Wednesday, May 31, 2006
O'Malley takes on Duncan; Cap Guns a'blazin
“O'Malley plans to tour the Clarksburg development, where building irregularities made headlines for months last year, and then will hold a town meeting in Germantown on sprawl.”
But much later in the story the Post helpfully points out that:
“The irregularities at Clarksburg were largely blamed on the county's planning department, which reports to the County Council, not to Duncan. But the problems have become symbolic of concerns about the pace of growth in Montgomery.”
One aspect of the campaign that has received a lot of Post play is the Abramoff connection to Doug Duncan:
“After inquiries from The Washington Post, Duncan announced Thursday that he would return $20,000 in campaign contributions from companies based in Saipan and Guam linked to Abramoff. The contributions reached Duncan's campaign in the last week of July 1999, a month before he signed a lease-purchase agreement for a shuttered county school with the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, on whose board Abramoff served.”
This is Martin O’Malley’s strategy? To remind voters that apparently businesses are comfortable with Doug Duncan, who, by the way, received campaign contributions SEVEN years ago from a recently-disgraced lobbyist who had philanthropic ties to a Jewish organization that entered into a lease-purchase deal for a school Montgomery County had already closed? …..What’s next? – accusing Mr. Duncan of spending too much time and money on education?
One final note: this is the Post reporting Mike Miller’s assessment of the Abramoff tie-in:
"It'll affect Duncan's base in Montgomery County," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who is neutral in the race.”
Neutral? He stood with Martin O’Malley when the Mayor made his candidacy announcement.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Stop me if you've heard this before: The 9th Circuit was overuled today...
In the case, Mr. Ceballos, acting as the ‘calendar’ deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, reviewed a previously issued warrant. He thought he discerned some problems with it and wrote a memo outlining his concerns. Despite the memo, the County went ahead with the case. The defense filed on motion on the warrant, even calling Mr. Ceballos as part its presentation at the hearing. Despite Mr. Ceballos testimony though, the judge rejected the motion and allowed the warrant et al to stand.
Despite Mr. Ceballos’ efforts against the state’s case, he did not lose his job. However, he filed suit anyway; claiming he was reassigned away from his position as calendar deputy to trial deputy, sent to another courthouse and, of course, denied a promotion. All this he claimed as a violation of his First Amendment Rights.
The District Court summarily rejected Ceballos case:
“Noting that Ceballos wrote his memo pursuant to his employment duties, the court concluded he was not entitled to First Amendment protection for the memo’s contents.”
…but then the Ninth Circuit resorted to one its infamous “balancing tests” and overturned the District court ruling…leading to today’s opinion.
The Washington Post’s Fred Barbash apparently thinks this case has some significance because with it, the Supreme Court Limits Whistleblower Lawsuits:
“The Supreme Court today narrowed the First Amendment protections for public employees who reveal perceived wrongdoing they happen to observe in the course of doing their jobs.
“The decision enhances the ability of governments at all levels to punish employees for speaking out, shielding officials in many instances from lawsuits for violating the right to free speech.”
Mr. Barbash never really explains exactly how the majority opinion does all this but as Justice Kennedy clearly notes:
“The significant point is that the memo was written pursuant to Ceballos’ official duties. Restricting speech that owes its existence to a public employee’s professional responsibilities does not infringe any liberties the employee might have enjoyed as a private citizen. It simply reflects the exercise of employer control over what the employer itself has commissioned or created. …. (“[W]hen the government appropriates public funds to promote a particular policy of its own it is entitled to say what it wishes”).
That seems to me to be rather intuitive and obvious but since some unions had a different opinion of the case, I guess the Post felt it had no choice but to fall in line:
“The case was closely watched by governments across the country as well as public employee unions, who feared today's outcome.” (emphasis added)
The County apparently never admitted that any of its actions (or non-actions) were as retribution for Mr. Ceballos’ memo and follow-ups in the underlying case – claiming, instead, that the reassignments were for legitimate staffing purposes. But can’t a reasonable inference be made that Mr. Ceballos’ memo just wasn’t very good and below what would reasonably be expected of a deputy attorney general? After all, his superiors rejected his arguments, followed up a trial judge’s own apparent rejection of those arguments in the motion hearing. If they told me that he wasn’t promoted because the memo was evidence that he just wasn’t that good at what he was supposed to be doing – well, okay – I can go along with that.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
‘Till then though – Go Terps!!!
Today's goal: Stick around - baltimoresun.com
In Goals, Cavaliers Make Their Passes Count
Friday, May 26, 2006
Blaming the system instead of....
“In the three months before he fatally shot two Fairfax County police officers, Michael W. Kennedy and his parents tried numerous times to get him immediate psychiatric help, their attorney said. Four times, Kennedy was sent home without getting help, and two mental health facilities told them not to bother coming in at all.”
Left out of that litany of society’s failures is this:
“The Kennedy family was not satisfied and returned to Woodburn the next day. MacDowell said a crisis intervention team met with Kennedy, determined that his family had insurance and found a bed for him at Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health Center in Rockville. He was voluntarily admitted the next day, April 18, but broke out a window later that evening and left. He told friends that he didn't like the way he was being treated. He then stole a car and drove back to Fairfax.”
So while the headline reads “Psychiatric Care Denied”, the story makes clear that that wasn’t always true. And when you read that “two mental health facilities told them not to bother coming in at all”, you have to read further to discover why:
“She called Inova Fairfax and Dominion hospitals, both with limited numbers of psychiatric beds, and was told that there was no room,…”
“Kennedy's family knew he needed help and had him seeing a private therapist early this year, MacDowell said. But on Feb. 13, while home alone, the teenager shot the family dog. Kennedy told police and friends that he had been suicidal that day, then decided against killing himself but accidentally fired a gun and hit the dog.”
So he’s seeing a therapist (which again means he’s not totally without help), he’s suicidal and shoots the family dog. The parents’ reaction?
“Despite Kennedy's mental problems, the parents did not remove their guns from their home because the weapons were kept in locked containers, MacDowell [the attorney] said. The Kennedys did not expect their son to break into them.”
I do not mean to pound on the parents – they have suffered the ultimate loss compounded by the death of two policemen at their son’s hands with their guns. But the attorney’s statements still strike me as an attempted verbal sleight of hand. This may just be a start of an offense against a possible wrongful death suit by the families of the two policemen. Still, when I read about the availability of guns to a suicidal, dog-shooting boy, I’m not blaming some overcrowded psychiatric ward. And when I don’t read that the therapist and parents had attempted to have the boy involuntarily committed because he represented a danger to society, I’m not going to be so quick as to blame a care center for missing that diagnosis after an initial meeting. We don’t – and I’m including the attorney, Richard MacDowell, among the ‘we’ – know for sure what was said when Michael Kennedy spoke with evaluators so we don’t know exactly why he was not admitted on those occasions.
We do know though that the one time he was admitted, he left after one day and stole a vehicle (and apparently his parents did not return him). In light of the stolen car incident, then, that Prince William Hospital’s “staff thought Kennedy was claiming mental problems to evade criminal charges” on May 4 is not altogether unreasonable.
Despite the attorney’s cynically best efforts, I’m not laying the fault for this tragedy anywhere near the “system”.
1: On Page 2 of Form1040 – your federal tax return – you’re asked to provide your daytime phone number; here in Maryland, you’re asked to provide your daytime AND home phone number. Walk into many government-sponsored libraries and you’ll find a collection of phone books offering access to the phone numbers of individuals across the country.Apparently all that serves some acceptable public good because I’ve heard nothing about those government efforts to assemble phone number records that could compete with the righteous indignation surrounding the latest disclosure about an NSA program….a program, by the way, about which the government can neither confirm nor deny but about which several specifically-named phone companies have denied involvement. BellSouth Wants Story Retractions
I’m not crazy about governments collecting a lot of data about most things – mainly because I suspect it will be used to support establishing yet another government program. But if there is an NSA program as reported – a database of non-identified phone numbers to be used to denote trends and patterns of calls that may correlate to some terrorist activity – I can’t honestly work up outrage over that; not while Cingular can detail every single call I’ve made over the past 5 years and numerous government agencies already know exactly where I live and how to get a hold of me.
2: The story about the VA employee who took home a database (there’s that word again) containing millions of non-scrambled records of veterans with important identifying information continues to be in the news…..although never to the extent the NSA story got. As a veteran, I’m certainly not crazy about the idea that some ne’er-do-wells are out there with my Social Security number et al. but I’ll resist panic mode for the time being. Worker Often Took Data Home
I think the fact that most of us (and, in particular, those in the media) aren’t veterans partly explains why the outrage about this matter isn’t more forcefully expressed in the news. More important though, I believe, is the status of the worker whose irresponsibility led to the database loss: he’s not a political appointee. Instead, he apparently has been toiling away at VA for over 30 years as a civil servant. I have no doubt that if instead this had been a Bush-appointee, this would be the lead evening news story for days.
3: The continued fascination among certain elements toward “getting” Karl Rove alternately amuses and amazes me. The latest is a May 13th claim by the increasingly ironically-named website t r u t h o u t that Karl Rove had finally been indicted: (Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators). Denials were forceful and immediate. So, on May 19th, truthout clarified it a bit:
"The time has now come, however, to issue a partial apology to our readership for this story. While we paid very careful attention to the sourcing on this story, we erred in getting too far out in front of the news-cycle. In moving as quickly as we did, we caused more confusion than clarity. And that was a disservice to our readership and we regret it." (emphasis added) t r u t h o u t The Rove Indictment Story as of Right Now
Here it is, a week later and Karl Rove is still apparently indictment-free. And we’re left to wonder: what is a partial apology? Are they apologizing because they were wrong - either he was indicted or he wasn’t. Or are they apologizing because they got a many of their readers frothing at the mouth a bit too early. So far, no-one else has been able to match truthout’s sleuthing on this story…and there is no doubt that the NY Times or Washington Post would love to blare that headline a few times. I suspect that “getting too far out in front of the news-cycle” is a lot like being “fake but accurate” and that a successful Karl Rove indictment will just have to continue to be the loonies Holy Grail.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Online Gambling: A solution in search of a problem
“Today, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up a bill introduced by Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R) that would ban much online gambling, including bets on sporting events and games of chance -- namely poker, which has enjoyed a boom in recent years.”
Now, I don’t gamble online (yet) but I enjoy a day at the races and a night of poker. Gambling can be entertainment…and as such, should be afforded the rights and privileges of most other forms of entertainment. That some might go overboard in their enjoyment of online (or any kind of) gambling shouldn’t make it a federal issue.
The Congressman’s agenda is clear when he states:
“Goodlatte said he opposes gambling because it leads to "a whole host of ills in society."
Since gambling traditionally falls under the purview of the states, Rep. Goodlatte apparently sees online gambling as his one chance to impose this value judgment of his on us all. And the good Congressman then displays his ignorance of such matters:
“Goodlatte, who said he played poker as a young man but never for money, disagreed. Poker is "absolutely a game of chance," he said.”
If he didn’t play for money, then, frankly, he didn’t play. If Poker is “absolutely a game of chance”, why do we see the same faces at the final table in so many tournaments? Can’t Rep. Goodlatte find an issue that doesn’t involve the federal government asserting yet more control over yet another facet of our lives?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Preakness Day Picks
But hope springs eternal and I’ve been busy poring over the Form looking for my winning bets….and I’m going to share my findings with the world so that I can crow about them if I hit a few…and if I don’t, well, I can always delete the posting later.
May 20, 2006 Pimlico: 13 Races; first post 10:30 AM
- #9 Roth Ticket
- #3 Regent Spirit
- #9 Two Terms…but I continue to look at #8: Serious Lightning (#12 Ten Across may be fun in an exotic)
- I lean to #9 – Due…but just barely over #1 – Off the Glass and #10 – Evil Storm
- #7 My Lord but am watching prices on #9 Second in Command.
- #3 Pagan Moon; possibly with #8 Songster and #6 Urban Guy
- 1A art Fan and #3 Laurafina stick out to me but I can’t ignore #7 Zona. May just be an exotic wager using #12 Smart N Classy in the three spot
- #2 Ah Day with #5 Little Cliff a nice addition to an exacta
- The toughest race on the card: I’m going with #3 Gaff but will watch the board for #6 Better Than Bonds (some value if better than 10-1)
- #6 Artie Schiller is the obvious pick, maybe a cold 6- 1A exacta to get any money out of this race.
- #7 Funny Cide – he scratched out of yesterday’s more lucrative Pimlico Special to race in this one…using #5 Andromeda’s Hero for the exacta.
- The Preakness: #6 Barbaro is clearly the class of the race but will probably go off at less than even-money. Brother Derek and Sweetnorthernsaint are the obvious two and three choices. Maybe using the #1 Like Now in the second spot for the exacta could make a few bucks but more likely in the three spot on the trifecta.
- #8 Timely Bid – for no apparent reason but I’ll be in no rush to get out of there after the Preakness.
Of course a discussion for another time is the ridiculous nanny-state attitude of certain elected officials (Mike Busch) that are keeping slots out of Maryland but not keeping Maryland dollars out of slots….but I’ll save that rant for another time.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Goodbye Cardinal McCarrick
The Death Penalty, Immigration and Iraq are issues that Cardinal McCarrick was not at all shy about letting us know where he stood and indirectly putting the moral prestige of his leadership position to bear. His positions all coincidently dovetail nicely with the politically-correct crowd. While he was one of the first US Catholic leaders to advance a “zero-tolerance” policy for priests guilty of sexual abuse, that is indeed damning with faint praise. He first espoused this position in 2002 and only as part of a discussion to achieve consensus on the proper response by US Catholic leaders. I was wary that his instincts on that issue were more attenuated to how any actions by the Church could be seen as anti-gay. Such nuance is more appropriate for a US Senator than a Roman Catholic Cardinal.
Another issue on which he is all about nuance is abortion. While he never wavers from his acceptance of Church teachings that this is an absolute wrong, it is not an issue on which I see him out front leading his flock. His was, however, the voice of reason on the issue of Catholic politicians who promote or vote a pro-abortion ideology receiving Communion. While I agreed with his stance then; believing that publicly denying such a politician Communion should only be done as part of a consistent and articulated policy, it once again was music to the ears of the left side of the aisle. His voice seemed much louder in defending John Kerry’s right to receive Communion than it ever did for unborn children.
Like his West Coast compadre, Cardinal Mahoney (Maryland Conservatarian: Cardinal Mahoney is not the Church), Cardinal McCarrick hasn’t been speaking for me on many issues and his absence will not be regretted.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
More on DC Voting in the House
But AGR’s find inspired me to look elsewhere and I came across this 2004 article from the Law ands Society Review at UCSB - Curing Disenfranchisement In DC. It provides a decent timeline of various proposals and offers a sober assessment of the constitutional, political and bureaucratic obstacles faced and to be faced.
Towards the end is this comment:
“Frankel proposes a new idea for legislation that would treat the District as a state for voting representation. He states, “If the exclusive legislation clause allows Congress to treat the District as a state for purposes of article III and federal jurisdiction, then it should also allow Congress to treat the District as a ‘state’ for purposes of article I, the seventeenth amendment, and congressional representation.”
This actually mirrors much of what Professor Dinh and Mr. Charnes advance as a basis for Congress having the authority to act here without a constitutional amendment. Without going all kinds on Con Law geeky on you, I still don’t buy it. I continue to believe it a real stretch to expand Congressional action to provide a House vote is the natural result of granting DC access to federal courts. Further, I will always be suspicious of new “powers” suddenly discovered in broad daylight that had previously gone unnoticed. The Constitution lays out the terms for House and Senate representation; DC has never had its own voting member: I think the two are (and have always bee understood to be) related.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
New Tax Bill Passed.
Here’s the Post’s summary of the new tax bill:
“The winners include people with large stock portfolios, affluent Americans with big individual retirement accounts, upper-middle income residents of high-tax states and musicians. The bill is less kind to Americans living abroad or the parents of 14-to-18 year-olds who want to invest money on their behalf.”
The article doesn’t do too bad a job quickly summarizing the various changes the bill encompasses although the most widely-reported provision - the 15% Rate for Long-Term Capital Gains & Dividends – is just an extension of the current code.
Another current provision of the tax code requires a child under the age of 14 to pay taxes on his or her unearned income (i.e. interest or dividends) over $1,700 at the parents’ highest marginal rate. As alluded to above, the just-passed tax bill raises the age requirement to 18.
“Not everyone wins. Parents have long been prevented from avoiding taxes on investment income by investing it in the names of their children under 14. Now they will be prevented from doing so for those under 18.”
That’s correct as far as it goes but does anybody believe that if the new bill had, instead, lowered the age to, say, 10; does anyone doubt that the Post would have been quick to point out that the only people who can afford to re-direct investment dollars to their children are of the “High End”?
Friday, May 12, 2006
The Constitutionality of a Full DC Vote in the House
U.S. Constitution - text
Article I, Section 2:
“The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States,…”
The Constitution expressly reserves membership in the House to those selected by the people of the States.
“When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.”
Would the Mayor qualify as the “executive authority thereof”?...and, if not, who would appoint the successor – the President?
Article I, Section 8:
“To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States,..”
The District is clearly seen as something distinct from a State by those who put together the Constitution.
Article IV, Section 4:
“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,…”
As the District did not always enjoy the benefits of a “Republican Form of Government”, I’m going to infer that the Framers and those that followed did not consider the District to be State-like.
“1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of enators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors
appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.”
Again, the Constitution clearly delineates between the District and the several States. They are not interchangeable. This was also addressed in the Federalist Papers, Number 43, where Madison discussed why the proposed Union needed a distinct District which was independent of any and all States:
“Without it, not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity; but a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence, equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy. This consideration has the more weight, as the gradual accumulation of public improvements at the stationary residence of the government would be both too great a public pledge to be left in the hands of a single State, and would create so many obstacles to a removal of the government, as still further to abridge its necessary independence.” Federalist Papers Number 43
Bottom line: I just don’t think this passes Constitutional muster. If people want the District to have a full vote in the House, they’re going to have to go the Constitutional Amendment route. In other words….nothing to see here – yet.
UPDATE:OK - maybe they're not that aligned
Chinese Catholics...and the Reuters perspective
“Sparring between Beijing and the Vatican is set to intensify on Sunday as China installs another bishop apparently without the blessing of the Pope, extending a row over who rules China's divided Catholic Church.”
I don’t have a lot of respect for Reuters as a news organization and inane articles like this merely confirm my already low opinion of them. Chris Buckley, the Reuters’ reporter writes: “..Apparently without the blessing of the Pope”. Apparently?? Either he did or he didn’t. There is no double-secret list of who gets the Pope’s final “blessing”. Clearly, China unilaterally appointing someone as a Bishop does not have the Pope’s “blessing”. I don’t think there is any murkiness surrounding that.
He compounds that with this admission of ignorance: “… extending a row over who rules China's divided Catholic Church.” Mr. Buckley implies that there is a debate to be had here, with both sides offering up valid points. No. The Catholic Church in China is no different than the Catholic Church anywhere else: the Pope’s in charge. There is no “row” about this because this is non-negotiable.
I’d be dismayed if I read such journalistic laziness in a school newspaper; for a reporter with an international news agency, this is simply inexcusable. Obviously, the Pope cannot have personal insight on each and every potential candidate for bishop. He must rely on advisors and local considerations are very important. However, the Pope still has overall control – if he doesn’t say yes, it ain’t happening. Which makes the following paragraph especially nonsensical:
“Zhan Silu, also called Vincent Zhan, will become bishop of Mindong Diocese in eastern Fujian province, and he -- like two other bishops appointed in China in past weeks -- apparently lacks the Holy See's approval, which bishops even in China's state-controlled church have regularly sought in recent years.” (emphasis added)
[And you got to love a major qualification of Zhan for such an appointment: “Zhan holds a senior post in the Communist Party-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.”]
Catholicism isn’t some franchise license that China can claim ownership of. Ask Henry VIII. The Chinese government can call Zhan a bishop – hell they can call him the Chinese Pope if they’d like. But even saying it a hundred times wouldn’t make it so. This man is NOT a Catholic Bishop unless and until the Pope says he is. In the future, Reuters would do well to assign a reporter that has at least a working knowledge of the Roman Catholic Church…or in the alternative, perhaps has a Catholic friend he can inquire of.
[For an overview of the Bishop selection process (albeit from a U.S. perspective) see: Selection of Bishops ]
The Latest on the WH Press Corps...
While I have no doubt that Mr. Snow would do it differently had he a do-over, nothing that I've read (or seen) comes across as a meltdown (in the modern understood sense of a person completely losing it).
The article does, however, reinforce two current truisms:
- The White House Press Corps prominently includes some self-indulgent individuals not yet clued into the fact that they’re NOT the story.
- Helen Thomas is still a jerk.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
MD Attorney General (update)
In it, I linked to the Baltimore Sun’s fawning article on the announcement. Soccer Dad was sharp enough to recall that in 1994 the Sun had actually endorsed a Republican running against Joe Curran and was kind enough to forward a copy (sorry, no link):
“For attorney general -- Republican Richard D. Bennett, a former U.S. attorneywho could serve as watchdog as well as counselor to the governor and thevarious state agencies. There is always some ambiguity about the proper role ofan attorney general. After eight years in which Democrat J. Joseph Curran Jr.was too much an advocate for those holding state power rather than as a tribunefor the people, we believe a change is in order. Mr. Bennett would serve as acounter to the ambitious Mr. Glendening; he also would serve as a moderate GOPcounterweight to the ideological swerve to the right Mrs. Sauerbrey wouldrepresent.”
Joe Curran – NOT a “tribune for the people”?….Who’d a thunk it?
And while on the subject, Pillage Idiot was good enough to call my attention to a Washington Post column by Marc Fisher correctly expressing skepticism over Montgomery County’s ongoing sniper trial. Too Much Pain, Not Much Point in Sniper Trial
“The rest is money and politics. The trial will cost more than $1 million. The sheriff's office alone will spend at least $500,000 in overtime and other costs, deploying at least 15 deputies a day to secure the trial, Chief Deputy Darren Popkin says. "We've spent $250,000 so far in salaries and security improvements for the courthouse," Popkin says.”
“Click on http://gansler2006.com/ and you get the message, "Website coming soon." Gansler is expected to announce his run for state attorney general next week.”
Curran to Gansler?...not an upgrade.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Judge Luttig Resigns
This is not good news: Judge Luttig is a smart, persuasive voice on the Fourth Circuit and we can only hope to do as well with his replacement. Post writer Fred Barbash hints there may be more to this story:
“Luttig, who sits on the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, wrote the most important appellate decision yet in support of the Bush administration's powers to detain individuals without recourse to ordinary legal protections.”
That would be Padilla v. Hanft in which the Fourth Circuit basically upheld the federal government’s (not just the Bush Administration) authority to detain Padilla as an “enemy combatant” despite Mr. Padilla’s status as a U.S. citizen. (Hanft is the Commander of the consolidated Naval Brig where Padilla was being held) Padilla v. Hanft
“However, he had a significant falling-out with the Bush Justice Department earlier this year when he protested, in a follow-up opinion, what he suggested was the administration's inappropriate manipulation of the legal system in order to avoid a further Supreme Court test of the president's wartime authority.”
That would be Padilla v. Hanft II. After winning the first go around, the government shifted tactics and attempted to transfer Padilla to federal civilian law enforcement authorities in Florida. To which Judge Luttig replied:
“Because we believe that the transfer of Padilla and the withdrawal of our opinion at the government’s request while the Supreme Court is reviewing this court’s decision of September 9 would compound what is, in the absence of explanation, at least an appearance that the government may be attempting to avoid consideration of our decision by the Supreme Court, and also because we believe that this case presents an issue of such especial national importance as to warrant final consideration by that court, even if only by denial of further review, we deny both the motion and suggestion.“ Padilla v. Hanft II (and in April 2006, the Supreme Court declined to take the case up anyway)
Mr. Barbash further suggests that “[h]is public thrashing of the Justice Department was known to have been deeply upsetting to political appointees in the department.”
Now there is no other way to spin Padilla II but as a loss for DOJ. However, that does not translate into a “significant falling out” with DOJ. I say this because Judge Luttig, as a Federal Circuit Judge, does not have the kind of ongoing relationship with DOJ that can be ‘fallen out of’. Instead, this characterization seems to be more of a case of Mr. Barbash observing two parties that he lumps together under the conservative banner, openly disagreeing. He extrapolates from this a severe “falling out”. I know to the likes of Fred Barbash and others at the Post that all of us conservatives think and act alike but really, we can disagree…and do so without thinking ill of each other.
An Open Apology to Professor Duemer
One passage stuck out:
“The cheaters in my class are no doubt at the beginning of successful careers powered by fraud & sustained by lies. Seems to work. I wish I believed in Hell”.
Which was part of a larger passage mentioning Jeff Skillings and Ken Lay as well as the requisite jibe at “those responsible for lying the country into an unnecessary & disastrous war”. To which I left this (admittedly self-described) witty reply:
“did you lift that quote from one of Ted Kennedy’s professors at Harvard?”
Mr. Duemer followed that up with this:
“No. And what has Ted Kennedy got to do with this? That he plagiarized at Harvard actually confirms the bit you quote from my post. He appears to have been quite successful, no? Or are you accusing me of “lifting” quotes? No, you are just reaching for any rhetorical device you can think of because you don’t like my politics. You project your own distorted view of the world onto me (assuming I am somehow on the same side as Senator Kennedy), substituting your prejudice for thought.Your remark has exactly no relation to the post it is attached to & under my own informal guidelines I therefore ought to delete it, but I like to leave the stupid remarks of right-wingers up for others to read. As an educational service, you know.”
(With that tone of civility, it will probably come as no surprise to you that Mr. Duemer is actually Professor Duemer, a Professor of Humanities at Clarkson University Clarkson University - Humanities & Social Sciences - Faculty - Joseph Duemer)
He later made this astute observation:
“Note: I have no doubt that Maryland Conservatarian, who commented below, was alerted to my dangerous liberal presence by my comments at IHE.” Reading & Writing: Sharp Sand: Arguing Dishonestly
(a posting generally about reactions to David Horowitz’s book: The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America)
And he is correct that I did find his blog via the thread at IHE (Inside Higher Ed) Inside Higher Ed :: Fact-Checking David Horowitz
Although I did not explicitly make the link between the two, he is right to presume that I made such an inference after reading some of the Professor’s blog postings. However, if I am wrong and Professor Duemer and Senator Kennedy actually do not share much of the same political leanings or ideology, then mea culpa, I apologize. I can think of few things worse than to be unfairly linked with the mindset and viewpoint of the liberal icon that is Ted Kennedy.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Maryland - seeking to become the Chicago of the East
In response, the Governor is supporting a petition drive to put the matter on the ballot and let the voters decide if, in fact, they want to vote early. Predictably, the early voting proponents are aghast and are questioning the Governor’s motives…or at least that’s how the Post’s Matthew Mosk breathlessly reported on this matter today: Democrats Question Ehrlich's Objection
“A group of Democratic state lawmakers yesterday called Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s opposition to early voting a thinly veiled attempt to suppress election turnout among minorities and middle-class voters.”
And in case we don’t get the point early in the article, Martin O’Malley’s running mate reiterates later:
“"Any step taken to curtail people's ability to vote will disproportionately impact low-income families, seniors and minorities," said Del. Anthony G. Brown (D-Prince George's), who is running for lieutenant governor on Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's ticket.”
How maintaining a single-day election format “suppresses” minority and middle-class voters while simultaneously not inhibiting non-minority lower and upper class voters is not described in the article. Remember, using the present-day system, Democrats, despite the supposed disproportionate impact of such a vote-suppressing system, managed to eke out over 30 years in the governor’s mansion (before 2002) and have had non-stop veto-proof control of the legislature for even longer.
Not to be totally one-sided, the Post does helpfully include the Governor’s rationale:
“"Laws like this allow for multiple votes to dilute the valid votes of everyone," said Bo Harmon, the manager of Ehrlich's reelection campaign. "This effort is entirely focused on preventing voter fraud and ensuring fair and accurate elections."
But unlike Mr. Mosk’s unquestioning acceptance of the Democrats’ claims on this matter, he counters Mr. Harmon’s comments with this tidbit:
“Ehrlich has not cited any instances of fraud in the 35 other states that use some form of early voting.”
Well, those other states aren’t Maryland, nor do they have Maryland’s long history of, shall we say, possible electoral mischief. OpinionJournal - Voting Early and Often
And I don’t recall the Post, in all their championing of so-called campaign finance reform, ever answer the call to name current elected officials who were elected because of the supposed corruption rampant in the system.
Full disclosure: This weekend, I signed – gladly – several petitions to put some of Maryland’s new election laws up for a vote on the ballot, including the provision for early voting.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Curran to quit!!
Attorney General Curran has been around forever and, as his father-in-law, can be said to be at least partially responsible for Martin O’Malley being our mayor. So no tears over at this site on the occasion of this retirement.
As befits his liberal icon status, the Sun fawns all over him:
“Still, Curran, a soft-spoken man who has taken groundbreaking social stances over his career, such as … opposing the Vietnam War,…..”
Opposing the Vietnam War was “Groundbreaking”? In 1968??
“Others praised Curran - a devout Roman Catholic who learned the business of big-city politics from his father, a Baltimore councilman - for being among the last of a generation of thoughtful liberals not afraid of the label.”
Courageously, in 1967, this thoughtful liberal Democratic “devout Roman Catholic”:
“…. reconsidered his position on abortion and broke with his church. In 1968, his committee passed a bill liberalizing abortion laws. A decade later, Curran voted for Medicaid funding for abortions…” (emphasis added)
I mean, nobody was doing that kind of stuff in the Democratic Party - what a groundbreaker!
As good news as his retirement is, however, some of the names being bandied about as his replacement are not; notably Doug Gansler (whose penchant for publicity in his role as State’s Attorney for Montgomery County is Eliot Spitzer-like) and Tom Perez, a Montgomery County Councilman and Maryland Law professor. Curran's would-be successors can get going . Mr. Gansler would become a state-wide fixture on TV and radio while Mr. Perez would probably ensure Maryland did not cooperate with any enforcement of US immigration laws. Maryland Conservatarian: The immigration issue in Maryland
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Duncan v. O'Malley
That’s “race” – as in the race for the Democratic nomination to be Maryland’s next governor. The Sun, perhaps understandably, is solidly in Mayor O’Malley’s camp. And, to be fair, I expect the Washington Post will be a reliable endorser of Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan. However, both papers will endorse whoever of the two gets the Democratic nomination.
Anyway, the Sun focuses on the challenge facing Mr. Duncan to overcome:
“…a telegenic young leader with a national profile on homeland security issues.”
If the name Martin O’Malley didn’t immediately come to mind upon reading that description, welcome to my world - I had to read and re-read that statement several times in an attempt to remember just what Mayor O’Malley had to do with homeland security issues…I mean beyond this:
“I remember after the attacks of September 11, as mayor of the city, I was very, very worried about al-Qaida and still am. But I'm even more worried about the actions and inactions of the Bush administration."
““We want to turn over the Port of Baltimore, the home of the 'Star Spangled Banner,' to the United Arab Emirates? Not so long as I'm mayor and not so long as I have breath in my body” Maryland Conservatarian: Martin "Nathan Hale" O'Malley
But no, what the Sun was referring to was this:
“He has headed a task force on homeland security for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”
(Actually, I believe he is co-chair, along with Sugarland Texas Mayor David Wallace.) Now as prestigious as that may be, I challenge the Sun to find one person in a random hundred who would even mention “homeland security issues” in a discussion about Martin O’Malley.
The Sun ends with this sleight of hand:
“…said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, who pushed unsuccessfully to move the primary from September to June this year to avoid the kind of fight that is now under way.”
Mike Miller is complimentary of both candidates but his interest in an earlier primary was not just to avoid a protracted fight. More specifically, it was to avoid a protracted fight that could hurt the candidacy of the better-known Martin O’Malley. When the Mayor announced his candidacy, standing with him was Mike Miller and when the June primary was proposed, nobody was fooled. Admittedly, it would have had the added benefit of saving the candidates money and allowing whoever got the nomination more time to regroup and face-off against Governor Ehrlich. Fair enough – that’s politics…but it’s not altruism.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Take this economy and shove it!
The teaser on the home page of the web site was even better:
• Jobs Growth Misses Forecasts
So here’s the bad news:
“Job growth slowed in April, suggesting that the U.S. economy may be cooling after roaring ahead at the start of the year.”
How serious a problem is this?
“Stock and bond prices soared as investors interpreted the weaker job growth to mean that the broader economy may be slowing to a more sustainable pace than that of recent months.” (emphasis added)
And what was up with those forecasts?
“Employers created 138,000 jobs in April, compared with an average of 185,000 a month from January to March. Analysts had expected around 200,000 new jobs,…”
The Post doesn’t say who these analysts are or why they expected growth of 200,000 jobs, particularly after average growth for the preceding months had been 185,000 during economic growth that many had deemed unsustainable. But the significance of these April numbers is best summed in the next-to-last paragraph:
“… economists will look particularly closely at data released in the next few weeks, and at the revision to April employment numbers that will be released in early June, to try to figure out whether the labor market and broader economy really are slowing.”
My prediction: if the job growth was better than first reported, it’ll be bad news because it’s inflationary; if the job growth comes in as first reported, it’ll be bad news because it means the economy is slowing. In other words: whatever…it’s a bad economy because George Bush is President.
Friday, May 05, 2006
The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions....and signing statements
“Michael Kinsley catches the press in another double standard: Journalists object to Bush's "signing statements" in which he formally declares his constitutional interpretation of a bill as it becomes law; yet they insist on following their interpretation of the First Amendment when it comes to protecting sources, even though the courts have consistently ruled that they are wrong:”
Unfortunately, that’s not the only point Mr. Kinsley is making:
“.."signing statements," in which the president offers his interpretation of an act of Congress as he signs it into law. This was an innovation of the Reagan administration, intended to give courts something other than a law's legislative history -- that is, Congress's side of the story -- in any future dispute. Bush often signs a law and at the same time says that parts of it are unconstitutional. Sneaky!”
Fair enough; many conservatives have blasted the President on this very issue. However, our problem is not in his identifying a law as “unconstitutional” but in his signing of same anyway – most notably (and disturbingly) when he signed McCain-Feingold. Mr. Kinsley implies this has happened more than once although I am unaware of any other instance. The president has intimated he can ignore provisions of laws that would contravene his Presidential authority (particularly as Commander-in-Chief) but that’s not the same as saying (parts of) a law are inherently unconstitutional.
Then this gratuitous slam at President Reagan:
“What was dangerous about the Reagan administration's signing statements initiative was the claim that a president is entitled to govern according to his or her own interpretation of the Constitution even after the courts have ruled. This is a recipe for near-dictatorial executive power, not to mention governmental chaos in which no fundamental issue can ever be resolved.”
Of course, this is sheer hyperbole as President Reagan claimed no such thing. What did occur back then was that now-Justice Alito, while working with the Office of Legal Counsel in DOJ, drafted a memo outlining the use of a “…Presidential Signing Statement to Make Fuller Use of the President's Constitutionally Assigned Role in the Process of Enacting Law.” Alito 1986 Memo
Presidents have long issued signing statements but normally not as some formalized strategy toward future interpretation of the law. But by the mid-eighties, it was clear that many courts were using the nebulous “legislative intent” standard in interpreting statutes. To do so, they would go back to the legislative history, including some of the pre-passage debate. Realizing this, legislators could gear statements just for such an eventuality. Presidential signing statements, then, were just a counteract measure to get, on record, what a president thought he was signing. In other words, it was simply a protective reaction to the courts use of non-statutory language to interpret a statute.
Rep. Kennedy's late night parking adventure
“…saying he had been disoriented after taking prescription drugs: Phenergan for gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and Ambien, a sleeping medication.”
I’m not a DC lawyer but in Maryland, driving while impaired by drugs is also against the law.
“Kennedy, a six-term congressman, said that Capitol Police officers told him to park his Ford Mustang and drove him home.”
Was this before or after he crashed into the barrier? Because this was the timeline as reported later in the article:
“Police sources said officers noticed Kennedy's Mustang shortly before the crash because he nearly drove head-on into a Capitol Police car. The Mustang's lights were off, the sources said. The officer turned his patrol car around to pursue Kennedy, whose car then crashed into the barrier, the sources said.
“When police approached, the sources said, Kennedy got out of his car and said he was late for a vote. The House had not been in session for hours.”
Kind of reads like he had already parked the car. Is Rep. Kennedy suggesting that the police then told him to get back into his car, properly park it, after which the police would drive him home? Because remember:
“"At no time did I ask for any special consideration," the statement said”
I’m inferring from the story that the police recognized the Representative and that he is a bit sensitive to the events that followed; wonder what Rep. McKinney is thinking about all this? Rep. McKinney has 5th run-in with security
Or Debra Bolton, who is NOT a member of Congress and whose father is NOT Ted Kennedy but who last May was pulled over for not having her headlights on and subsequently was arrested with a blood-alcohol level of .03. Single Glass of Wine Immerses D.C. Driver in Legal Battle
But the Representative is insistent: “At no time before the incident did I consume any alcohol."
I’ve defended a fair number of drunk driving cases and have listened in on many more: a near-universal constant is that the accused almost always admits to “2-3 drinks” so his would be on the low side. While quantifying the amount of alcohol (if any) has specific procedural requirements, ascertaining the presence of alcohol is considerably less formal. Did the officers smell or otherwise detect any or didn’t they? I would think, from the facts as presented (no lights, swerving, crash and staggering), the officers would have had probable cause to at least conduct field sobriety tests. If the supervisors did prevent such tests, then they have some explaining to do.
…as do the people at Ambien. (Big bucks for a sleeping medication and you’re back up in a couple hours?)
On a positive note: I was glad to read the Representative is driving an American-made car.
UPDATE: The Post has an update - Rep. Kennedy Crashes Into Security Barrier
Update II: Rep. Kennedy is going into drug treatment at the Mayo Clinic - Rep. Patrick Kennedy to Enter Drug Rehab and Rep. Kennedy to Enter Rehab After Crash
Thursday, May 04, 2006
The Supreme Court is off the hook; Fox News is to blame for the Bush Presidency
"Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its audience to shift its voting behavior towards the Republican Party, a sizable media persuasion effect," said Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California at Berkely and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University.”
Fox News “convinced” voters to shift their voting behaviors?? Does this make sense to you? All we hear is how Fox News is merely preaching to the choir of its conservative audience (and, coincidentally, the very next section of his article discusses just this tendency). Are these ‘economists” (from Berkeley & Stockholm, no less) saying that Fox’s conservative audience was leaning nevertheless to Vice President Gore?
Here’s why this is such a big deal:
“In Florida alone, they estimate, the Fox effect may have produced more than 10,000 additional votes for Bush -- clearly a decisive factor in a state he carried by fewer than 600 votes. “
Yeah, clearly but let’s not forget that when the polls closed at 7PM in Florida, they closed first in the Eastern Time Zone part of Florida. The western panhandle, a Republican stronghold, still had an hour to go because it is on Central Time. Oblivious to all this, many networks were quick to call Florida polls closed. NBC then called the state for Vice President Gore at 7:48 PM (EST) and the others (including Fox) quickly followed. All this arguably discouraged a greater Republican turnout in the western panhandle, resulting in a much narrower vote differential than it should have been. (see generally: CBS News Coverage of Election Night 2000)
Finally, the study concludes on the power of Fox apparently without taking into account the CNN effect. Did the unrivaled power of CNN through the 90’s help elect Bill Clinton such that Fox merely became a counterweight to CNN’s biases? The article glosses over the fact that in 2000, Fox News was only available to 1 in 5 viewers; doesn’t mention that MSNBC was also on air and bigger than Fox at the time; and seemingly ignores the trend that electing a Republican president had become the norm going back to1968.
I know Mr. Morin didn’t conduct the study but a little healthy skepticism would have been a nice touch.
#@%&* Boston College
But this is not just any game – it represents one of the longest running rivalries in College Basketball (first game: 1906) and one of the few significant games between New England schools. Between the two programs, they’ve produced a National Championship (Holy Cross ’47), an NIT Championship (Holy Cross ’54) and one of the greatest basketball players of all time (Bob Cousy – Holy Cross ’50). As it stands today, Holy Cross leads the overall series, 57-52.
To know me is to know my antipathy for BC and I’ve not tried to hide my disdain for the constant whining that is Al Skinner. His tirade earlier this year after BC beat Holy Cross was a microcosm of what the BC sports program has become. (my comments then: Maryland Conservatarian: Al Skinner's Whine Festival). As they are now in the ACC, I will be circling any date they play at Maryland so I can get my “Beat BC!!” fix.
Comments by Holy Cross fans at CROSSPORTS: BC Game off the Schedule
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Coming next: the Backlash to the Backlash
Of course in Washington, it’s all about the votes and one consultant remains unfazed:
“Whether the anger expressed by some Americans will translate into votes in November is anybody's guess. Fred Yang, a Democratic consultant in Washington, guessed that it will not.
"This is going to be like a tug of war," he said. "I think Republicans are trying to exploit voter concerns about immigration. It's not a winning strategy. I think voters are more concerned about health-care costs, the cost of higher education and gasoline and energy than immigration."
Mr. Yang then went on to describe the Democratic plan for addressing “..health-care costs, the cost of higher education and gasoline and energy..”
Ha! Of course, I’m kidding – there is no such plan….I wonder if he was consulting for any of the incumbents in Herndon? Maryland Conservatarian: Because illegals can't vote...yet
Because illegals can't vote...yet
Montgomery County Executive and Democratic candidate for Governor, Doug Duncan, would do well to pay attention:
“In response to a question from Franklin, Duncan endorsed the idea of allowing immigrants in the country illegally to obtain a Maryland driver's license.” Duncan Faces County's Mixed Image
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Harvard got played.
“The most interesting -- and in a way most egregious -- thing about Harvard University sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan isn't the plagiarism. It's the packaging.”
Huh? In what way was her packaging for acceptance into Harvard more “egregious” than her potentially lucrative ($500,000 plus a movie deal) plagiarism. Ms. Marcus never comes out says how but does regale us with instances that highlight the idiocy of Ivy League obsession. (Full Disclosure: I didn’t attend an Ivy League school; I didn’t apply to an Ivy League school; I have no regrets about either.) Even if I grant that the family’s obsession with Harvard was misplaced and unwise, I can’t forgive such treacle as this:
“It's no excuse, but with all this third-party positioning, is it any wonder that a person -- especially a teenage person -- could forget (or ignore) the fact that some of the writing in her book is not actually hers?”
Yeah, too bad that Ms. Viswanathan went to good schools and had parents willing and able to spend whatever it took to help her get into Harvard. Had the mission failed, she probably still would have gone to a recognized name-brand school – likely just a different Ivy brand. If the pressure on her was substantial, so too were her resources and alternatives.
The only person aware of the many lifted passages was Ms. Viswanathan. Offering excuses – even while saying “it’s no excuse” – for such a callous respect for moral norms is inappropriate situational relativism.
“So perhaps these advocates of "doing something" have some intellectual honesty and object to the use of force now just as they did three years ago in Iraq. Of course that honesty would also mean that they have no idea how the world works and would perhaps would be better pursuing some other goals than world peace.”
Darfur is a mess but when you take military action off the table, you are left with…what? a group hug and more understanding?
Even just referring to “Darfur” tends to obscure the fact that this is Sudan – perhaps the most gawdawful nation on earth (BBC NEWS: Sudan tops 'failed states index' - but take this index with heavy dose of salt). Sudan – as in ongoing slavery (Chattel Slavery in Sudan); Sudan – as in already has UN peacekeeping forces elsewhere in the country because of previous civil problems (10,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission authorized for southern Sudan); Sudan – as in not up for any good neighbor award (Chad Breaks With Sudan After Rebel Attack - Yahoo! News).
No one can read about or see video of what is going on in Darfur and not feel an instinctive desire to do something. The UN has consistently shown it less than worthless when it comes to providing a positive and swift reaction to an ongoing crisis. This leaves it to either ad hoc international coalitions to respond or to another round of talks. The President has already broached the subject of NATO involvement - Bush Sees Need to Expand Role of NATO in Sudan - New York Times but is probably a little gun-shy about responding unilaterally. I have no idea what the “loyal opposition” thinks (Why won't liberals push for intervention in Darfur?) but some kind of elucidation of support for some action would probably go a long way to sharpening and quickening the US/international response to this situation.
For the record, I agree with the President and would like to see NATO involvement.
UPDATE: Pillage Idiot also has some cogent observations: http://pillageidiot.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-on-darfur.html
Monday, May 01, 2006
An insider's Supreme insight
Of course he’s going to tilt it – if his vote didn’t make a difference, they wouldn’t have had to reargue the three cases.
The Vioxx gravy train..
“But the Vioxx litigation does not merely celebrate dumb prejudice. It's extraordinarily expensive.”
Tort reform at the Federal level is a tough call because most of this kind of litigation is done at the state level. And tort reform hits at personal injury lawyers…which means it hits at Democrats….which means any kind of tort reform will have to be “paid” for….probably by a tax.