20 November 2011

President Obama is a coward.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, or approve or disapprove of the OWS movement, you must concede that the police brutality has gotten utterly out-of-hand, and needs to be promptly and properly addressed at the highest levels.

I'll admit — the video of UC Davis Police Lieutenant John Pike and his colleagues casually firing chemical weapons at close range into the heads of defenseless, unresisting, huddled protestors, then turning and giving them a second dose with the indifference of a guy applying pesticide to his lawn — yeah, this shit shook me to my core.

I thought this might finally be OWS's Tiananmen Square — the trigger to rouse our aloof, standoffish president into justified and righteous action. These peaceful protestors being systematically brutalized by uniformed police officers were, after all, the same young people who were responsible for Barack Obama's landslide victory.

Surely the president will have something to say about this.

Now, I didn't expect an immediate response from the cautious White House, but I didn't expect no response.

What's on the White House website front page right now? Obama's new South Pacific "free trade" deal, which, if it's like all the other ones, is guaranteed to benefit big business as it off-shores more American jobs.

The vulgarity and tone-deafness of this is beyond astounding.

18 November 2011

Hello gorgeous.

This stunning portrait of a bonobo chimpanzee (our closest living relative) by Graham McGeorge is just one of 12 spectacular entries to National Geographic's current photo contest.

The other 11 photos are totally worth the click.

14 November 2011

This may put Scalia right over the edge.

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided to decide the fate of The Affordable Care Act, President Obama's health-insurance reform law, a/k/a "Obamacare."

As an ultraconservative Republican partisan, Justice Scalia no doubt loathes the commie nanny-state big-gubmint unfunded-mandate ACA, and is already trying to figure out how to nullify an Act of Congress without appearing overly hypocritical — given his history of insisting that unelected judges just have no business overriding the decisions of elected representatives who are simply expressing the will of the people.

But what's going to drive him into true torment is his so-called "originalism."

"Originalism" is Justice Scalia's remarkable belief he alone possess some unique insight into the hive-mind of the Republic's founders (as if they all agreed on everything), and only by applying his arcane knowledge can the Court accurately determine whether modern laws are congruent with the Founder's 18th Century worldview and America's place in it, which Scalia insists they intended to freeze in time with absolutely no express or implied accommodation for tomfoolery and shenanigans like social progress or evolving moral standards. I harbor precisely no doubt that had Scalia sat on the court 154 years ago, he would have cheerfully written the opinion in the Dred Scott case, concluding the Founders owned slaves, slavery was legal when the Constitution was signed, black people weren't citizens then, so shouldn't be now, case closed.

But here's the thing:
In July of 1798, Congress passed — and President John Adams signed  — “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.
Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.
And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.
Well, that's going to throw quite a wrench into Scalia's "originalism" unless he chooses to side with modern Tea Party whackadoos who insist John Adams was some kind of bolshevik.

But as Rick Ungar also points out:
it wasn’t only John Adams who supported the notion of government run health care. According to Georgetown University history professor and noted historian of America’s early days, Adam Rothman, Thomas Jefferson — the iconic hero of the Tea Party — also supported the legislation. 
Sargent reprints the following email he received from Prof. Rothan on the subject  — 
"Alexander Hamilton supported the establishment of Marine Hospitals in a 1792 Report, and it was a Federalist congress that passed the law in 1798. But Jefferson (Hamilton’s strict constructionist nemesis) also supported federal marine hospitals, and along with his own Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, took steps to improve them during his presidency. So I guess you could say it had bipartisan support."
So I can't wait to see how Scalia resolves his "originalism" and "legislative deference" in the context of the ACA.

He'll have ample opportunity to exercise his usual dismissive sarcasm. SCOTUS has chosen to accommodate surprisingly lengthy oral arguments (allowing 5 1/2 hours, when they typically permit 1), promising a holding delivered in June.

As a sidebar, I was actually pleased to note that SCOTUS declined Liberty University's (a wretched hive of scum and villainy) petition to allow private entities (rather than state and federal attorneys general) to challenge the ACA. No doubt, the LU bigots were more interested in securing a ruling that would grant them special standing to challenge legislation that dispenses with, or fails to provide for, special rights for heterosexuals.

10 November 2011

Gov. Perry crams extra herp in his derp.

But OWS reforms are unfocused, right?

09 November 2011

The world's worst tribute.

So "The Family Circus" creator Bil Keane died.

08 November 2011

Goodnight, champ.

At 205 lbs., Joe Frazier was barely a "heavyweight," but he was big enough to lay Muhammad Ali — undefeated and in his prime — on the canvas with his devastating left hook.

Many boxing cognocenti insist Frazier's victory over Ali was simply the greatest match of all time. No doubt, "The Fight of the Century" actually lived up to its hype.

Ali may have been a bigger man, but Mr. Frazier was the bigger man.

When Ali was banned from boxing for refusing the draft and had no source of income for himself and his young family, Smokin' Joe Frazier, heavyweight champion of the world, quietly slipped Ali money. That didn't stop Ali years later from taunting Frazier as a "gorilla" and "Uncle Tom." When it wasn't racist, their trash-talking was actually pretty funny.

Frazier to Ali: How's your wife and my kids?
Ali to Frazier: You calling my kids ugly?

Young Joe was a petty criminal who moved to Philadelphia, got a job in a slaughterhouse and trained using sides of beef as heavy bags and running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The only thing Frazier did better than throwing punches was taking them, and like Hollywood's mythological Rocky, you could hit Joe Frazier with a truck, and he'd just redouble his efforts. In homage, Stallone gave Frazier a cameo in Rocky. Before the big fight, the announcer invites Frazier into the ring and he waves to the adoring Philly audience, shakes each fighter's hands and asks Apollo Creed, "you been ducking me?" Heh.

Frazier was just gritty as hell. Due to an untreated injury as a child, his left arm lacked the full range of motion. He won Olympic Gold in '64 fighting with a broken thumb. It took him only five years to become world champion, which he accomplished although visually impaired by cataracts. Frazier summarized his style, "kill the body, the head will die."

In another decade, Smokin' Joe could have easily retained his belts, but fortune cursed him (and blessed boxing fans) with two contemporaries every bit his equal. Ultimately, Frazier, Foreman and Ali became Boxing's Greatest Triumvirate, overshadowing even other luminaries like Ken Norton, Larry Holmes, Leon Spinks and Jerry Quarry, all of whom made the 1970s the heavyweight class' Golden Age.

With Joe Frazier's passing, the sweet science is a little less sweet.