The 12th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at Maryland Politics Today. Go take a look.
The 13th edition, on August 12, is being hosted at Maryland Politics. Send your submissions in by using the Blog Carnival form.
July 29, 2007
The 12th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at Maryland Politics Today. Go take a look.
For links to other photo comics, click here and check the sidebar.
Or start with these:
Bill Clinton grabs some contributions for Hillary
Hillary responds to Kate Michelman
Hillary begins a conversation
When Harry dissed Nancy
July 26, 2007
UPDATED at bottom....
If you'll excuse me for trying to be serious for a change, I want to make a suggestion for dealing with the outcome of the provision recently agreed to for "John Doe" immunity.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain quickly. Some months back, six Muslim men alarmed passengers and crew on a Northwest Airlines flight with their behavior and were taken off the flight. The so-called "flying imams" promptly held a press conference to rail about anti-Muslim bigotry. Later, supported by CAIR, they brought suit against the airline and the "John Doe" passengers who reported the suspicious behavior. The House and Senate each passed a provision that would confer immunity on these and future "John Does" who reported suspicious activity. At the last minute, the Democrats in the House forced the provision out of the bill during a conference committee on the Homeland Security bill. And after an outcry by some House Republicans and a whole hell of a lot of bloggers, the House Democrats agreed to restore some language conferring immunity.
Via HotAir, here is the language they agreed to:
“Any person who, in good faith and based on objectively reasonable suspicion, makes or causes to be made, a voluntary report of covered activity to an authorized official shall be immune from civil liability under federal, state and local law for such report.”Ace was discussing this immunity as a qualified one, which it is. But like every other federal government lawyer, I have a passing familiarity with a specific doctrine called "qualified immunity," which is sometimes available to government officials sued for damages in their individual capacities. So I began trying to see it in those terms. I posted a comment at Ace's, which he then pulled up into the text at the link above. (Amusingly, he concluded by saying, "Thanks to the law offices of Attila the Pillage Idiot.") What I wrote was my tentative conclusion:
I'm still not sure I'm right in my reading of the new language, but I do think I'm right that it's not clear enough to give comfort to potential John Does, who still have reason to fear lawsuits against them for reporting suspicious activity.
One thing I find troubling is that in REAL qualified immunity for federal and state officials, it's an immunity from SUIT, not a defense to liability. The language here says "immune from liability" -- which sounds like a defense to liability. The significance of this is that in qualified immunity, the courts decide as early as possible whether the immunity applies, so they can spare the defendant the cost and burden of litigation. Here, at least the way it appears, the defendant may have to go well into the litigation, possibly to trial, before the "immunity from liability" can be determined.
I could be wrong in my reading of this, but let's just say, this will have to be litigated for years before the meaning is clear enough for it to be helpful to John Does.
Today, I came up with what I think is the best way to handle this situation, given that the language is clearly not going to become any better than it is now.
It's time to put together an organization that will have a relationship with seasoned litigators willing to work pro bono on behalf of John Does. This organization would be like FIRE, the Center for Individual Rights, and others that I can come up with if I try.
Having an organization like this will mean that John Does can come forward without fear of having to bankrupt themselves in defending a suit brought by the likes of CAIR just to get to the point where they're entitled to immunity under what's likely to become the law. A ready supply of defense counsel will also force CAIR to watch its step in bringing these actions. The United States has a tremendous interest in encouraging citizens to come forward with information about potential terrorist acts, and it's extremely important to offset the disincentives created by the legislative compromise on immunity.
I think this is a pretty good idea, but it's not a job for me. I'm going to email a few people to see if I can stir up some interest in it. I'll let you know.
UPDATE (7/27): HotAir links to the text of the provision, section 1206 of the bill. The new section is somewhat better than I thought yesterday, based solely on the news reports available at the time, but it doesn't solve the problem. Section 1206(c) adds the following language providing for attorney's fees for successful John Doe defendants:
Any person or authorized official found to be immune from civil liability under this section shall be entitled to recover from the plaintiff all reasonable costs and attorney fees.An attorney's fee provision certainly will act as a disincentive to suits against John Does, but when suits are nevertheless brought against them, the John Doe defendants, in order to obtain attorney's fees, will have to be "found to be immune from civil liability." They won't be "found" to be immune until they reach the same stage of litigation we were discussing yesterday. So, while section 1206(c) is a help, it doesn't avoid the need for a stable of litigators ready to defend John Does pro bono.
According to an article, these are the ten top (technically, the ten craziest) excuses given to bosses for lateness to work:
1. Someone was following me, and I drove all around town trying to lose them.It occurred to me that number 9 sounded a lot like John Edwards, so I began trying to match excuses with presidential candidates. I'm about halfway through with it, and I welcome your help.
2. My dog dialed 911, and the police wanted to question me about what "really" happened.
3. My girlfriend got mad and destroyed all of my undergarments.
4. I woke up and thought I was temporarily deaf.
5. I just wasn't "feelin' it" this morning.
6. I was up all night arguing with God.
7. A raccoon stole my work shoe off my porch.
8. I super-glued my eye thinking it was contact solution.
9. I was putting lotion on my face when my finger went up my nose causing a nose bleed.
10. A prostitute climbed into my car at a stop light, and I was afraid my wife would see her and think I was messing around... so I got out of the car.
1. Ron Paul. Someone's always following this paranoid.
5. Barack Obama. Sometimes, he just isn't "feelin' it."
6. Rudy Giuliani. He doesn't tell you that God won the argument.
7. Fred Thompson. If there ain't raccoons in Tennessee, then I reckon' it ain't Fred Thompson we're talkin' about.
9. John Edwards. Who else puts lotion on his face?
1. We all know that dogs eat grass, but a Ph.D. on the subject? (via Fark)
2. Arlen Specter is a fool. But you already knew that. You also knew that there are some cool anagrams for his name. Arlen Specter = clear serpent = lepers recant = rectal preens.
3. Don't be shy, Granny! Keep a couple of 'em in your purse. Just in case you get lucky. (via HotAir)
4. Homeowner attacks mailbox vandals. The best thing about the story is the Fark tagline: "Men playing mailbox baseball find out it's not as much fun when the homeowner comes up to bat in the bottom half of the inning."
5. Paging O.J. Simpson! A geezer in an electric "mobility scooter" takes Brit police on a highway chase at 8 MPH. And they lose him. (hat tip: fee simple)
6. The new demographic of the New York Times: 20-something "men" who buy expensive (male) fragrances. "I've been in the business for 20 years, and I can't believe how many young men are spending hundreds of dollars on fragrance."
7. Someone's stalking your house. Your house, not mine.
8. A late entry from fee simple. Please avert your eyes, you dignified readers, because it turns out there's something called a "gPod," not to be confused with the iPod (Apple litigation to follow): "The 'gPod', a phallic-shaped vibrator, is designed to respond automatically to sounds picked up by an accompanying handset, which can plug into anything from a telephone to a music player to a television."
July 24, 2007
In my rush to write about the Swedish tax apes before running out to hear Eicha, I forgot to note that in the print edition of yesterday's Washington Post (July 23), the following two headlines framed the front page:
Aid May Grow for Laid-Off Workers
Deceased Farmers Got USDA Payments
Tomorrow's headline: "Aid May Grow for Deceased Farmers." There's no constituency beyond the reaches of Congress.
In the area of Washington where I work, there's a fair amount of construction going on. And with the construction comes a noisy picket line protesting low wages to carpenters. On various days, I've seen the same picket at different sites. I couldn't tell whether the picketers were the same every day, but I always wondered about them. They seemed like a ragtag bunch and didn't look the least bit like carpenters to me.
And front page, baby! Great headline, to boot: "Outsourcing the Picket Line / Carpenters Union Hires Homeless to Stage Protests"
(Maryland Conservatarian's take is here.)
July 23, 2007
It may sound as if the Swedes have begun to outsource government jobs to apes, but that's not what's going on at all.
A reorganization of workers at the Swedish Tax Authority is partly shaped on studies of apes, according to a leaked internal report. Employees are not flattered by the comparison.According to the article, which I strongly suspect is a hoax, the report says: "Evolutionary biologists have seen that primates live in social groups of varying sizes." It then compares the size of human brains to the size of the brains of other primates and concludes thus: "Based on this formula we have concluded that the optimum (or largest possible) group of people is 147.8."
The tax authority is currently undergoing its largest reorganization for many years. One of the foundations of the restructuring plan is a report which says that studies of apes show that people work best in groups of 150.
A group of 147.8 people? No social scientist could be this idiotic. Oh, wait a minute...
There was a Dilbert cartoon about a dozen years ago that went like this:
Pointy-haired boss: We ranked all the engineers from best to worst.
Pointy-haired boss: We plan to get rid of the bottom 10%. That includes you, Wally.
Wally: Your plan is logically flawed.
Wally: If you fire the bottom 10%, you'll still have a bottom 10%.
Wally: You'll fire and fire but there will always be a bottom 10%, until finally . . .
Wally: When less than ten people are left, you'll have to fire body parts instead of whole people!!!
Wally: We'll have torsos and glands wandering around unable to use keyboards . . . Blood and bile everywhere!!!
Dilbert: How'd it go?
Wally: He fired my hair.
(hat tip: fee simple, who, when asked what this article meant for his own organization, replied, "Sorry, I can't answer right now. I'm on my afternoon banana break.")
July 22, 2007
Each year around my birthday, and my birthday falls sometime in July, I think about the meaning of life and about what I've learned in my lifetime. A couple of years ago, I posted a list of the top ten things I've learned, and when I looked it over again, I realized it's still the top ten.
So, with apologies to readers who insist that I should never recycle two-year old thoughts, here are the Top Ten Things I've Learned. The uneven quality, by the way, is proof they're actually my thoughts.
10. Your wife is right. (This one bears repetition: Your wife is right.)
9. Some people swear by scotch, but beer's pretty good, too.
8. You should never talk about "mid-life crisis" in the singular.
7. Always seek wisdom from your mistakes, but don't plan on getting an advanced degree.
6. Some people are late bloomers, but when you're pushing 50, there's a good chance you'll always remain a bud.
5. Men get older, but women stay the same age, and pretty soon they're the same age as your daughter.
4. Hair is proof that God has a sense of humor.
3. If you attend a reunion, for every classmate who invented the latest breakthrough in laser technology, there are four ex-con alcoholics who are delinquent on their child support. (That's good news, by the way.)
2. When people accost you on the street, don't assume they're looking for a handout; they might be offering you shelter.
And the Number One thing I've learned is: If all I really need to know I learned in kindergarten, someone owes me a damn refund.
July 19, 2007
I'm sure we've all had these moments in raising our kids.
You know what I'm talking about. Your teenager comes up to you to make an announcement. And not just any announcement.
Kid: Dad! Or Mom! Whoever you might be! I know exactly what I'd like to study in college and make my career.
You: You do?
Kid: I've, like, totally given up on the adult-entertainment star idea.
You: That's, uh, that's very good. I'm glad for you.
Kid: That is, like, so totally last year, really.
You: So what's your new plan?
Kid: I'm going to study the reproductive biology of ducks* and do research on the duck vagina.
Kid: Seriously, I just read about it in the Yale Alumni Magazine.
You: Yale? I didn't go to Yale.
Kid: Found it at the dentist's office. Listen! Here's what the article says: "Among ducks such as the mallard, the Pekin, and the long-tailed, the phallus can reach surprising length: 4 to 5 inches is common. The Argentine river duck, the champion in this department, has a phallus up to 16 inches long -- longer than the bird itself."
You: Now I know why you gave up that promising "acting" career.
Kid: But that's not all. In these ducks, the phallus "shrinks to the size of a rice grain after the mating season and grows again the following year," and it's "elaborately coiled." How cool is that?
You: I don't know. I thought that was a pathology.
Kid: Here's some more: "But although this phallus was first described in detail more than 100 years ago, no scientist ever bothered to investigate what seems the obvious corollary. That is, until Patricia Brennan, a post-doctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology, entered the field. 'What kind of structure,' Brennan wondered, 'did he put it into?'"
You: Oh, my! Hold on, I need to sit down.
Kid: You really will have to sit down when you hear this: "Given the size of the duck phallus, Brennan guessed that she'd find 'an enlarged but simple sack' when she dissected female ducks. Instead, she uncovered a coiled organ bristling with detours, roadblocks, and dead ends. Upstream, it coils in the opposite direction from the phallus."
You: Now I remember! I read about this in the New York Times a while back. This researcher said about the phallus and vagina: "Obviously you can't have something like that without some place to put it in. You need a garage to park the car." Sounds like a bad imitation of a Kinky Friedman song, doesn't it? I remember that Brennan has a theory that the duck vagina was designed to prevent rape by ducks who were not her mate, right?
Kid: No, Brennan never had any duck as a mate.
You: I meant . . ., oh, never mind.
Kid: But, yeah, she thinks it has to do with rape. The magazine article calls it "forced copulation."
You: Yale. Anyway, here's my question for you. If she's already done the research, what's left for you?
Kid: Well, all right, forget about it. I'm back to adult entertainment.
July 18, 2007
So I'm, like, this is the stupidest language column ever to appear in the New York Times. And he's, like, yeah, hel-lo! And I'm, like, William Safire would be turning over in his grave right now if he were dead.
Governor O'Malley called for a reform of the Maryland criminal code today, stating that the current structure was "patently unfair." He argued that Peter Angelos, the wealthy trial lawyer who owns the Baltimore Orioles, should not have the same rights as "the woman who cleans his office."
Oh, wait a minute! I think I got that wrong. He was talking about the tax code, not the criminal code, and he said Angelos shouldn't pay the same rates as the woman who cleans his office.
Whew, what a relief! We're all in favor of progressive taxation, aren't we? It's just not fair that Maryland taxpayers all pay the same basic tax rate. As the Governor put it:
"I'm in favor of progressive taxation, where people who make a lot more pay more," O'Malley told reporters recently.Because, you know, in a flat tax system, people who make a lot more actually pay a lot less. Or something. Oh, never mind.
In a flat tax system, the tax rates people pay on net taxable income are the same, regardless of income level. Maryland's is a modified flat tax system, because the state collects a local income tax for the counties, who "piggyback" on the state tax by adding to the state rate for their own taxpayers. We'll ignore that here for the sake of simplicity. Maryland's state tax rate is flat at 4.75%, after the first $3,000, which is taxed at a lower rate.
So let's do the math with the Governor's example. For these purposes we'll simplify by assuming Angelos, who's probably a billionaire, has a taxable net annual income, after deductions and exclusions, of $100 million and that the cleaning lady has a taxable net annual income, after deductions and exclusions, of $10,000.
Let's compute their taxes under the current flat-tax scheme. For simplicity, we'll ignore the differential rate on the first $3,000.
.0475 x $100,000,000 = $4,750,000.
.0475 x $10,000 = $475. (It's actually $424 under the tax tables, but we're ignoring that here.)
Hmmmm. Angelos, in our example, pays 10,000 times as much in state taxes as the cleaning lady. I guess Governor O'Malley is right -- we need progressive tax rates to make sure "people who make a lot more pay more." What's that? He pays a lot more under a flat tax already? How can that possibly be?
I'll tell you how it can be. Governor O'Malley's argument for progressive tax rates is a phony. It's a way of punishing wealthy people for having created wealth. It's a scheme based on ideology, not economics, and on envy, not fairness.
Believe me; I hold no brief for Peter Angelos or anyone else who's a trial lawyer and sleazy sports team owner. I'm merely using him as an example, because the Governor chose him as his poster boy for progressive taxation.
There's an old joke that a lottery is a tax on people who don't understand math. Progressive taxation is a tax scheme pushed by people who do understand math but hope other people don't.
Technically, this is the quotation of yesterday, and not in a good sense, but I didn't get around to putting it up then. Sue me.
"Terrorism is a tactic. You cannot eradicate it by declaring a war against it. The war on terror is causing us infinitely more harm than the terrorists could have ever imagined."Who said it? Harry Reid? John Kerry? Coulda been, but no, that's not who.
July 17, 2007
I don't play golf.
And when I say "I don't play golf," I mean I don't play golf, unless you count an occasional game of miniature golf in person or an oddly interesting 10-year-old computer game called Sierra's Ultra MiniGolf.
I did once take up a club at the direction of my father-in-law, who was a pretty good amateur in his day, but all I did was hit a few balls down an open stretch of land to test my swing.
That said, I have to admire the exploits of Maurice Flitcroft, who died this spring. There's a charming column about him by Dave Kindred in the July issue of Golf Digest, a magazine that (you will not be surprised to learn) I don't read. There was a copy of the column on the bulletin board in the break room at work.
Flitcroft was the fellow who "crashed" the qualifying round for the British Open in 1976 and shot a 121, which even I know isn't very good for a pro (which he was not):
He was 46 years old and living on Social Security. For that summer's Open, he borrowed the $75 entry fee from his wife, Jean. When the entry form requested information on his handicap, he skipped that part—he'd never played 18 holes—and signed in as an unattached professional.His play caused a stir, as the column explains:
On the first tee for the qualifying round at Formby, Flitcroft aroused suspicion from partner Jim Howard. "After gripping the club like he was intent on murdering someone," the witness told reporters after, "Flitcroft hoisted it straight up, came down vertically, and the ball travelled precisely four feet."The funny part is that Flitcroft kept trying, using assumed names.
However greatly they were offended by the mechanics of Maurice G. Flitcroft, the tweed suits had no authority to rule a man off once he started.
There came what one observer called "a blizzard of triple and quadruple bogeys ruined by a solitary par." Flitcroft's 121 was 49 over par, still the worst score in the Open's 145 years.
He offered an explanation. After bollixing the first tee shot, he abandoned his driver. "I got the 3-iron out and played safe, except I wasn't that great with the 3-iron. I should have used the 4-wood, but I'd left that in the car." Flitcroft added, wistfully, "I was an expert with the 4-wood, deadly accurate."
Flitcroft tried to enter five more Opens but made it past suddenly vigilant R&A authorities only twice—first in 1984 as Gerald Hoppy, a pro from Switzerland. That year he shot 63 for nine holes before officials realized they had another Maurice Flitcroft on their hands. "Imagine their surprise," Flitcroft said, "when they discovered they had the actual Maurice Flitcroft on their hands."Does this mean I'm motivated to try the same thing myself? Hardly. It's just that there's something very appealing about an impostor, especially one who seems quite innocent in his own way.
Here are two obits.
Bonus: Golf Digest has a Q&A section. Now what could a guy like me possibly find of interest in a golf Q&A section? Maybe this: A man asks the female columnist what to do about his girlfriend's golf attire. She wears "hideously tight tops, and her shorts are too short. It's embarrassing." Surely, we're missing some information here, because how many guys don't like it when their girlfriends wear tight tops and short shorts? Certainly, they like it when other guys' girlfriends dress that way, right? I'm so totally not going to speculate.
Now, can you believe this answer from the female columnist?
A My advice is to lie through your teeth and break out your wallet. When it comes to our clothing, the only way to get us to dress differently without hurting our feelings is to use positive reinforcement and trickery. Take your girlfriend shopping under the guise that you want to reward her for her improved golf skills. Help her find something nice to wear, and then keep telling her how good she looks. She's likely to gradually change her style. Whatever you do, never tell her you're embarrassed by the way she dresses. Unless you like sleeping on the couch.I agree with the part about not telling her you're embarrassed, and the part about buying new clothes is OK, but really..."lie through your teeth"? Look, I know you don't answer the "do I look fat" question truthfully, not that I personally would ever have to fib about it, of course. But the real answer is that you should check with your golf buddy's wife or girlfriend. "Do you think what she's wearing is OK?" If the wife or girlfriend doesn't, you can ask her to bring the subject up with your girlfriend.
There. I just flunked the qualifying round to become a Dear Abby-type columnist. Shot a 121.
July 15, 2007
The 11th edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at It's Our Wits That Make Us Men. Go check it out.
The 12th edition, on
August 12 July 29, is being hosted at Maryland Politics Today. Send your submissions in by using the Blog Carnival form.
From this week's business news: "Energizer purchases Playtex Products for $2 billion" (hat tip: fee simple)
We'll throw out a couple of immature jokes first. "Take off my clothes, bunny." (You remember that joke, right?) How about: "Is that a battery in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
And then, we'll head right over to the immature post-merger corporate image.
July 13, 2007
I've been inundated with mail asking me to do an update on my fantasy baseball team.
Actually, when I've opened the mail, it's turned out to be mostly sales pitches for pills that will let me expand my roster, if you know what I mean. I deleted those offers, so I'll have to keep this update short.
I've explained before why I give so much attention to WHIP, so I'm pleased to report that until the weekend before the All Star Game, I was leading in the WHIP category in my 12-team league. My argument is that paying attention to WHIP lets you gain points in a tight category, and that good WHIP leads to good ERA and often to good strikeout totals. So how was I doing in those categories? I was third in ERA and fourth in Ks.
I started the season with Johan Santana (my first-round pick) and Jake Peavy (my fourth-round pick). Figuring Peavy had peaked in May, I "sold high" and traded him for Carlos Beltran. Poor move. Beltran has been mediocre since that time. Anyway, I've made up for the loss of Peavy (except his Ks) by using a whole bunch of second-stringer pitchers, like Jeremy Guthrie (who had a horrible start Thursday), Jeff Francis, Jorge Sosa (since dropped), Shaun Marcum, and Sergio Mitre. I haven't been bowled over with wins, but the WHIP and ERA have been good. These guys have their bad days, but overall, their WHIP remains solid.
Now, you might get the idea from this that my team is doing well. Au contraire, mon frère! My hitting has been atrocious and is only now starting to pick up. My second-round pick, David Wright, was basically 0-for-April. My third-round pick, Paul Konerko, who hit 43 HRs last year, was lethargic. I picked up J.J. Hardy and Mike Lowell off the free-agent list in April, and that's probably why I'm not in last place.
Current position: 8th of 12 teams. My goal is realistic: 4th place or bust.
July 12, 2007
I'd like to thank Soccer Dad for posting here in my absence (scroll down). My own view of the new Get Smart movie is that Don Adams is Maxwell Smart, end of story. I really don't see the point.
And on to the point of this post: One of the first sites I check when I'm online is HotAir, which not only has great political coverage but also has some really quirky stuff (thanks to Allah). One of those truly quirky things is a video of a Japanese game show in which, well, you have to see it for yourself.
July 11, 2007
Posted by Soccer Dad
Surely you're all aware that Pillage Idiot is a huge "Get Smart!" fan. (How huge? Would you believe ...? Ah never mind.)
So last night I saw a report on Entertainment Tonight that next year there will be a new Get Smart! movie. My thrill quickly came to an end, though, when I saw it was Steve Carell who would be reprising Don Adams's famous role.
I like to think that I have a sense of humor. I know a lot of people who find "The Office" funny, but I don't. Watching it is akin to watching grass grow. It has an oddity factor going for it, but that's about it.
The short clips I saw from the movie also showed that Carell doesn't quite have the same gift for physical comedy that Adams had. Carell can go through the clumsy motions but he can't do it with the aplomb Adams did.
As it turns out the wonderful fan site Would you Believe? has a preview of the movie and it's not very encouraging. Unlike me, he likes the choice of Carell, but doesn't like what he's seen of the script. (BTW, he has a synopsis at the bottom, so if you wish to avoid serious spoilers, don't go to the very bottom.)
The Cons: It begins and starts with the script. There's a tendency among many in Hollywood that a funny actor can make a bad script funny, and so you'll often see great comedic stars in unfunny movies (remember The Three Amigos or Steve Martin in The Pink Panther?). Though it sometimes can happen that a great comic can make a bad script funny, why not try and give him the best possible script? Unfortunately, this isn't the best possible script, but Steve Carell is hot and the window to make this movie was short given Carell's other commitments, so the movie may have been scheduled before the script was as good as it should be. I've seen several versions of the script and have been less than impressed with any of the versions. Unfortunately, what I've read feels more like another cheesy Hollywood remake than a Get Smart movie.
If you want to read more, go to the site.
Alan Arkin as the Chief is inspired casting. The irony is that I also think that a young Alan Arkin could have been a good Maxwell Smart. (Think, the original "The In-Laws.") Of course we don't have a young Alan Arkin anymore.
For me Steve Carell just doesn't have it. The movie probably will be insipid.
Too bad the producers got stupid.
get smart movie.
Posted by Soccer Dad at 4:18 AM
July 07, 2007
July 05, 2007
I can't possibly make as much fun of some Jewish groups as they deserve. An article entitled "Court rulings vex Jewish groups" begins:
Following a string of conservative rulings in the closing weeks of this year's Supreme Court session, some Jewish officials are suggesting that they may be forced to abandon their years-long strategy of relying on the courts to protect liberal gains on a host of issues.Amazingly, they're thinking of trying to achieve political change through the political process. Who could imagine?
Here's a quiz that my readers will ace:
Q: Which Supreme Court decision is first in the list of cases of the past year that Jewish groups found troubling?
A: Check this out:
Sinensky and others cite four decisions that have especially roiled the community in the year since Alito replaced Sandra Day O'Connor, who carefully hewed to the center as the court's swing vote on several hot-button issues:Yes, the answer is abortion -- partial-birth abortion, to be precise; not, as the article claims, late-term abortion generally. Abortion, that "Jewish issue" of fundamental importance. This is the number one case Jewish groups cared about? Are they totally insane? (Don't answer that.)
• The court ruled in April that a ban on late-term abortions did not violate a woman's right to privacy, rolling back in part the gains of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
• In May, the court imposed a tough 180-day limitation on an employee's right to claim pay discrimination.
• Last month, a 5-4 majority of the justices ordered school districts in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., to end voluntary busing programs that sought to integrate schools that had become segregated through demographic trends.
• Also last month, the court ruled that taxpayers have no standing to stop the executive branch from spending federal funds on faith-based programs, a decision that would hamper efforts by Jewish groups to wage legal challenges on such matters.
It's followed by a sex discrimination case, in which the dissent basically admitted that the statute said what the majority said it did. So the Jewish groups were advocating a policy position at the expense of law.
Which is followed by a case coming close to holding that race discrimination is necessarily unconstitutional. (The Jewish grops opposed that ruling. Since when did race discrimination become a positive good among Jews?)
Finally, the fourth decision at least has something to do with religion, even if only indirectly. I guess I can see how Jewish groups would want to be able to continue bringing taxpayer-standing cases challenging government programs as an establishment of religion, but frankly, it's a strange case to turn into our Alamo. (Although, to be candid, for Jewish groups everything is an Alamo.)
And even with this taxpayer-standing case, one Jewish official admitted that the programs don't actually harm anyone (other than taxpayers):
"What you're asking for is someone who is among the least, the lost, someone with an alcohol addiction, a drug addition, someone who has no job, to come forward," [Michael Lieberman, of the Anti-Defamation League] said. "It's so unlikely that someone falling through the safety net is going to say, 'I need that methadone treatment program but I resent saying a prayer for it.'"Now, you're probably thinking to yourself: "The Anti-Defamation League? I thought that was a group dedicated to fighting anti-semitism." I think it may have been at some point. Maybe there just isn't enough anti-semitism to go around.
July 04, 2007
For links to other photo comics, click here and check the sidebar.
Or start with these:
Bill Clinton grabs some contributions for Hillary
Hillary responds to Kate Michelman
Hillary begins a conversation
When Harry dissed Nancy
Before you read this article ("The mysterious case of the disappearing plastic men / Driver warning signs are under fire in Bethesda"), let me interpret it for you.
In a rich, liberal Bethesda neighborhood, where at least one house has sold for over $2 million, the residents are trying to deal with concerns about traffic safety by putting up "little lime dudes" -- plastic men -- with signs asking drivers to slow down. One or more people have stolen or vandalized these little lime dudes. According to the article, most neighbors assume the vandals are teenagers or pranksters, even though there's no evidence why this is happening. But I don't need evidence. Because I'm willing to engage in rank speculation based on prejudice. Not that I support the vandals in any way, mind you. But I think someone simply resents being told by rich liberals how to drive through their neighborhood, even if it's the right way to drive. To me, this is a class thing and a nanny thing. People don't like to be told what to do, and they like it much less when it's a bunch of indignant and sanctimonious rich folks telling them how to behave.
It reminds me of something that happened about 20 years ago. A friend of ours wrote a column in the local section of the New York Times about his experience having a "Baby on Board" sign on his car. Remember those? He described how shocked he was at the vitriol directed at him because of the sign. People, I gather, interpreted the sign as a sanctimonious warning to them to behave around his precious cargo.
I think the response of those people was very similar to the behavior described in the article about the little lime dudes.
Your explosive news on July 4 comes from yesterday's New York Times Science section. There's a summer camp for explosively minded high-school kids at the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Here's your video from the Times.
Take away quotation: "We don't look to throw rock through the air," Dr. Worsey said. "When you do that, you’re wasting energy."
No matter how often we express gratitude for being Americans, July 4th is an appropriate time to stop and celebrate the U.S.
I'm going to cheat here a little by doing what some newspapers do on annual holidays and republish a piece from one of the previous years. Here's what I wrote last year on July 4th about one wacko whose idiocy shows what a great country this is, and here's a post from the year before about the Gettysburg address in Hebrew.
July 02, 2007
I find surveys on marriage (via HotAir) extremely irritating, probably because I'm a big proponent of marriage and the surveys tend to convert description into prescription. Marriages are dicey these days? Well, times have changed and that's just how things are going to be.
Also: Do we really have to know that "new research suggests that the spark may fizzle within only three years?" Even Dr. Ruth says, "How dangerous it is to say something like that . . . . From now on, everyone who's getting married will say it will last three years and then I will have to look for someone else." And the "duh" moment definitely is this: "the Pew survey concluded that 'by providing an alternative to marriage, cohabitation for some appears to diminish rather than strengthen the impulse to legally marry.'"
But this survey is redeemed, in part, by the fact that the study was written by two professors named (and I'm not making this up) Musick and Bumpass. As Dave Barry would say, that would be a good name for a rock band.
After Ace mentioned the site, I went off to get my blog rated as if it were a movie. Yeah, I knew it was just some shtick, but I figured I'd give it a try.
Here's what it came up with:
The reason, according to the site, was this:
This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words: * sex (12x) * gay (5x) * gays (3x) * death (2x) * poop (1x)This listing of bad words fell way short. I knew, for example, there were verbal "penises" in plain sight, but they didn't show up in the word count. So I did my own word count on Friday, and I came up with these bad words, which the site didn't even catch:
nude (1x), sperm (1x), suckling (1x), Hillary (2x), bare (1x), breast/breasts (6x), chest (1x), blood (1x), penis/penises (4x), orifice (1x), penetrating (1x), naked (1x), racism/race (5x), pornophilia (1x) bawdy (1x), topless (4x), bust (1x), bra (1x), orgasm (1x), homosexuality (1x), areola (1x), genitalia (1x), explode (1x), sex (5x), gay/gays (4x), condom (3x), phallus (1x)
Of course, all of this misses the point. If you've read Pillage Idiot before, you'll know it's utter nonsense to rate it NC-17. This blog is more like PG-13, for high levels of immaturity, a little like an Adam Sandler flick, only less offensive. There's certainly nothing graphic here, unless you count a photo of a seal oosik. Let me point out that I didn't even show the photoshopped cover of Angela Merkel suckling two Polish politicians. I linked to it instead.
Here's part of the MPAA's definition of PG-13:
A PG-13 film is one which, in the view of the Rating Board, leaps beyond the boundaries of the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other contents, but does not quite fit within the restricted R category. Any drug use content will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. In effect, the PG-13 cautions parents with more stringency than usual to give special attention to this film before they allow their 12-year-olds and younger to attend. If nudity is sexually oriented, the film will generally not be found in the PG-13 category. If violence is too rough or persistent, the film goes into the R (restricted) rating.But all the talk about movie ratings misses the point here. As I noted, it's immaturity that's the issue. So take the Pillage Idiot Advisory System shown below.
Most of what I write goes no higher than Orange (Puerile), and I warn you when it gets to Red (Infantile).
I guess it doesn't make a difference what some online dating site's algorithm says about Pillage Idiot, but it does make you wonder how real NC-17 sites would be rated.
July 01, 2007
The Carnival of Maryland, tenth edition, is now up at Mike's Nether Land. Go read it now.
The next edition, on July 15, will be hosted at It's Our Wits That Make Us Men. You can submit your posts through the Blog Carnival submission form.
LONDON (AFP) - Former prime minister Tony Blair proposed to his now wife Cherie while she was cleaning the toilet during a holiday in Italy, according to a new television documentary.So today, the Inquiring Photographer asks:
Cherie Blair told BBC television that the future prime minister popped the question in 1979 as she was tidying a villa in Tuscany before they headed home.
"I'd cleaned the toilet and he suddenly announced when I was on my knees that maybe we should get married," the human rights lawyer told the programme "The Real Cherie Blair," which is to be broadcast Wednesday.
How did you propose to your wife (or how did your husband propose to you)?
"Laura was workin' in the library, and I went up to her, and I said, 'Will you, uh, get, er, will you marry me?' And she said, 'SHHHHHHH!!!'"
"Papa always said a gentleman hasta ask the ladies sittin' on each of his knees to arise before he proposes to his wife."
"Many people don't realize this, but the Constitution says nothing about marriage proposals. That's why in my conscience I couldn't ask for [15 minutes excised] and we'll certainly look into those questions that have been raised."
"I had a dear friend back in Searchlight -- I think his name was Tommy -- who, tragically, was killed in a car accident. I asked my wife to marry me as we left the funeral home."
"My husband seemed a little unsure whether it was the right thing at the time, so I grabbed him by the nuts and squeezed. I could tell through his shrieks that he was looking forward to it."
"Well, first, I bought her an island . . ."
"Bill wrote me a lovely note on a sheet of his spiral notebook, and he asked Bobby Seale to present it to me."
"It was right after we went to get tested for HIV."
"I said, 'Will the gentleman yield?'"
"I looked directly into her eyes and handed her a rock."