Monthly Archives: May 2009

Profile Of The Killer

They've caught the guy who shot and killed Dr. Tiller. According to KWCH-TV:

Deputy Chief Tom Stolz w/ Wichita Police Dept. says Dr. Tiller died of a single gunshot wound. The Associated Press says the man detained in the Kansas City area is 51-year-old Scott Roeder of Merriam, Kansas, according to Law Enforcement authorities in the area. Roeder has not been formally charged with the killing at this time. Police say he was arrested without incident after a traffic stop.

Now, before reading further, take a guess at the personality of this guy.  See if this isn't predictable.  Via diarist FreeStateDemMilitia Watchdog previously reported of Roeder:


July 7, [1997], Kansas: Scott Roeder is sentenced to sixteen months in state prison for parole violations following a 1996 conviction for having bomb components in his car trunk. Roeder, a sovereign citizen and tax protester, violated his parole by not filing tax returns or providing his social security number to his employer.

He was also an active member of Operation Rescue; in 2007 a "Scott Roeder" posted this on the Operation Rescue website (which has been down throughout the day, probably more as a result of increased traffic than any sense of collective shame):


[May 19th, 2007 at 4:34 pm] Bleass everyone for attending and praying in May to bring justice to Tiller and the closing of his death camp. Sometime soon, would it be feasible to organize as many people as possible to attend Tillers church (inside, not just outside) to have much more of a presence and possibly ask questions of the Pastor, Deacons, Elders and members while there? Doesn’t seem like it would hurt anything but bring more attention to Tiller.

The Lawrence Journal-World and News relays that Kansas City station KMBC reported a post-it note with a phone number for Operation Rescue in his car at the time of his arrest.

He was a bombmaker, tax protester, member of the "sovereignity" movement, anti-abortion zealot and Operation Rescue member: the arrested suspect manages to fit every stereotype of right-wing militia teabagger.

Surprised?

Right Response, Wrong Response

National Right To Life Committee:

WASHINGTON – The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation's largest pro-life group, today condemned the killing of Dr. George Tiller.  The following statement may be attributed to NRLC Executive Director, David N. O'Steen, Ph.D.:
 
National Right to Life extends its sympathies to Dr. Tiller's family over this loss of life.
 
Further, the National Right to Life Committee unequivocally condemns any such acts of violence regardless of motivation.  The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life.  The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal.
 
The National Right to Life Committee has always been involved in peaceful, legal activities to protect human lives threatened by abortion, infanticide and euthanasia.  We always have and will continue to oppose any form of violence to fight the violence of abortion.  NRLC has had a policy of forbidding violence or illegal activity by its staff, directors, officers, affiliated state organizations and chapters.  NRLC's sole purpose is to protect innocent human life.
 
NRLC will continue to work through educational and legislative activities to ensure the right to life for unborn children, people with disabilities and older people.  NRLC will continue to work for peaceful solutions to aid pregnant women and their unborn children. These solutions involve helping women and their children and do not involve violence against anyone.

Operation Rescue:

Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, led protests against George Tiller's late-term abortion clinic in Wichita in 1991.

Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue states, "George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

"Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."


This Is Terrorism

Ann Friedman:

Dr. George Tiller, an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country, was shot dead in church this morning.
Cara Kulwicki writes at Feministe:

This is the first time an abortion provider has been murdered in over a decade. I have friends who work in abortion clinics. This is terrorism. And right now, I just don't have the words.

The loss of Dr. Tiller is deeply upsetting, and Cara rightly identifies this as a terrorist act. It is the culmination of an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment against someone who was providing completely legal health-care services. I've been paying attention to the more militant strains of the anti-choice movement, so this news shouldn't have shocked me as much as it did. But, like Cara, I have friends who work and volunteer in abortion clinics. When violence against abortion providers was hitting a fever pitch 10 years ago, I was not strongly pro-choice identified. I remember reading about the murder of an abortion provider, but it certainly did not affect me the way this news has. Whether it's rational or not, today I'm afraid for everyone who works in a reproductive health clinic. And not only those who provide abortion.


I am also worried about what Tiller's murder means for women in Kansas and elsewhere in the country who need the services that he provided. The simple fact is there are almost no doctors who provide late-term abortions, especially in rural parts of the country. I was in Nebraska several years ago to interview Dr. Leroy Carhart (whose challenges to abortion-restricting laws went all the way to the Supreme Court), and Carhart and Tiller were the only two late-term providers in their region. If one wanted to go on vacation or got sick, the other had to fill in. There was no one else. Perhaps it would be a fitting memorial to Dr. Tiller to contribute to Medical Students for Choice, and encourage more doctors with a deep commitment to reproductive rights to become abortion providers.

Publius has some thoughts:

This violent act also bears quite directly on the whole "empathy" debate.  What's interesting about Obama's comments is that the empathy argument doubles as both a populist argument and a high-level theoretical assault on conservative jurisprudence. 

One tenet of both originalism and textualism is that consequences of constitutional interpretation should be irrelevant.  If you take both theories seriously, then you can't really allow consequences to affect your reasoning.  What matters — the only thing that matters — is what the text says, or what the text was originally understood to mean.  And for now, let's assume that conservatives take these theories seriously (rather than merely using them as window-dressing for political preferences).

The Kansas terrorism illustrates why it's important to look at the real world when interpreting the constitution.  For instance, there's a First Amendment dispute about whether and to what extent the government can limit abortion protests outside of clinics. 

The argument for aggressive protection (and thus a relaxing of First Amendment scrutiny) is that abortion protests have proven to be historically dangerous.  Doctors and staffers and patients face truly dangerous risks — risks that were tragically reaffirmed today.  The law should recognize these concrete dangers and not pretend like these protests come straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting of a townhall meeting.  It's fun to argue about free speech in the abstract — but we don't really have that luxury.

The real world matters.  It should be relevant.  It's somewhat amazing to have to argue this.  But that's where we are.

RIP Milvina Dean

98 years ago today, the Titanic was launched.

And we know what happened a couple of weeks later.

706 passengers survived.  And the last survivor of the Titanic died this morning.  She was 97.  Milvina Dean was just over two months at the time of the sinking.  She was in lifeboat 13.

She was in the news a few months ago when she had to auction of her Titanic memorabilia in order to pay nursing home costs.

But Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet stepped in paid her nursing home fees….

Ugly America

By now, you may have heard about the killing of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas this morning.  It took place in (of all places) a church.

Dr. George Tiller has long been a target (literally and figuratively) of the religious right, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and others because he performs late term abortions.  As Amanda Marcotte wrote:

[Tiller] is one of the two doctors in the country that specializes in the very small percentage of abortions performed late in pregnancy (but before viability) done for health reasons, usually because the pregnancy is a danger to a woman's health or life, or because the fetus is dead or dying…. He's been shot in both arms, stalked by the attorney general's office under Phill Kline … and charged with the crime of performing a bunch of illegal abortions, for which he was acquitted.


This is perhaps something that needs to be emphasized: he performed abortions for women who wanted to have babies but couldn't.

While many abortion opponents are quick to condemn the killing (see, e.g., the Christian News Wire), the rank-and-file are, well, quite rank:

The comments on Free Republic are typically nauseating and vile as well.

This is a divided country on many issues.  But I don't see anyone on the left killing anyone on the right.  And if one did, there wouldn't be smatterings of applause.

In any event, if one is anti-abortion, I fail to see how this moves the ball forward.  More likely, the opposite.

As for the killer, who some will no doubt call a hero, all we know right now is this:

Wichita television station KAKE-TV reported that police were looking for a blue Ford Taurus with a K-State vanity plate, license number 225 BAB. Police described him as a white male in his 50s or 60s, 6 feet 1 inch tall, 220 pounds, wearing a white shirt and dark pants.

Latest Update:

KWCH Eyewitness News has confirmed the suspect in the shooting of Dr. George Tiller is in custody in the Kansas City area. Wichita police say the man was arrested near Gardner, KS at around 2:00 Sunday afternoon.

This Day In Theatre History

250 years ago today:

On this day [May 31] in 1759, lawmakers in Pennsylvania adopt a law forbidding the performance of plays. The law was adopted in response to pressure from religious groups, particularly Baptists, who found theatrical performances immoral. Anyone found guilty of putting on a play was fined 500 pounds.

Fuckin' religious right.

Fatal Attraction: The Original Ending

Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) doesn't try to kill Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas).  No bathtub scene.  In the original version, she exacts her revenge in a different way.

Test audiences hated the original ending (shown below), so the cast was called back together to reshoot the ending as we now know it.

But here's how it originally went.  If you're a fan of the movie, and haven't seen this yet, it's an…. interesting… treat:

Tom Goldstein Reviews Sotomayor’s Decisions

Over at SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein notes all proverbial ink being spilled over Sotomayor's race, along with the implicit and explicit statements that her supposed bias will prevent her from judicating equally and fairly.

So he decided to do something novel:

It seems to me that there is an infinitely simpler and more accurate way of figuring out whether Judge Sotomayor decides cases involving race fairly and dispassionately – read her decisions

Gee, what a concept.

He notes that she has heard over 100 cases dealing with race, covering everything from employment discrimination to bias in jury selection.

After reviewing 50 cases, he offers this interim report:

In those 50 cases, the panel accepted the claim of race discrimination only three times.  In all three cases, the panel was unanimous; in all three, it included a Republican appointee.  In roughly 45, the claim was rejected.  (Two were procedural dispositions.)

On the other hand, she twice was on panels reversing district court decisions agreeing with race-related claims – i.e., reversing a finding of impermissible race-based decisions.  Both were criminal cases involving jury selection.

In the 50 cases, the panel was unanimous in every one.  There was a Republican appointee in 38, and these panels were all obviously unanimous as well.  Thus, in the roughly 45 panel opinions rejecting claims of discrimination, Judge Sotomayor never dissented.

It seems to me that these numbers decisive disprove the claim that she decides cases with any sort of racial bias.

Goldstein will update his findings, with numbers, when he is finished.

Jon & Kate and Child Labor Laws

First, a disclosure: I hate reality TV.  And I never even heard of "Jon & Kate Plus 8", the popular TLC reality series, until a week ago. 

Apparently, it is a reality show about Jon and Kate Gosselin, a Pennsylvania husband and wife, as they raise their eight young children, including 8-year-old twins and sextuplets who just turned 5.

An interesting legal question has come up regarding the show (and no, it doesn't have anything to do with their supposed extramarital affairs).  Depending on the outcome, it could spell trouble for reality shows in general.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor says it's looking into whether the hit show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" is complying with the state's child labor law. TLC said Friday it "fully complies" with state laws and regulations.

***

The Labor Department received a complaint against the show and is "gathering information" from its representatives, department spokesman Justin Fleming told The Associated Press. Fleming would not say when the complaint was filed or who filed it.

The fact a complaint is being investigated doesn't necessarily mean the department believes the show did anything wrong.

"Any complaint we get, we investigate," Fleming said.

Here's the legal issue:

Child actors and other young performers are protected by Pennsylvania labor law, but it's not clear whether the law applies to reality TV. Investigators will have to decide whether the Gosselins' house in southeastern Pennsylvania is essentially a TV set where producers direct much of the action — in which case the law may apply — or a home where the kids aren't really working but are simply living their lives, albeit in front of the cameras.

What are the repercussions?  Forget about child labor — that's important as far as the Gosselin kids are concerned, but there are bigger issues than that.  Specifically, if it looks like, under the eyes of the law, reality shows are deemed to be "directed", with the "stars" being "employees" rather than, say, "subjects of documentaries", that opens up a whole host of legal issues in the areas of labor and employment law, actors unions, and other matters.

Put another way, this investigation has the potential to expose, if only a little bit, so-called "reality" shows for what they often really are: unscripted yet staged dramas with non-actors.  And, I hope, perhaps their popularity might diminish once people realize that what they're watching isn't really "reality".

Ending This Once And For All

Rich Tucker at Townhall, saying succinctily what many on the right are saying about Sonia Sotomayor:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” she said back then. Oh? She seems to be saying a person’s ethnicity or gender (or both) would make that person better able to read the law than a person of a different ethnicity or gender. That’s a nakedly discriminatory statement.

She "seems to be saying"?  Good God, man.  It's in English, not some code.

And in plain English, what she IS saying is not a blanket statement that all Latinos and/or all women would make a better judge than any white man.  She's talking about wise Latina women who have had experiences (by virtue of being in a double minority) that white males have not had.

And she's not even saying it as a statement of fact.  It's a statement of desire.  The first three words are "I would hope…."

Words have meaning, and only the feverish anti-Obama partisans are drinking the Koolaid regarding this fast-and-loose re-interpretation of what Sotomayor said.  The rest of us understand.

In Honor Of Sonia Sotomayor

Rita Morena and a cast of racists put their bigotry to music…

Meanwhile, a small chorus of conservatives are coming out urging that Republican opposers of Sotomayor show restraint, and get away from the silly "racist" name-calling.  Even the Wall Street Journal is saying, "Republicans, Let's Play Grown-Up", to which John Cole responds:

Does anyone honestly think they can dial back the crazy on this? It seems like it is already out there and way too late. You’ve had Rush, Newt, Tancredo and others calling her a racist for days, you have all the groups that stand to do some serious moneymaking out there screaming radical activist (think Wendy Long and company), and the assorted right-wing magazines like Commentary and NRO and the Weekly Standard have already pretty much staked out a position on the lunatic fringe, and of course the WingNet has followed suit. How do you roll that back?

Can the Wurlitzer play in reverse?

UPDATE:  I guess the call to conservatives to be nice and adult didn't reach this clown:

Yesterday on his radio show, conservative host G. Gordon Liddy continued the right wing's all-out assault on Judge Sonia Sotomayor. […]

"I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which means in illegal alien, 'the race.' And that should not surprise anyone because she's already on record with a number of racist comments." […]

"Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."

Wow, racist and misogynistic.  These people just can't help but show their ugly nature.

Dear Michael Steele

I read your article in Politico.  I see you were trying to strike a theme:

Republicans have engaged in some healthy soul-searching since Election Day, trying to come to grips with our minority status and debating the best way forward….

To accomplish this goal Republicans are turning a corner in three important ways: First, the Republican Party will be forward-looking – it is time to stop looking backward…

Republicans are emerging once again with the energy, the focus, and the determination to turn our timeless principles into new solutions for the future

Okay.  Forward-looking, future-oriented.  Got it.

So I hit a wall when I read this, toward the end of your article:

The Republican Party has turned a corner, and as we move forward Republicans should take a lesson from Ronald Reagan.

Eeeeeeeerp! *CRASH*

Reagan?  Who became president a generation ago?  Reagan?  That's "forward-looking"?

Care to 'splain?

Again, we’re not looking back – if Reagan were here today he would have no patience for Americans who looked backward.

That has to be the most unintentionally funny-in-an-ironic-way statement I've read in ages.  Dude, you're invoking a long-dead, hopeless irrelevant Ronald Reagan to support your thesis of not looking backward!

Fail.

In order to go forward, the Reagan worship has to stop.  A few weeks ago, Jon Chait explained that the conservatives' approach too often consists of "latching onto an old president, glossing over the reality of his record, and trying to recreate all of his actions whether or not they have any bearing upon the circumstances of the present day…. The 'philosophical content' of Reagan-worship is a cult-like process for circumscribing original thought."

Indeed. And it shows no signs of letting up.

Laodicean

…meaning "indifferent or lukewarm especially in matters of religion".

That was the winning word in last night's Scripps 82nd Annual National Spelling Bee:

SpellwinnerThirteen-year-old Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, spelled "laodicean," Thursday night to take top honors in the 82nd annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The eighth-grader won $40,000 in cash and prizes for nailing the final word. Pronounced lay-odd-uh-see-an, the word means lukewarm or indifferent, particularly in matters of politics or religion.

This year's bee — an event that has skyrocketed in popularity, thanks to exposure on television and in movies — started on Tuesday in Washington with a record 293 spellers.

The competition went 15 rounds. Spellers ranged from 9 to 15 years old. According to the contest's Web site, 117 of the spellers speak languages other than English, and English was not the first language of 33 of the spellers.

The first National Spelling Bee was in 1925 and featured nine contestants.

In an event that has seen contestants visibly crack under the strain of the national spotlight in past years, Shivashankar — competing in her fourth national finals — appeared composed throughout.

As she spelled words that included "phoresy," "hydrargyrum" and "huisache," she calmly went through the routine of asking each word's pronunciations, origin and roots before ticking them off for the judges.

Her father, who is her spelling coach, would tap his foot in time as she spelled the words and at one point appeared so confident that he waved to someone while his daughter was in the middle of spelling a word.

Second-place finisher Tim Ruiter of Reston, Virginia, bowed out after misspelling "Maecenas," a generous patron of the arts.

Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, was in the audience to watch the finals, which were nationally televised on ABC.

Shivashankar attends California Trail Junior High School. Her hobbies including swimming, cycling and traditional Indian dance, according to the contest's Web site. She plans to become a neurosurgeon.

Downfall Redux

One of my favorite internet memes is to take the bunker scene from the film Downfall (a German movie about the last days of Hitler, which was nominated in 2005 for the Academy Award, Best Foreign Language Film) and add "better" subtitles.  It's that simple, but the results are often laugh-out-loud funny.

Here is one entitled "Real Estate Downfall":

In this one, Hitler reacts with displeasure to the new Star Trek movie:

And Hitler reacts badly to Twitter problems:

Okay.  Those last two were kind of geeky.  How about Hitler learning there's no Santa Claus?

And of course, the meme gets meta, as Hitler learns that the subtitles are changed:

There's plenty more if you search Youtube…..

Teen Txt Translator

LG (maker of Voyager and other cell phones) has provided a web service called DTXTR (de-text-er) which translates teen txt shorthand to English, and vice versa.

That's because (according to LG), teens text an average of 1700 times per month (wow!); texting is more common than actual phone calls.  (And 42% of teens report that they can txt with their eyes closed!)

As a result, a whole new shorthand lingo has developed.  And we old farts (parents) need to keep up apparently.

Dtxtr

Look for example, at LG's glossary of txt terms — this is for acronyms beginning with Y only.

Y Why?
YA Yet Another
YABA Yet Another Bloody Acronym
YACC Yet Another Calendar Company
YAFIYGI You Asked For It You Got It
YAOTM Yet Another Off Topic Message
YAUN Yet Another Unix Nerd
YBS You'll Be Sorry
YBY Yeah Baby Yeah
YCT Your Comment To
YDKM You Don't Know Me
YEPPIES Young Experimenting Perfection Seekers
YGBK You Gotta Be Kidding
YGLT You're Gonna Love This
YGTBK You've Got To Be Kidding
YGWYPF You Get What You Pay For
YHM You Have Mail
YIC Yours In Christ
YIU Yes, I Understand
YIWGP Yes, I Will Go Private
YKW You Know What
YKWIM You Know What I Mean
YM Your Mother
YMAK You May Already Know
YMMV Your Mileage May Vary
YNK You Never Know
YOYO You're On Your Own
YR Yeah Right
YRYOCC You're Running on Your Own Cookoo Clock
YS You Stinker
YSAN You're Such A Nerd
YSIC Why Should I Care?
YSK You Should Know
YSYD Yeah, Sure You Do
YTB You're The Best
YTRNW Yeah That's Right, Now What?
YTTT You Telling The Truth
YUPPIES Young Urban Professionals
YW You're Welcome
YWIA You're Welcome In Advance
YY4U Too Wise For You
YYSSW Yeah Yeah Sure Sure Whatever

As for me, I'll pass, thank you.

Catch The “Wave”

Google_wave_logo_may09 Ten years ago, nobody knew what it was to "blog" or "text" or "tweet" or "IM".

So what new thingee will we be doing 2-3 years from now?

I predict that we'll be "waving", thanks to Google.

What is the "wave"?  Well, it's hard to describe.  Basically, the folks at Google were wondering why we communicate in different ways — email vs. chat, conversation vs. documents, etc.  They decided to combine it all.  The result they got?  Google Wave.

Oh, it's not out yet.  But this is how Google describes it:

Here's how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

Here's a pic (click to embiggen):

Ss1

Yeah, ok.  Cool.  But here's the $64,000 question: why?  I guess it might be good if two or more people are collaborating on, say, a screenplay or something.  In fact, that might be kind of fun.  But what other uses might it have?

In the end, I suppose it doesn't matter.  There's no "why" to Twitter or Facebook either, but people seem to gravitate to it.

So I'm going on the record as predicting that in 2011, we'll all be "waving".  For better or for worse.

Delayed Gratification And SAT Scores

Wow.  Parents, take note.

This recent New Yorker article on the Stanford research is very compelling.

The test went like this: put a marshmallow on the table in front of a four-year-old; tell the child that he or she can either eat the marshmallow now, or leave it uneaten for a while (15-20 minutes) and receive a second marshmallow at the end of the test; have the researcher leave the room for the prescribed period of time; if the child sits alone with the marshmallow for the test period and does not eat the treat, the researcher returns and gives the child two marshmallows to eat. This a test of delayed gratification — the ability for a person to put off the instant thrill of one marshmallow for the promise of two marshmallows down the road.  (The research also involved treats other than marshmallows — including small toys and other treats — presumably to control for kids who just don’t like marshmallows.)

Here’s a snippet (emphasis added):

Most of the children [struggled] to resist the treat and held out for an average of less than three minutes. “A few kids ate the marshmallow right away,” Walter Mischel, the Stanford professor of psychology in charge of the experiment, remembers. “They didn’t even bother ringing the bell. Other kids would stare directly at the marshmallow and then ring the bell thirty seconds later.” About thirty per cent of the children, however, were like Carolyn. They successfully delayed gratification until the researcher returned, some fifteen minutes later. These kids wrestled with temptation but found a way to resist.

… Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

Two hundred and ten SAT points?  That's astounding!

No Wonder Conservatives Hate Science

Because science hates them.  Here's the abstract from a recent issue of a scholarly journal called Intelligence, describing a study funded by the National Institute of Education:

Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

Ouch.  That's gonna leave a mark.

A conservative tries to spin the study, trying to make it NOT say that conservatives are stupid:

But there’s a more basic reason the conservatism-is-stupid argument does not actually follow from this research. As long as smarter people are more likely to be skeptical of tradition, then full-blown rejection of tradition will almost inevitably be associated with higher IQ, even if a majority of smart people still favor traditionalism.

Ummmmmm, what?  Okay, whatever, but the study has nothing to do with acceptance or rejection of traditionalism.  It has to do with cognitive ability.  Conservatives have lower cognitive abilities and less education, period.  That's what the study found.

On a related note, the people at the National Organization for Marriage (who provided that wonderful "The Gathering Storm" ad a couple of months ago), have a new ad.  Pay particular attention to the final image (and if you need help), read below the fold.

 

Sotomayer’s Supposedly “Terrible” Reversal Rate

Steve Benen addresses this argument:

The conservative Washington Times ran a headline yesterday that read, "Sotomayor reversed 60% by high court." The article quoted a right-wing activist saying, "Her high reversal rate alone should be enough for us to pause and take a good look at her record."

Rachel Maddow had a great segment on this GOP talking point last night, and it's worth keeping in mind as the debate over Sonia Sotomayor's nomination continues, not only because it's likely to be repeated quite a bit, but also because it points to a certain desperation in the judge's detractors.

Sotomayor has been on the appeals court federal bench for over a decade, and during her career, she's written 380 rulings for the 2nd Circuit's majority. Of those 380, five have been considered on appeal to the Supreme Court. And of those five, three have reversed the lower court's decision. That's how the right gets to a 60% reversal rating — three out of five, as opposed to three out of 380.

Of course, if that 60% figure were really scandalous, the right should have balked at the Alito nomination — he had two of his rulings considered by the high court, and both were overturned. (That's a 100% rating! He must have been a horrible judge!)

The irony is, Sotomayor's reversal numbers are actually better than the norm, not worse. Media Matters noted yesterday, "[A]ccording to data compiled by SCOTUSblog, Sotomayor's reported 60 percent reversal rate is lower than the overall Supreme Court reversal rate for all lower court decisions from the 2004 term through the present — both overall and for each individual Supreme Court term."

And yet, conservative media personalities nevertheless continue to tout this as evidence of a Sotomayor weakness, either unaware or unconcerned about how completely wrong the argument is.

Next?

The Newest Anti-Sotomayor Meme

OMG! OMG!  She's a member of "La Raza" which means "The Race"!  Scary foreign-sounding name, so it must be a scary radical terrorist group or something.

Seriously, that's the cry from the far right this afternoon:

As President Obama's Supreme Court nominee comes under heavy fire for allegedly being a "racist," Judge Sonia Sotomayor is listed as a member of the National Council of La Raza, a group that's promoted driver's licenses for illegal aliens, amnesty programs, and no immigration law enforcement by local and state police.

According the American Bar Association, Sotomayor is a member of the NCLR, which bills itself as the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.

Meaning "the Race," La Raza also has connections to groups that advocate the separation of several southwestern states from the rest of America.

Love that language — "has connections to groups that advocate…".  This from the right wing, which only weeks ago was all about seccession.

You can click through to La Raza yourself (they merely represent Latino interests in the areas of assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health), but if you want a quick snapshot of just how radical it is, take a gander at some of its corporate sponsors.  These are photo captures of La Raza's 2008 Annual Report…

Raza1 

Raza2 

Yeah, that's one scaaaaary organization….

Today’s Favorite Lede Paragraph

From Goshen, NH:

GOSHEN — State police say a construction company owner shot his only employee on two different days this month with a BB gun and now faces felony assault and other charges.

Twice?

On two different days?

Why, oh why would the employee be anywhere near the company owner after being shot the first time?

Sotomayor, Minority Status, and “Empathy”

The Republicans are going to go ballistic about this quote from the Supreme Court nominee:

"[W]hen a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position.

"And so it's my job to apply the law. It's not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result. But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, 'You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.' …

"When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account."

You see?  She is going to take her heritage and background "into account"!

Except — gotcha!  — that quote wasn't from Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor; it was from Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito during his 2005 confirmation hearings.

Here's what Glenn Greenwald has to say regarding Justice Sam Alito on empathy and judging:

Anyone who is objecting now to Sotomayor's alleged "empathy" problem but who supported Sam Alito and never objected to this sort of thing ought to have their motives questioned (and the same is true for someone who claims that a person who overcame great odds to graduate at the top of their class at Princeton, graduate Yale Law School, and then spent time as a prosecutor, corporate lawyer, district court judge and appellate court judge must have been chosen due to "identity politics").  And the idea that her decision in Ricci demonstrates some sort of radicalism — when she was simply affirming the decision of a federal district judge, was part of a unanimous circuit panel in doing so, was supported by a majority of her fellow Circuit judges who refused to re-hear the case, and will, by all accounts, have at least several current Supreme Court Justices side with her — is frivolous on its face.

Yup.  So these talking heads are going to have to explain why Sam Alito is NOT a racist:

And while I'm at it, what's this with calling Sotomayor a "reverse racist"?  That's what Rush and others are saying, based on an out-of-context quote in which she expresses the hope that her life experiences as a minority and woman would make her a better jurist than a white man who didn't have those experiences.

Why is that reverse racism?  If it's anything, it's racism (and it's not that).  If racism is not liking someone of a different ethnic group, then "reverse racism" would be not liking someone of your own group, I would think.

Sure, I get the reasoning at work here: those who hate whites are reverse racists; whites who hate others are regular ol' racists.  But isn't making that distinction itself racist?

UPDATEMark Krekorian over at NRO's The Corner has found yet another reason to dislike Sotomayor (pronounced Sot-oh-may-YORE):

Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference), unlike my correspondent's simple preference for a monophthong over a diphthong, and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.

To which I respond….

Meir_golda 

By the way, EVERYTHING about Sotomayor you read, see and hear over the next few months is just political theatre.  She's going to be confirmed.  That's so patently obvious that one wonders why anyone is bothering to object.

The Prop 8 Battle Continues

Ted Olson and David Boies in the same courtroom.  Last time that happened it was in Bush (Olson) v. Gore (Boies).  But now they have teamed up to fight Tuesday's decision by the California Supreme Court on Proposition 8:

A lawsuit filed in federal district court states that Proposition 8 — which eliminated the right of same sex couples to marry in California — creates a class of "second-class citizens" and thereby violates the U.S. Constitution. The suit also calls for an injunction against Proposition 8 until the case is resolved, which would immediately reinstate marriage rights to same sex couples.  […]

The plaintiffs are represented by Theodore B. Olson and David Boies. Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General, represented George W. Bush in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, which decided the presidential election. Boies represented Al Gore in that case.  […]

"Yesterday, the California Supreme Court said that the California Constitution compels the State to discriminate against gay men and lesbians who have the temerity to wish to express their love and commitment to one another by getting married," Olson said. "These are our neighbors, co-workers, teachers, friends, and family, and, courtesy of Prop 8, California now prohibits them from exercising this basic, fundamental right of humanity. Whatever discrimination California law now might permit, I can assure you, the United States Constitution does not."

"Mr. Olson and I are from different ends of the political spectrum, but we are fighting this case together because Proposition 8 clearly and fundamentally violates the freedoms guaranteed to all of us by the Constitution," Boies said. "Every American has a right to full equality under the law. Same sex couples are entitled to the same marriage rights as straight couples. Any alternative is separate and unequal and relegates gays and lesbians to a second class status."

Their argument is that Proposition 8:

  • Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties,

  • Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,

  • Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of "second-class citizens,"

  • Discriminates on the basis of gender, and,

  • Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

It seems simple and unarguable, yet Proposition 8 was upheld. The question is, why?  

Opponents of the proposition asked the court to overturn the ballot measure on the grounds that banning same-sex marriage changed the tenets of the state Constitution and therefore amounted to a revision, which can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. Proposition 8 reached the ballot after a signature drive.

In Tuesday's ruling, the court said Proposition 8 "adds but a single, simple section to the Constitution" and therefore was a constitutional amendment and not a revision.

Of course, the California court only considered Prop 8 under the California Constitution.  Olson and Boies are challenging Prop 8 based on federal Constitution grounds  And if they win there, then all states must accept gay marriages (since federal law trumps state law).

I'm not optimistic for this to happen.  But if any legal powerhouse can get this done, it's Olson-Boies.

Sotomayor Socialist

It's early yet, but I'll bet we're going to hear LOTS about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's 1976 Princeton yearbook photo.

Sotomayor_s_Socialist_Yearbook_Quote_-_Steven_Waldman_1243400748412 

Who is this "Norman Thomas" that she quotes?  From Wikipedia:

Norman Mattoon Thomas (1884—1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

Oh, hell's bells.

UPDATE:  And if you don't think the Sotomayor opposition isn't already being overly-silly, read this — and no, it's not from The Onion:

Sotomayor delivered the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal published the lecture the following year.

Conservative critics have latched onto the speech as evidence that Sotomayor is an “activist judge,” who will rule on the basis of her personal beliefs instead of facts and law.

“Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see,” Sotomayor said. “My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.”

This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ feet with chickpeas — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.

Oy.  And no, it's really not a joke:

I called Bolton earlier today and asked him whether this was for real–whether any conservatives were genuinely raising this issue. He confirmed, saying, "a source I spoke to said people were discussing that her [speech] had brought attention…she intimates that what she eats somehow helps her decide cases better."

Bolton said the source was drawing, "a deductive link," between Sotomayor's thoughts on Puerto Rican food and her other statements. And I guess the chain goes something like this: 1). Sotomayor implied that her Latina identity informs her jurisprudence, 2). She also implied that Puerto Rican cuisine is a crucial part of her Latina identity, 3). Ergo, her gastronomical proclivities will be a non-negligible factor for her when she's considering cases before the Supreme Court.

Double oy.

Oh Who Gives A Sh*t?

The New York Times covers the American Idol scandal:

AT&T, one of the biggest corporate sponsors of “American Idol,” might have influenced the outcome of this year’s competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week.

Representatives of AT&T, whose mobile phone network is the only one that can be used to cast “American Idol” votes via text message, provided the free text-messaging services at two parties in Arkansas after the final performance episode of “American Idol” last week, according to the company and people at the events.

There appear to have been no similar efforts to provide free texting services to supporters of Adam Lambert, who finished as the runner-up to Mr. Allen.

I thought Susan Boyle was a shoo-in.

Answer Engine

The web is full of fancy search engines, some of which claim to not only search, but to give answers.   For example, if you google "45 meters into yards", it will do that conversion.

But there's a new experiment out there called Wolfram/Alpha which is trying to "make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone".  In short, it is an answer engine, or, as they put it, "'a computational knowledge engine: it generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base, instead of searching the web and returning links."

What does that mean?  Well, click the link above and play around.  At first it seemed rather limited to me, but as I experimented more, I realized it had pretty strong capabilities.  For example, I wanted to know what the weather was on the day I was born (in Omaha, Nebraska).  I simply typed "weather in omaha on september 27 1962" and learned not only that I was born on a Thursday, but that it was 56 degrees and partly cloudy.  Google can't do that.

Find out the cast of obscure movies.  And yes, if you type "woodchuck chuck", it will tell you how much wood a woodchuck would chuck.

And even though it is billed as an ongoing project, and its knowledge base is expected to grwo, it already knows the answer to the "meaning of life".  Not bad.

21st Century Etiquette

The New York Times examines the (im)propriety of texting at the dinner table.  Making a phone call at the table is an obvious faux pas, but what about the less intrusive texting? 

As you might expect, working husbands and teenage daughters don't see it as a problem.  But there are exceptions:

Brigid Wright, 17, from Needham, Mass., said that like many teenagers, she has honed the skill of eating with one hand and texting with the other. But, she said (and her family confirms), she does not text at the table at home.

“No teenager wants to look up from a glowing cellphone screen to see a disappointed parent frowning across the table,” she wrote in an e-mail message.

Ms. Boyd is 31. Sometimes she looks up from her glowing iPhone screen to see her husband, Gilad Lotan, a Microsoft designer, frowning at her across the table.

“If I’m sitting there privately responding to messages, Gilad might say, ‘Hey, I thought we were at dinner,’ ” she said. “I’ll be, like, ‘Hmm, sorry, just doing this quickly.’ ”

They both bring their iPhones to the table, she said, using them as conversational tools. If they’re debating a question, for instance, they might use their phones to look up the answer.

They try to avoid texting, she said, “if it’s a dinner where we’re trying to be engaged.” (As opposed to a dinner “where we both need food in our systems so we can both get back to work.”).

There is no texting or e-mailing at the dinner table in Lydia Shire’s home, in Weston, Mass. “My son would never dream of texting at the table,” said Ms. Shire, a chef and restaurant owner in Boston. “And he wouldn’t do it at anyone else’s table, either.”

As for me, I'm amazed that families still sit down to dinner together.

Cali Supremes Uphold Gay Marriage Ban

Not entirely unexpected, but in a six-to-one decision, the California Supreme Court upheld the state’s ban on gay marriage, the Proposition 8 referendum voters approved last November. The court ruled that Prop. 8 “constitutes a permissible constitutional amendment (rather than an impermissible constitutional revision).”

Silver lining: the court declared that the 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted last summer, prior to the passage of the proposition, would remain legal and recognized.  I think this presents an odd legal problem — how can 18,000 gay marriages be considered legal when the rest of California’s gays are legally forbidden from marriage?

Importantly, though the court upheld the ban on the use of the term “marriage” by same-sex coupes, it reaffirmed the fundamental constitutional rights of gay couples:

[T]he measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term “marriage” for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law, but leaving undisturbed all of the other extremely significant substantive aspects of a same-sex couple’s state constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and the guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

Indeed, the bulk of the court’s May 2008 ruling that originally legalized gay marriage — which emphasized “respect and dignity” — stands.

In a blistering dissenting opinion, Justice Carlos Moreno wrote that the decision "weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority." Moreno also rejected the majority's claim that banning full marriage rights was a "narrow" civil rights restriction for gay couples. Regardless how narrow the restriction, he argued, the ruling violates these couples' right to equal protection:

Denying the designation of marriage to same-sex couples cannot fairly be described as a “narrow” or “limited” exception to the requirement of equal protection; the passionate public debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, even in a state that offers largely equivalent substantive rights through the alternative of domestic partnership, belies such a description. […]

But even a narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment that has pervaded the California Constitution since 1849. Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment to all. Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights.

He's right, of course.  But I suspect that in a few years, or one generation at the most, California will come around and overturn Prop 8.

So It’s Sotomayer

You probably know this by now:

President Obama announced on Tuesday that he will nominate the federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, choosing a daughter of Puerto Rican parents raised in Bronx public housing projects to become the nation’s first Hispanic justice.

Judge Sotomayor, who stood next to the president during the announcement, was described by Mr. Obama as “an inspiring woman who I am confident will make a great justice.”

The president said he had made his decision after “deep reflection and careful deliberation,” and he made it clear that the judge’s inspiring personal story was crucial in his decision. Mr. Obama praised his choice as someone possessing “a rigorous intellect, a mastery of the law.”

But those essential qualities are not enough, the president said. Quoting Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mr. Obama said, “The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.” It is vitally important that a justice know “how the world works, and how ordinary people live,” the president said.

I co-argued in front of her once, before she was appointed to the Second Circuit, and found her to be very competent and prepared.

Regarding her jurisprudence, there isn't much for conservatives to object.  She certainly leans "liberal", but not too the point of circumnavigating clear and established law.  In her biggest abortion case, for example, she denied a claim brought by an abortion rights group challenging a Bush policy that prohibited foreign organizations that receive foreign funds from performing or supporting abortions.  Her biggest decision in the field of environmental law also happened to go against environmental groups.  (A rundown of her major decisions can be found here).

But that hasn't stopped the early cirticism.  The (predictable) theme seems to be that she will rule based on her own prejudices, rather than the law.  Exhibit A for this seems to be the recent case of Ricci v. DeStefano, Sotomayor's highest profile case to date.  Sotomayer joined the decision of an en banc panel of the Second Circuit, which upheld a lower court decision denying a lawsuit by white firefighters in New Haven. 

In Ricci, the town of New Haven refused to certify the results of a civil firefighter examination, after the results showed that blacks did unusually worse on it (leading to allegations that the examination itself may have had a racial bias).  New Haven refused to certify the results in order to protect itself against a Title VI civil rights lawsuit.  The white firefighters sued, but the lower court rejected the lawsuit.  The Second Circuit (including Sotomayor) upheld the lower court decision.  The case was recently appealed and re-argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the decision will probably come out before Sotomayor is confirmed.

There exists a couple problems with using Ricci as the blunt instrument to hit Sotomayor with.  For one thing, it doesn't really jibe with the allegation that Sotomayor will be swayed by her own personal bias — after all, she is Hispanic, and so was one of the white firefighters who filed the lawsuit and lost.  Secondly, the court was showing deference to the legislative process, which is something conservatives complain that liberal judges don't do.

With the GOP in disarray, it will be interesting to see how senators will vote and more importantly, why they will vote a certain way. The Republicans accidentally sent out their talking points to the media. Here are the talking points:

o President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is an important decision that will have an impact on the United States long after his administration.

o Republicans are committed to a fair confirmation process and will reserve judgment until more is known about Judge Sotomayor's legal views, judicial record and qualifications.

o Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor's record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments – which is in stark contrast to how the Democrats responded to the Judge Roberts and Alito nominations.

o To be clear, Republicans do not view this nomination without concern. Judge Sotomayor has received praise and high ratings from liberal special interest groups. Judge Sotomayor has also said that policy is made on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

o Republicans believe that the confirmation process is the most responsible way to learn more about her views on a number of important issues.

o The confirmation process will help Republicans, and all Americans, understand more about judge Sotomayor's thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court's fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.

o Republicans are the minority party, but our belief that judges should interpret rather than make law is shared by a majority of Americans.

o Republicans look forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor's legal views and to determining whether her views reflect the values of mainstream America.

President Obama on Judicial Nominees

o Liberal ideology, not legal qualification, is likely to guide the president's choice of judicial nominees.

o Obama has said his criterion for nominating judges would be their "heart" and "empathy."

o Obama said he believes Supreme Court justices should understand the Court's role "to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process."

o Obama has declared: "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old-and that's the criterion by which I'll be selecting my judges."

Additional Talking Points

o Justice Souter's retirement could move the Court to the left and provide a critical fifth vote for:

o Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;

o Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;

o Stripping "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;

o Abolishing the death penalty;

o Judicial micromanagement of the government's war powers.

That's pretty tame if you ask me.  The GOP is in a bit of a bind — how are they to oppose a Hispanic and a woman, who is left but not FAR left, and who is (by all accounts) intelligent and qualified?  AND who many voted for in 1998?  Ed Kilgore writes about the risks for the GOP in opposing the nominee:

Conservatives could definitely try to turn Sotomayor into a latter-day Lani Guinier, and turn her confirmation hearings into a white male pity party, all about identity politics. This would not, of course, go over very well with Latinos, who will naturally feel strongly about their first-ever Supreme Court nominee, and who probably think white men have been pretty well represented in the Court’s history.

The rightwing punditry is a little more unhinged in their opposition.  Take Glenn Beck this morning, who tweeted:

"Does the nominee still have Diabetes? Could the Messiah heal her, or does she just not want to ask?"

Hmmmm.  Such important relevant questions by the loyal opposition.

Anyway, it's off to the races.  I predict a lot of fury [UPDATE: and lies], but in the end, she will pass easily.

UPDATE: Perhaps I should address the "controversy" surrounding Sotomayor regarding her statement in a symposium that the appellate courts are where "policy is made".  This no doubt will be used by conservatives to bolster the argument that Sotomayor will ignore the law and simply use the court to dictate her policy.  Here is Sotomayor making the statement, in context:

The best rebuttal to this comes from the Anonymous Liberal:

The context, as Orin Kerr helpfully explains in this post, is that Sotomayor was explaining the differences between clerking at the District Court level and clerking at the Court of Appeals level. Her point, which is unquestionably true as a descriptive matter, is that judicial decision making at the Court of Appeals level is more about setting policy, whereas judging at the District Court level is a more about deciding individual cases and disputes. And the reason for this is obvious. Decisions at the Court of Appeals level don't just determine the fates of individual litigants; they serve as controlling precedent for all District Court judges within that circuit. Thus any decision by a Court of Appeals becomes the policy of that circuit, at least until it's overruled by the Supreme Court (which is rare).

There is nothing remotely controversial about this. Cases get appealed to the Circuit Court level for one reason: because the answer to the question being litigated is not clear. When the law is clear, no one bothers to appeal (because it's really expensive). A Court of Appeals grapples with the difficult questions, the gray areas in the law, and ultimately issues rulings one way or the other. These rulings then become the policy of that particular circuit, serving as controlling precedent in future cases. This is just as true in the ultra-conservative Fourth Circuit as it is the more liberal Ninth Circuit.

But in Simplistic Republican World, none of this actually happens. Good conservative judges don't "make policy," they simply enforce the law. The law is apparently always clear. Indeed it's a wonder that lawyers even bother to appeal cases in the Fourth Circuit. After all, they should know that the conservative jurists in that circuit will simply "enforce the law" (because they wouldn't dream of "making policy"), so the outcome should be very predictable.

Undoubtedly conservatives will point to Sotomayor's reaction to her own words as evidence that she was letting slip some secret about how liberal judges actually operate. But the obvious truth is that she was merely anticipating that some clown like Orrin Hatch might someday twist her worlds to mean something they don't. She was talking about how all judges operate at the Court of Appeals level. If you're not thinking about the policy implications (i.e., the precedential effect) of your rulings, you're not doing your job.

New York Update

Well, the shows are done.  Audiences seemed to like it, although almost everyone who attended was a friend or family member of someone in the cast…. so that doesn't count.

After-show outings were entertaining: HGTV's Libby Langdon ("Small Space, Big Style") took us to a nice restaurant for which she had interior designed (Libby is the daughter of cast member Mary Ann Luedtke).

We also went out with Michael McDonald, who came to our show right after the Tony Award dinner.  Mike, a friend of Joe's (our director), has received his first Tony nomination ever – for costumes in Hair

On Thursday, Cheryl and I went to Central Park to watch the Broadway Show League.  It was hot; we ended up mostly watching South Pacific beat out 9 To 5, sitting with Laura Osnes (Nellie) who didn't play, but was nice enough to show up to route the team on.

Some random celeb sightings: Senator Bill Bradley, Tim Robbins, and Michael Emerson.  Oddly, this is the second Emerson sighting for me.  On another visit to NYC a couple of years ago, I saw him too.  This time it was in the 23rd St. subway; he was with wife and kid.

Anyway, some shows to see this weekend, including 9 to 5, and Waiting for Godot.  Lots of sailors in town (it's Fleet Week), but they don't sing and dance like in On The Town.

New York, New York

Light blogging for a while as I am in NYC.  Doesn't look like much is going on anyway (we're still bickering about torture?).

I caught August: Osage County on May 17, which happened to be the last performance by Estelle Parsons.  The play is phenomenal, but….

Well, I hate to be one of those people who thinks the original cast of any production is the standard-bearer by which all future casts must compare (and inevitably, be found wanting).  But in this case, it really is applicable.  Steppenwolf workshopped the hell out of August and that's why the original cast was so tight.

Estelle Parsons is a phenomenal actor, but her pill-popping Violet Weston was almost — almost — a caricature, played for laughs.  This was especially true during Act One when she was "high" — she looked a bad actor playing (well, over playing) a drunk.  Fortunately, she bounced back in Acts Two and Three… but in the end, she was no Amy Morton.

On the other hand, she was probably no Phylicia Rashad, who replaces Parsons.  (Yeah.  Phylicia Rashad).

The rest of the cast was very good, especially John Cullum who has that wonderful opening monologue.

***

As for The Nebula of Georgia, the reason I'm here in the first place, we had our first NYC rehearsal at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, which is on the third floor of a building occupied by winos. 

Actually, the "theatre" isn't as small as I had imagined, but with no exit on stage left, we're having to reblock a lot.  Tickets are selling well, except for our opening night (Wednesday).

Anyway, off to rehearsal and whatever….

This Is All I Have To Say About The Torture Debate And The “Ticking Time Bomb” Scenario

Torture is illegal.

It should be illegal.

It should stay illegal.

Now, torture supporters are all over the place saying, "But what about the 'ticking time bomb' scenario?"  That refers to the hypothetical situation where we know that a dirty bomb is about to go off in the center of some major city, and we have some terrorist suspect in custody who can tell us where the bomb is.  Do we torture him in that situation?

Well, let me first say that anyone that thinks this is a likely possibility simply is watching too much Jack Bauer.  This is the stuff of movies and 24.  How likely is this to actually occur?  Less than 0.1%.  Nothing close to that has ever occured.  Ever.

But fine.  I'll play the game.  Do we torture in that situation?

Yes.

If that's all we have is this suspect, and there is simply no other way to get information to possibly stop the bomb, then yes — torture away.

That said, torture is illegal.

It should be illegal.

It should stay illegal.

And if we torture in the "ticking time bomb" scenario, and it ends up saving thousands of lives, then the President pardons the torturers.  We all cheer.  Life goes on.

But torture stayes illegal.

The reality, of course, is that in such a silly "ticking time bomb" situation, our terrorist captive can simply LIE about the bomb's whereabouts, sending us on a wild goose chase.  "It's in Atlanta!" he sputters from the waterboard table.  We stop torturing him, only to find out he lied.  Tick, tick, boom.

The truth is that torture really isn't likely to provide valuable NEW information; at best, it may provide semi-valuable CONFIRMING information.  That's because the subject of torture will say ANYTHING to make it stop.  Which makes it not appropos for the "ticking time bomb" scenario in the first place.  (In fact, the United States used torture after we invaded Iraq in order to find an al Qaeda-Iraq link.  Again, not exactly a "ticking time bomb" situation).

But I stress again, the whole "ticking time bomb" thing is just too fanciful and unrealistic.  And we shouldn't backtrack on the moral high ground just because one can concoct an unlilkely situation in which torture might help.  After all, wasn't Saddam eeeevil because he tortured?  Wasn't that one of the justifications for invading Iraq?  I'm sure he had his reasons, too (or so he thought).  Where's the moral consistancy of those who lambasted Saddam for torture, but who think America can and should?

Marriage Equality Update: NH Edition

Looks like NH Gov. John Lynch is going to veto the same-sex marriage bill passed by both houses of the NH legislature.

He gives a long explanation here, but it boils down to this: he wants additional legal protections for religious and fraternal institutions, specifically:

I. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if such request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage, the celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious counseling, programs, courses, retreats, or housing designated for married individuals, and such solemnization, celebration, or promotion of marriage is in violation of their religious beliefs and faith. Any refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges in accordance with this section shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state action to penalize or withhold benefits from such religious organization, association or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society.

II. The marriage laws of this state shall not be construed to affect the ability of a fraternal benefit society to determine the admission of members pursuant to RSA 418:5, and shall not require a fraternal benefit society that has been established and is operating for charitable and educational purposes and which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization to provide insurance benefits to any person if to do so would violate the fraternal benefit society’s free exercise of religion as guaranteed by the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States and part 1, article 5 of the Constitution of New Hampshire

III. Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions provided to religious organizations under RSA § 354-A:18.

IV. Repeal. RSA 457-A, relative to civil unions, is repealed effective January 1, 2011, except that no new civil unions shall be established after January 1, 2010.

What does this mean?  Simply that the government or citizens can't go after (in court) a church if that church's religion compels it to refuse to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony.  Same protection for the Local Order of Elks (or whatever) who refuse to rent their hall for a gay wedding.

I don't think these added provisions are unreasonable, especially the part pertaining to religious organizations (the First Amendment probably protects them anyway, but what the hell).  I'm less crazy about the second provision — the one that allows fraternal organizations to discriminate, but what the hell.  We'll give them a pass.

As the governor notes, these protections exist in the current laws of Connecticut and Vermont.

I suspect the governor's sought-after provisions will be added to the bill, and the governor will then sign.

Lost Musings

Ben There are moments during "Lost" where I think to myself, "Wow.  This is dumb.  Why have I been watching this show all these years?"

One of the things that annoys me most is that the charactors' motivations seem to turn on a dime.  Ben, for several years, has been the evil leader incarnate, and then, suddenly, he turns all sheepish and is willing to do whatever John Locke (who Ben killed — uh — twice) says.  Why the change?  Well, he explained it in a ten second conversation with somebody at some point, but it just didn't hang together.

Or…

Kate boards the submarine to convince Sawyer and Juliette that they need to stop Jack from denotating an atomic bomb that will destroy the island.  Juliette, who has been hellbent to get off the island up until now and begin her life with Sawyer, suddenly agrees with Kate.  Why the change?  Oh, she gave some ten second explanation, but it really didn't make sense.

But the "turn on a dime" phenomenon gets worse….

So Kate, Juliette and Sawyer commandeer the submarine, force it to the surface, get in a lifeboat, and go to the island.  They finally confront Jack in the jungle, on his way to the Dharma construction site where he intends to detonate the atomic bomb. [Footnote: it's not clear why he has to go to center of the Dharma construction site — it seems to me that he could detonate the bomb NEAR the site and it would do the trick.  It's a friggin' A-bomb, after all]

And after all that — after ALL that — Kate decides to help Jack in his quest, and so does Juliette.  And why the sudden change?  Why did they decide to help Jack after coming all that way to stop Jack?

Well, I don't even remember Kate's ten-second explanation.  She just changed her mind though, all right?  We're just supposed to accept it.

And Juliette decided to assist, rather than stop, Jack because — well, according to Juliette, she saw how Sawyer was looking at Kate, and began to doubt that she and Sawyer were supposed to be together.  Therefore, she's going to help Jack detonate the atomic bomb so that none of this time travel stuff will happen.

I pity these actors who have to play within these wishy-washy charactors.  They spend episode-after-episode in which their character seeks goal X, only to be handed a script where their charactor does a 180, and decides on a different course.  And about 5 seconds of dialogue to explain the sudden change in motivation.

That said, Michael Emerson really is a good actor.

Great Works Of Literature Get Twitter Treatment

Ulysses

jamesjoyce: Man walks around Dublin. We follow every minute detail of his day. He’s probably overtweeting.

Great Expectations

charlesdickens: Orphan given £££ by secret follower. He thinks it’s @misshavisham but it turns out to be @magwitch

The Catcher in the Rye

jdsalinger: Rich kid thinks everyone is fake except for his little sister. Has breakdown. @markchapman is now following @johnlennon

Waiting for Godot

sambeckett: Vladimir and Estragon stand next to tree and wait for Godot. Their status is not updated.

Pride and Prejudice

janeaustin: Woman meets man called Darcy who seems horrible. He turns out to be nice really. They get together.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

helenfielding: RT @janeaustin Woman meets man called Darcy who seems horrible. He turns out to be nice really. They get together.

******

Read more….

NPH To Host Tonys

I've never been a fan of the folks they usually get to host the Tony Awards.  I'm not a huge Jackman fan (being a striaght guy) — he did it for several years in the 2000's.  Sometimes the ceremony goes host-less, which is kind of bland.  Whoopi was okay last year, but didn't bowl me over. 

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick hosting in 2001 was the last time I thought the academy made a good choice.  Up until now.

Time For A Career Change?

From NY Craigslist:

Reply to: job-hqkb5-1169741827@craigslist.org
Date: 2009-05-13, 9:01PM EDT

Mercury Radio Arts is the New York based production company owned by Radio and TV host Glenn Beck.

Mercury seeks a writer for contributions to Glenn’s radio program, magazine, and web site. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in news, current events, and politics.

Key responsibilities will include contributing original content to GlennBeck.com and to Glenn’s radio program and magazine. Writing will include a mix of short pieces and long articles, fact-based commentary on the news of the day, etc.

Requirements:

• Strong written and verbal communication skills
• Research skills
• At least 2 years of journalism experience

Interested candidates, please send resume, cover letter, and at least 3 writing samples. Cover letters must include salary requirements to be eligible for consideration.

Location: New York, NY

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 1169741827

My favorite part: "fact-based commentary".  Yeah, because that's what Glenn does soooo well…..

Manny Ramirez: Am I In Trouble?

Classic from The Onion:

LOS ANGELES—According to his teammates, his coaches, and the media, Manny Ramirez has appeared visibly confused and anxious since receiving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's drug policy, and has repeatedly asked those around him if he is in some sort of really big trouble right now.

"Uh-oh, things are not going so good for me I don't think," Ramirez was overheard saying to Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley. "Chad? Did I do something bad? If I did bad, I did not mean to do it."

"I tried to put on my uniform today and the day before that and Joe [Torre] told me not to do that," the left fielder added. "Chad…. Chad? Chad. Hey, Chad, do you think Joe is mad at me? I am not mad at him. Is Joe mad at me?"

Sources close to the Dodgers organization confirmed that ever since the suspension was handed down last Thursday, the visibly worried Ramirez has spent the majority of his time sitting in the clubhouse biting his fingernails and saying to himself, "Something is no good right now. Something is definitely no good."

In addition, a sulky Ramirez reportedly spent Tuesday afternoon pacing back and forth in front of Joe Torre's office in an apparent attempt to get the manager to invite him inside. When Torre exited his office without acknowledging the 2004 World Series MVP, Ramirez muttered, "I must be in big, big trouble, man. Big trouble."

"I think things are really bad because the people are being different toward me right now," Ramirez told reporters gathered around his locker Wednesday. "The people with the microphones who stand in front of the cameras and write the things in their books? They are talking about me differently than they usually talk about me. Usually they smile and laugh when they talk about me. But not now."

"You kind of look like them," Ramirez added.

Ramirez claimed he began feeling like he was in trouble during Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies, when he found he was not in the starting lineup, was not asked to pinch-hit, and was left off the team plane when it departed Los Angeles for Philadelphia.

"Being suspended is one thing, man, but not being able to play baseball is really, really bad," Ramirez said. "I am going to miss baseball very much. I would like to tell everybody that I really love baseball, and that I love baseball, and that I am going to miss hitting the baseball forever and ever. I would like to end my career as a Yankee."

Dodgers teammate Rafael Furcal told reporters that although several people have attempted to explain the situation to Ramirez, the 12-time all-star either avoids eye contact entirely, smiles for no discernable reason, or nods his head with a furrowed brow, though many believe this is simply Ramirez's way of pretending to understand what is being said to him.

Sources close to Ramirez have reported that when the embattled star is told that his urine sample contained traces of a women's fertility drug, he typically giggles, extends his arms, and points his index fingers at whoever is trying to explain the predicament.

"If something is really messed up, I didn't do it, okay? It wasn't me. It was probably Brad," said Ramirez, attempting to deflect blame onto Dodgers catcher Brad Ausmus. "He's no good. I do not like him. He should be in trouble, not me."

On Wednesday, Ramirez said that if he is in as big of trouble as he thinks he is, he hopes to receive his punishment soon so the situation can be over and done with.

"I am sorry for doing what I did, and for all the people who are mad, and for my parents, and my family, and for the fans, and the people I love, and everyone," Ramirez told reporters. "Please just let me start hitting the ball again, and doing all the things that let me do that so good—like looking at the videotape, practicing in the batting cage, and taking anabolic steroids."

Google Outage

Yeah, it's happening now, worldwide.  World at a standstill.

Googleoutage

Are we relying on Google too much???

UPDATE:  More than a few people on Twitter did what *I* did — i.e., tried to find out about Google outage by searching "google outage"…. except they searched on Google.  Duh!

It does pose an interesting dilemna: how do you find out about Google problems when Google is having problems.  We really do rely on it too much.  (Oh, sure, there's Yahoo search, and Twitter, but they're stone age by comparison…)

UPDATE 2:  Problem apparently affect Google search, Google News, Gmail, and anything that syncs with Google, including YouTube and Blogger.

UPDATE 3 (11:40 am EST):  As far as I can tell, this CNET article is the only thing in the media confirming the outage, but it says it is over.  Not!!

UPDATE 4 (12:02 pm EST):  CNET still the only one reporting this, in a new article:

Many people found Google's search site was extremely slow or inaccessible Thursday, and other reports pointed to troubles with other properties including YouTube, Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Maps, Google Docs, AdSense, and Blogger.

Judging by a Twitter search for the #googlefail hashtag, the problem was international in scope, though it wasn't immediately clear how universal the problems were. Google didn't immediately comment for this story, though it did confirm an earlier Google News outage that lasted about three and a half hours.

Google is central to the online lives–and livelihood–of many, and an outage shows exactly how central it's become–and not just through its primary business, search.

"The Internet dies without Google. Can't get to my bank Web site because it's waiting on 'google-analytics.com.' This is made of lame," said Twitter user Tadiera.

I also note (from Twitter) that may people are turning to Yahoo Search "for the first time in [7,8,9…] years"

UPDATE 5 (12:12 pm):  Readwriteweb has more info:

We have seen our fair share of failures from web based products, but this morning, for a large number of users (at least in the U.S.), it looks like every Google service has been either wiped off the Internet or is running extremely slow for a large number of users. Even Google Search is only creeping along slowly right now, and YouTube, Google Reader, Blogger, Google Analytics, Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Apps are pretty much unavailable as well.

Typically, these outages have never lasted for long, but once again, this outage shows how depended we have become on Google for so many of our daily tasks.

As of now, all of our attempts to contact any Google property are timing out, but we'll keep you posted once we find out more about this.

Update: Judging from the comments here and the conversations we are tracking on Twitter, it looks like these outages are somewhat localized, though we haven't seen any patterns evolve yet. It does seem, though, like the outages are mostly in the U.S., though we are also seeing some reports from European users, while Google seems to be working just fine in most Asian countries.

Currently, this looks like a networking issue, as users on some ISPs are able to access all of Google's services, while their neighbors are unable to connect to Google's servers.

The comments to this article are interesting.  There's a person in Boston saying it's down, and another person in Boston saying "no problem here"

FINAL (?) UPDATE (12:16 pm EST):  Googlefail is over.  Over for me, and for lots of others….

Googlefailover 

ANOTHER FINAL UPDATE (12:24 pm):  Who's to blame — f***in' AT&T.

Maybe I'll bookmark the Internet Storm Center, now that I know it exists, for future problems.

And now that Google's back, you can Google "google outage may 2009" and see that I'm the #1 search result…. which is why this blog is getting slammed (for me) right now.

Sitemeter2

A Plea For Public Broadcasting

Everytime pledge week rolls around on NPR, I am reminded of Fred Rogers (aka "Mr. Rogers", of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood") in 1969 testifying before Congress.

Public television was in danger of having its budget slashed dramatically.  Mr. Rogers, still a relative unknown, went up to Captial Hill.  He not only urged that the public broadcasting budget not be cut, but he also weighed in on a hot issue at the time: whether VCRs should be allowed to record TV shows from the home — his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.

He gave a 6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens.  In a style only Mr. Rogers could deliver, his message was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed.

Six minutes later, it was all over.  Before Rogers' testimony, the public broadcasting budget was slated to be slashed to a mere $9 million.  Thanks to Mr. R, funding for public broadcasting was actually increased over the prior year — to $22 million.

Here's the testimony:

Ira Glass ain't got nothing on F-Rog.

Miss Prejean’s Contract

The contract:


Carrie Prejean Miss California Contract

Miss California pageant co-director Shanna Moakler who just resigned had objected to Prejean signing on to the National Organization for Marriage’s lobbying team and to Prejean’s failure to own up to topless photos, both of which violate the Miss California contact, says one news source.

I don’t claim to have gone over the contract with a fine tooth comb, but I see nothing which requires her to “own up” to topless photos taken before she signed the contract.  [UPDATE:  Found it.  Her checking “TRUE” in Paragraph 9(a) on page 8 seems to clearly be a lie….]

But, even then, there is an allegation that at least the latest set of photos were taken after she signed the contact, which is a violation. 

In any event, the photos are just one issue:

California pageant officials said Prejean, 21, asked for permission to elaborate on her answer and they agreed. But then, they said, she began speaking without their permission in front of crowds opposed to gay marriage, including her San Diego church and the National Organization for Marriage.

Keith Lewis, the state pageant’s co-executive director, said Prejean also began missing Miss California events she was contractually obligated to attend.

If it is in fact true that she missed Miss California events, that also is a contractual violation.

We all know that Trump gave her a pass, but it seems to me that doing so really makes the contract agreement she signed a bit of a sham.  I don’t blame Shanna Moakler for quitting.

God Gave Me Cookies

A true real-life event as told in 4 pictures (from LaidOutInLavender Blog)

(1)  His front door

Frontdoor 

(2)  The sign on his front door

Sign 

(3)  The doorstep

Doorstep 

(4)  God gave him cookies

 Godcookies

He adds:

I don't know if I should trust God's cookies. Bribery does not seem like it is God's style. What if these cookies are a temptation from the Devil? He would know I am nearing my cycle and cannot devour sweets faster! Is it a sign from God that Diets are crap? Can chocolate chunk cookies be divine? Did God put laxatives in there because of my Easter Jokes? Would God play practical jokes on me?

So many questions.

Marriage Equality Update

In New Hampshire: governor still mulling over signing the bill [UPDATE: Nope.  It still requires some signatures from Senate and House leaders — bureaucracy, on other words.  It hasn't even reached the gov's desk.]

In New York: NY state assembly passed marriage equality bill yesterday.

Media Matters has a nice compilation of the right-wing pushback, complete with their "slippery slope" argument:

Let me address the slippery slope argument (again), because it just doesn't seem to die.

First of all, as with all slippery slope arguments, there's no guarantee that just because X happens, Y is inevitable. 

That's because society is not comprised of idiots. The slippery slope argument assumes that society and the law can't make distinctions between situations that are different from one another.

The truth is, we can tell apples from oranges. For example, women got the right to vote, but that did not automatically mean that infants were next to get that right.  Where was the slippery slope there?  It simply didn't exist.

Sure, in the wake of universal acceptance of gay marriage, others (VERY VERY few, I might add) could argue that they want to marry their relatives or have multiple legal spouses.  But those arguments would have to be separately evaluated.

The slippery slope starts to get UNslippery when you address these other marriage arrangements head-on.  There are compelling reasons to ban incestuous and polygamous marriages, including genetic concerns about the children of incestuous marriages, the importance of preventing coercion and abuse within families, the increased likelihood of fraudulent (i.e., unloving) unions merely intending to take advantage of laws favoring married people (tax breaks, etc.), and concerns about how young girls and women have fared historically under polygamy.

Also, with polygamy, there is a clear community harm.  Historically, polygamy tends to be one man with many wives; it therefore takes many more women than men out of the marriage pool. This leaves heterosexual men with fewer marriage opportunities. Unattached men with poor marital prospects destabilize societies, and large numbers of such men in a society require strong mechanisms of state control to rein them in.  (Polygamy would also be a bitch to administrate from a government standpoint.)

By contrast, where is the compelling reason to bar same-sex couples from marriage?  It doesn't exist.  Permitting marriages of same-sex couples strengthens families and harms no individual.  Nor does it create a communal harm; in fact, just the opposite — gay marriage helps ensure marriageable partners for everyone; polygamy does the opposite.

This is why you can't equate gay marriage with polygamy or other forms of marriage.  Gay marriage harms no individual, takes advantage of no sub-class, is not prone to "sham" marriages, and creates no societal harm.  Can any of that be said for polygamous and incestuous marriages?  Absolutely not, and historical evidence bears this out.  It is those factors which prevent the slope from being slippery.

So, bringing up polygamy, incest and turtle-marriage is simply a dodge — an attempt to distract people from the injustice of denying same-sex couples the same opportunity to marry that different-sex couples want to preserve for themselves. 

Demonization Politics

The Republicans are taking it to a whole new level.  It's one thing for a politician or blow-hard Fox News pundit to name-call, but when the party unites to officially rebrand its adversary, that's an entirely different thing:

A member of the Republican National Committee told me Tuesday that when the RNC meets in an extraordinary special session next week, it will approve a resolution rebranding Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party.”

When I asked if such a resolution would force RNC Chairman Michael Steele to use that label when talking about Democrats in all his speeches and press releases, the RNC member replied: “Who cares?”

…Exercising a rarely used party rule that allows any 16 RNC members from 16 different states to demand a special meeting, conservatives in the party forced Steele’s hand, and now the special meeting will be tacked onto the end of a previously scheduled meeting of state party chairmen that will convene next week at National Harbor outside Washington.

Democrats are rejoicing.  This is exactly the kind of over-the-top rhetoric which has propelled the Republican Party into disrepute and oblivion.

I mean, think about it.  How wise is it to tell the majority of the American electorate that they voted in "socialists"?

It also cements the reputation of the Republican being nothing more than anti's.  No solutions.  No new ideas.  Just always being negative.

The leader of the "Democrat Socialist" rebranding effort, Indiana RNC member James Bopp, Jr., sent an memo around further explaining its purpose. Here's a pertinent passage:

The threat to our country from the Obama administration cannot be underestimated. They are proceeding pell mell to nationalize major industries, to exponentially increase the size, power and intrusiveness of the federal government, to undermine free enterprise and free markets, to raise taxes to a confiscatory level, to strap future generations with enormous unsustainable debt, to debase our currency, to destroy traditional values and embrace a culture of death, and to weaken our national defense and retreat from the war on terror. Unless stopped, we will not recognize our country in a few short years.

See, the problem with this over-the-top rhetoric — "we will not recognize our country in a few short years" — is that when life in America doesn't appear to most as bleak "in a few short years", the Republicans look like jackasses.

Oops She Did It Again

Even more photos of Miss California posing topless have been uncovered.

Her excuse for the above-the-waist exposure?  The photos were taken on a windy day.

Riiiiight.  Even though your hair isn't blowing, honey.

Again, this doesn't make her unqualified to speak her personal views about gay marriage.  She's entitled to them.

It does, however, make her out to be a pathological liar, and probably not the best spokesman for any cause, nor (I would add) the best representative of the state of California.

UPDATE:

I had to laugh at Prejean evoking violations of her freedom of speech.  Keith alludes to this.  NOTHING that has happened to her violates her freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom from criticism over what you say.

Fake Movies

Variety:

U.S. Catholic League president Bill Donohue on Monday issued a statement asking that a disclaimer be inserted in the "Angels and Demons" titles saying that the movie is a work of fiction.

Does this look like a documentary?

Other not real films out:

Wolverines

Star Trek

…many many others.

Yankees Prices

As some reader to the NY Post pointed out, if you want to see a Yankees-Mariners game, it's cheaper for a New Yorker to see them play (twice!) in Seattle than to see them at the new Yankee stadium:

Reader Gary Cicio, NYC podiatrist, did the research, and asks us to choose one of the two options to see a Mariners-Yankees game this season, and from the very best seats:

Option 1: Two tickets to Tuesday night, June 30, Mariners at Yanks, cost for just the tickets, $5,000.

Option 2: Two round-trip airline tickets to Seattle, Friday, Aug. 14, return Sunday the 16th, rental car for three days, two-night double occupancy stay in four-star hotel, two top tickets to both the Saturday and Sunday Yanks-Mariners games, two best-restaurant-in-town dinners for two. Total cost, $2,800. Plus-frequent flyer miles.

Yikes.  No wonder Yankee game attendance looks like this:

Empty-seats-yankee-stadium-399x253

Best Self-Defeating Opening Paragraph By A Columnist Evah

Roberts Carey "Get Off My Lawn" Roberts is always a howl to read over at Renew America.  A good 75% of his columns are meandering screeds against women, although of course, he refers to them generically as feminists

He is one of the few brave conservative columnists to take a stand against those seeking to end domestic violence.  It's hard to tell why this particular bee is in his bonnet, but it is.  Something untoward from his past I suspect.

Anyway, in his latest screed in which he calls out domestic violence as being a hyped -up issue, Roberts begins with this unintentionally hilarious and devoid-of-irony paragraph:

Imagine a world where ideology takes the place of truth and laws are rooted in dubious factoids from nowhere. That pretty much sums up the fact-challenged, hysteria-mongering domestic violence industry that is propped up by $1 billion of federal money each year.

That's right – there's a domestic violence industry out there creating false myths about domestic violence because doing so is profitable!  And they are the ones who are fact-challenged.

I'll leave it to you to read the entire article (it's typical Roberts anti-feminism), but I also wanted to point out his closing paragraphs:

Curious to know what are the leading causes of injury to women? Here they are: unintentional falls, car accidents, and overexertion. Domestic violence did not even make the list: http://mchb.hrsa.gov/whusa08/hstat/hi/pages/226i.html

So relax ladies, everything you've heard about the "epidemic" of domestic violence is mostly hype calculated to stampede you into divorcing your husband and voting for yet another taxpayer-funded, ideologically-charged abuse reduction program.

That's an interesting link you got there, Mr. Roberts.

If you follow it, it takes you to the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services website, to the section on Women's Health.

Specifically, it takes you to the subsection on women's injuries.  And there you see this graph (click to embiggen):

Womensinjuries1  

Why, Carey is right!  The injury section doesn't even mention domestic violence.

Oh, wait.  What's that on the left hand column?

Womensinjuries2    

Ah.  Looks like Carey overlooked something.  Like the basic fact that domestic violence isn't an accidental "injury" at all, but an act of violence.  It's kind of like making the point that cheetahs aren't fast by linking to the Guinness Book of World Records site for the fastest land speed records for cars.  (See, cheetahs aren't even mentioned!)

The fact is that while more women suffer from injuries (falls, car accidents, etc.) the rate of domestic violence is alarmingly high.  In fact, for women between the ages of 20-34, the domestic violence rate is about 9.7 per thousand women, higher than the number of women who injure themselves with a cut.

So Carey — who is fact-challenged?

Wanda Sykes’ Offensive Comedy Routine Attacking Limbaugh

Adam Serwer has written the only thing worth reading on the "controversy":

Wanda Sykes' comedy routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner was really offensive. In it, Sykes suggested that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh  is supported by Hamas, and that Islamists are "constantly issuing Limbaugh talking points." She joked about terrorists supporting conservatives in general, suggesting that recent violent events in Iraq are attempts by terrorists to swing the upcoming midterm elections in favor of Republicans.

Then she got really personal. She joked that Limbaugh was a racist who doesn't want black people to "escap[e] the underclass." She accused him of being responsible for killing "a million babies a year," and aired her friend's theory that Limbaugh himself was a terrorist attack," a followup to 9/11. She also, most disgustingly, said that if conservatives kept apologizing to Limbaugh, they'd eventually contract "anal poisoning." She wondered when Republicans would finally stop "bending over and grabbing their ankles" for Limbaugh, and finally concluded that Limbaugh was just a "bad guy."

Oh wait. Wanda Sykes didn't say any of these things. These are things Rush Limbaugh has said about Obama or other Democrats in the past year, the kind of statements few reporters found offensive enough to write about, despite the fact that most of them were said with the utmost seriousness. And while Sykes is a mere comedian whose influence on the Democratic Party is negligible, Limbaugh's influence in the party is so great that Republican leaders can't even criticize him without having to issue apologies after the fact. 

Student Attends Prom, Gets Suspended

What is this?  Footloose?

17 year old Tyler Frost wanted to go to the prom with his girlfriend.  The problem? She attends a public school; he attends a Christian school.  Specifically, he attends a fundamentalist Baptist school in Ohio which forbids dancing, rock music and hand-holding.

He went anyway, and the heavens did not open up with God's wrath, and the sky did not fall.

But that didn't stop his school from going after him anyway — he was suspended.

On its website, the school responds to the controversy:

As you probably already know, Heritage has received a lot of local and regional attention today. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you can read the article in today’s courier (www.thecourier.com Read “Don’t go to the prom…”). My guess is that many of you were bombarded at work with questions and statements. In fact, I have had e-mails this morning telling me that great opportunities to give the gospel have taken place. I believe I ought to address the situation. 

First, the article in the Courier is fairly accurate. What the article leaves out are the principles behind the rules. In the Old Testament, Joseph was in a place of temptation and he fled. Unlike this situation, he didn’t put himself in that place. 

A slave being seduced by his master's wife vs. prom date.  Same difference (roflmao)

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” II Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee also youthful lusts but follow after righteousness faith charity and peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 

Isn't there something in II Timothy 2 about instructing gently rather than punishing?

When the school committee, many years before I became the principal, set up the policy regarding dancing, I am confident that they had the principle of fleeing lustful situations in mind. The question as I see it is, should a Christian place themselves at an event where young ladies will have low cut dresses and be dancing in them? Isn’t it contrary to the example of Joseph and the verses that I stated?

Why, yes.  Yes it is.  It's a prom, as opposed to bedroom seduction scene.  By the way, Jesus hung out with whores, so….

Second, at the beginning of the school year, every family must sign a statement of cooperation. Students in 7th through 12th grades must also sign it. It doesn’t say that you have to agree with them, but that we will all abide by them. 

Fair enough, although those things aren't legally binding.

What kind of a school would we be if we suspended a policy because it was convenient to do so? That would not be a Christ-like response. Jesus did not avoid trouble. 

So this 17 year old student, who got into trouble by attending a prom in a public school, is Christ-like.  QED.

He made statements such as, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). His statements didn’t make Him popular with the world. Can we expect anything else? The verses that I have thought of throughout this day are Matthew 5:11-12, Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Wow! I can build up a whole lot of rewards in heaven today, and so can you. 

Can those be exchanged for frequent flyer miles?

Third, when discussing this particular issue with folks in the community please remember that the servant of the Lord "must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness" (2 Tim 2:24, 25).

Yup.  That's the part of Timothy I was thinking of.

Esther received great counsel from her uncle Mordecai when he said, “And who knoweth whether thou art come into the kingdom for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14). This is a time for Heritage to shine as a light in this world. It isn’t easy, but it is right.

Just like Adam and Eve riding the dinosaurs to church.

Death Toll In Iraq

Fortunately, the body count from Iraq has gone down in the past few years.  No longer do we hear about multiple deaths per day.

Today, sadly, was a notable and grim exception, made all the more grim by the fact that five dead U.S. soldiers were killed — intentionally, it would seem — by another U.S. soldier.  Three were wounded.  The shootings took place in a clinic for those suffering from war stress.

One of these days, this country is going to have to take a serious look at its recruitment standards, redeployment policies, as well as the nature of PTSD and its effect on our troops.

Paging PETA…. oh, PETA?

The Dog'O'Matic is an automated dog-washing machine. A wash takes a total of about 30 minutes with the Dog'O'Matic, 5 minutes for the actual washing with jets of water and an additional 25 for drying and bruching with warm air.

Dodomatic 

It supposedly is not traumatic for dogs.  The inventor…

says that it is very rare that a dog is agitated or panicky during the wash, and in any case the door can be opened at any point during the wash to let the dog out in the case of panic.

Right.  I'm guessing the dogs are not panicky or agitated because they're in shock!

More here.