20 January 2006

PBR and Old Crow For Everyone This Weekend

Lumbergh: Milt, we're gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs into storage B. We have some new people coming in, and we need all the space we can get. So if you could go ahead and pack up your stuff and move it down there, that would be terrific, OK?
Milton: Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler ...

Okay, we're close enough to closing the books on another week, so here's some more Friday Fun. For years, I could never admit to thinking that Elton John didn't suck, let alone actually liking some of his music. Well, I just listened to Benny and the Jets and I'm okay with that, still comfortable with my masculinity.

Speaking of which, here are a couple Elton John covers you're sure to recognize.

This one will never lose its magic, never. (Immediate sound)

Covering the cover.

As a final note, I once had a room mate do the same routine before I'd seen either of these and nearly cried I was laughing so hard. Of course, I then saw The Family Guy version two days later. Unoriginal jerk.

Beyond Terror

For the past few months --- the past few years, actually --- Americans have been debating one issue a vast majority of the time: The War on Terror. Understandably so, given the nature and level of the threat and the ambiguity of the enemy or enemies. Discussions of military strategy, tactics and deployment have raged. The expansion of executive power and the erosion of civil liberties in the face of the WoT have been hot topics. Isolationism and unitlateralism have been both touted and derided in public debate. These are the pre-eminent issues of our day, and they probably ought be. There is a threat and it's imperative that we all work together to achieve the best solution possible. (Whether or not that's happening is a different matter altogether.)

Issues like Medicare, Social Securtiy and, currently, lobbying reform, bubble up for momentary debate, before some solution --- often any solution --- is offered. Supreme Court Justices are nominated and, it seems likely, confirmed without too much public outcry, or interest. These issues, however, the ones that dominate coverage for a week or so and then fade deep into the Terror fog that clouds and overwhelms all other debate, are not the only unsolved debates in our nation.

Indeed, there are myriad problems afflicting our nation at the moment: from failing schools to rising unemployment, from illegal immigration to outsourcing, from the rising gap in wage disparity to volatile housing markets. There are people out there for whom there is no greater or more pressing issue than the War on Terror, and there are those who find these and many other problems as the great obstable of our time. The Bush Administration, with the assistance of media and the Democratic opposition, have turned the US into a one trick pony: all terror, all the time.

This does not imply that "fighting terrorism" should not be an important goal of the US, nor that we have proposed or implemented the most effective means of combatting terror and should move on. The implication is, simply, that in devoting all of our attention to the WoT, we have lost sight of the problems we are inflicting on ourselves and on our brothers and sisters. Fighting wars to save a country from an amorphous boogeyman of religious fundamentalism may look and sound like patriotism --- and it very well may be --- but it is no more patriotic --- and perhaps less --- than saving our fellow citizens from poverty, disease, domestic and criminal violence and the slow death of hopelessness. Many of our citizens have the right to question the sincerity of our commitment to them. We have neglected our health to save our lives.

Sunday marked the anniversay of the birth of an American who understood that our nation's vitality is directly connected what its citizens believe they can potentially accomplish. Our nation was, in the face of a grave military threat, founded on the belief that all people deserved the opportunity to live with liberty in pursuit of their happiness. We have neglected so many of our citizens for so long that many have no hope of happiness, without the ability to so much as recognize what an image of happiness might be. In constantly defending ourselves from enemies from outside our borders, we have forgotten about a greater and more ambiguous enemy that comes from within.

There is despair in America, in the hearts and minds of those who have been forgotten by our government and its citizens: those who live in a state of constant violence, both physical and emotional. They have no share in our decision-making process, no part in our negotiations and debate. They have been silenced and marginalized, tossed to the side and left to be dealt with at a later date. With every day that passes in despair and hopelessness, it becomes more difficult to imagine that such a date will ever come.

I can't say for certain what policy solutions are best, though I certainly have my ideas. What I can say for certain is that we aren't going to find any solutions by pretending there isn't any problem, or that those problems are unimportant. We have let terrorism and the threat of violence against us dominate for too long. Neglect is a form of violence, and it is not a threat but a way of life for many among us. We must being to talk with one another about the prevalence of this neglect. We must acknowledge its existence and work toward overcoming it. Only with future action will we reduce present suffering. The project that began with Thomas Jefferson's proclamation nearly 230 years ago did not end on that day, nor did it end in 1865, 1919, 1963 or 2001. We have come far as a nation in those intervening years; we have made great progress in ensuring the full humanity of our citizens and instilling hope in our people. But the American experiment remains incomplete. Our progress is halted so long as we allow our national discourse to be controlled by human enemies abroad rather than social ills at home.

On 25 February 1967, Martin Luther King spoke these words:
Poverty, urban problems and social progress generally are ignored when the guns of war become a national obsession. When it is not our security that is at stake, but questionable and vague commitments to reactionary regimes, values disintegrate into foolish and adolescent slogans.
We must remember that our country is founded on certain principles, unqualified principles of equality and liberty, and we must act to save them and expand them to include every one of our brothers and sisters before we can say that our work is done. We have a long, difficult road to travel, but it is our duty --- as Americans and as members of humanity --- to ensure that this work is done. We have neglected this work, and our own people, for too long.

It is important that we defend ourselves and our way of life from physical violence, but we must not let ourselves remain blinded to the fact that there are other problems in America today, and that those problems will not be solved by war or neglect. They will be resolved by the persistent voices and righteous action of those who will not accept suffering and despair anywhere. It is time to get back to work.

cross-posted at Street Prophets

UPDATE: In the course of comments over at Street Prophets, where everyone has been just as kind and accepting as I had expected --- moreso even, Elizabeth D makes a great point:
A diary yesterday made a point that Americans are drowning in irrelevence, distraction, and trivial pleasures. It's hard to focus on the things that really matter. The "War on Terror" screams at us because it is vividly frightening, but poverty and social injustice whisper. We don't hear, and we aren't moved to respond, unless we listen actively. But this is the duty of everyone with a conscience, to live with eyes open, to live with a sensitivity to the greatest need, to live with active compassion.
I think she's right on here, certainly when we consider the blustery voices in the media, who do nothing but spread and enflame fear. But I felt compelled to respond to the whispers: I simply wonder whether it's actually a whisper or if someone is muffling the cries.

Boston Superintendent Search

Why are we still discussing whether or not there should be a student on the search committee? This particular debate should have been settled the moment it was broached. What, exactly, is the downside of having a student there? I can't think of one, but I can think of several reasons why it might be a good idea: seeing how each candidate will interact with those whom he could be supervising; getting feedback on what qualities a candidate should possess, in their eyes; hearing issues that surround the school system from those for whom it exists; and, it's spectacular PR to have a high school junior up on the podium or around the table. All of which are good reasons for a student to be on the committee. My original point still stands: there's no good reason for a student not to be on it.

If someone can think of one, I'm willing to hear it and, as usual, be proven wrong.

19 January 2006

MA Lt. Gov.

It seems very rare to have four candidates for a single race, all of them qualified, enthusiastic, and with a decent chance to win. It's early yet, at least for me, to pick who I would vote for or who will win. In case you're unfamiliar with the four candidates for the position, the Globe is here to help, giving you a run-down of the candidates, their histories and some fancy-talk about why they'd be good for the job. There's no policy initiatives in there, or even brass tacks about how they'd implement their fancy talk, but it's a good start for a race that is usually drowned out by the race to be the Lt. Gov.'s boss.

The four candidates:

Deborah Golberg Brookline Selectman

Sam Kelley Cohasset psychiatrist

Tim Murray Worcester mayor

Andrea Silbert Non-profit founder

I'm certain there are some places to go and find more information, Blue Mass Group and point08 being two off the top of my head. This won't be the last post on the Lt. Gov. race, maybe not even today.

UPDATE: I wasn't kidding. Only a couple hours later, and Blue Mass Group makes available, from one post, all their interviews and reviews of Kelley and Silber.

18 January 2006

I Finally Found Someone To Say It For Me

I was fairly irate last night after I read Christopher Hitchens' piece on Huffington Post, and was actually looking forward to reading along as the blogosphere tore him open for making self-aggrandizing statements at the expense of the troops.
I believe the President when he says that this will be a very long war, and insofar as a mere civilian may say so, I consider myself enlisted in it.
Then I woke up this morning, and no one cared ... or they liked the article. When Cheers and Jeers and Andrew Sullivan are agreeing with one another, and you disagree with both, well, you start to question your own sanity. Luckily, The Editors at The Poor Man Institute are crazy, but my kind of crazy.
Um, yeah. Insofar as a 5′8″ white man with no game can say so, I consider myself a first-ballot NBA Hall of Famer. Personally, I can’t until terror is totally defeated, and all these rugged civilian-veterans can get together at the local VFW hall and trade war stories. “Remember that time I ran out of Mountain Dew, and you ran all the way to the fridge to get me another one? You saved my life that day, man. And FREEDOM!


UPDATE: Fucking wankers.
Thank you.

It's A Celebration ...

You know the rest.

The Democrats unveiled their lobbying reform package today, perhaps a day late, as the Republicans unveiled their "reform" yesterday. TAPPED's Sam Rosenfeld gives the rundown of the plan's individual proposals:
And anyone worried that the Democrats would make the mistake of entering into this debate with an eye toward reaching a constructive compromise with Republicans and producing real reform legislation can rest easy. It's not just the rhetoric (as Slaughter said, "The same Republican members of Congress who put America up for sale have neither the ability nor the credibility to lead us in a new direction, and they shouldn't even try."). The Democrats' reform package has GOP labels for each proposal: “The Tony Rudy Reform” to close the revolving door; “The Ralph Reed Reform” to toughen lobbying disclosure; “The Jack Abramoff Reform” to ban gifts and travel; “The Grover Norquist Reform” to end the K Street Project; “The Scully & Tauzin Reform” to require disclosure of outside job negotiations; “The Frist and Hastert Reform,” which pertains to procedural rules governing conference committees and floor activity, etc.; “The Brownie Reform”; and "The Halliburton Reform." It's that kind of package.
Harry also kept up the mafia theme as well, going on at length ("lingering ominously," per Rosenfeld) about the physical dangers he faced in closing up the mob's shop, before immediately switching gears to Tom Delay, et al. And it's not a celebration yet. First, this has to get covered, at all. Second, Democrats need to keep control of the story and not let Fox News and The Situation Room dictate their moves. Then, well, they need to introduce the legislation and debate the hell out of it, using those names. I'd throw Bob Ney's name in there for something, and Conrad Burns as well.

Also, James Carville and Paul Begala have a piece in Washington Monthly that has their proposals for reform. Their package is a little more, well, radical:
First, we raise congressional pay big time. Pay 'em what we pay the president: $400,000. That's a huge increase from the $162,000 congressmen and senators currently make. Paul, especially, has been a critic of congressional pay increases. But he is willing to more than double politicians' pay in order to get some of the corrupt campaign money out of the system. You see, the pay raise comes with a catch. In return, we get a simple piece of legislation that says members of Congress cannot take anything of value from anyone other than a family member. No lunches, no taxi rides. No charter flights. No golf games. No ski trips. No nothing.

And when it is campaign time, incumbents would be under a complete ban on raising money. You read that right. No president or member of Congress could accept a single red cent from individuals, corporations, or special interests. Period.

Challengers, on the other hand, would be allowed to raise money in any amount from any individual American citizen or political action committee. No limits, just as the free-market conservatives have always wanted. But here is the catch: Within 24 hours of receiving a contribution, the challenger would have to report it electronically to the Federal Election Commission, which would post it for the public to see.

After which,

the U.S. Treasury would credit the incumbent's campaign account with a comparable sum—say 80 percent of the contribution to the challenger to take into account the cost of all the canapés and Chardonnay the challenger had to buy to raise his funds as well as the incumbent's advantage.


The penalties for violation would be swift. If an incumbent accepts so much as a postage stamp, he loses his seat. If a challenger doesn't report contributions, he loses his shot. If you cheat, you are out on your ass.

While I don't necessarily disagree with their proposal, it has a snowball's chance in hell: Money is speech; paying representatives more, especially while voters are being laid off, isn't an easy sell; asking taxpayers to fund incumbent campaigns is --- I'm assuming --- an unpopular issue; there are certainly more that I haven't thought of or read yet. It sounds like it would be a mess to implement and enforce. And even if Congress passed it, there remains a Supreme Court that would be very unlikely to call such a proposal constitutional.

Boston Review Poll on War

During the first week of November, Boston Review polled 1170 people(.pdf), asking them about their political affiliation and then questions about war --- both Iraq and Afghanistan specifically, and general questions as well. It will come as little surprise that over 75% of those surveyed thought it was not "a mistake" to invade Afghanistan; nor is it shocking that 60% considered the Iraq war was not worth fighting. Of course, a higher percentage of Republicans (94%, 84% in favor, respectively) than Democrats (59%, 04%) supported both invasions. The 4% number seems quite low to me. Granted, I don't personally know any self-identifying Democrat in favor of the war, but I'm tempted to think the number is higher than that. If it's not, Democrats in Congress ought to come up with a plan rather quick.

Yet, these numbers aren't what I found most fascinating. The poll turns abstract, asking questions about situations in which they are likely to support the use of US military troops. A majority Democrats and Republicans would support the use of troops to: "destroy a terrorist camp;" "intervene in a region where there is genocide or a civil war;" and "to protect American allies under attack by foreign nations."

A majority of Republicans support military intervention for four of the six rationale. The two in which they'd prefer to defer: "to ensure the supply of oil" at 40.9% and "to help the United Nations uphold international law" at 35.5%. Democrats enter in at 10.2% and 70.5%, respectively.

I'm not entirely sure what, if anything, to make of these numbers. In fact, as Henry at Crooked Timber writes:
As I interpret these results (and I acknowledge that they could be interpreted in various ways), Democrats are more likely than the earlier numbers suggest to favour such interventions – but only if they’re in accordance with international law. The interesting question – which we’ll never know the answer to – is how Republicans and Democrats would have responded to these questions in 2000 or even in late 2001. I suspect that Democrats would have been more likely than today to favour intervention to spread democracy, but that very few Republicans indeed would have been favorably disposed to actions of this sort.
That statement seems mighty accurate to me. My guess is that the sands have shifted a great deal over the past five years, but I would not go so far as to say that this is their final movement. I venture that it will be a while before Democrats, and perhaps Independents, support military intervention without concrete knowledge of where and why the troops will be used. Of course, I'm sure someone wrote the same thing after Vietnam, too.

Did Democratic Leadership Get The Memo?

Clean Harry is at it again, this time pressuring the White House to disclose information about Jack Abramoff's visits and meetings. The letter, in full, via TalkLeft:
Dear Mr. President:

The Justice Department is currently investigating the web of corruption surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Even at this early stage of the investigation, there is reason to believe that Mr. Abramoff may have had undue and improper influence within your Administration. There is no reason to wait for indictments or convictions before the American people learn of the role Mr. Abramoff played in the Bush White House. We therefore call on you to make public as soon as possible an accounting of Mr. Abramoff’s personal contacts with Bush Administration officials and the official acts that may have been undertaken at his request.

Some of Mr. Abramoff’s ties to the White House have already been reported in the press. For example, it is well known that Mr. Abramoff was a prodigious Republican fundraiser who attained the rank of “Pioneer” after raising over $100,000 for the 2004 Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. You have returned $6,000 of that money, but have not answered the question of what benefits, if any, were extended to Mr. Abramoff on account of his Pioneer status.

It has also been reported that Mr. Abramoff served as an adviser to your transition team and that you met with him personally. The American people have a right to know how many times you and senior staff met with Abramoff, and what benefits, if any, Abramoff received from this high degree of access.

In addition, it has been reported that your Administration removed a federal prosecutor who was investigating Mr. Abramoff’s secret lobbying contract with court officials in the U.S. territory of Guam. Indeed, the prosecutor was replaced only one day after he issued a subpoena for records, and the case was subsequently dropped. The Guam public auditor has since concluded that territory officials paid Mr. Abramoff, via a third party, a total of $324,000 in smaller increments in an effort to circumvent the requirement of a sealed bid. Did the White House exert any improper influence on behalf of Mr. Abramoff in this case?

Finally, David Safavian, who served as the chief procurement officer in your Administration, was recently charged with obstructing Senate and executive branch investigations into whether he aided Mr. Abramoff in efforts to acquire property controlled by the General Services Administration. Were other White House officials aware of Mr. Safavian’s ties to Abramoff, and did those ties play a role in Safavian’s appointment to a high-ranking Administration position?

While the above-described connections between Abramoff and the Bush Administration have been reported, others remain unknown. For example, Americans have a right to more information about Abramoff’s role in the “K Street Project,” the initiative launched by Republicans in the1990’s to link lobbyists to Republican officials in Congress and the executive branch. What role did your Administration play in the K Street Project, and did White House officials have direct contact with Abramoff in this regard?

In the upcoming State of the Union address, you will presumably call for reforms to address lobbying abuses. But such rhetoric will ring hollow until you reveal the ways in which Jack Abramoff himself may have improperly influenced your Administration over the past five years. As the leader of your party, you have the opportunity to set an example and call for openness and accountability from your fellow Republicans. The American people need to be assured that the White House is not for sale.

Sens. Durbin, Stabenow and Schumer also signed on. In addition, Durbin has proposed legislation concerning the cell phone privacy issue that raised some dust of late. Congratulations, Senate Democrats, you're on your way to becoming relevant again.

17 January 2006

This Is Not The Point

From Plugged In Online's review of Brokeback Mountain, specifically the "Positive Elements" portion:
Usually it's a negative thing when people give in to the societal norms around them and give up on their dreams, refuse to step across racial divides, etc. But here, Ennis' reluctance to live with Jack is a good example of how established—biblical—morality within a culture can help people make right decisions. It could be argued that Ennis' reluctance is rooted in mortal fear. After all, he did witness the aftermath of a hate crime when he was a boy. But there's more to it than that. The social pressure he feels to marry a woman isn't shown to be directed at him maliciously or aggressively. (And it isn't even a pressure so strong that it keeps him from repeatedly having sex with Jack.)

In an interview with Plugged In Online, Caleb H. Price, a socialresearch analyst on homosexuality and gender for Focus on the Family, identified several other ways the film, sometimes unwittingly, hints at the dangers of homosexuality. "Contrary to the nearly ubiquitous modern portrayals of homosexuality, in Brokeback Mountain the lifestyle is neither glamorous nor normal and healthy," he said. "We see that each character had root causes to his same-sex attraction. And then we see their God-given desires to be affirmed by members of the same sex met in sinful, ungodly ways. We see the soul ties that come along with carnal relations and the ensuing devastation to wives and marriages when the forbidden fruit is eaten. Also, the film clearly depicts the homosexuality of the characters as bondage. In one scene Jack exclaims profound exasperation that he and Ennis are not able to 'quit' each other. One can't help but wonder what their respective lives might have been like had they poured their energy and attention into their wives, families and careers instead of homosexuality."
No comment (via TalkLeft).

Clean Harry

I think the old Senate Minority Leader has hit on a theme that will resonate with the American people. They might not like it, but, then again, they aren't supposed to in this case. This is the second time in a week that Harry Reid has compared the Republican Party --- not just the lobbyists --- to mobsters:
The idea of Republicans reforming themselves is like asking John Gotti to clean up organized crime. I thought I’d seen the last of corruption when I helped clean up Las Vegas thirty years ago. But, while its not quite the mafia of Las Vegas in the 1970s, what is happening today in Washington is every bit as corrupt and the consequences for our country have been just as severe.
Is it really that simple? Hell no. But is it a message that will get people thinking? Yes. This is what leads to the proverbial "water cooler talk." If people start identifying the Republicans with mobsters (thanks for wearing the black fedora on your way out of the courthouse, Jack), or at least questioning whether maybe that's an apt comparison, then we've already pushed the debate in the right direction. Right now people aren't questioning anything and we can't win unless they start.

Of course, the fact that Dirty Clean Harry has vast experience in cleaning up this kind of mess is only helpful. Everyone associates Vegas with Casino and the Rat Pack and what not. They see it as some mob-infested fantasy. Yet, if and when they visit Vegas, they see Disney in the Desert. Harry is implying --- forcefully --- that he and the Democrats can clean this mess up. Hell, he's done it before.

Granted, this could backfire if the Republicans get a running start on cleaning this up on their own. But I will gladly take a backfiring rather than a sitting-and-waiting any day. I think Clean Harry might be on to something.

SurveyUSA State-by-State

Now, I've been proud to be from Massachusetts since before the days that I could spell it. Today is a fine day to mention that, as it's Benjamin Franklin's (300th) birthday. No matter what those Illadelphites might wish, Benny was our boy first, even if we did chase him out of town and lock up his brother.

But that's neither here nor there. Today, I have new reason to be proud to call The Bay State home: Only two states, Rhode Island and Vermont (to which I can also lay claim) disapprove of Pres. George W. Bush more than we do. RI leads the way with an astronomical net approve/disapprove of -39%, after which comes VT at -33%. Massachusetts follows, with Delaware at -32%. That's double the national weighted average of -15%. To put that in some perspective, only two US Senators have a net approval rating of -1%. Yet, Pres. Bush averages -15%. That's impressive.

In fact, only twelve states have a net approval rating of our Commander-in-Chief, with Utah leading the way at +26%. Just to let you know the caliber of the opposition, the top five include Idaho(19%), Nebraska(14%), Wyoming (13% and home to VP) and Texas (13% and home to, well, everyone else in the admin.).

Now, of course, we must find a way to ensure that these numbers carry over to Republican candidates in at least the 38 states that don't approve of him, and preferably all 50. One thing we can glean from the basically positive ratings for (nearly) all Senators is that Bush can't drag down every Republican to his level. We're going to have to help them get down there. Any good ideas?

George Costanza


Until this morning, it had been light posting over here, mainly because I've had trouble sleeping. It seems, however, that all it took was one good night's sleep --- and an early wake-up --- to put me back in the posting spirit. I hope that all of you (both of you) consider this a good thing.

Unfortunately, since I'll be returning to school in the next couple of weeks, these furious postings will likely become less frequent. Even though I enjoy this more than I do graduate work (at least at my chosen institution), there's money involved in one and not the other. HDT has been posting, so at least it's not all on me now to keep you coming back. Also, we're still figuring out how this all works. Even though we've been reading blogs and such for quite some time, we're both new to contributing ourselves. I've found it much more difficult than I anticipated it would be, though I can't speak for HDT.

I'm rambling now, so I'll leave you with this fun tool, via Crooked Timber. This is what I was able to make with it:

AaaMeR at the tracksICAN Train

à ThENs

Oregon Death With Dignity Act

Earlier this morning, the US Supreme Court, by a 6-3 margin, upheld the ODWDA, over the protestations of the Bush Administration. AJ Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, with both AJs Scalia and Thomas writing dissents. Kennedy had this to say (.pdf)about the case:
Executive actors often must interpret the enactments Congress has charged them with enforcing and implementing. The parties before us are in sharp disagreement both as to the degree of deference we must accord the Interpretive Rule’s substantive conclusions and whether the Rule is authorized by the statutory text at all. Although balancing the necessary respect for an agency’s knowledge, expertise, and constitutional office with the courts’ role as interpreter of laws can be a delicate matter, familiar principles guide us.


Since the regulation gives no indication how to decide this issue, the Attorney General’s effort to decide it now cannot be considered an interpretation of the regulation. Simply put, the existence of a parroting regulation does not change the fact that the question here is not the meaning of the regulation but the meaning of the statute. An agency does not acquire special authority to interpret its own words when, instead of using its expertise and experience to formulate a regulation, it has elected merely to paraphrase the statutory language.


The same principle controls here. It is not enough that the terms “public interest,” “public health and safety,” and “Federal law” are used in the part of the statute over which the Attorney General has authority. The statutory terms “public interest” and “public health” do not call on the Attorney General, or any other Executive official, to make an independent assessment of the meaning of federal law. The Attorney General did not base the Interpretive Rule on an application of the five-factor test generally, or the “public health and safety” factor specifically. Even if he had, it is doubtful the Attorney General could cite the “public interest” or “public health” to deregister a physician simply because he deemed a controversial practice permitted by state law to have an illegitimate medical purpose. As for the federal law factor, though it does require the Attorney General to decide “[c]ompliance” with the law, it does not suggest that he may decide what the law says. Were it otherwise, the Attorney General could authoritatively interpret “State” and “local laws,” which are also included in 21 U. S. C. §823(f), despite the obvious constitutional problems in his doing so.
I could keep going, and indeed I might as I dig deeper into the opinion of the Court and the two dissents. What must be noted, however, is that this is no ethics case. This a case of Executive over-reach, and as such it should come as no surprise that the Three Musketeers are dissented. While they generally oppose the encroachment of federal power on the states, they are loathe to decrease the power of the Executive Branch. Indeed, it's legislative encroachment with which they disagree.

This case, then, is about much more than euthanasia. Instead, this case serves as a bellwether for how the Court will respond to the issues of an ever-expanding Executive. Sadly, AJ O'Connor sided with the majority on this one and it's well-known that her potential replacement would have been on the other side of this decision. Granted, the case would only have been 5-4 were events to unfold that way, but it is small consolation when the margin is so thin and the stakes so great.

Lastly, I would like to point out that it's been three or four years since I studied Supreme Court opinions and I will readly admit that I may have misunderstood some of what I've read. For reliable, well-constructed thoughts on this case, I would refer everyone to TalkLeft. More resources as they become available.

MORE from Kennedy's opinion:
The Government’s interpretation of the prescription requirement also fails under the objection that the Attorney General is an unlikely recipient of such broad authority, given the Secretary’s primacy in shaping medical policy under the CSA, and the statute’s otherwise careful allocation of decisionmaking powers. Just as the conventions of expression indicate that Congress is unlikely to alter a statute’s obvious scope and division of authority through muffled hints, the background principles of our federal system also belie the notion that Congress would use such an obscure grant of authority to regulate areas traditionally supervised by the States’ police power.

More Famous Speeches

Yesterday, of course, was the anniversary and celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday. Today is the 45th anniversary of Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address, known fairly commonly as the "military-industrial complex" speech. I'm going to reprint a passage of it here, just as I did with King's "Beyond Vietnam" yesterday, essentially without comment.
Any failure traceable to arrogance or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us a grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle – with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs – balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages – balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well in the face of threat and stress.
Yes, I admit I cherry-picked that to a degree, but the words again ring true to our situation, years later. Much truer, certainly, than Ike or Martin would have hoped or imagined.

US Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Euthanasina Law

I don't know what to make of this, as details are not flowing at the moment. 6-3, CJ Roberts dissenting in his first SCOTUS case on ethics. Hopefully, I'll be able to update soon.

UPDATE 1: The Three Musketeers (CJ Roberts, AJs Scalia and Thomas) all dissent in the case, which now appears to me less an "ethics" case than a federal versus state power case. Of course, if that were true, the 3Ms would obviously have come down on the side of the state, right? They didn't. They came down on the side of the federal government, opining that the federal government does have a legitimate interest, despite Scalia's own admission that the majority opinion
is perhaps driven by a feeling that the subject of assisted suicide is none of the federal government's business. It is easy to sympathize with that position.
Well, yeah.

And just in case you were thinking that CJ Roberts was a better man than his predecessor, here:
Justices have dealt with end-of-life cases before. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that terminally ill people may refuse treatment that would otherwise keep them alive. Then, justices in 1997 unanimously ruled that people have no constitutional right to die, upholding state bans on physician-assisted suicide. That opinion, by then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, said individual states could decide to allow the practice.
I'm certain I'll have more to write later.

16 January 2006

Who the hell is Buddy Rich?

Yesterday being Dr. King day, it was Emerson's job to write profoundly about the day and its many meanings. Therefore, today, it is my duty to bring you to the lighter side. Who the hell is Buddy Rich anyway? If you didn't already know, according to the All Music Guide, "When it came to technique, speed, power, and the ability to put together incredible drum solos, Buddy Rich lived up to the billing of 'the world's greatest drummer.' Although some other drummers were more innovative, in reality none were in his league even during the early days." In other words, he was the Neal Pert and Lars Ulrich of his day. His talent as a drummer is not however, what I would like to discuss. I actually couldn't tell a Buddy Rich solo from a Gene Krupa solo to save my life.
Buddy Rich came into my life around the age of 16, listening to what were known in bootleg taping circles as, "The Buddy Rich Tapes." These were tapes my boss at the record store had of Buddy Rich flipping out on his band mates in between set tirades. This was not just a regular old cuss out however, Rich loses his mind on just about everyone in the band over and over again. It is a pretty wonderful thing to hear. As with the great bootleg hidden tapes of the Troggs arguing and Linda McCartney well, screeching, the Buddy Rich Tapes are a bootleg classic. The reason I wrote this in the first place is that I found them online here for everyone to enjoy complete with partial transcripts.
On a side note, I must amend previous post about the 2005's 10 best films to include "Grizzley Man," directed by the great German filmmaker Werner Herzog. I rented it today on DVD and was so blown away that I actually watched it again, to take in all of the amazing cinematography. Aside from the fact that it is one of the more beautiful films I have ever seen, it is probably the most honest exploration of genuine insanity that I have yet to see on film. This should be the next film you rent, unless you need to see "Wedding Crashers" again, you drunk bastard.

The History Channel

Tonight, The History Channel will be airing a special on one of the most important figures in American history. What this man did for race relations in America, is nearly unrivalled. Right now, you're probably assuming that person is Martin Luther King, Jr., aren't you? It would seem to be a good bet, right? Today is a national holiday named after the Reverend Doctor, after all. No, the idiots at The History Channel are taking the occasion of MLK's birthday to air a special on Abraham Lincoln. That's right. King wasn't important at all. King never said or did anything to warrant an in-depth documentary. It was all Lincoln. Lincoln fixed everything when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. We haven't had any problems or made any progress since then. I don't want to label The History Channel as a bunch of racists, but I have my doubts about this being coincidental. Lincoln's birthday is less than a month away. They couldn't launch it then? No, they chose this evening instead, subtly belittling the accomplishments of one of America's oft-overlooked greats in favor of someone whose every living hour has been gone over with ten million fine-toothed combs. Great job History Channel. Next year maybe you can have a marathon of Confederate War Heroes. May I suggest starting with these paragons of virtue.

Martin Luther King

From "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence":
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: This is not just.' It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: ' This is not just.' The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: 'This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from re-ordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

Would that those words were less salient today than they were 40 years ago. Rude Pundit pretty much sums up my inner-most feelings on the subject, coarsely as usual:
It's statements like this that make King such a shifting figure for the religious right - they wanna embrace him 'cause he talked about Christ, but they can't take his whole large frame in their bony white arms because he simply didn't believe in the same Jesus they do.

15 January 2006

Tom Brady qua Unbeatable

Tom Brady. You quarterbacked my favorite college team and then took the reins of my favorite professional team. I applaud you for doing wonderful things for the Wolverines and Patriots. You will do wonderful things for one of them next year as well. Sadly, you probably won't teach Chad Henne to check down to the tight end in the flat. It's okay.

Also, Ron Borges is, despite this one prediction, one of the worst people to ever write for a major newspaper. He shouldn't even write for the Cincinnati Enquirer, one of the worst papers on earth.

Sorry if I seem upset, but not only did the Patriots lose tonight, the 2500 word post I wrote this afternoon was destroyed by the all-too-frequent freezing of my Dell laptop. By the way, if you're considering buying a Dell ... don't. Michael Dell might be capable of making a good computer, but he certainly doesn't feel the need to do so. Hopefully, I'll re-write the post tomorrow. Needless to say, it was better the first time.

Well, with the Pats' season over, it's time to start rooting for Kendrick Perkins and Patrice Bergeron. Speaking of which, NBC's NHL coverage is terrible and out-of-nowhere goalie Tim Thomas had a fantastic game this afternoon. And, since I brought it up, the Celtics are terrible as well. Doc Rivers is as bad, if not worse, than Simmons wrote. Not that I necessarily need to see Danny Ainge back there. Still, Doc's not winning us number 17 if he's not playing Perk or Al Jefferson. Seriously, where was AlJeff Friday night?

Okay, I'm done. It's Saturday night: a post was eaten, our football team beaten, and our indoor teams suck. It wasn't exactly what I had planned for my weekend. Hopefully, something wonderful Sunday comes.