an extensive program of rebuilding that sounds FDR-esque in its scope (though as always, the devil will be in the details). Frankly, it was the only one of Bush's speeches in the last three years that I could bear to listen to all the way to its conclusion. I particularly liked the "Urban Homestead" act--giving families free parcels of land to build on by lottery out of federal lands in the area (though I am skeptical of just how much federal property there is to dole out in New Orleans.)

But I must say, today's National Day of Prayer and Rememberance really is cynical. After 9/11, Bush held such an event just three days later (Friday 9/14) and at that time, with the nation still reeling, still searching for lost ones in the rubble, it was appropriate. But to hold such an event two and a half weeks after the hurricane struck is pure political theater. As a nation we are now thinking hopefully of rebuilding and asking tough questions. For Bush speak to us now as though we were still mired in grief--to belatedly offer us the sympathy and leadership he failed to give when it was truly needed--is nothing short of grotesque.

As RxR has said, Bush seems to think he can just start the whole process over again to try to have a better run at it. But the time has passed. Bush's homily from the pulpit is too little, too late.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

George W. Bush has Finally Become a Uniter

Former Prime Minister Allawi said on July 10, 2005, "We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak." Now, the Times (London) reports today what US News outlets are wary to conclude: far from being in its "last throes," the homegrown "insurgency" and the foreign terrorists are uniting under the "al-Qaeda" banner and are transforming themsleves into a Sunni army bent on igniting a religious civil war in Iraq. Here's an excerpt.

A terrorist mastermind has united insurgent groups in Baghdad to target the Iraqi Shia Muslim community with the aim of bringing civil war to Iraq, The Times has learnt. According to US military intelligence sources, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi... now commands thousands of fighters from various rival groups and is set to order further waves of bombings.

“The al-Qaeda organisation in Mesopotamia is declaring all-out war on the Rafidha [a pejorative term for Shias], wherever they are in Iraq,” said the 38-year-old in an audio message released on an Islamic website...

“We have got reason to believe that al-Zarqawi has now been given tactical command in the city over groups that have had to merge under him for the sake of survival,” an American intelligence officer in Baghdad told The Times yesterday.

An intelligence summary, citing the conglomeration of insurgent groups under the al-Qaeda banner to be the result of rebel turf wars, money, weaponry and fear, concluded that of the estimated 16,000 Sunni Muslim insurgents, 6,700 were hardcore Islamic fundamentalists who were now supplemented by a possible further 4,000 members after an amalgamation with Jaysh Muhammad, previously an insurgent group loyal to the former Baathist regime.

--Sept. 15, 2005, "Terrorists Unite to Plot Iraqi Civil War", Anthony Loyd, in Baghdad. (Emphasis added)

Meanwhile, hundreds are killed by a dozen coordinated bombs in Baghdad, and some 10,000 US and Iraqi troops were engaged yesterday in what The Times called, "a massive offensive to recapture the ethnically divided town [Tal Afar] from Sunni insurgents."

Sixteen thousand under al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda. A religious war in Iraq. Are these worst-case nightmares soon to be the fruits of Bush's policy in Iraq? Is it truly coming to pass? If you pray for anything in Iraq, pray that this tactical union under Al-Qaeda shall soon fall apart. For this is the most terrifying article I have read on the situation Iraq since the war began.


District Judge Slams Supreme Court

Judge Karlton (Federal Judge in CA) ruled the pledge unconstitutional - but actually he ruled he was bound by the 9th Circuit precedent set last year, on which the SC cravenly punted.

His final footnote slams the SC for its recent decisions in the area of church-state separation, which is meant, I presume, to be a challenge.

"This court would be less than candid if it did not
acknowledge that it is relieved that, by virtue of the disposition
above, it need not attempt to apply the Supreme Court’s recently
articulated distinction between those governmental activities which
endorse religion, and are thus prohibited, and those which
acknowledge the Nation’s asserted religious heritage, and thus
are permitted. As last terms cases, McCreary County v. ACLU, 125
S.Ct. 2722, 2005 WL 1498988 (2005) and Van Orden v. Perry, 125
S.Ct. 2854, 2005 WL 1500276 (2005) demonstrate, the distinction is
utterly standardless, and ultimate resolution depends of the
shifting, subjective sensibilities of any five members of the High
Court, leaving those of us who work in the vineyard without
guidance. Moreover, because the doctrine is inherently a boundaryless
slippery slope, any conclusion might pass muster. It might
be remembered that it was only a little more than one hundred ago
that the Supreme Court of this nation declared without hesitation,
after reviewing the history of religion in this country, that “this
is a Christian nation.” Church of the Holy Trinity v. United
States, 143 U.S. 457, 471 (1892). As preposterous as it might
seem, given the lack of boundaries, a case could be made for
substituting “under Christ” for “under God” in the pledge, thus
marginalizing not only atheists and agnostics, as the present form
of the Pledge does, but also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Confucians,
Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious adherents who, not only are
citizens of this nation, but in fact reside in this judicial


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

He's baaaaaaack...!

I'm sure they wish he'd just go away. Last year, the Supreme court ducked the "under god" issue in the Pledge of Allegiance, preferring to rule that Michael A. Newdow, esq., lacked standing to bring the suit on behalf of his non-custodial child rather than have to face the substantive question. Well, turns out they couldn't get rid of the eloquent atheist that easily.

As an attorney, not a respondent--Newdow has filed an identical case on behalf of three unnamed parents and their children. And in San Francisco today, Newdow's case has passed its first hurdle. As NY Times reports,

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation 'under God' violates school children's right to be 'free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.'

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

The Supreme Court dismissed the case last year, saying Newdow lacked standing... Karlton said those families have the right to sue.

Anyone who heard Mr. Newdow's brilliant testimony before the Supreme Court last year (Elk Grove Unified School District vs. Newdow) knows that he can make one hell of a case. Now he's coming back to the courts with an even better one.

I wonder which judicial philosophy soon-to-be Chief Justice Roberts will apply when the question reaches the Supreme Court again? Acoording to his own testimony, Roberts chooses whatever philosophy he feels best suits the case--and he has not disclosed how exactly he makes that determination. Some see pragmatic open-mindedness in Roberts' willingness to use multiple judicial philosophies. Others see it a license to pick and choose one's logic to justify one's desired conclusion. Regardless of the philosophy he chooses however, I suspect the decision of the Roberts court will be the same.

I don't think poor Mr. Newdow has a prayer.


Two More Years

Gay spouses and prospective gay couples today got a two-year reprieve from the Massachusetts legislature. If you recall, last year the Mass. legislature approved a bitterly contested constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage but create civil unions. Under Mass. law, however, it was necessary for the legislature to reaffirm this in the next session, but this time, the joint session of the Mass. House and Senate rejected the measure, 157-39.

This kills the bill... but there's a key footnote: opponents of gay marriage opposed the bill this time, along with the proponents of gay marriage, who had pretty much always opposed it. Opponents of gay marriage are proposing an even more restrictive amendment against gay marriage.

Even if the more anti-gay measure were to pass the Mass. legislature twice, however, it could not go before the voters until 2008. Had the Mass. legislature reaffirmed the amendment they approved last year, it would gone before Mass. voters in 2006. So no matter how you slice it, gay rights advocates have bought two more years to show that civil society will not be harmed by same-sex marriage--to show that the sky does not fall.

Time is on our side. And with the votes in Spain, Canada, and California--perhaps history will be on our side too.


How did I miss this?

Court: Holding Padilla is legal

Not only that, but the decision was unanimous! With potential Bush Supreme Court pick Luttig writing the decision. I will be very interested to see what the Supreme Court has to say about this.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Clear-Cut Argument

No, Bush and his cronies were not actually chopping down Sequoias with their bare hands... but they were pushing hard to start logging 2000 acres of centuries-old conifers in the Sequoia National Monument. Fortunately, a judge "called into question" their scientific rationale and stopped the project. As Sacramento Bee reports:

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, ruling in a lawsuit brought by environmentalists, also questioned whether fire control was the government's real motive for allowing commercial logging in the monument. The so-called "Saddle Project" was approved years ago, but cutting only commenced this summer, when timber prices were high.

The government, Breyer wrote late Friday in issuing a preliminary injunction barring further logging, "waited five years to execute this contract because of unfavorable timber prices."

In 2000, just after the project was approved, Congress declared Sequoia National Forest a national monument, which generally prevented further logging on thousands of acres in the Central Valley area of Tulare County. The government argued the project was grandfathered in and therefore not covered by monument rules.

The Judge in this case had no difficulty seeing through the Administration's phoney arguments about "Healthy Forests" to what was really at statke: greed. This is a shameful episode in Bush's so-called "environmental" policy--and kudos to Judge Breyer for putting a stop to it.


Why a Supreme Court Justice is not an Umpire

John Roberts, sitting before the Senate Judiciary Committee, used as the foundation for his judicial philosophy the metaphor of judge as umpire calling balls and strikes. He said that a judge, like an umpire, does not make the rules, and that nobody comes to a ballgame to see an umpire. Conservatives often use sports metaphors to talk about politics. There are many reasons for this. There are also good reasons to dislike Roberts' umpire analogy, as follows:
1. Sports metaphors are culturally masculine metaphors, designed to communicate to men, who are the vote Republican in far greater numbers than do women.

2. Sports metaphors communicate that politics is properly a man's world. Women do not play in any major professional sport. They are not umpires or referees.

3. Sports metaphors marginalize the old and the disabled. Like women, they are not invited to play (yes, there are women's sports, but their status only reinforces these points).

4. Sports metaphors are a way of communicating with males outside of the elite base of the Republican party. You do not need a college education to understand and enjoy sports. It gives their remarks a "common touch." (In fact, the largest segment of non-sports-watchers are probably college-educated women).
5. Metaphors outside of basketball, football, baseball, and footraces are exceedingly rare. Judge Roberts did not call himself a tennis line judge – that does not send the right class or gender signals.

6. Baseball metaphors and football metaphors play differently. While baseball was the rural and workingman's sport of the 19th century, a professional sport since the 1870s, while football was exclusively a college sport until the 1920s. The major leagues took their current form in 1901; the NFL not until the 1960s. However, baseball was uniquely suited to radio (the players act serially, largely being stationary until a ball is hit or thrown to them) while football was better suited for television (everyone moves at once). After WWII, football became the premiere mass entertainment sport for working people, in part because it is weekends-only. Following baseball requires leisure time, the willingness to read a newspaper, or at least enough freedom at work to operate a radio or use a computer. Baseball nourishes its traditions, employs relatively modest late 19th century style uniforms, abhors glitz. Imagine if baseball were like football: scantily-clad cheerleaders, replace "take me out to the ballpark" with Janet Jackson's boob, have the players explode onto the field through a giant baseball cap, and have crude "in-your-face" celebrations for a good play. Professional football thrives on such things. Contrast "Field of Dreams" with "Any Given Sunday." In a word, baseball and football send different class signals (different than they did a century ago, by the way). It is no surprise Roberts chose a baseball metaphor.

7. Roberts, I gather, does not really watch a lot of baseball. Umpires do a lot more than call balls and strikes. For example, they determine the size of the strike zone, which is different for each player – i.e., they do make the rules. They have unfettered discretion to throw out players for infractions such as insulting the umpire. Everyone knows that umpires make "home team" calls, and famous players get away with violations that others do not. Bad calls are not precedent.

8. Baseball is not like life. The players are all making $300,000 minimum. Nobody's life is at stake on any particular call. None of the spectators will lose their rights if the calls go one way or another. When Hurricane Katrina happens, they just play somewhere else.

9. Umpires do not make accommodations for the weak, the poor, or the disabled. They do not seek justice. They do not judge wrong from right. They do not investigate motives. They do not exercise mercy. And there is no appeal. Why?

It is only a game.

Justice and politics are not games.


Starving for Justice

On Aug. 25, the military said 89 "detainees" at Guantanamo were "fasting" and 7 were hospitalized and receiving forced fluids or nutrition. On Friday, Sept. 2, BBC quoted the military as saying there were 76 prisoners on a hunger strike, but the mlitary would not say how long it had been going on. Now, Sept. 13, the military admits there are 128 detainees "fasting" and 18 are being hospitalized and force-fed nutrition to prevent them from committing what military spokesman Maj. Jeff Weir called, "a slow form of suicide."

Lawyers for the prisoners contend there are actually more than 200 prisoners involved (out of the 500 or so prisoners we know about), and that many of them have been refusing food for five weeks or more to protest beatings and their indefinite detention--which for some has now been more than 3 1/2 years. Lawyers are only able to discuss the situation now because their conversations with prisoners--and their accounts of abuse--have become declassified since August. Other accounts of abuse have yet to be declassified.

This is not the first hunger strike at Guantanamo. An earlier hunger strike in June and July (2005) ended after military authorities met with a small group of detainees and promised improvements in their living conditions. And earlier still, in August 2003, 23 detainees tried to kill themselves, a mass suicide protest, including 10 on a single day. (The military says that in "only" two of the cases would the detainees have died had a guard not intervened.)

In November 30, 2004, NY Times reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) accused the U.S. military in an internal report of using tactics that were, "inhumane," "cruel," and "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantanamo. The Red Cross--the only outside group allowed any access to the prisoners--has refused to comment on the NY Times article. In their formal press release, which began with the note that the ICRC "enables those detained at Guantanamo Bay to remain in contact with their families by means of Red Cross messages," they said they would not comment but they did say that, "ICRC remains concerned that significant problems regarding conditions and treatment at Guantanamo Bay have not yet been adequately addressed." Read between the lines, people!

"They truly feel they have nothing left," said attorney David Remes, who represents several Yemeni detainees. Washington Post, Sept. 13, 2005

There is a reason why the Bush Administration is fighting so hard to prevent the press and the courts from having any access to these prisoners, and it has nothing to do with national security. Surely torture is an impeachable offense.


Precedent on Precedent

I heard John Roberts testify this morning at his confirmation hearing. When asked by Sen. Grassley in what situations he would overturn precedent, he spoke eloquently and I think I detect an almost impish choice of words. Roberts cited Casey v. Planned Parenthood as an example of how precedent was not inviolate (and then proceeded to summarize Casey's rules for deciding whether to overturn precedent). Here's what Roberts said (page 30-31 of the transcript as now available on the NY Times).

And here again, we're guided by the court. It has precedent on precedents. It has cases talking about when you should revisit prior precedents and when you shouldn't... Adherence to precedent promotes evenhandedness, promotes fairness, promotes stability and predictability. And those are very important values in a legal system. Those precedents become part of the rule of law that the judge must apply.

At the same time, as the court pointed out in the Casey case, stare decisis is not an inexorable command. If particular precedents have proven to be unworkable -- they don't lead to predictable results; they're difficult to apply -- that's one factor supporting reconsideration. If the bases of the precedent have been eroded -- in other words, if the court decides a cases saying, Because of these three precedents, we reach this result, and in the intervening years, two of those are overruled -- that's another basis for reconsidering the precedent...

At the same time, you always have to take into account the settled expectations that have grown up around the prior precedent. It is a jolt to the legal system to overrule a precedent and that has to be taken into account as well the different expectations that have grown up around it...

Again, the court's decisions in cases like Casey and Dickerson, Payne v. Tennessee, Agostini, State Oil Company v. Khan, it's an issue that comes up on a regular basis and the court has developed a body of law that would guide judges and justices when they decide whether to revisit a case. The fundamental proposition is that it is not sufficient to view the prior case as wrongly decided. That's the opening of the process, not the end of the process. You have to decide whether it should be revisited in light of all these considerations. [emphasis added]

Sen. Feinstein said she would have "great difficulty" voting for someone whom she "knew would overturn Roe. v. Wade." Judge Roberts has certainly satisfied that test--I don't know what he would do for certain, but I don't think he'd overturn it outright. Throughout the testimony I heard, Judge Roberts spoke far better than any of his questioners. What can I say? I'm impressed. I detect a note of dry wit in his choice to reference Casey so directly.

You know, everyone keeps wondering why exactly Bush picked Roberts--wondering if this is some kind of a secret agenda, wondering if Roberts is a stealth nominee of some kind. But you know, Roberts really is a charmer. Maybe Roberts picked Bush instead.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Calling All Wordsmiths...

The label "People of Faith" (for whom we used to call "Fundamentalist Christians") is brilliant in a diabolical sort of way, in that it usurps the "People of Color" construction, has a "big tent" feel to it, and implies those who oppose them are not Christian--and it does all this while using only simple, happy words. Maybe The Citizens can come up with a counter-label? As you can see with this list, I'm kind of stuck on finding one.

(a) Fundamentalist Christians. Why not just use the old name? Well for one thing, it's already losing ground to the more resonant, "People of Faith." Futhermore, while "fundamentalism" has fallen out of favor, "Christian" is still a very positive word (for most people), and its use still wrongly implies those who oppose them are not true Christians.

(b) Fundamentalist Evangelicals. This is an improvement in that it removes the misleading "Christian" epithet, but at ten mouth-filling syllables, it will never replace the sublime "People of Faith."

(c) Evangelicals. This word is not a bad choice all by itself, but I think we can do better. People have tried adding adjectives (e.g., "right-wing evangelicals") but such phrases still seem like something thrown together, and moreover they sound too overtly prejudicial.

(d) Theocrats. Some people like this word, but it sounds too bookish, and most people don't realize that "theo" is what they worship every Sunday. And it's not really that accurate, either.

(e) Christocrats. Pithy but confusing--I mean, who knows what a "christocrat" is?

(f) Radical Religionists. Yawnsville. Yes, "Religionist" sounds icky, but it's vague and contrived sounding. And "Radical" is (of course) too overtly prejudicial. Finally, I think cutesy alliteration is a tired old ploy that people instinctively feel is phoney.

(g) FEC. The initials stand for "Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian." The beauty of this choice is that an individual FEC would be a FECie and the plural would be pronounced "FECES." Alas, this acronym lacks the sonority of "YUPpie." (OK, this one is a pure joke.)

If we can think of a really good label, it could catch on, and we could finally stop seeing the misleading "People of Faith" in print. And that would be (to bend a metaphor) a huge feather in the cap of this blog. Any budding wordsmiths out there have any (serious) ideas?


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Race, Religion and Today's Republicans

Hi Everyone,

This is probably way to much to cram into one posting but I think this is all related and it makes pretty upset that people (otherwise intelligent people) say it is not.

First race: NPR's "This American Life" did a great series of stories about the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. One theme that kept coming up was race. Nearly all the people at the convention center (the one that FEMA supposedly never knew was full of people) were African American. They were repeatedly ordered to line up by the national guard for busses that never came. When they tried to cross a bridge into a suburban area across the Mississippi that was dry and had electricity they were blocked by armed surburban police/sheriff deputies who fired into the air and ordered them back into what was left of New Orleans.

Second religion: Another NPR story (can you tell what my Sunday morning routine is?), on a show called "Speaking of Faith" interviewed former Republican Senator (MO) and Bush's first UN Ambassador, John Danforth. Danforth is NOT one of the so called "Liberal Republicans" like those from Maine. He considers himself "conservative" and is also an ordained Episcopal Priest (and a Lawyer). I don't agree with everything he suggested but he made two points I really agree with. First, when you justify your political positions by stating that they are God's positions (as opposed to merely using your own faith to inform your own positions), you are automatically being divisive. Second, the biggest problem facing the entire world today is religion. That's right, this Episcopal Priest acknowledges that religion itself is at the heart of the problem.

Third Today's Republican Party: Because this new version of the Republican party is sold as the party of "Christians," opposition to its policies is not just annoying, it is against God. At the same time, if Republican policies are God's policies on Earth then issues of government accountability are irrelevant. Republicans are accountable to God not the people. Issues of personal liberty are irrelevant too because liberty is only justified when it is used in accordance with God's will (as interpreted by his servants in the Republican party). Furthermore, when poverty is seen as sign of God's disfavor. One is no longer obliged to sympathize with or even think about the poor. At the same time, there is a startling correlation between today's Christian Right and yesterday's "Dixicrats." In many cases (Thurmond, Helms, Miller etc) they are exactly the same people. The cavalier approach to preparing for Katrina combined with the defensiveness and attempts to stifle criticism are all parts of this. If a man who ran for President on an overtly segregationist platform says "this isn't about racism" would you believe him? But if that same man (or his protege) relies on the same supporters for political power but emphasizes "traditional Christian values" instead of "resistance to miscegenation" and says the same thing should we give him any more credence? One cannot and should not try to separate modern attitudes about race, poverty and religion from a discussion about the Republican party.

OK, now I know that rambled a bit and my point (what ever it was) may have been lost. But somewhere in there there must be a topic for discussion or two.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Good For CNN! CNN Blocks Bush Censorship Try

Hi Guys,

The Bush administration - which already has a ban on news coverage of casualties returning from Iraq - attempted to place a blanket ban on all media coverage of the recovery of victims in New Orleans. In a shocking display of backbone, CNN filed suit against the Bush administration and rather than fight a legal battle they most assuredly would lose (most especially in the court of public opinion), the Bushies backed down.

There are those who would say that the Bush administration is no different from any other administration. There are those who say that any president would have done similar things. Such people should be ashamed.

This is far beyond whether one thinks the margin tax rate should go up a quarter percent or down a quarter percent. The failings of this Presidency transcend partisan politics. They get people killed - in large numbers. The Bush administration's constant effort to concentrate police power while imposing heavy handed censorship threatens democratic liberty itself. Finally, CNN has decided to say "enough!" Let us join them! Let the word go forth that a vote for a Republican - any Republican - in 2006 is simply indefensible. Until the Republican Party returns to its rational and secular roots it should be considered an unacceptable alternative for voters. If you don't like the Democrat's economic policies, fine. I can respect that. Vote Libertarian (as I did for Congress in 2004). But don't vote Republican.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Katrina Time Line

Hi Folks,

I found this time line on another political website. It's a liberal website but they they have references and citations for each event on the time line. Here is another time line. Here is a blog with a time line that goes into some recent historical background. Each emphasizes different aspects but together they give a pretty good picture who was warning who and who offered what help when etc. My favorite is that the City of Chicago offered help to FEMA before land fall but the feds refused it (reported on the third time line I linked).

If you look at these time lines (times line?), things don't look that damning for Bush personally until two days after landfall (sure he appointed a brain dead dilettante to head FEMA but that's politics). I'm willing to give the President the first 12-24 hours after landfall to be informed (FEMA and DHS on the other hand have no excuse for not be better prepared prior to landfall). However, take a look at Bush's reaction to the hurricane. For the first day he did normal political stuff (photo ops, flogging his favorite bills etc). But by the second day he had been informed that New Orleans' levees were not only "over topped" but breached as well and that the city was flooded leaving tens of thousands stranded with food and water running out. His reaction? A "casual" speech followed by a round of defensive excuse-making and spin doctoring that still hasn't ended. Meanwhile FEMA, state and local officials are muddling along and finally (two weeks later) getting a handle on things.

I'll give you a topic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency saw no emergency to manage. Discuss.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

How They Fire People These Days

To fire someone is to admit that their appointment was a failure... and this just won't do. So instead of relieving someone of their job, the new approach is to appoint a "deputy" underneath them to do their job for them. The head of FEMA has just been quasi-replaced in this manner. As the Washington Post reports,

With Michael D. Brown, the embattled public face of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, taking harsh criticism for the slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the secretary of homeland security this week assigned a top Coast Guard official to help bail him out.

Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, the Coast Guard's chief of staff, was assigned on Monday to be Brown's deputy and to take over operational control of the search-and-rescue and recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast. The unprecedented task of coordinating the massive effort was handed off to a leader and expert who was described by colleagues as unflappable, engaging and intensely organized...

DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff handpicked Allen to essentially lead the federal recovery efforts in New Orleans... to oversee, manage and lead all military and civilian recovery efforts.

But of course, Bush assures us that Brown is doing a fine job. My question is: with Allen doing all the work, what exactly is Brown's job now?


What The Other Side is Saying

Here are some excerpts of an email a relative of mine sent around to his family. This person is a Republican albeit not one of the ones that raised me (thankfully). Actually, it's Republicans like this that drove me out of the party and made me decide they needed to be opposed and kept from power until they reestablish the old "stalwart" and "rock ribbed" variety of the party.

"The whiney, and bitchy! demands for the prompt and complete relief,
to which we are all "ENTITLED" , in the aftermath of Katrina, has me
feeling more pessimistic about this spoiled country of ours than I
have felt for a long long time.
And our nightly news ... feeds the monster. Perhaps its time for our
Rome, to fall.
The news talked about our "National Disgrace". Who's disgraced? our
government for letting the storm come ashore or the upright citizens
of Louisiana who have accepted looting as their right, apparently
blessed by the Governor. didn't that Democrat, Richard Dailey, shoot
the first 2 or 3 looters in a Chicago riot? and didn't that pretty
much solve the looting problem?

This man has actually held elected office (school board) as a Republican in a major city.



Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Summer of Love Rolls On

With the minimum required votes, the California State Assembly today joined the California State Senate in passing AB 849, the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act" defining marriage in gender-neutral terms. California's legislature is now the first in the nation to endorse gay marriage. It was good to see the President of the California chapter of the NAACP and the co-founder of the United Farm Workers lend their support to the bill--without them, it probably would have failed to gain the requisite 41 votes as it did back in June.

Now the bill goes before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has not made his intentions clear. Would it be a master stroke of political centrism if he were to sign it? Would it guarantee Arnold re-election in this liberal state? Or would it instead make it impossible for him to survive recriminations from conservatives in the Republican Primary election? We don't know.

But we do know that the entire history of this country has been one of liberals fighting for freedom against the dogged resistance of the conservative elite. Conservatives fought hard to deny basic rights to blacks, latinos, women, children, the disabled, and the elderly--but in the end, they lost every fight. Yes, it takes years of heartache and the conservatives trot out the same tired arguments every time. But as Jefferson wrote more than two centuries ago, it is a self-evident truth that we are all created equal and we all have the right to be free and seek our own happiness...and this truth has a way of winning out.

When it comes to fighting against gay marriage, conservatives are not only fighting against this basic truth of equality, but against freedom and love as well. Truth, love and freedom... ah, even in the Bush years, liberals should take heart! For no force on Earth can stand against all three for long.


A Consistent Choice

Whatever else you may say about Bush's decision to elevate John Robert's nomination from Associate Justice to Chief Justice, say this: it is a consistent choice. For Bush to have selected someone for Chief Justice whom he had already passed over for Associate Justice would have raised a lot of warning flags for me.

Yes, Roberts has a "stunted conception of liberty" and unfortunately his collegial nature will probably help him steer the Court in a conservative direction better than Scalia or Thomas could have done--and his relative youth means he probably will be entrenched there for a long time. But at least everyone agrees he's a brilliant lawyer and not an evangelical nutcase. And it's better for the institution to have a collegial, effective Chief Justice than an ineffective, divisive firebrand. When it comes to Bush's judicial appointments, I think mainstream Americans are going to have to accept this as the best we're going to get out of him.

I urge the Democratic Senators not to turn Judge Roberts' hearings into political game where they just try to trip him up with questions and get him to embarrass himself. This will only embarrass the Senate. Democrats should save their ammo for when Bush nominates more activist judges to the bench, like the ones he shoved through earlier this summer. Meanwhile, I am eagerly awaiting news of Bush's new pick to replace O'Connor. And it's a sign of the deep sense of desperation I feel that I am crossing my fingers and hoping for Alberto Gonzales.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Yet another thing to investigate in 2007!

OK Folks,

I've been traveling for the last several days and while I've seen a lot of the news I haven't been listening/watching as closely as I normally do until today. As I catch up on the news,
I'm increasingly disgusted by the Republican/Bush/Federal response to this disaster in New Orleans. First there is mounting evidence that FEMA was briefed BEFORE the hurricane hit, that the destruction of New Orleans would be a likely event (which is why the Mayor of that city ordered the mandatory evacuation). See this article from the Times-Picayun. See especially: "
Dr. Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center, said Sunday that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA Director Mike Brown and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, listened in on electronic briefings given by his staff in advance of Hurricane Katrina slamming Louisiana and Mississippi and were advised of the storm�s potential deadly effects. Mayfield said the strength of the storm and the potential disaster it could bring were made clear during both the briefings and in formal advisories, which warned of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans and winds strong enough to blow out windows of high-rise buildings. He said the briefings included information on expected wind speed, storm surge, rainfall and the potential for tornados to accompany the storm as it came ashore.... In the days before Katrina hit, Mayfield said, his staff also briefed FEMA, which under the Department of Homeland Security, at FEMA�s headquarters in Washington, D.C., its Region 6 office in Dallas and the Region 4 office in Atlanta about the potential effects of the storm. He said all of those briefings were logged in the hurricane center�s records."

Third, my Republican relatives are emailing furiously about how awful it is that the victims of this disaster are angry. Railing about "entitlement" (on the part of New Orleans' displaced population who are demanding more immediate aid) and "lawlessness" (i.e. the looting), my republican relatives hold up FOX News as the only place that isn't playing what they see as political games with the disaster.

Bush praises his FEMA director while journalists repeatedly show him to have lied about what he's done and shown him to be far slower to actually get to the city than either journalists, private rescue operations or local authorities (again, this despite several days warning that a hurricane large enough to breach New Orleans' sea walls was coming).

The situation got this bad because of the near sighted and narrow minded policies of modern conservatives. The suffering is being born by the poor (overwhelmingly African Americans) of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The bill will be paid by tax payers in "Blue States" and "Swing States." But Bush will try to claim the credit! I think I have good idea WHY this sort of thing happens but that doesn't mean I should sit back and condone it or ignore it.

Shame on our government. Shame on those who make excuses for them. Shame on us all for our part in this!


Friday, September 02, 2005

Where is the National Guard?

So the President told us yesterday not to buy gas unless we need to. I often buy gas I don't need, just for kicks. I can't hoard it when it's cheap, and can't NOT buy it when it's expensive. Idiot.

Why the HELL wasn't every national guard helicopter in the country in New Orleans by Wednesday morning? Are they ALL in Iraq? During the LA riots, they got to town within 48 hours. What is Governor Schwarzenegger doing right now? Every other chickenshit governor has sat back and done nothing, waiting for Bush to tell them what to do. He thinks it's time for a grandiose fundraising effort - thousand-dollar plate chicken dinners or some such. Anybody else realize that fundraising is all GWB ever knew how to do?

The military could have, and should have, descended within hours when the news got out Monday afternoon that the levees were broken. But that's Texan generosity for you. Sorry for any Texans reading this, but I just heard that they're turning away people from the Astrodome now, and sending them to San Antonio, 200 miles away and more, and I'm furious. There are no high schools between New Orleans and the Astrodome? No room in City Hall? No room in the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge or Little Rock?

Got money - there's a hotel room for you. The only refugees are people too poor to have car and drive to a motel in Baton Rouge or Lafayette. The one who use public transportation, and nobody thought to commandeer the whole bus system to get them out of town on Sunday. So they walked to the Superdome. Why not just pay for a few holiday inns or Motel 6s?
The problem is that the Republicans who run Washington are too damned cheap, and the attitude of local and national business seems to be to charge $6 for gas and say there's no room at the inn. Harrah's casino in Mississippi is apparently going to pay all employees for 90 days, although there's no work possible. That's corporate citizenship. So the gamblers reach out generously, while Wal-Mart says only that its employees can apply for up to $1000 in assistance. It then donates $1 million, which is .0000001% of Sam Walton's caviar bill. And I don't mean crappy paddlefish eggs. The Senate just voted $10.5 billion, which it will no doubt take out of Medicaid later (the $200 billion war in Iraq, on the other hand, just goes on the national credit card - our credit card).

The problem is that these people are poor and mostly black. Nobody wants them and nobody gives a damn.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Summer of Love Continues

The California Senate today voted 21-15-3 in favor of the deliciously titled, Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state of California. This is the first time that any legislative body in the U.S. has voted to approve gay marriage! Three cheers for Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the chief sponsor of the bill!!!

Now the measure goes before the Assembly, where a similar bill narrowly failed in June. It actually received a majority of the votes cast (37-36) but apparently the bill needed 41 votes for approval (half of the total number of members). The bill's supporters have picked up 1 vote (an absent member will vote YES) so the good guys just need 3 more. It's a desperate scramble up in Sacramento, according to the LA Times.

But you can always count on the Republicans to throw the wet blanket over the party. Even if the bill passes, Schwarzenneger's office has indicated that the governor would not sign the bill. "It's an issue for the people and the courts," said his spokesman, Margita Thompson.

An issue for the courts?? Is she for real? Apparently, when the judiciary supports gay marriage, Republicans say it's a legislative issue and decry the activist courts... and now when the legislature supports it, Republicans say it's a judicial issue and decry the activist legislature. The truth is, if Arnold refuses to sign it, then it's an executive issue... and the voters will have their say in 2006.


The Onion

(sigh) All I ever do anymore is post articles from the Onion. But what do you want? It's funny. And I have two. First, this one:

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

This is interesting because to scientists* like Dr. Strangelove and myself, this is what Intelligent Design sounds like. You should read the Onion's article and then read an introduction to Intelligent Design somewhere (I don't have a good link yet).

Then, just for a quick laugh:

Genie Grants Scalia Strict Constructionist Interpretation Of Wish

*Are mathematicians scientists? Discuss.