Archive for March, 2006

What is the deal with Justice Scalia?

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Let’s compare two Antonin Scalias.  We join the first, the 50-year-old Supreme Court nominee, during his easy-as-pie confirmation hearings back in 1986.  At one point during the questioning, Sen. Strom Thurmond served up one of those annoying softball questions friendly senators always ask; this one was about, of all things, the meaning of Marbury v. Madison

As anyone who’s ever taken a high school civics class (an increasingly small percentage of the population today, unfortunately) should know, Marbury is the famous 1803 decision in which the Supreme Court, to the considerable dismay of President Thomas Jefferson, first established the principle of judicial review.

Bottom line: Asking a potential Supreme Court justice what he thinks about Marbury v. Madison is approximately equivalent to asking a major league baseball manager how many strikes a batter gets before he strikes out.  We ain’t talking rocket science here.

Still, Scalia demurred. “I do not think I should answer questions regarding any specific Supreme Court opinion, even one as fundamental as Marbury v. Madison,” he insisted.  His public rationale for taking this position was, of course, the same one that most present day Supreme Court nominees hide behind during confirmation hearings — that it would be inappropriate to answer any question that might give even the appearance of prejudging a case that might later come before the Court. (more…)

God speaks. We listen?

Monday, March 27th, 2006

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Why don’t Americans want the jobs?

Monday, March 27th, 2006

I’ve avoided commenting on the immigration controversy for the simple, if unbloglike, reason that I don’t know enough about the particulars of the issues presented yet to comment intelligently.  I’m doing my best to get a reasonable comfort level on this complex, and very important, subject and hope to have more to say later.

In the meanwhile, for the most part I’m keeping my mouth shut.

But I’m going to make an exception in order to pose one question: Is there anyone, anywhere in the entire United States, naive enough to miss the disingenuousness of Bush’s justification for creating a new, semi-slave like, class of US-based foreign “temporary workers?” (more…)

Episode 21: Liberals are truth tellers: Guess who isn’t?

Monday, March 27th, 2006

When last we met, I promised that future episodes of The Last Chance Democracy Café would emphasize what’s right with liberalism. Today’s episode will do just that. I also implied, I suppose, there might be some corresponding decrease in the amount of conservative bashing. Okay, so I lied on that one.

The Last Chance Democracy Café
Episode 21: Liberals are truth tellers: Guess who isn’t?

by Steven C. Day

It’s funny, really, how quickly emotions can change. How in just one second, a pleasant summer day can turn into a violent storm.

* * *

“That seems kind of harsh,” said Zach in a troubled voice.

Winston, who had been intently studying his bourbon on the rocks, looked up. “What’s kind of harsh?” he asked hopefully (Winston likes it when we’re harsh at The Last Chance Democracy Café, since it’s almost always directed against conservatives).

“That poster on the wall.”

“What poster?”

“The one right behind you.”

“So what does it say?”

“It’s right there on the wall.”

Winston glared menacingly at Zach, as it became increasingly apparent that the young college student was disinclined to save him from the trouble of turning around. But Zach held his ground and — finally — with much huffing and scraping of chair legs, Winston reluctantly turned.

Here’s what the poster said: “Liberals Are Truth Tellers: Guess Who Isn’t?”


The daily doom, part VI

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

To repeat myself, yet again: Does a day ever go by anymore without another terrifying revelation about global warming?

Time Magazine: Be Worried. Be Very Worried.

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you’ve heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

*   *   *

A note about the daily doom series:

This is scary stuff, really scary.  I used to look at my young children and wonder what global warming would mean in their lives: Anymore, I increasingly look at myself in the mirror and ask the question about my own life.

So why the daily doom series?  To be honest, I’m trying to scare people; I want to scare the piss out of them.

Right now, fear is the best friend planet earth has.

To be fair, the readers of The Last Chance Democracy Café, who tend to be a very savvy bunch on subjects like this, probably need this a lot less than do others; but you’re the only audience I have.  And, in any case, the references I’m providing may be of help to you in scaring the piss out of other people.

Now, of course, we’re walking a fine line here: We want constructive fear, combined with hope, not despondency leading to paralysis and inaction.

But whatever we do, we had better do it soon, or despondency may be all we have left.

In the it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy category

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Washington Post: From a Conservative, a Lack Of Compassion for Ralph Reed

Ralph Reed, candidate for Georgia lieutenant governor and former executive director of the Christian Coalition, has a standard line when opponents link him to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. “The Democrats, radical left, and dominant media have made numerous unfair personal attacks against Ralph,” his Web site declares.

Lately, however, it’s becoming harder for Reed to dismiss his critics as ideologically motivated. One of the toughest is Marvin Olasky, a close associate of President Bush who helped developed the administration’s faith-based initiative and the concept of “compassionate conservatism.”

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Year 2046: The Nobel Prize gap

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

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Charity really does begin at home

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

More on Barbara Bush’s contribution to Hurricane Katrina relief earmarked, at least in part, for the purchase of educational software from “Ignite!” a company owned by her son, Neil Bush.  According to the generally reliable Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, George HW and Barbara Bush are investors in their son’s company.

In other words, Barbara Bush was making a, presumably tax deductible, contribution conditioned upon it being used to enrich a company she herself had an economic interest in.  

I’ve always heard that charity begins at home, but this is ridiculous.

My first reaction to all this, by the way, was that it was hard to believe it could be true, but as I’ve thought about it more, maybe, sadly, it really isn’t all that hard to believe after all.  

Is Bush punch-drunk?

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

So Bush and Cheney are on the attack — again.  Yawn. 

Associated Press: Bush Blasts Democrats on Economic Issues

March 24,2006 | INDIANAPOLIS — President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney launched a two-man offensive against the Democrats on Friday, with Bush suggesting the opposition party would stall the economic recovery and Cheney portraying Democratic leaders as weak on combating terror.

Bush, trying to regain his political footing ahead of this year’s critical midterm elections, told a GOP audience in Indianapolis that “the difference is clear” between the two parties on how to sustain the U.S. economic recovery.

“If you want the government in your pocket, vote Democrat,” Bush said. “If you want to keep more of your hard earned money, vote Republican.”

Cheney, speaking at a GOP fundraiser in Orlando, Fla., denounced Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and party chairman Howard Dean by name. And he asserted that “leading Democrats have demanded a sudden withdrawal from the battle against terrorists in Iraq, the very kind of retreat that Osama bin Laden has been predicting.”

“And with that sorry record, the leaders of the Democratic Party have decided to run on the theme of competence. If they’re competent to fight this war, then I ought to be singing on American Idol,” Cheney said, referring to the top-rated Fox amateur talent show.

Did I mention — yawn. (more…)

Meeting the real Barbara Bush

Friday, March 24th, 2006

I can remember Barbara Bush’s stint as the First Lady well.  She was the nation’s First Grandma; wildly popular, much more so than her husband.  A lovable plump woman with pure gray hair and the ever present pearl necklace, author of the popular Millie’s Book, written about life in the White House from the perspective of the presidential dog.

Mrs. Bush’s biography on the official White House web site, while obviously a puff piece, isn’t far from the truth, at least in terms of her public image back then, when it says:

Rarely has a First Lady been greeted by the American people and the press with the approbation and warmth accorded to Barbara Pierce Bush. Perhaps this is prompted by the image she calls “everybody’s grandmother.” People are comfortable with her white hair, her warm, relaxed manner, and her keen wit. With characteristic directness, she says people like her because they know “I’m fair and I like children and I adore my husband.”

It was all a myth, of course.  My first taste of the real Barbara Bush came from reading Al Franken’s funny and revealing description of his ill-fated encounter with Mrs. Bush during an airline flight, contained in his best selling and famously long-titled book, Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right.  For anyone who hasn’t read it, suffice it to say the encounter ended with the Bush family matriarch telling Franken several times condescendingly: “I’m through with you.” (more…)