Saturday, May 07, 2005

"Dirty" Harry Reid

For all those who have said that Democrats don't have spines, Minority Leader Senator Harry Reid has them in spades. Maybe it is because he is from the West and the outlaw culture of Nevada, or maybe he just has the temerity to tell it like it is.

At last night's sold out J-J dinner for Utah Democratic Party, Reid was the guest of honor, and his job was to rally the troops into actualizing a believe that the West can be won. While he did that from what I am told, he also took the opportunity to note Senator Hatch's hypocrisy (but not in so many words). The Senatorial comment was "He's been a terribly big disappointment to me."

When he sat down with the Tribune Editorial board, Reid remarked "I can't imagine how Orrin Hatch can keep a straight face." He added, "I don't know how, within the framework of intellectual honesty, he can say the things he does." He can't Harry. This is the same guy who is whining about 10 stalled Bush appointees (out of 207 confirmed) when he blocked 69 of Clinton's (no Clinton sex jokes please).

Moreover, Hatch is the ultimate in cronyism. Take a look at the bench around this great state-- most are personally connected to Senator Hatch (who was at the time Judiciary Chairman): LDS Mission Companions, etc. In fact, the Tribune pointed out that "Hatch refused to sign off on any nominees until Clinton nominated Republican Ted Stewart, former Gov. Mike Leavitt's chief of staff." I don't recall Pat Lahey doing that to Bush do you? I am sure we would have heard about it if he insisted that Howard Dean's chief of staff be appointed to something for which he was utterly unqualified.

In response to Reid pointing out Hatch's obstructionist role Orrin told the paper that "I'm disappointed that he would allow the far left to influence him to distort the actual facts this way," Hatch said. "What is wrong with giving circuit court nominees a vote up and down? Instead the Democrats, led by Senator Reid, have said they will blow up the Senate and cause nuclear warfare. Those are the facts and no amount of Democratic rationalization or nasty comments can overcome them."

Yes, what is wrong with getting 69 nominees an up or down vote Senator Hatch? Personally, I am ever so gratified that Harry Reid is ratcheting up the rhetoric and playing the game so well. He makes Democrats look like gunslingers in the old westerns, or like Clint Eastwood's quasi-vigilante cop character in the 1970s.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The religious right's reward

Why stick with Bush if you are a conservative Christian (other than his purported fellowship of faith)? Many liberal thinkers have noted that religious conservatives supply the votes but rarely get much in return for their loyalty, while the pro-business end of the GOP make a good return on their investment of campaign contributions.

Now we see some of their first fruits of the second term of George W. Bush: the FDA is banning sperm donations from sexually active gay men.

Leland Traiman, director of a pro-gay sperm clinic in Alameda, California said "Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years."

To me this seems facially discriminatory. Sure statistically gay might be a higher risk of having a STD (including HIV) but statistically, men are more likely to violently kill people with guns, knives, etc. than women are (way more than homosexual men are to spread STDs compared to heterosexual men), yet no one in their right mind would attempt to ban the sale of such weapons to men (2nd amendment notwithstanding). You can find stats that certain racial, ethnic, gender, or sexual orientations are more likely to speed, steel, take/deal drugs, rape, molest children etc. but we don't create laws around these statistical realities.

We are a nation of laws and rights, not of probabilities and actuaries.

Would we allow acceptors of sperm get to ask for no gays, no blacks, no Jews, etc.? I have seen ads in my college newspaper requesting egg donors only from women whose SATs are high and who have 4 Jewish grandparents. This is a private-to-private transaction, however; I would imagine that if the eggs were stored in a facility that gets federal money, the result might come out differently.

This would have been a great law review write-on memo topic. Instead, I have read up/write on search and seizure for an imaginary hooker.

wide open spaces

the reason I haven't written in a awhile (and I apologize) is that I had my last couple finals crammed into this week. But now the first year of law school, which everyone hates, is over.

Most of my friends will be working somewhere in some fashion, and many in legal type jobs. Right now, I have a couple of Pro Bono activities lined up, and I am still waiting for the local public defenders office to get back to me. I doubt I will be hired, but I don't even know how I will make money this summer.

The season spreads out before me as a vast wasteland of time, filled with heat long days, and lots to do. My wedding-related chore list includes about 70 things, according to the fiancée.

Meanwhile, today I will pick up the packet to write on for Law Review. I doubt I will make it on, and I don't even know that I want to be on it with some of the characters on the staff. But it would be nice to be the first in my family to make law review, as unlikely as it would be.

Yesterday many of my friends from Lund's first year prospective class piled into cars and went down to Squatter's to celebrate our end of the year. Many of us wouldn't see each other under August again and all were left wondering what they would do with themselves now that they didn't have to memorize and study like crazy.

It was as if this year never happened. Sure, I can never watch TV or read anything the same way again, but I always felt I was a little odd in that department already. I mean, how many people you know get uncomfortable watching Everybody Loves Raymond or Seinfeld because they can't stand seeing the characters getting caught in embarrassing/awkward situations?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

quote of the day

"Articles on April 25 and 26 about Pope Benedict XVI said that St. Peter was the founder of the Roman Catholic Church. According to the church, Jesus was the founder" -- Washington Post "Correction."

ethics wars: bring it on

After week after week of bad press for Tom DeLay caught with his hand in the cookie jar, someone leaked information that Democrats were on the take of Jack Abrabhof as well. Was it Jack? Was it DeLay's staff? Other angry GOPers in the know? Democrats who hate these congressmen? Or actual journalistic work? The last one seems the least likely. Jack paid for other people's illegal trips to Northern Mariana, those lovely sweat-shop islands
James E. Clyburn (S.C.), now vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and Bennie Thompson (Miss.), now the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee. The aides to DeLay were Edwin A. Buckham, now a lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group, and Tony Rudy, now a member of Buckham's lobbying firm.

All three congressmen when confronted with this claim they had no way of knowing that Abramoff's credit card was being used to pay for the trips. They believed that this was all being paid for by sham nonprofit groups, as House rules permit.

If this takes down Clyburn, the much overhyped kingmaker for the much overhyped SC presidential primary in 2004 (just ask John Edwards) and well as Bernie Thompson, both of whom are African-Americans from majority minority districts, then so be it. I have no stomach for these congressmen who have no actual competition and violate ethic rules right and left while not parting with their giant warchests or helping out in the battle to reclaim the House.

Who was against Campaign Finance Reform? Who wanted to eliminate the estate tax? The CBC, which has NO Republican members. I say good riddence. We need more CBC members like ex-Rep Denise Majette (GA) or Rep Artur Davis (D-AL). Both represent[ed] majority minority districts but did so in a way to appeal beyond their African-American base and allowed Majette to run a decent campaign for the Senate last year. She will be back too. With the state being reredistricted by the GOP, Majette will be running again to reclaim a seat. My vote is with her and against McKinney.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Where was Jim?

Roll Call announces that "Voting rights advocates will join" Government Reform Chair Tom Davis (R-VA) today "when he announces the reintroduction of his bill to create a full-fledged House seat" for DC.

According to Davis' office, DC Mayor Anthony Williams (D), DC Council Chair Linda Cropp (D), ex-Reps. Jack Kemp (R-NY) and Susan Molinari (R-NY), UT Reps. Chris Cannon (R) and Rob Bishop (R), and DC Shadow Rep. Ray Browne (D) will all be on hand for the announcement. DC Del Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) will be "absent from the proceedings."

And what about Jim Matheson (D-UT)? He is the one most likely to be affected by this bill. In the past he has been supportive of the idea that Utah should get another district. But which would he run in, the redone 2nd or the new 4th? If I remember correctly, the 4-seat redistrict plan by the UT leglisture had the 4th centered around Taylorsville, where Jim did quite well in 2000. It is very likely that Jim would jump into that seat, creating an open seat race for district that would be extremely difficult for any Utah Democrat to win besides Jim.

Of course, that's the point of the bill: one Democratic seat via DC, one GOP seat via UT. Davis doesn't really care about what the voters want or true representation for District residents, he just wants ensure no net gain for either party. This he believes makes it politically tenable to achieve.

Delagate Norton has applauded Davis' effort but she "remains committed to legislation she has sponsored that would provide both House and Senate representation" for DC, which in reality won't pass until there is a fillibuster-proof margin of Dems in the Senate and a majority of Democrats in the House.

Davis' idea is to temporarily expand the number of representives to 437, but what about just inflating it so that members represent reasonable numbers of people not 500,000 to 735,000 people (Utah is on that high end). Making the House fixed number means that states legislatures have to duke it out as to who/which party gets screwed in losing their seat(s).

Monday, May 02, 2005

ad of the day

NJ GOP meets South Park

Funny ad and super-low buget. Don't you dare call Republicans Candidians or Cubans.

conservatives as babies, bullies

Whenever conservatives don't get what they want, they complain. Nowadays they are so powerful that they try to bully too. Chris Mathews once called the GOP the "daddy party" while calling the Democrats the "mommy party." I think it is more like the GOP are the immature but violent teenager party while the Democrats are the know-it-all bookworm party. Guess who gets asked out to prom?

Today is another example. GOP has this imaginary fear of liberal media bias, while at the same time admitting they are not members of the reality-based community. That's why Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, GOP-appointed chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is pushing to get rid of Bill Moyers' show. Sure Bill is a liberal but what about Wall Street Week, Washington Week, Fahreed Zakahri (sp?)'s new show, or Tucker Carlson's (that got moved to MSNBC for lack of $ for el bowtie)? All those shows are center-right. One liberal show that no one watches isn't really going to affect the outcome. Do you think if CNN gave Sean Penn a show that it would really affect news coverage or public perception? I can tell you I don't watch Bill's and I wouldn't watch Sean's. But I do like Moyer's the power of faith series and I would like him to stay on the air.
Mr. Tomlinson also encouraged corporation and public broadcasting officials to broadcast "The Journal Editorial Report," whose host, Paul Gigot, is editor of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal.
To me, that is going the other way and unnecessarily so.

We already have right-wing pundits on the taxpayer's dole to shill for Bush's aweful programs, do we need public-private ventures like PBS to pay for the right wing noise machine too? The vast majority (somewhere around 95%) of NPR/PBS money comes from private donors, either foundations or individuals, and not your tax dollars.

I for one am tired of the GOP trying to scare the media into softball coverage of this president and this congress via threats to their pocketbooks, their ability to cover the president and GOPers (even to get access), and questioning their objectivity. The media now provide "both sides of the story" that is, what operatives from both extremes want them to say. Nevermind the objective truth, the lies behind the rhetoric or any possibility of distortions or general dishonesty.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Calling Orrin on lies

I thought someone as supposidly pious as Senator Hatch shouldn't be lying so obviously. But thank goodness for Robert Gehrke, who points it out.
[Hatch is leading the charge against Senate Democrats' blockage of 7 of 200+ Bush judicial nominees]But during the Utah Republican's tenure as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, dozens of President Clinton's nominees never received an up-or-down vote, because their nominations were suffocated by procedural traps, a Tribune analysis of congressional records shows. Others were mired in the committee for years before being confirmed by the Senate.
Somehow, Hatch gets angry when people point out the blatant hypocrisy of saying a 41-person fillibuster is less democratic than his 1 or 2 person "blue slipping" of judicial nominees.

"That's all B.S. and they know it," Hatch insists. "I don't think anybody can say I didn't do my best." Your best to block Clinton's nominees that is. Plus, I can't believe you said B.S. I wonder how much he swears off the record, like when a take of his latest cheesey CD is bad.

Honestly, both parties are pretty childish about judicial nominees and it seems like there should be a better way to nominate and confirm than this tit-for-tat technique. Unfortunately, the constitution doesn't say the president has to nominate reasonable or broadly favorable judges, just that the Senate must "advise and consent" to the judge's confirmation. Maybe there should be a bipartisan panel that advises the president on what nominees would be good per se and have a good chance of support from 60 senators. Of course, the President could ignore those suggestions, but would do so at his/her own peril. Why don't they make a subcommittee of the judicary that is equally weighted and could give their advise to the president.

Facially, it seems like this would be constitutional and the subcomittee report could be placed for a vote before the whole Senate (and subject to a fillabuster) so that every egomaniac that is in the club of 100 wouldn't feel snubbed. But of course, that would take some cajones from the party in power to give a little bit up in the name of the country to fill out the judiciary with good judges who are not extremists from either side. And I for one am not going to hold my breath on that one.