01 December 2009

Oy.

I read over at BlogKC:
[r]eal estate developers are asking KCMO to annex over 300 acres of rural Platte County just north of the Kansas City International Airport for a large suburban-style housing development called "The Lake at Tomahawke Creek.”
WTF #1: Putting a housing development directly in the way of a flight path? What could possibly go wrong?
Didn't the KCMO employees that we charitably refer to as "city planners" site the Kansas City airport in the middle of South Dakota for the purpose of avoiding development?
I grew up in a suburb that had two lakes joined by a channel. One lake was the sailboat lake, and the other was the speedboat lake. When the sailboat lake lots were all built up, they started building on the speedboat lake.
Turns out the people who wanted to live on the speedboat lake didn't actually want to live on a speedboat lake.
"Oh, the noise! The noise! The noise, noise, noise, noise!" Then those homeowners got an idea. A terrible idea. Those homeowners got a wonderful, awful idea. And that was the end of waterskiing, jet skiing, and driving one's motorboat faster than Nana drives her Rascal. Thanks for coming, guys! Glad you could join us.
WTF #2: A lakefront community. On a flightpath?
Well, that's just fucking brilliant.
Allow me to introduce you to Captain Chesley Sullenberger. He'd like to talk to you about a little kerfluffle involving waterfowl and jets.
WTF #3: Tomahawke?
Gah. Why do Ye Olde developers insist on spelling things with a fake British accent?

28 November 2009

Constitutional crisis afoot?

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a federal (not state) court of appeals whose jurisdiction includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawai'i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Marianas. The Ninth Circuit is by far the largest court of its kind, and there are 29 judges. This is the court that conservatives mock for being frequently reversed. The Ninth hears a ton of high-profile cases, so in sheer number that might be true, but by percentages they're actually not reversed more often than other circuits, less than some.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Ninth Circuit is a powerful body. If you lose your case in a federal district court within their jurisdiction, this court would hear your appeal. If you appealed their judgment, it would be to the Supreme Court of the United States. Anymore, SCOTUS justices are culled exclusively from these federal courts of appeal.
The current chief judge of the Ninth Circuit is Alex Kozinski, appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Among the several attorneys working for the chief judge is Karen Golinski, who is a married California resident who wished to add her spouse to her employer's healthcare plan. Ordinarily this would be a nonissue, some paperwork for the court's HR department. Ms Golinski executed the paperwork, but a bureaucrat within the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts kicked it back.
While most employee disputes in the federal government are decided by administrative agencies (which are part of the executive branch), federal law gives federal courts the power to settle their own employee disputes. So ten months ago, Judge Kozinski ruled the agency had erred.
In making that decision, Kozinski was faced with a conflict of law: the Defense of Marriage Act is a sweeping and categorical denial of state and federal benefits to gay citizens; however, the Federal Health Benefits Act mandates federal employers to extend health coverage to employee's spouse. When faced with such a conflict of law, the typical rule of construction is to avoid deciding a Constitutional question, and that's precisely what Kozinski did. Golinski has a legal spouse and spouses are qualified pursuant to the FHBA; ergo, there's no need to acknowledge DOMA's Constitutional elephants in the room. Thus, a quintessentially conservative ruling produced a rather progressive outcome — Ms Golinski's wife is qualified for coverage. So ordered, the agency moved to comply.
Alas, the "Fierce Advocate" once again sprang into action.
Defying a lawful court order, the Obama administration directed the federal Office of Personnel Management* to demand that Blue Cross not process Ms Golinski's paperwork.
I probably don't need to tell you that Judge Kozinski is pissed. "The Office of Personnel Management shall cease at once its interference with the jurisdiction of this tribunal." He's given the OPM 30 day to comply and says he's willing to use the powers of the court to enforce his order.
When one branch of the government attacks the powers of another, that's called a "Constitutional crisis." But apparently this is not a real Constitutional crisis, since the issue is only gay rights and therefore not terribly important and scarcely even newsworthy.
But seriously, think about this for a moment: Obama is so willing to defend the indefensible DOMA that he is subverting the rule of law just to injure one lesbian couple. Wow.
Had George W. done this, I would have been astonished.
That Barack Obama, former professor of Constitutional law and self-described "friend" of gays is doing it simply beggars description. That Obama is doing this in furtherance of a law he's says is without merit and "abhorent" is nothing short of unhinged.
Tip of the crust to Americablog Gay.
(* John Barry heads the OPM and is the highest-ranking openly gay member of the Obama Administration — which is pretty pathetic in itself. That Mr. Barry is willing to be Obama's kapo says quite a bit about him and his boss.)

25 November 2009

Carefully formulated development.

In 1787, the United States Constitution was ratified, banning — among other things — the ability of the government to issue Bills of Attainder. These bills were legal writs delivered from a legislature declaring a person (or group) "attained"; that is, presumptively guilty of a crime without a trial. Attainder voided the party's civil rights and the attained's property escheated to the sovereign. It was one of Henry VIII's favorite tools against non-compliant but propertied subjects, and one of the conspicuous excesses of the English monarchy that the Framers wished to eliminate.

Two hundred and ten years later, Susette Kelo, an EMT, bought and restored a little house in the Fort Trumball section of New Haven, Connecticut, overlooking the Long Island Sound. She painted it a cheery pink.

image from the Boston Globe
These two incidents should never have intersected, yet they did. Kelo's crime was owning property coveted by her sovereign.

How did the New London government take Kelo's and 90 other acres of nearby property for the benefit of new private corporate owners? The city council created an Economic Development Corporation which leveraged the property against its owners. That is, the EDC told the city council that the properties would generate considerably more revenue if they were someone else's property — somebody...rich. Their promise: revitalization would create 3,169 jobs and $1.2 million in tax revenue.

Pfizer was one of those prospective rich private owners. In 2001, they built the biggest office campus in the city, near Kelo's neighborhood. Pfizer got a sweetheart deal, too: they were only obligated to pay 20% of their property taxes for the first decade. Any additional development would enhance the value of the existing Pfizer campus, and now Pfizer played a key role.

Ms Kelo was subsequently informed what the city intended to pay for her property, and the date she was expected to vacate. The letter wasn't labeled "Bill of Attainder," but it sure doesn't miss by much. In 2005, the dispute ended up in the Supreme Court of the United States, and was argued as a Fifth Amendment Takings Clause case.

The Takings Clause says that the government cannot seize private property except where it's (1) for "public use," and (2) provided the owner is paid "just compensation." There was no question that the property was to be transferred from one private owner to another. Nonetheless, the majority was persuaded that the incidental tax benefit derived by the city from the promised revitalization was the requisite "public use."

...the city has carefully formulated a development plan that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including, but not limited to, new jobs and increased tax revenue...the Court long ago rejected any literal requirement that condemned property be put into use for the general public. - Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority
...and that was that. The court sided 5-4 with the Sovereign against the subject, in a bizarre ruling where the Court's so-called "liberals" adopted the Federalist-style argument, "who are we to question the judgment of the legislator? 'Public use' means 'any public purpose they decide.'"

Ms Kelo's land was awarded it to the corporation for their planned "urban village" development of restaurants, retail, a conference hotel, marina, riverwalk and condos. The city announced its intent to sue the remaining residents of the disputed property for five years of back rent (a cause they eventually dropped.) Ms Kelo moved across the river to Groton, Connecticut.

This month, Pfizer announced that it intended to abandon New London and transfer the 1,400 campus jobs...to Groton. The transfer will be completed within two years. Coincidentally, that's right before their 80% property tax discount corporate welfare expires.
New London officials were apparently stunned by this news, and genuinely upset that Pfizer had not consulted them, demonstrating that they are indeed as dumb and gullible as you probably already assumed.

New London will be left with a massive abandoned office complex and the bulldozed lots of what was once Ms Kelo's Fort Trumball neighborhood — empty lots that produce zero tax revenue.
image from http://yedies.blogspot.com

Yep, despite the "carefully formulated development plan," nobody bothered to actually...develop.

Pfizer paid $67 billion for Wyeth, Inc. last month.

13 November 2009

The real sin of Sodom.

Long ago the Catholic Church determined that homosexuality was such a terrible sin that their "loving" God destroyed a couple of cities over it, and it was their obligation to continue to destroy homos on their "almighty" God's behalf. Except their "all-knowing" God had already decided to destroy Sodom before the mob showed up at Lot's door, ergo the argument over what "know" means and the whole angel-raping mob story is pretty much moot according to their own book.
If that doesn't convince you that homosexuality wasn't Sodom's real sin how about this: Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:49
So there's something especially poetic about this news: the District of Columbia City Council plans to enact an anti-discrimination ordinance and the Catholic Church is so incensed...that they're threatening to screw the poor.
The proposed ordinance doesn't have anything to do with religion. It won't require the church to perform gay weddings, hire or retain gay clergy or ministerial staff, or preach that gay people aren't child molesters or anything crazy like that. It just says that businesses and charities that do business in or with the city can't discriminate against their own gay employees.
Due to DCs prospective interference the employer/employee relationship, the Church is now threatening to break its social services contracts with the city that it currently performs through its nonprofit entity, Catholic Charities. It's probably not an idle threat, either. When Massachusetts enacted a law that said that adoption agencies couldn't categorically deny adoption because the prospective parents were gay, the Catholic Church folded up its adoption agency and left the state. Apparently it's better to deny Massachusetts orphans parents entirely.
Catholic Charities of DC claims they are:
...the area's leading provider of comprehensive human services, strengthening the lives of people in need...[serving] over 8,000 homeless people a month.
But fuck those 8,000 homeless if the city won't allow Catholic Charities discriminate against the handful gays that may lurk amongst their 800 DC area employees.
Punishing "sodomites" by committing the real sin of Sodom?
BFD

09 November 2009

Because that's my feeling.

I saw this over at Joe.My.God:
Ann Tischer makes a beautiful case, and the only response her Senator can manage is...it's his "feeling" that she doesn't deserve equality.
I'm no expert on the New York legislature, but do they swear to protect and defend their feelings?
I only wish she'd asked the logical follow-up question:
"Senator, the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees that no state can deny any US citizen the privileges and immunities of citizenship; and no state may deny any person the equal protection of the laws. The New York Constitution also says that no person shall be denied the equal protection.
Do you believe that homosexuals are not people, not citizens, or both?"

07 November 2009

My birthplace is vastly inferior to yours.

06 November 2009

The pledge.

Behold, Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri:
Fucking retard.
I really enjoyed when the camera pulled back to reveal a sea of white faces.
Racism. Yet another thing that drives us liberals crazy.

Defenders of the Family.

Hot off her triumph at the Values Voters Summit, where she assured cheering Christian Conservatives that "God chose me," America's second-favorite Model Christian™ Carrie "I am disgusted at how some people can be so intolerant" Prejean is headlining yet another hatefest:
Tonight?
Awesome timing, New Jersey Family Policy Council! Clearly God is on your side!
According to TMZ:
When the video started playing, Carrie's first reaction was "that's disgusting"...and Carrie denied it was her. Then, the camera angle changed...and panned up to her face. She was caught red-handed...so to speak. Carrie was rendered speechless and immediately began talking with her lawyer. We're told it took about 15 seconds for Carrie to drop her $1 million dollar demand.
I don't know when Jackie Collins began writing for TMZ, but I approve.
Anyhow, you may recall that Prejean's pre-pageant topless photos were simply a matter of her being tricked by her photographer. As a good Christian woman, she would never deliberately pose topless.
Oh stop it, Mr. Photographer. Can't you see I'm looking for my modest Christian attire?
Okay, ready now. Shoot away!
Miss California pageant contract: Have you even been photographed nude or partially nude?
Prejean: No
I wonder how she'll explain away her porno movie?
Will she be invited back to James Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program? Will "Reverend" Dobson review her latest video claim to fame and once again solemnly pronounce, "you did one of the most courageous things I've seen anybody your age or anybody else do. What was going on in your mind?"
"Even though the forces of the evil and intolerant homosexual agenda in the guise of Satan tempted me into selling my body like a common whore again, I was always thinking about Jesus, Reverend, and just praising his name. 'Oh god, oh god, oh god...'"
_______________________
UPDATE: They called it off. Must've been very last minute.

02 November 2009

Wow. Just, wow.

Click here to view some of the most fantastic, jawdroppingly cool photos you'll ever see.
The artist is Igor Iwanowicz, and he photographs insects.
Phenomenal.

Okay, I thought it was funny.

In a fark thread about an Ameila Earhart conspiracy theory:
I thought Amelia Earhart was the one that wrote the diary while hiding from the Nazis.
Dude, duh, that was Hellen Keller.
No, Helen Keller was the one that wouldn't get out of her bus seat for whitey.
The woman on the bus was Susan B. Anthony. Helen Keller wrote cook books.
Dude, that was Annie Oakley. Dumbass.
Annie Oakley wrote self help books. You are thinking of Annie Hall.
No Annie Hall led the prohibition movement, Julia Childs is the right name.
Julia Childs spent years in Africa, studying chimps.
wait, I thought that was Sandra Day O'Connor.
Jesus christ, that was Rosa Parks. Glad to see the American education system at work here.
Sandra Day O'Conner is the lady who made movies in the 1960's with people like Rock Hudson. Rosa Parks started the American Red Cross.
No no no, that was Harriet Tubman. Rosa Parks was the first Avon lady.
Harriet Tubman invented the mud bath. The first Avon lady was Betsy Ross.
Please allow me to correct yous. Florence Henderson started the Red Cross.

01 November 2009

Dog bites man.

In California, a legally married SkyWest Airlines* baggage handler is threatening suit against his employer because the regional carrier refuses to provide his spouse the same benefits it provides to other married employees.
Oh, did I mention the baggage handler is gay, and SkyWest is owned and operated by Mormons?
Yes, I realize "Mormons hate homosexuals" is totally a "dog bites man" story, but it does serve to illustrate the point that "separate but equal" never is.
* SkyWest operates flights for Delta Connection, United Express, and Midwest Connect. Now I'm glad I didn't book my San Diego tickets yet.

30 October 2009

This guy rocks. Seriously.

A friend of mine made the news.
Jimmy Gillispie got the story for the Baldwin City Signal, headlined 'Karaoke Joe' rocks the tunes. Money quote:
I’m overweight, married and a father of two kids. There’s no possible way I can look cool.
And yet, there's something inherently cool about seeing a regular guy grab a mic and rock a classic vocal in a way that's every bit as good as the original.
It's not just cool, it's kinda shocking.
You like him, you love him, now get a shirt of him.

29 October 2009

Outstanding.

Excellent analysis of the COMBAT tax by Patrick Tuohey over at the Missouri Record. If you live in Jackson County, Missouri, this is a mandatory read before next Tuesday.
His conclusion is a great summary:
...voters ought to look not at how tax dollars are being spent, but how effective the programs are at achieving goals. COMBAT has not made the case, even to the satisfaction of its supporters. Furthermore, given that the County has spent $800,000 to hold a special election so early before the current tax is due to expire, voters have a rare opportunity to express dissatisfaction with the program and its administration by voting no, without actually endangering the program. Voting to support this program before it issues a report on it's mission and goals is more than unwise, it is an act of democratic malpractice.

Don't know, don't care.

I used to think that Barack Obama generally understood the issues surrounding LGBT civil rights, but he just didn't particularly care (except to the extent his vague expressions of support for somebody else to do something helped him raise money).
Now I must concede I was wrong.
He doesn't understand the issues. Want proof?
EXHIBIT A: Yesterday, President Obama had this to say in front of a military audience with regard to his signing of the Matthew Shepard Act (which adds perceived sexual orientation and disability to the existing federal hate-crimes law).
After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are.
That short sentence is wrong in at least 4 ways:
1. The MSA wasn't a standalone bill that triumphed over "opposition and delay," it was amended to the Defense Authorization Act to force its natural opponents to vote for it.
2. A victim's nationality, race, and religion have been relevant to federal hate-crimes law since 1969.
3. Hate-crimes laws are simply sentencing enhancements, which provide for an additional punishment to a convicted violent crime perpetrator. It doesn't become relevant until the crime is complete, so it's kind of a stretch to say hate-crimes laws "protect" anybody, except in the general sense that any successful prosecution protects society.
4. The MSA doesn't selectively protect based on "who they love." If a heterosexual is gay-bashed by mistake, the perpetrator/s can now be subject to a sentencing enhancement. Who a victim loves is utterly irrelevant.
EXHIBIT B: While running for president, Obama promised:
As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws.
Maine duly passed legislation recognizing same-sex couple's full equality in family and adoption laws, which law is now being contested via a "people's veto" referendum as Question 1.
Has Obama "used the bully pulpit to urge" support for Maine's equality legislation or condemn efforts to strip that right from LGBT citizens?
Nope.
In fact, the administration apparently doesn't know what the hell is going on in Maine. Obama's chief law-enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder, doesn't know what Question 1 is. He got buttonholed yesterday by Corey Johnson. They shared this exchange:
JOHNSON: You were in Maine earlier this week and were asked about Question 1, which would take away same-sex marriage. You didn't comment on it at the time but would you like to clarify?
HOLDER: Well, what I said was that the President has indicated, and I personally favor the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, and that is something we are working to do.
JOHNSON: And the referendum in Maine — would you like to speak further on that?
HOLDER: I don't really know enough about the referendum over there to comment.
Vague support for somebody else to do something, coupled with an absolute failure to comprehend the actual issues. Par.

27 October 2009

Jackass.

Now that he's got a chance to deliver on those promises, Senator Joe Lieberman is saying WOAH! I wasn't...like...serious. Yep. He's now threatening to block the bill with the public option because it has a public option.
Talking Points Memo's got the quotes:
I think they're just putting an unnecessary burden on top of [the reform bill] by creating another Washington-based entitlement program...all the history we have of health entitlement programs, including the two big ones that I dearly support, Medicare and Medicaid, is that they end up costing more than we're prepared to pay, and they add to the debt, and then they add to the burden on taxpayers.
Wow, I don't even know how to parse that — it's wrong to create another expensive entitlement program like Medicare and Medicaid which are burdensome and unaffordable for taxpayers but I dearly support them? WTF?
Politico quotes him saying:
We’re trying to do too much at once. To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.
Spoken like a guy with publicly funded health insurance.

Yet more "fierce advocacy."

In February 2008, Candidate Obama issued the following open letter to the LGBT community:
I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all — a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans. Equality is a moral imperative.
...as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.
Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)...I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.
...having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones...
...I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBTAmericans....I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.
[emphasis added]
As luxurious, deep-pile, wall-to-wall bullshit goes, that was beautiful.
It's still bullshit, though. Here's the deal: there are two major upcoming statewide public votes that deal with substantive LGBT equality.
1. Referendum 71 in Washington state is a so-called "everything but marriage" law. It legislatively expands the rights of domestic partners to include unpaid sick leave for family crisis, family health insurance benefits, and allows partners to realize certain pension and death benefits. Pretty basic stuff.
Unsurprisingly, a group of religious zealots banded together to fight the expansion of DP benefits. They call themselves "Protect Marriage Washington," although this law has nothing at all to do with marriage, gay or otherwise. PMW has cannily and illegally concealed the identities of their donors, but even that can't mask the stench of the Catholic and Mormon churches. Here's the kind of paranoid whackadoo shit PMW proudly includes on their site: Val Stevens writes, "Are the homosexuals finally going to take control of our culture and push their depraved lifestyle on our children and families?" That's Washington State Senator Val Stevens, proving that no matter where or how high you go in America, you can still find some Alabama circa 1953.
2. In Maine, without being compelled to do so by a court, the legislature passed a law allowing marriage equality and the governor signed it in May.
The Roman Catholic church leaped into action to spearhead a religious coalition to repeal that law by referendum as Question 1. The marriage equality law already specifically states that no religion can be required or obligated to solemnize a same-sex marriage, but the religious jagovs argue that the law still somehow encroaches on their freedom to discriminate. Oh, and it's bad for the children. Seriously.
So what has President Bully Pulpit done as Fierce Advocate-in-Chief regarding these twin attacks on LGBT equality and separate-but-equality?
Well, after being badgered by Kerry Eleveld of the gay news outlet The Advocate, the White House finally released this written statement:
The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes "strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away." Also at the dinner, he said he supports, "ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country."
Yep. That's it: a list of passive verbs from Obama's recent speech to a gay PAC, reheated for the gay press. Now, I'm not saying I'm surprised that's all he could be bothered to do. During the Prop 8 fiasco, Obama's "fierce advocacy" was likewise limited to issuing a slightly different written list of passive verbs to a different gay group.
Mr. Obama, privately cheerleading friendly audiences is not helpful. As you said, having the right position is only half the battle, the other half being winning broad support by engaging skeptical audiences.
You also said "we." Get out of the wagon and pull.

25 October 2009

The Internet Freedom Act of 2009.

The issue is net neutrality, which essentially means that a ISP must be reasonably neutral in the content it provides to its customers. That is to say, it can't select what content it will serve, or decide to serve disfavored content at a slower speed than content it favors.
To understand it functionally, imagine you have Verizon DSL. Absent net neutrality, Verizon might choose to increase its competitive advantage by blocking your ability to search for a competitor's ISP or telephone services. Say you have TimeWarner broadband. They might choose to deliver Warner Brothers films at regular speed, but cripple or block your ability to download Universal Pictures films. Those ISPs might also choose to require you to pay a premium to have unfettered to the internet.
Unsurprisingly, ISPs don't want net neutrality because it prospectively shuts down another way to squeeze more revenue out of customers. Also unsurprisingly, the majority of the public favors net neutrality. The FCC already favors it and has some guidelines in place. Now they want to make rules and regulations to enforce it. This is a reasonable and appropriate use of FCC's regulatory powers.
Senator John "I'm computer illiterate" McCain (R-AT&T) doesn't agree, so he introduced the Internet Freedom Act intended to strip the FCC's power to regulate broadband internet providers entirely.
Yes. I said entirely.
Absolute deregulation, so corporations can do whatever they like, because y'know, that's worked out so goddam well so far. I can remember back all the way to the 1990s, when Senator McCain also favored broad deregulation of the financial industry. Last year, as Candidate McCain, he watched his largely deregulated financial industry melt down and take the world economy with it. Only then did he notice Wall Street's "reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed."
Candidate McCain hastily recast himself as a noble champion of regulation, saying at a Tampa rally: "Government has a clear responsibility to act in defense of the public interest, and that's exactly what I intend to do!"
Well, maybe not exactly.
Not one to be shamed into learning a hard lesson, McDumbass now apparently cannot conceive of the possibility of any recklessness, corruption or greed in the internet service industry that might be ameliorated by effective governmental oversight in the public interest.
His "internet freedom" doublespeak doesn't merely provoke George Orwell to rise from the grave to kick him squarely in the balls, it also a legislative expression of his empirically false beliefs that net neutrality enforcement is "onerous federal regulation" and constitutes a "government takeover" of the internet.
The Internet Corporate Profiteering Act of 2009 lacks subtlety, but it does demonstrate who McCain's real constituents are. And citizen, it ain't you.

In which I agree with Clarence Thomas.

My brother and I have a longstanding argument about the role of the Supreme Court, which I've written about here. Anyway, I was reminded of our argument when I saw this AP article.
Clarence Thomas...compared Senate confirmation to selecting the referees for a college football game in hopes of getting favorable calls for one team or the other. "That's all based on a particular outcome you want. That is the antithesis of judging. You're corrupting your process," he said. "I think the confirmation process is both unnecessary, it's uninformed with respect to what the court actually does and it's very dangerous."
A native of Georgia and the only current justice from the South, Thomas said the court is too dominated by Ivy League lawyers and lacks regional diversity. People constantly worry about racial, gender and ethnic diversity, he said, and home states matter, too. "My goal is to have a court that is fair, and I think it's fair when we are fair in selecting people from all parts of the country, from all walks of life," Thomas said.
Thomas graduated from the Yale University law school. In all, eight of the nine current justices graduated from Ivy League schools.
Yes, and 100% of the current justices were promoted from the federal appellate bench. However talented they may be, that's a pretty shallow experiential gene pool.
Anyway, Thomas couldn't be philosophically farther from me on the spectrum, yet we share the same position on my two biggest complaints about SCOTUS. (A) It's overly homogenous, and (B) It's become a partisan political office.
The Constitution only requires the "advice and consent" of the Senate with regard to the president's federal judicial appointments. The current Senate confirmation process is something the Senate invented over the years and continues to follow by tradition. That is to say, the current iteration of the Senate judicial confirmation process isn't mandated by the Constitution. "Advice and consent" might be satisfied by distributing a candidate's CV to the senators, permitting no candidate interrogation, and deciding with a simple majority on a single yes/no ballot.
Clarence Thomas was elevated to the Supreme Court because of his partisan and extremely conservative judicial philosophy, and he's admitting that there's a problem with partisan court-packing. Folks, you know there's a problem when the beneficiaries of an unfair policy are complaining about that very policy!
The lifetime appointment clause was intended to insulate federal judges from politics, but the appointment process has centralized a judge's politics. The solution is that the confirmation process needs to be completely overhauled to de-partisanize it, or there needs to be a Constitutional amendment to impose terms on federal judges.
It's not as radical as it sounds.
What's radical is that the U.S. is the only country in the world whose constitution allows for lifetime appointments for judges. Of all the countries that borrowed from the U.S. Constitution — and there are legion — nobody borrowed this. Other nations apparently recognized that a lifetime political appointment is simply too dangerous to permit. It's a turd in our Constitutional punchbowl and it could and should be amended away with no ill-effects.
A workable solution was proposed here. Interesting read if you're into that sort of thing.

24 October 2009

Killer app.

I'm a Mac user. Always have been. Love everything about it, except how Safari causes my hard disk drive to clatter away senselessly.
The problem, it turns out, is Adobe's Flash plug-in for Safari. It holds the processor hostage and causes the disk to spaz out constantly. While trying to figure out a solution I discovered ClickToFlash. Now my computer is quiet, cool and happy.
If you don't have this app, you need it. I can't say enough good about it.
CAVEAT: It simply won't install unless your account is an administrator.

23 October 2009

Holy sh!t.

"Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. This is why they repress such behavior by death...It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers...is a culture that at least knows how to value self sacrifice..."
Those astonishing words come from the Catholic Archdiocese of Agana in Guam, rallying the troops against a proposed domestic partner law.
If you'd like to try to gag down the original, go here.
Wow. Just wow!

21 October 2009

Possibly over-served.

20 October 2009

Bittersweet progress.

After farting around for nearly a year, President Obama has finally revised its medical marijuana enforcement policy to make good on Candidate Obama's campaign promises to suspend prosecutions of law-abiding medical marijuana users and sellers.
The New York Times reports that the Justice Department, FBI and DEA have been informed that the president does not consider it a good use of their time to arrest and prosecute people who use or provide medical marijuana in the 14 states where medical marijuana sale and consumption is legal. I applaud this sensible development. However, it does underline the Obama administration's pervasive and irrational homophobia.
Woah, what?
You may recall that the administration's explanation why they are not only enforcing, but defending the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell policy in court (a reversal of Candidate Obama's campaign promises to eliminate both) is that they're obligated to respect and defend all laws regardless of their personal belief in a given law's validity.
That's most certainly not true, but let's pretend for a moment that it is.
Federal drug law doesn't make exceptions for marijuana sale and possession, whether it's for medicinal purposes or legal under state law. So why isn't Obama's position that he's duty bound to enforce federal drug law as a presumptively valid? And why is Obama's position that medical marijuana prosecutions are a poor and indefensible use of the federal government's limited resources, but throwing two valuable servicemembers out of the military every day just because they're gay is apparently an excellent and defensible use of the government's limited resources?
Because President Obama and his administration are pervasively and irrationally homophobic. At some point somebody besides the gay blogosphere needs to make that point.
But, but, but...Obama just gave a super-supportive speech at the HRC!

15 October 2009

Good kitty.

Last night started out very typically. Beloved and I were watching TV, and our cat Nubs was playing. Her favorite toys are those little fur mice. She prefers the gray ones.
She bats them around all over the hardwood floors and eventually sends them irretrievably underneath furniture. (When all the mice are gone, it's time for me to dustmop.)
Last night, as is her wont, Nubs disappears for a while into the basement, then comes back up. I glance over and she's brought a little gray mouse and left it, as usual, on the middle of the rug across the room. She's crouched down about 2' away, in pounce position.
"Aw, Nubs must've found one of her lost mice in the basement. It's so cute how she carries those things around."
About a minute later, Beloved screams!
As you may have already guessed, the little gray fur mouse was not of the artificial variety this time. So the three of us end up chasing the mouse around the living room, and I finally catch it with the combination of a dustpan and a FedEx envelope and throw it out the front door.
Nubs is riding high on her splendid triumph. Rightfully so.
No animal was harmed in the making of this blog post.

Prop 8 lawyer gets PWNED.

This is my paraphrased (and translated from Legal to English) version of yesterday's summary judgment hearing regarding the Constitutional validity of Proposition 8, as reported by MSNBC.
US District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker is questioning Charles Cooper, esq., attorney for the anti-gay groups that brought Prop 8 to California voters.
COOPER: Your honor, there is no case. Prop 8 is valid and gay marriage is properly prohibited because it furthers California's goal of encouraging marriages that produce children. We deserve summary judgment.
JUDGE: How does a gay marriage prevent anyone in a straight marriage from having children?
COOPER: Uh...well, I don't know. I don't know.
JUDGE: That's your argument?
COOPER: Well, okay. Um, in the Netherlands straight people are increasingly entering civil partnerships instead of getting married.
JUDGE: How does that harm those children?
COOPER: Uh...I don't know. Well...there's no proof that there's no harm.
JUDGE: Are you familiar with American Constitutional law? "No harm" is not the standard. Motion for summary judgment denied.

14 October 2009

Lying for Jesus.

I'm a stealth subscriber to the American Family Association. Today I got this email:
...with your help we have successfully beaten back attempts to pass so-called "hate crimes" legislation since the 1990s. However, as the president points out, this legislation is now closer to becoming law than it ever has been. The House passed this bill last Thursday, and our last chance to stop this dangerous bill is when your senators vote on it this week. Here's what wrong with the "hate crimes" bill:
It criminalizes thought. For the first time in American history, criminal penalties are being attached to thoughts, not actions. Perpetrators will receive extra punishment not for what they did but for what they were thinking when they did it.
It endangers freedom of religion and speech. Everywhere in the world "hate crimes" laws have gone into effect, they have quickly been used to harass, intimidate, silence and punish people of faith. Your pastor could go to jail if even a tenuous link could be established between a sermon on homosexuality and some act of violence.
It destroys the American principle of equality under the law. It creates a judicial caste system, in which some victims get more legal protection than others. It actively discriminates against heterosexuals by giving them less protection in law than victims who engage in non-normative sexual behaviors.
In a devious maneuver by Democrats, it's attached to a Defense Appropriations bill. Our military deserves a stand-alone vote on funding.
Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?
Fascinating. Completely, 100% empirically false except for the part about their being a tax-exempt organization funded by tax-deductible donations. Nonetheless, a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the Christian right wing.
1. Hate crimes laws don't criminalize thought, they criminalize motive. Motive has always been relevant in criminal law. Only where the motive of a crime is an attempt to intimidate a community is hate-crimes penalty enhancement invoked.
However, even if it was true that hate crimes legislation criminalized thought, it would hardly be "the first time in American history, criminal penalties [were] attached to thoughts, not actions." Conspiracy is the crime of agreeing to commit a crime. Conspiracy doesn't require a criminal act, but only a thought plus some action to advance the crime.
2. The Matthew Shepard Act explicitly excludes religious speech. Pastors and religious people will continue to be free to spew all the venom and ignorance they're spewing today.
3. The MSA actually enhances "equality under the law." There are already several special classes of people protected by existing federal hate-crimes law (18 U.S.C. § 245). One of those classes is religion.
If a gang of gays stalked and beat the hell out of a Mormon because of his religion, existing federal law permits the feds to bring a hate-crime case. However, if the tables were turned and Mormons stalked and beat a gay man because he was homosexual, the feds cannot bring the case as a bias crime because gays are not covered. The MSA puts LGBT and disabled citizens on equal footing with other groups who have tended to be victims of bias crimes — including religious people. Sounds like progress toward equality under the law to me.
4. Attaching the MSA to the Defense Appropriations Bill isn't a "devious maneuver," it's a chicken-shit maneuver. This MSA adds the disabled and LGBT community to an existing list of groups who are typical victims of bias crimes. There's nothing controversial about that unless you don't have a particular problem with certain people being the victim of violent intimidation. So for that reason, it should have been a standalone bill if only the Democrats had a spine among them. Anyway, there was a voice vote, so everyone got a chance to say they were for one part of the bill but not another.
Also attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill: the Victims of Iranian Censorship [VOICE] Act. It appropriates $55 million to the State Department to propagandize in Farsi. The VOICE Act was "deviously attached" to the Defense Appropriations Bill by Senator John McCain. Does the AFA have any problem with this? Apparently not. Gee, I wonder why?
Anyway, if the AFA is so profoundly against hate-crimes legislation, I'd suggest that they work at least as diligently to exempt Christianity from 18 U.S.C. § 245. After all, religion is a choice, and why should people who choose to live a certain lifestyle be entitled to additional rights? Heh, just kidding.
Finally, I'm no expert on the Bible, but I seem to recall it saying something about "bearing false witness." In fact, I believe that sin even made God's Top 10 List.
Conspicuously absent from that list: homosexuality.

12 October 2009

Sign of the times.

Seen at the National Equality March:
Nice.
Rex Wockner reports:
The praise for Obama inside [Human Right's Campaign]'s fancy dinner and the denunciations of Obama in the streets of D.C. seemed to unequivocally confirm the split that's emerged in the gay community in the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8 in California.
On one side, the grassroots, the netroots, many younger GLBT people and the Stonewall 2.0 folks, who are pissed off, mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore.
On the other side, the gay activist establishment, which seems to believe that business-as-usual "slow and steady" is still the way to go.
About halfway through the National Equality March, when it became clear that the turnout was big enough for the march to be deemed a huge success, a reporter said to Cleve Jones, "You realize you just split the gay movement in two."
Jones nodded and grinned.
The fresh hotness: gay allied political activism
I used to think that the gay civil rights movement suffered for want of a Martin Luther King. I don't think that anymore. I think the new internet-based movement doesn't require one. Like the net, it is diffuse and there's a place for everyone. Its enemies can't decapitate it. Democrats better recognize before they get nadered again.
Old and busted: gay politicians
Congressman Barney Frank didn't attend the march. Barney went to a left coast fundraiser instead. Priorities. As usual, he was against actually doing anything beyond helping himself and cheerleading his party. The train left without you, Barney. But here's an onion for your belt, you useless old fart.

01 October 2009

DNC Supermajority = Abstinence > Healthcare reform

As you've probably already heard, the Senate Finance Committee killed the "public option" on the same day that it funded abstinence-only sex education.
The American public gave the Democratic Party a strong mandate for reform. Ten months along, they have utterly failed to deliver any meaningful change.
Our National Guardsmen are still being uprooted to police Iraq, and Obama is calling for more troops in Afghanistan.
Most gay citizens today have fewer rights than they had a couple of decades ago, directly traceable to the political activities of organized religion. Churches are regularly awarded taxpayer monies in grants and contracts, and there is an executive agency designated to facilitate this transfer of public money to advance religious activities. Obama promptly expanded the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives upon taking office.
The President and Congress used taxpayer money to bailout, among other "too big to fail" companies, Ford Motors. Given the transfusion, Ford, unlike many taxpayers, was able to keep the lights on. Recently Ford announced a plan to build a new manufacturing plant. In China. There has been no effort to address the issue that certain businesses must be subsidized and others not.
The ratbastard bankers and brokers who fucked up the economy to begin with still have their jobs and are still being paid unfathomably massive "performance" bonuses. There has been no meaningful market regulation reform.
The stock market has largely recovered (meaning businesses are getting healthy), but jobs continue to be cut and nobody's hiring.
The national Democrats have spent the last 8 years talking about all the things they'd do if they just had the opportunity. They were given a supermajority in Congress and haven't done shit. I really think that Democrats believe that the threat of Sarah Palin will once again drive their constituencies to the polls. I'm sure they'll be simply dumbfounded when voters decide en masse that the trip to the polls just isn't worth the trouble.
No public option, abstinence-only education, massive corporate welfare, cultivating theocracy, defending discrimination, offshoring jobs, expanding war, rich getting richer and the poor getting pink slips...it really hasn't been worth the trouble, has it?

30 September 2009

The Vatican in action.

The Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, recently defended the Catholic Church by claiming:
1. The child sex abuse was overwhelmingly perpetrated by homosexuals, not pedophiles.
2. All "available research" demonstrated that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
Oh really? Allow me to retort.
1. Homosexual men are attracted to men, not children. "Homosexual" and "pedophile" are not interchangeable, however much you wish that was the case.
2. All my research demonstrates that 100% of child-raping priests were Catholic.

24 September 2009

Thunderdome profit?

The Kansas City Star reports that the ultraconservative Anschutz Entertainment Group, the city's choice to manage the Sprint Center, is thrilled by their own performance so far.
This is my favorite line in the story: "[AEG President Tim] Leiweke said the strong, concert-fueled profits at the arena during the fiscal year that ended July 31 means AEG can be more selective about pursuing an NHL or NBA franchise for the facility."
Wow. More selective?
Apparently the problem isn't AEG's absolute failure to attract a tenant. Evidently AEG is swarmed by sports franchises just begging for the opportunity to relocate to the Sprint Center — AEG's only problem is choosing which one is the best fit.
Anyway, after realizing their contractual 16% profit, they split the excess with the city — $1,800,000.
Arena cost: $276,000,000
Profit: - 1,800,000
Remainder $274,200,000 (paid by car rental and hotel room taxes)
That means the city's "profit" averages a whopping $4,931.51 per day. Wow! Awesome work, AEG.
I bet the average McDonalds makes more money.

22 September 2009

Defending marriage by prohibiting divorce.

There are about a million problems with the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
The first is obvious: Congress has no business legislating any individual or class of people out of the Constitution. A sensible Supreme Court would say Congress doesn't even have the power to do that. It's too bad we don't have one.
Here's a very concrete problem — divorce.
If a straight couple from New York gets married in on vacation in France, then years later they move to California, then years later they decide to divorce, there's no problem. They file for a divorce decree from California and they have a legally enforceable property division.
Not for teh gheys.
A same-sex couple from Pennsylvania got married on vacation in Canada, then moved to Indiana where they lived for a few years, then decided to split. An Indiana judge recently held that since the state prohibits gay marriage, then it ipso facto prohibits gay divorce.
Put another way: You must pay for the Indiana justice system, but don't expect to use it, lezbos.
This is all perfectly legal under the Defense of Marriage Act. In fact, this is the very purpose; to carve out an exception to the Constitution that applies exclusively to gay citizens and no others, an exception that serves no legitimate governmental purpose but does politically appease superstitious bigots.
You may be thinking, "Well, it would be inconvenient and expensive, but couldn't the unhappy Indiana couple just file for divorce in a state that has gay marriage?"
Nope. Every state with some form of marriage equality has residency requirements for divorce. The shortest is six months. If those ladies want an enforceable division of assets, they must sell their property, abandon their careers, and decide which one of the handful of state that provide married gay couples legal rights they wish to relocate to.
Some days I cannot fathom why gays are not rioting in the streets.
Anyway, Jerrold Nadler recently introduced a bill in Congress called the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA. It doesn't require any state to perform or recognize same-sex marriage — which is appropriate — but it does allow legally married gay couples equal access to the federal programs and benefits that they've paid for and earned.
Former Congressman Bob Barr, who wrote DOMA, has issued a statement supporting Nadler's bill. Barney Frank won't sign on.
My head asplode.

14 September 2009

The Man Who Fed the World.

Damn.
Dr. Norman Borlaug died yesterday. He was a truly great man.
If you don't know who he is, take a minute and find out.

Awesome.

And this remains one of the funniest things I've ever seen. My favorite part is where Mike Meyers looks like he swallowed his tongue.

13 September 2009

Sometimes I love this town.

Last night Beloved and I went on a double-date with my parents. Dinner and a show — but not just any dinner and a show. Oh no.
For dinner we went to The R Bar's pig-roast picnic. Ten clams apiece for food and booze? Sweet! The brisket was particularly excellent. The R Bar is not officially launched yet, but I really like where they're going. They're located down in that small strip of restaurants right by the Kemper Arena. The antique saloon interior gives you a pronounced sense of going back in time, but there's just enough modern flair to tip you off that this ain't steak & taters. I'm not really a foie gras fan, but they serve a version there that is so insanely delightful that when it hit my tongue I had to laugh out loud. The very dapper cocktail savant Shawn Moriarty works the bar and he will knock you out a perfect version of your favorite, or help you discover your new favorite cocktail. Do not be afraid to pick his brain. The man really knows his hooch and like any good Irishman, he's a fine talker.
After the pig roast, we were off to the Nelson-Atkins Museum to see an outdoor performance called Surface by a local group called Quixotic. We arrived right before they started and the place was packed! This bodes well. The show was great, and I was totally into the spacey trance music the live band was playing, which surprised me because it's not a genre I typically enjoy. However, the finale left me gobsmacked. Two women suspended on cables descended the outside limestone wall of the museum and did a pas de deux with the museum underfoot. By altering the ordinary visual perspective of a dance performance, it essentially demolished the laws of physics. Totally badass.
Then we all retired to the old crapshack, I shook us up some cappirinhas, and we shot the shit.
Sometimes I love this town.

11 September 2009

The day that changed everything.

My TV automatically switched on at 8 am to NBC's The Today Show. The first plane had already struck the North tower and Katie Couric was reporting it as small plane accident.
Shocked and confused, I telephoned my Dad, a retired airline pilot, waking him. I asked how something like that could happen. Having spent several years based out of New York, he told me that it couldn't happen.
But if it couldn't happen accidentally, that means it could only happen...deliberately?
I watched a second airliner plow into the South tower.
This. Is. Not. Happening.
I called Beloved and told her to turn on the TV, and filled her in as best I could. I told her I thought the attack stank of Osama bin Laden. She asked me who the hell he was.
For me, 9/11 was the day I finally realized that religion is the enemy of reason, and god is mankind's most lethal invention.
The Falling Man, photographed by Richard Drew

UK apologizes for gay persecution.

In response to an online petition drive, Prime Minister Gordon Brown released the following statement yesterday. Read it all.
2009 has been a year of deep reflection— a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.
Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ — in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence — and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison — was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.
Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.
I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.
But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate — by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices — that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.
So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.
/s Gordon Brown
Mr. Brown's apology is very moving, but terribly wrong on one issue — that Alan Turing was one of thousands of men persecuted but "those days are gone." Mr. Turing was one of millions of people persecuted by law, and millions more continue to be persecuted, injured, and driven to despair every day.
As an interesting aside, Mr. Turing committed suicide in the country that he saved by taking a bite of a cyanide-laced apple. Apple Computer, Inc. is an homage to him.

10 September 2009

Idiots "Я" Us

[SCENE: Inside Glenn Beck's Head]
Gee, I wonder what should I put on the cover of my new book about how stupid other people are?
Hm...Oh! I know: I'll dress up in a sharp military uniform and relax my uncommonly handsome face into an natural expression of superior disdain. What other image could better underline my message of intellectual independence and laissez-faire government than posing as Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS?
Wow. I'm so awesome.
Now, what should I title my collection of conservative talking-points that is sure be hotly debated within teabagger circles? How about...Arguing With Idiots.
Perfect.
I'll put the badass photo of myself really really huge, right over the word "idiot." And I'll turn the R backwards so my fascist visual metaphor also subtly invokes communism, because they're like practically almost the same thing.
Ha! I'd like to see those smug psuedo-intellectual libtards twist this clever visual metaphor into something unintended.
Thank you, God, for making me the most brilliant and clever man in the world. I really do deserve my celebrity.
[fade to black]
I can't decide whether that doughy fuck looks like he's had a stroke or if he's enjoying the smell of his own farts.

09 September 2009

Barbie, what...? Oh god, NO!

This is so unbelieveably, hilariously wrong.
My degenerate brain is playing tricks. Right after the voiceover says, "Tanner wants a treat!" what does that jingle really say?
Because I'm hearing something that is definitely not safe for Saturday morning TV.

08 September 2009

Winning the healthcare debate in 51 sec.

07 September 2009

How stupid are these people?

In June...this goddam June ferchrissakes, the Supreme Court of the United States told school administrators, "no, you cannot strip-search students on suspicion they possess contraband."
Yet on August 21, five teenage girls were strip-searched on suspicion of stealing $100 from another student at Atlantic High School in Iowa.
The money wasn't found, one discreetly unidentified school administrator was placed on leave, the issue will be discussed at a board meeting today.
"According to our board policy, it was an allowable search," said Dan Crozier, the interim superintendent.
Oh really?
While I'm sure the Board of the Atlantic School District is a highly august body, it doesn't outrank the US Supreme Court. Okay, okay...maybe nobody in the district keeps up with recent SCOTUS developments? That argument won't work either. In 1986, the Iowa Legislature prohibited school strip-searches.
These are public school teachers, counselors, and administrators. We should all feel confident that when the question, "hm, should I demand a student remove their undergarments so I can inspect their private areas?" crosses these people's minds there is never the slightest, remotest possibility "yes, that seems perfectly reasonable" emerges as an option.
Everybody involved needs to be fired and have their teaching licenses revoked.
Fucking morons.

01 September 2009

Congratulations, Vermont.

The good news: as of today, Vermont is the sixth state in the US to allow that every citizen enjoys equal protections under the law.
The bad news: only 14% of the US population lives in a state that recognizes the equality of gay citizens.
The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1: ...No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I really don't think this could be any clearer, and yet, again and again, people find ways to make those words mean that certain types of inequality are okay.
Plessy v. Ferguson was a case about Louisiana's law that required blacks and white to use separate (but equal) railway accommodations. One summer day in 1892, Homer Plessy, 1/8 black decided to sit in the "whites only" car and tell the conductor that although he was legally black, he refused to sit in the "blacks only" cars.
This act of civil disobedience was intended to provoke his own arrest and challenge the law. Mr. Plessy lost the case, but continued to appeal. Ruling against Mr. Plessey, the Supreme Court of Louisiana held:
The object of the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based on color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to the either...If the two races are to meet upon terms of social equality, it must be the result of voluntary consent of the individuals.
By 1896, the case was finally decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, which held, 7-1:
1. The 14th Amendment only applied to civil rights, not social arrangements.
2. There is no right to ride a particular railway car; segregated railway cars are social arrangements.
3. Since no Constitutional right has been implicated, Louisiana's law only requires a rational basis to be held Constitutional.
4. Louisiana's longstanding tradition of racial segregation is an adequate rational basis.
In summary, Justice Henry Billings Brown wrote:
We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.
The Plessy decision is infamous insofar as "separate but equal" became a valid legal doctrine that persisted another 58 years until Brown v. Board of Education properly held it unconstitutional.
The case is famous for Justice John Marshall Harlan's dissent, where he wrote:
...in view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.
Justice Harlan stole the "color-blind" line from Mr. Plessy's attorney, Albion W. Tourgée, a civil rights crusader, soldier, newspaper columnist, novelist, farmer, lawyer, judge, Congressional candidate, carpetbagger, and all-around badass who defended Mr. Plessy pro bono.
So to recap, in analyzing the Equal Protection Clause, conservative judges will decide:
• The majority should decided how much equality minorities deserve.
• When we don't want minorities to have equality, we'll apply "rational basis" and yell about "our traditions!"
• The obvious bigotry in our enforcement of discrimination doesn't mean we're bigots.
As a country, we really don't learn, do we?

31 August 2009

They're not getting their 25¢ back.

You really must visit http://thereifixedit.com/

26 August 2009

The end of an era.

AP Photo 1958
(Ted's still a law student, John's a senator and Bobby's Senate counsel.)
He was rich and good-looking, and he could have been a Paris Hilton.
It's true he got into the Senate on the strength of the Kennedy brand, but he used that opportunity to become a legendary champion of civil rights — that is, the rights due all citizens in equal measure.
He was politically far bolder than his brothers. Even they admitted he was more politically gifted.
He'll be missed.

25 August 2009

HandiMeth™.

I haven't been timid about professing my support for decriminalizing marijuana. I think cannabis should be regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco. That doesn't mean I favor decriminalizing all drugs.
To wit, meth is some nasty, nasty shit. It's a bigger and longer high than crack. It's neurotoxic and highly addictive, but abusers are quickly desensitized to its effects, requiring larger doses. Meth makes abusers ultrahorny and irresponsible. Meth eventually makes some addicts monstrous — berserk and psychotic. The physical & mental deterioration of meth users begins quickly and much of it is largely irreversible.
The New York Times reports:
...drug users are making their own meth in small batches using a faster, cheaper and much simpler method with ingredients that can be carried in a knapsack and mixed on the run. The "shake-and-bake" approach has become popular because it requires a relatively small number of pills of the decongestant pseudoephedrine — an amount easily obtained under even the toughest anti-meth laws...
The new formula does away with the clutter of typical meth labs, and it can turn the back seat of a car or a bathroom stall into a makeshift drug factory. Some addicts have even made the drug while driving.
The pills are crushed, combined with some common household chemicals and then shaken in the soda bottle. No flame is required.
I concede I was pretty impressed by the resourcefulness. Then I learned it's a mod on an old German military field recipe. Apparently the Wehrmacht thought it was a great idea to dispense methamphetamine tablets to soldiers, and it's been alleged that Hitler took injections of crank every day. Knowing Hitler was a tweaker does kinda explain a lot, doesn't it? When the soldiers didn't get their regularly scheduled "Pervitin" pills, they didn't just quit — they found another way to get their fix, because that's what addicts do.
In a textbook example of The Law of Unintended Consequences, it was the "possession of precursors" laws that revived the older process. When sales restrictions were placed on over-the-counter pseudoephedrine decongestants, like most US manufacturing, about half of all US meth factories relocated to sunny Mexico, where there are few or no government restrictions on the means of production, and assloads of Sudafed are available to anyone with the purchase price, no questions asked. The precursor laws made it possible for arrests based on possession of meth ingredients, so cops didn't have to wait until there was actual meth produced. Result: more busts, higher prices and lower convenience.
The rediscovered DIY shake 'n' bake process requires less pseudoephedrine, and all the other ingredients are readily available at stores like Walmart.
It's safer than the traditional "red, white, and blue" process because it decreases the possibility of injury to the household and bystanders from explosions during production. The end product itself is no safer, being no less toxic, explosive or corrosive; but at least the possibility of harm is limited to the immediate area of the user, as opposed to the whole house, the ersatz daycare center, or half the motel.
I'm not sure how they'll be able to use precursor laws for this new process. What are they going to do? Bust you for possession of Sudafed, a cold pack, and an empty 2-liter bottle?
Actually, yeah. They probably will.