packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
Okay - so you know how the new health care bill is supposed to charge people who voluntarily refuse health insurance (so as to encourage people to sign up)? And you know how emergency rooms have to provide care, even to the uninsured?

How about this: have insurers bid for their price to cover the costs of treating the uninsured in each state. The lowest bid gets their cost divided among the uninsured in that state. That way:
  • The cost to hospitals of emergency room care is paid, and
  • The cost to individuals of refusing health care is controlled by market forces.

    Any obvious flaws?
  • packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
    Joshua Kors tells the story.

    Luther insisted to doctors at Camp Taji that he did not have personality disorder, that the idea of developing a childhood mental illness at the age of 36, after passing eight psychological screenings, was ridiculous. The sergeant used a vivid expression to convey how much pain he was in. "I told them that some days, the pain was so bad, I felt like dying." Doctors declared him a suicide risk. They collected his shoelaces, his belt and his rifle and ordered him confined to an isolation chamber.

    Extensive medical records written by Luther's doctors document his confinement in the aid station for more than a month. The sergeant was kept under twenty-four-hour guard. Most nights, he says, guards enforced sleep deprivation, keeping the lights on and blasting heavy metal music. When Luther rebelled, he was pinned down and injected with sleeping medication.

    Eventually Luther was brought to his commander, who told him he had a choice: he could sign papers saying his medical problems stemmed from personality disorder or face more time in isolation.


    I can't even joke about this. It's horrible, pure horror.

    Edit: Link via [livejournal.com profile] ceruleanst, here.
    packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
    Hat-tip to [livejournal.com profile] circuit_four here: HuffPost: GOP Senators Refusing To Work Past 2PM, Invoking Obscure Rule.

    ...two things.

    One: Key Republican Senators apparently (a) don't care about doing their job, and (b) believe the Democratic Senators do, and therefore (c) are willing to enforce a work stoppage to make the Democrats do what they want. This does not reflect well on the Republicans. The first metaphor that comes to mind is if a police department decided to blockade the fire station in order to get their 'support' for changes to the city budget.

    Two: How stupid are the Senate rules, anyway? You can't make Senators actually filibuster, you can't make Senators actually work more than two hours a day ... this is not how governance happens.

    Politics is an important, valuable activity - but this ain't.
    packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)

    From [profile] baldanders, here and there:

    Alan Grayson (D-FL) is my hero. Seriously, he tells it like it is, without fear of the insurance companies, and certainly not without fear of the Republican lie machine:

    "We as a party have spent the last six months, the greatest minds in our party, dwelling on the question, the unbelievably consuming question of how to get Olympia Snowe to vote on health care reform. I want to remind us all that Olympia Snowe was not elected President last year. Olympia Snowe has no veto power in the Senate. Olympia Snowe represents a state with one half of one percent of America's population.

    "What America wants is health care reform. America doesn't care if it gets 51 votes in the Senate or 60 votes in the Senate or 83 votes in the Senate, in fact America doesn't even care about that, it doesn't care about that at all. What America cares about is this; there are over 1 million Americans who go broke every single year trying to pay their health care bills. America cares a lot about that. America cares about the fact that there are 44,780 Americans who die every single year on account of not having health care, that's 122 every day. America sure cares a lot about that. America cares about the fact that if you have a pre-existing condition, even if you have health insurance, it's not covered. America cares about that a lot. America cares about the fact that you can get all the health care you need as long as you don't need any. America cares about that a lot. But America does not care about procedures, processes, personalities, America doesn't care about that at all." [. . .]

    "Last week I held up this report here and I pointed out that in America there are 44,789 Americans that die every year according to this Harvard report published in this peer reviewed journal because they have no health insurance. That's an extra 44,789 Americans who die whose lives could be saved, and their response was to ask me for an apology." [. . .]

    "Well, I'm telling you this; I will not apologize. I will not apologize. I will not apologize for a simple reason; America doesn't care about your feelings. [. . .] America does care about health care in America. And if you're against it, then get out of the way. You can lead, you can follow or you can get out of the way. [. . .] America understands that there is one party in this country that is favor of health care reform and one party that is against it, and they know why.

    "They understand that if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation. They understand that if Barack Obama could somehow bring about world peace they would blame him for destroying the defense industry. In fact, they understand that if Barack Obama has a BLT sandwich tomorrow for lunch, they will try to ban bacon.

    "But that's not what America wants; America wants solutions to its problems, and that begins with health care."

    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said.


    The rest. (Via [livejournal.com profile] kirabug.)
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    From Roger Cohen, hat-tip to Andrew Sullivan:

    Of the 770 detainees grabbed here and there and flown to Guantánamo, only 23 have ever been charged with a crime. Of the more than 500 so far released, many traumatized by those “enhanced” techniques, not one has received an apology or compensation for their season in hell.

    What they got on release was a single piece of paper from the American government. A U.S. official met one of the dozens of Afghans now released from Guantánamo and was so appalled by this document that he forwarded me a copy.

    Dated Oct. 7, 2006, it reads as follows:

    “An Administrative Review Board has reviewed the information about you that was talked about at the meeting on 02 December 2005 and the deciding official in the United States has made a decision about what will happen to you. You will be sent to the country of Afghanistan. Your departure will occur as soon as possible.”

    That’s it, the one and only record on paper of protracted U.S. incarceration: three sentences for four years of a young Afghan’s life, written in language Orwell would have recognized.


    Via Mount Holyoke College, Orwell's "Politics and the English Language", 1946. Past time to be reading this one again.

    D-mn, sixty years, and we didn't learn anything.

    Sweet!

    Nov. 13th, 2008 09:09 pm
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    I just got my copy of the Washington Monthly "The Stakes" issue! This will be totally influential as to my vote in the November 4th U.S. Presidential elections!
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

    California bumper sticker by *peganthyrus on deviantART

    I'm going to go ahead and stick my neck out for a moment here, and talk about marriage.

    I want to warn you in advance: I'm not really eloquent, and I'm not terribly meticulous. I have no illusions about the strength of my voice or the originality of my phrasing. If it is a rigorous case you want, Jesurgislac has a better analysis - I'm here to speak my mind.

    Let me start with questions: What is "marriage"? What is "civil marriage"? And why do we recognize it?

    I will try to answer these questions, but I will do so through this last, through the word "recognize" - recognition is the key to the whole business. Civil marriage is no more than the recognition of an earlier marriage, an alliance above and beyond the reach of law. There's a reason marriage sometimes happens in churches - the bond whose existence is affirmed and celebrated in these ceremonies is ... special, for lack of a better word. (I said I wasn't eloquent.)

    What, then, is this earlier marriage?

    In a word, it is love. It is dedication. The willingness to swear an oath, equal to equal, which in the common phrasing of these things often resembles this: "To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part." (Till death do us part? It is of no consequence, the meaning is clear.) It is a brash and daring refutation of the mundane cussedness of existence, the seemly invincible force of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the cynicism of the worldly - it declares, to amend a phrase attributed to Martin Luther: "Here we stand. We can do no other. God help us. Amen."

    We choose as a people to recognize these bonds, as I have said. Today, then, we must recognize one more thing: what we recognize in these bonds is not the perpetuation of traditional gender roles, is not the perpetuation of the species, is not a perpetuation of anything preceding themselves. It is the bond itself.

    No on California Prop 8.




    For those of you not following the issues closely: present polling has this going either way. If you agree with me - and I know better than to hold it against you if you don't - noonprop8.com seems to be the headquarters for the opposition. Please: throw a couple bucks in the jar, if you can spare them, and pass the word.

    Reposted from my deviantArt journal.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    As you know, I am an Obama supporter. But I am also a Republican, and I am a Republican because I don't believe that good governance comes from single-party rule.

    As a Republican, then, I am disappointed - no, repulsed - no, horrified by the McCain campaign of recent months.

    I am not going to discuss policy. Many policy positions of the Republican Party are unsustainable, but that is not what needs addressing.

    What needs addressing is "Who is Obama". What needs addressing is "William Ayers". What needs addressing is the robocalls, the angry rallies, the cresendoing drumbeat of hate, hate, hate that is engulfing what was once a political party, not a conspiracy to seize power.

    McCain, Palin, you are contributing to the destruction of your party, to the cost of everyone for whom that party means more that a new bumper sticker every four years. If for no-one else but them, do not do this. Fight with honor. Make us proud.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)


    Like Bitch, Ph.D. said: "This speech might make you tear up; it did me. It's certainly timely as hell."

    Commentary at Washington Monthly and The G Spot.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Via [livejournal.com profile] demiurgent, a little meme in honor of our dear Alaskan governor:

    The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade. Preferably your own country, but SCOTUS acceptable.) For those who see this on your f-list, take the meme to your OWN lj to spread the fun.

    (Full disclosure: I looked up the decision on Wikipedia. It's mostly my own wording, though.)

    One of the most important decisions in the battle over the wall of separation between church and state is Lemon v. Kurtzman. This decision is famous for being the source of the well-known Lemon test, requiring that any measure involving the government in religious matters meet three simple criteria:

    1. There must be a compelling state interest secular purpose,
    2. It must not have as its primary effect the advancement or inhibition of a particular religion, and
    3. It must not result in excessive entanglement between state and religion.

    Reposted from [livejournal.com profile] packbat
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Just finished watching the debate. Initial impressions: McCain performed above my expectations, but that pretty much adds up to "it was close". What it comes down to, though, is the facts.

    Just to look up the first thing that comes to mind: according to transcripts, and ABC's blog agrees, McCain is simply wrong about Kissinger - he does support high-level talks without preconditions. Now, I don't care about errors like "Kennedy was out of the hospital before the debate started" or the Eisenhower letters thing, but if there are other significant points like Kissinger's stance on which McCain was simply and directly wrong, it matters.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    The House Republicans maybe actually did the right thing.

    One group of House GOP lawmakers circulated an alternative that would put much less focus on a government takeover of failing institutions' sour assets. This proposal would have the government provide insurance to companies that agree to hold frozen assets, rather than have the U.S. purchase the assets.

    Rep Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the idea would be to remove the burden of the bailout from taxpayers and place it, over time, on Wall Street instead. The price tag of the administration's plan to bail out tottering financial institutions — and the federal intrusion into private business matters — have been major sticking points for many Republican lawmakers.


    Seriously, this greatly reduces the immediate cost to the government (an immediate cost which, I remind you, would be coming straight out of the budget deficit) while having a similar probability of putting a dam on the runs on these banks which cause the problems. (After all, if the government will pay back your investment if it collapses, rushing in to withdraw the funds while they still exist is no longer necessary.) Given that the only reason we're considering throwing $700 000 000 000 at this in the first place is because Paulson's staff wanted to name a really large number, why should we stick to any variation of this plan-to-have-a-plan?
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    As a member of your constituency, I am writing to offer my encouragement as you work on the bailout plan recently proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. I am aware that you are under intense pressure to get something done, but as I know you know, there are few worse things that can be done than blindly throwing money at a problem. Therefore, I want to tell you: do not give in, do not give up, do not give even in the smallest degree unless you can secure this plan with all the controls that it requires.

    Thank you for your time and trouble,
    Robin H. D. Zimmermann
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    hilzoy at ObWi has a pile of links I haven't gone through yet. But looking at the leaked plan, I have to go with [livejournal.com profile] gilmoure on [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes and take pause ... well, everything, but particularly at this:

    Sec. 8. Review.

    Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.


    ...

    This is a blank check.

    This is a $700 000 000 000 blank check. (At least!)

    Is there anyone in the present administration you would trust with a $700 000 000 000 blank check? Heck, is there anyone at all you would so trust? If you had to borrow $700 000 000 000, would you want its spending completely in control of one person, in such a way that that one person could do anything with your money (your borrowed money), and no-one could stop them?

    I fear that this may yet come to pass.

    (Edit: More amateur analysis - this from the inimitable [livejournal.com profile] pecunium.)

    Timing

    Sep. 20th, 2008 08:32 am
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] baxil for the link: Paul Krugman just got a link sent to him (how many layers of indirection am I up to?) of a little piece John McCain submitted to go in Contingencies, the magazine of the American Academy of Actuaries.

    As the man says, you might want to sit down for this.

    I would also allow individuals to choose to purchase health insurance across state lines, when they can find more affordable and attractive products elsewhere that they prefer. Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.


    Ouch.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Eight years ago, a man ran for President who claimed he was different, not a typical Republican. He called himself a reformer. He admitted that his Party, the Republican Party, had been wrong about things from time to time. He promised to work with Democrats and said he’d been doing that for a long time.

    That candidate was George W. Bush. Remember that? Remember the promise to reach across the aisle? To change the tone? To restore honor and dignity to the White House?

    We saw how that story ends. A record number of home foreclosures. Home values, tumbling. And the disturbing news that the crisis you’ve been facing on Main Street is now hitting Wall Street, taking down Lehman Brothers and threatening other financial institutions.

    We’ve seen eight straight months of job losses. Nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance. Average incomes down, while the price of everything -- from gas to groceries -- has skyrocketed. A military stretched thin from two wars and multiple deployments.

    A nation more polarized than I’ve ever seen in my career. And a culture in Washington where the very few wealthy and powerful have a seat at the table and everybody else is on the menu.

    Eight years later, we have another Republican nominee who’s telling us the exact same thing:
    This time it will be different, it really will. This time he’s going to put country before party, to change the tone, reach across the aisle, change the Republican Party, change the way Washington works.

    We’ve seen this movie before, folks. But as everyone knows, the sequel is always worse than the original.


    Continued here.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

    Is Sarah Palin a shrewd choice for the Republican Party, or is she a liability?

    View other answers



    It is too early to say definitively, but I am inclined to say she's a liability. Certainly, she will be absolutely a liability if McCain drops her from the ticket (cf. Thomas Eagleton), but even if he holds on to her, I think it will cost him.

    Granted, she has some advantages. First, she completely killed the "Obama's acceptance speech" news cycle (which even intelligent commentators did not expect) - everyone is looking at the McCain campaign now. Second, putting a woman on a ticket gives the McCain campaign a chance to smear Obama for the misogyny of his followers. Third, the small fraction of Clinton supporters whose one issue was getting a woman in the White House (admittedly, they have a point - we're way behind the curve on this one) would be likely switch tickets to vote for her. Fourth, her 'anti-corruption' stance goes with McCain's.

    Also, she's attractive to the social conservatives. Energizing that base is a good thing for McCain.

    However, from what I can see, these advantages are well outweighed by the problems.

    First, Palin's resume is so short that being president of the PTA makes the cut. This kills McCain's "experience" attack - and worse, makes it look like nothing but an attack, since McCain apparently doesn't care about it himself (cf. this CNN interview with a staffer). Further, given her lack of experience, Palin doesn't look qualified to be President (and quotes like this don't help) - given McCain's age, that's very, very bad.

    Second, McCain clearly chose Palin in a rush at the last minute (and we have verification of this) and chose her without anything like sufficient vetting. She was a big gamble for his campaign, and anything negative that can be pinned to Palin is a negative that can be pinned to McCain's judgement - one of the key things he's running on.

    Third, Palin has multiple negatives that can be pinned on her - from lies (distorting scientific reports) to corruption (it seems increasingly likely that she had Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan removed because he didn't fire her sister's ex-husband) to, possibly, disastrously unfavorable political associations (Alaskan Independence Party correction - only her husband was a registered member of the AIP). If any of the important accusations pan out, picking Palin won't merely seem hasty, it'll seem downright insane.

    Oh, and if my own flist is any indication, the people who liked Clinton for substantive reasons are ticked off.

    Now, I said it's too early to say definitively, but...
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    In June, Plouffe [Obama's campaign manager] had suggested Obama-McCain meetings more along the lines of the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates. In 1858, during Abraham Lincoln's Senate campaign against Stephen Douglas, the candidates met seven times across Illinois. One spoke for an hour, the other for an hour and a half, and the first was allowed a half-hour rebuttal.


    That would be awesome. Unfortunately, it seems like it won't happen.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Around the corner and down the street from my house is a "Bake Sale for Obama".
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Okay, as a liberal (and therefore interested) and a Republican (and therefore nearly powerless), a suggestion to the Democrats out there: can you all stop insulting each other, please? Obama and Clinton are very similar candidates!

    Seriously. Go drink some tea, play Facebook Chess, write an eleven-hundred-word breakdown of McCain's total lack of a substantive energy policy - whatever. And whenever you feel tempted to complain about any of your allies, consider this: my party gave me two warmongers and a theocrat as the only viable candidates. You guys got off frelling lucky.

    That's all.

    Serious

    May. 20th, 2008 01:19 pm
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Hat tip to Jim Macdonald @ Making Light for the news -from the AP, Chicago, Monday, May 19th:

    Republican John McCain accused Democrat Barack Obama of inexperience and reckless judgment for saying Iran does not pose the same serious threat to the United States as the Soviet Union did in its day.

    The likely GOP presidential nominee made the criticism Monday in Chicago, Obama's home turf.

    "Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment. These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess," McCain said at the restaurant industry's annual meeting.


    For those of you who would like to add numbers to just how absurd this is, hilzoy has the analysis.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Thanks to the Slacktivist commenter crowd: the transcript of Obama's speech.

    If you haven't watched the speech, for whatever reason, and you don't want to watch it now, for whatever reason, please: just read it. I won't even ask you to keep an open mind - just to click the link and push the down arrow when you hit the bottom of the screen, and whatever you think of him afterwards is fair game. But read it.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Via Fred 'Slacktivist' Clark:



    I remember - sometime last year - reading a blogger talking about Barack Obama who said that Obama was too kind, too positive, too unwilling to be harsh. I remember the fellow talked about Kennedy and others, said that they were certainly not the plaster saints that Obama seemed to be imitating, and that his refusal to use aggressive tactics would most likely sink his campaign.

    In the months since, it's become clear that it's quite the opposite.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    I've never been a fan of Prickly City. Generally, I find it to be of poor quality - I suppose The Wizard of Id is the easiest comparison - and so it rarely crosses my radar.

    [livejournal.com profile] redneckgaijin just sent out an alert on today's strip.

    I still say it's a poor quality strip. But I will praise it for this: it states, badly but boldly, that torture is not something that "good guys" do, and waterboarding is torture. That once you get beyond a certain threshold, relative comparisons don’t really matter, and waterboarding is horrible, terrible, inhuman torture.

    I don't know Scott Stantis from Adam, and I still ain't fond of his strip. But, sickening as it is, speaking truth about this subject paints a bullseye on yourself, and the man said it anyway.

    So: good job, Mr. Stantis. I'm rooting for you.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Would you believe I hadn't seen any of Obama's speeches until tonight? [livejournal.com profile] alchemi gave the heads-up, and I watched this one.

    Today - yesterday, now - he gave a speech in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church. C-SPAN has the full speech on video - actually, with probably about ten minutes of extra material extending on either end.

    It's a good speech, a really good speech. Omitting the thank-yous at the beginning, a transcript (not quite the same as the one that's been floating around the net - I think he slipped from the script a bit...):

    The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho... )

    It's two a.m., and I'm really stupid right now, so I'm not going to make any big announcements. I'm not even a member of the Democratic Party, and on top of that, I can see where the scoffing is coming from. But, you know, I heard you ought to be willing to let politics break your heart, and I can't help but think maybe I will.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Monday evening, Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee stated his intention "to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards".

    It is conceivable that a fair number of people may be unconcerned by this statement. However, to quote Fred "Slacktivist" Clark's excellent take on Huckabee's statement:

    The main point here is sweet fancy Moses this guy wants to rewrite the Constitution to align it with his idea of "God's standards"!


    Comments are open, as always.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Being a liberal Republican, it is meet* for me to state my stance on Ron Paul.

    I believe that Ron Paul would be a terrible President for the reasons cited here. Most prominently among these are:

    • The gold standard would lead to economic turmoil (not to mention devastate industries which use gold),
    • The abolition of the income tax would cripple the federal government,
    • A law to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling on an issue is un-American, even when it is not explicitly intended to bolster prejudice,
    • Racism - be it against black men in DC or immigrants throughout America - is wrong, (edit: I cannot defend this claim; I withdraw it.) and
    • Undermining modern medicine would destroy millions of lives in the most brutal fashion.


    Citations for Ron Paul's support of each of these are in the link.

    * "Meet" meaning suitable, proper, appropriate. It's standard.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    When I read the transcript of Mitt Romney's speech yesterday, I really did not know how to respond. It's so well-written that I don't know how to express my objections to the content.

    Now, Fred 'Slacktivist' Clark has already replied to the worst part - the line "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." I can add very little to what he said on that point; I recommend you read his entire post.

    But there is one more paragraph that needs addressing.

    We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It's as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.


    He is wrong. This idea is as alien to the soul of the United States as any idea can be.

    Let me reiterate. Not only, as Mr. Clark argues in the post linked above, is this idea inherently pernicious to both , but it is in keeping with no valid interpretation of the Constitution - not the modern interpretation and not the original intent of the authors. To show the latter requires no more than to cite an amicus brief by Edward Tabash to the California Supreme Court. Following the example of my source, Blake Stacey, I shall quote the especially relevant paragraph:

    When the Senate, of the very first Congress, was considering the wording of the religion clauses of what was to become the First Amendment, it rejected, on September 3, 1789, two proposed phrases that, if adopted, could have arguably only prevented government from favoring one religion over another. The first proposed wording, rejected by the Senate, read: “Congress shall make no law establishing one religious sect or society in preference to any other.” The Senate additionally rejected wording that read: "Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination or religion in preference to any other." The Senate finally chose wording that read: "Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion."


    I shall suggest also a review of the Lemon test and Jefferson's wall of separation letter.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    The very title "The Feminist Case Against Abortion" is an obvious fraud. Serrin M. Foster, the author, is - intentionally or not - falsely claims the mantle of a popular, progressive ideology to support an claim which, at best, has nothing to do with it.

    Why can I speak so strongly about this? Because, in the modern U.S. political dialectic, "feminist" and "against abortion" have clearly defined, mutually incompatible meanings.

    Let us begin with "feminist".

    A feminist is concerned with the rights of women. She or he1 believes that many women are, through legal, social, or other means, denied opportunities, powers, and freedoms that they fairly deserve, and that this situation needs remedying.

    That definition in mind, let us consider "against abortion".

    Someone is against abortion if they believe that abortions should be prohibited.

    I accept that this could be a controversial reading. However, it is the only correct reading in this context. Why? Because almost everyone agrees that abortion is a moral wrong. In fact, almost every pro-choice advocate, when asked, will say that abortion is wrong. What makes it legally permissible in this country is the consensus that abortion is, sometimes, less wrong than the alternative. And, being as we're an independent sort of people and rightly distrustful of governmental power, and being that a fetus is incapable of a moral choice (be it person or not), we give the right to decide whether it is less wrong to the competent moral agent with the most at stake: the mother. We give her all the support we can, but no other method exists for reducing the misery of the horrible situations that make abortion an option.

    In light of this, "against abortion" can only be interpreted as "...universally". And, justifying this reading, a ban is what Foster seems to defend.

    And, as such a ban reduces the powers and freedoms (and even the opportunities) of a woman - the mother - it cannot by any means be a feminist view. It can only be a view that a feminist may have for other reasons.

    And that is why Serrin Foster is perpetrating a deception when she claims a "feminist" case against abortion.

    1. I will not dignify with a response those who believe that men cannot be feminists.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Psst! Word on the street* is, The College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 includes the following delicious language:

    Part G of title IV (20 U.S.C. 1088 et seq.) is further amended by adding at the end the following new section:

    SEC. 494. CAMPUS-BASED DIGITAL THEFT PREVENTION.

    (a) IN GENERAL.--Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title shall to the extent practicable--

    (1) make publicly available to their students and employees, the policies and procedures related to the illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted materials required to be disclosed under section 485(a)(1)(P); and

    (2) develop a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property as well as a plan to explore technology-based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.

    Read more... )


    Why is this objectionable?

    1. "Each eligible institution participating in any program under this title" - that is, the entire education section of the U.S. Code - that is, any institute of higher education taking any money at all from the government, including by teaching students that receive government grants - is obliged by this language to both deter illegal filesharing and pay for alternatives like Ruckus.

    2. The only means universities have for effectively deterring illegal filesharing are, well, means like these.


    * Formally known as "Slashdot".
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    Via Mahablog, which reposted from Orcinus: The President has just issued this, titled 'Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq'.

    You, who is reading this: if you are in America, and you do not believe that the war in Iraq is succeeding, you should be terrified.

    I will not quote the whole text - it's legalese, and dense - but here's some of the crucial bits to explain myself.

    First, the declaration of motive.
    I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps [...]

    A declaration that acts against Iraq are extraordinary threats to the United States could, in a newspaper article, be excused as an ill-thought overstatement. In an executive order, it suggests either (a) that the chief executive lacks connection to reality or (b) that he is exaggerating to justify the measures he proposes. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine which is worse.

    Second, the penalty.
    (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property of the following persons, that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of United States persons, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in[.]

    This one is pretty clear: if you are named by this act, all your possessions are frozen. Credit cards? Bank accounts? Pocket change? You are here banned from using them.

    Third, the targets.
    any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense,

    (i) to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of:

    (A) threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq; or

    (B) undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people;

    (ii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such an act or acts of violence or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

    (iii) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

    (b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section include, but are not limited to, (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person. (emphases added)

    You notice I highlighted two bits. The former I'll get to in a second. The latter ... well, any resemblance to Article 58-11 is surely coincidental.

    But that's a low blow. Ignore it. Read the first one.

    Now, what constitutes undermining efforts? Undermining sounds simple, exact, but how can you be sure that any particular act is not undermining something? And how can you be sure that the government isn't being ... overenthusiastic in its prosecution of the law?


    One last note:
    Sec. 5. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 and expanded in Executive Order 13315, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1(a) of this order. (emphasis added)


    In light of which, I leave you with a reminder of the words of William Rivers Pitt, from last September.

    UPDATE: Insofar as I can tell, executive orders are, in fact, susceptible to overturning in two ways. First, by the passage of a bill by Congress specifying the law more exactly – legislation overrules executive orders. (Yes, they'll probably need a two-thirds majority.) Second, by a court ruling that states the order is unconstitutional. (Which has only happened twice in history.) While some claim that an executive order only becomes law if Congress does not overturn it within 30 days, I have seen no official source verifying that.

    Filibuster

    Jul. 17th, 2007 08:52 am
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    From Obsidian Wings, who got it from Think Progress:
    M. President, my worst fears on this bill have been realized. We have just seen the Republican leadership again resort to technical maneuver to block progress on this crucial amendment.

    It would be one thing for Republicans to vote against this bill. If they honestly believe that “stay the course” is the right strategy — they have the right to vote “no.”

    But now, Republicans are using a filibuster to block us from even voting on an amendment that could bring the war to a responsible end.

    They are protecting the President rather than protecting our troops.

    They are denying us an up or down — yes or no — vote on the most important issue our country faces.

    I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down.

    If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday.

    The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it.

    Given the Republican leadership’s decision to block the amendment, we have no choice but to do everything we can in the coming days to highlight Republican obstruction.

    We do this in hopes of ultimately getting a simple up or down vote on this and other important amendments that could change the direction of the war.

    All Senators will be welcome to speak their mind. Those of us who are ready to end the war will make our case to the American people. Those who support the status quo are welcome to equal floor time to make their case.

    Let the American people hear the arguments. Let them see their elected representatives engaging in a full, open and honest debate.

    Let them hear why Republicans are obstructing us on this amendment.

    Whenever Republicans are ready to allow a vote on this most crucial legislation, we stand ready to deliver the new course that has been so long in coming.

    As hilzoy points out, this is far from the first piece of legislation that has been threatened with filibuster by the current Republican caucus.

    The members of this filibuster are not merely ignoring the concerns of U.S. citizens (including a majority of the members of their own party) – they are ignoring reality. There is an old saying a few of you might recall, that a government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. The government we are supporting in Iraq by all indications seems to lack just that consent. The United States should not prop it up any longer.
    packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
    I just don't know what to say.

    I want to be suspicious of these articles, I really do. The VP has had such a complete reputation for being an operator, that it's creepy to see that rumor-mongering collaborated in an actual newspaper. They talk about how Cheney doesn't consider himself a 'power behind the throne', merely a 'detail person' as opposed to the President's generalities. I'm willing to believe the latter comparison – however smart Bush may be, he doesn't seem to be paying much attention to his job – but when the article goes on to describe what the VP accomplishes ... well, as a wise person once said, I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.

    As I said, I don't want to believe the articles. But there's no reason to think that the Washington Post would suddenly start catering to the delusions of the fraction of its readers who fear this administration. And the writers interviewed dozens (hundreds?) of people. So I'm faced with the thought that perhaps most of the evil associated with the past six years is specifically Mr. Cheney's responsibility.

    (I read them in the paper, so I can't guarantee the Web version. Also, I read them when they were printed, so I can't guarantee my memory. Still.)

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