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Friday, June 27, 2003
"Bowers was not correct when it was decided, is not correct today, and is hereby overruled." --Justice Anthony Kennedy
Any ruling that so infuriates Justice Scalia that he feels compelled to read his dissent from the bench has to be a good one. The 6-3 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas is a great one. The Supreme Court has found, finally, that what happens between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes is nobody's business but theirs. It doesn't matter what sex they are, what they're doing, whether it's for procreation or fun; consenting adults can now commit sodomy, gommorahmy, whatever.
Justice Kennedy wasted no time in obliterating the Bowers decision:
The Bowers Court's initial substantive statement--"The issue presented is whether the Federal Constitution confers a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy ...,"--discloses the Court's failure to appreciate the extent of the liberty at stake. To say that the issue in Bowers was simply the right to engage in certain sexual conduct demeans the claim the individual put forward, just as it would demean a married couple were it said that marriage is just about the right to have sexual intercourse. Although the laws involved in Bowers and here purport to do not more than prohibit a particular sexual act, their penalties and purposes have more far-reaching consequences, touching upon the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home. They seek to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals. The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to choose to enter upon relationships in the confines of their homes and their own private lives and still retain their dignity as free persons.
Of course, Sen. Santorum tonight must wonder if this extends to "man-dog" relationships. Not that Sen. Santorum is much worried about the dignity of gays, or their rights as free persons.
Of course, this destroys eons of anti-homosexual tradition, right?
Having misapprehended the liberty claim presented to it, the Bowers Court stated that proscriptions against sodomy have ancient roots. It should be noted, however, that there is no longstanding history in this country of laws directed at homosexual conduct as a distinct matter. Early American sodomy laws were not directed at homosexuals as such but instead sought to prohibit nonprocreative sexual activity more generally, whether between men and women or men and men. Moreover, early sodomy laws seem not to have been enforced against consenting adults acting in private. Instead, sodomy prosecutions often involved predatory acts against those who could not or did not consent: relations between men and minor girls or boys, between adults involving force, between adults implicating disparity in status, or between men and animals. The longstanding criminal prohibition of homosexual sodomy upon which Bowers placed such reliance is as consistent with a general condemnation of nonprocreative sex as it is with an established tradition of prosecuting acts because of their homosexual character. Far from possessing "ancient roots," American laws targeting same-sex couples did not develop until the last third of the 20th century.
Wha--? You mean to tell me that our nation hasn't always opposed homosexual relations?
And isn't the Supreme Court's job to impose the nation's morality?
[T]his Court's obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate its own moral code.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
The decision in Lawrence is about all of our freedoms, our most basic freedoms--the right to love and be loved, the right to express our love through physical intimacy in the privacy of our own home. This case was literally about what happens when a policeman shows up in your bedroom. The court defiantly said today that the policeman should leave, quietly, and apologize for the intrusion--and better if he never shows up at all.
Tonight we all are a little bit more free, because the right to love has been extended to those who have too long been denied it. We are only so free as the most repressed of us. For those who tonight can make love knowing that they are committing no crime, I say: I'm sorry it took us so long. Congratulations. Maybe soon, you can get married if you so desire.
Freedom marches on.
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Back Among the Living
Wow. A whole week since I last posted. That's no good.
Over the past week I've gone through a real nasty sinus infection, which ended up causing my throat to get so sore I couldn't eat between Thursday and Monday--and only could get one meal down on Tuesday and Wednesday. Finally, today, I'm back to what passes for normal--right in time for all my friends to get into town for my friend Erica's wedding on Saturday.
So I haven't written very much.
But I'll try to get at least one post in tonight, and I swear I'll start writing more regularly, starting Monday. No, for real.
Thursday, June 19, 2003
You're Entering the No Spin Zone
Here on the Blog of the Moderate Left, you're in the Zone, we're here with FOX News yapper Bill O'Reilly, who has some problems with the internet. Bill, what makes you so mad today?
Nearly everyday, there's something written on the Internet about me that's flat out untrue. And I'm not alone. Nearly every famous person in the country's under siege.
Uh-huh. What, people are pointing out that you're an ignorant blowhard?
....Web sites that picked up a false report from The San Francisco Chronicle that said a San Francisco radio station dropped The Radio Factor. If anyone had bothered to make even one phone call, they would have learned that Westwood One made a deal with another San Francisco radio station, weeks ago to move The Radio Factor. Thus the word "dropped" is obviously inaccurate and dishonest. We'll see if The Chronicle runs a correction, but you can bet you won't be seeing many corrections on the net.
Wait, so you're mad at the internet because of a story in a newspaper? Well, that just doesn't make any sense whatsoever, Bill. And when a radio station chooses not to retain your show, it has been dropped by that radio station. What am I missing?
The reason these net people get away with all kinds of stuff is that they work for no one. They put stuff up with no restraints. This, of course, is dangerous, but it symbolizes what the Internet is becoming.
My God...you mean that there are people out there able to voice their own opinions without having to run them by anyone else? Why, that could undermine democracy as we know it! What's next, Bill? Letting people choose their leaders by a process called "voting"?
In truth, The Chronicle's story [is] small stuff compared to other Internet sins. The child molestation people have now figured out a way to chat about their crimes without being charged with obscenity. And the Supreme Court actually helped these people by ruling that virtual child porn, computerized images of kids being raped, are legal, an extension of free speech.
Whoa! Non sequitir alert! Okay, so the internet does live up to the Onion's description as a "world-wide porn delivery system." And there's probably a lot of sick stuff out there. And I'm uncomfortable with kiddie porn. But Bill, what does this have to do with anything?
So all over the country, we have people posting the most vile stuff imaginable, hiding behind high tech capabilities. Sometimes the violators are punished, but most are not. We have now have teenagers ruining the reputations of their peers in schools on the Internet. Ideologues accusing public officials of the worst things imaginable. And creeps gossiping about celebrities in the crudest of ways.
Yeah, I hear you. Why, next thing you know, people will be using this "internet" to accuse the President of killing a Justice Department official who supposedly committed suicide. I mean, the horror! And gossiping about celebrities...why, there'd be none of that if not for the internet! And this think about high school students ruining the reputations of their peers...that's new to me. Back when I was in school we all held hands and sang "Kumbaya" every day.
The Internet has become a sewer of slander and libel, an unpatrolled polluted waterway, where just about anything goes. For example, the guy who raped and murdered a 10-year old in Massachusetts says he got the idea from the NAMBLA Web site that he accessed from the Boston public library. The ACLU's defending NAMBLA in that civil lawsuit.
Bill, you're sorta swinging wildly back and forth here. First off, the kids who beat their friend to death in Philadelphia listened to "Helter Skelter" before they did it. And I don't think anyone is in favor of going after the Beatles for that. Second, if the internet is so full of libel, do what people have done for years and sue the libeler! Better yet, simply refute their points.
Talking Points noted with interest the hue and cry that went up from some quarters about the FCC changing the rules and allowing big corporations to own even more media properties. But big corporations are big targets. If they misbehave, they can be sued for big bucks. These small time hit and run operators on the net, however, can traffic in perversity and falsehoods all day long with impunity. It's almost impossible to rein them in.
So that's it. You can't sue the small-time internet purveyor because you can't get big bucks out of 'em.
Let me see if I've got your argument straight: only big companies--like, say, News Corp--can handle the responsiblility of free speech. Individuals just can't be trusted with such power, eh? I'll give you the final word.
So which is the bigger threat to America? The big companies or the criminals at the computer? Interesting question.
Not really. Thanks, Bill. Thanks for showing us how a tribune of the people really behaves.
(Quotes come directly from Bill O'Reilly's post at FOX News.com.)
Ann, You Ignorant Slut
So after 9/11, muslims were detained, thrown against walls, and told "You're gonna die here" by guards. Hooray! says Ann Coulter. Well, why not? I mean, it's not like we should expect our prison system to follow any kind of civil rights standards, right? I mean, next thing you know, we'll be saying people should be innocent until proven guilty. Ha ha!
Of course, Coulter can't sit by and acknowledge this report was filed under the auspices of the Bush administration. She has to note that the person who headed up the investigation was (gasp!) a Clinton appointee! Appointed by Satan himself! Will America never be free of the effects of the Clinton administration?
(Of course, Inspector General Glenn Fine currently reports to John Ashcroft, who at last report was not--repeat, not--a Clinton appointee. But that undermines Ann's whole point.)
Of course, we all know those liberals watch each others' backs:
This leads to a somewhat inconsistent pattern of "internal" reports. After Janet Reno gassed American citizens in Waco, Texas, leaving 80 dead, the Justice Department's internal report "found no mistakes by anybody at the Justice Department or the FBI," in the words of Newsweek magazine. Also, one searches Lexis-Nexis in vain for any mention of an internal report on Janet Reno's commando raid against a small Cuban boy in Miami whose mother died bringing him to freedom.
Yes, it was terrible when Janet Reno ordered an assault on a compound where the Branch Davidians were holed up, raping children and preparing to commit suicide on a grand scale. That one is all Janet's fault--certainly, it has nothing to do with the Davidians torching their place. And it is horrifying to think that the Attorney General of the United States would actually enforce a Judge's ruling regarding the right of a parent--even one from Godless Cuba--to raise his child as he sees fit.
And of course, don't even get Ann started on the lack of investigation into the Vince Foster "suicide." Or the Clinton cocaine cartel. Or...well, you get the ideas.
Incidentally, Coulter refers to Fine as a "Clinton appointee" more often than she refers to him as Fine. Why could that be?
At any rate, I'm sure we can all sleep well tonight, knowing that while many Muslims had their civil rights abused, it was okay because we were really mad. And if you don't agree with that, you're a god-damned liberal and you'd probably like it if Osama bin Laden were President. So there.
Monday, June 16, 2003
Destroying those who support terror, unless we decide not to.
Well, things are going so well in Afghanistan (remember Afganistan? Government used to support Osama bin Laden? Tortured and abused women? Generally evil? We installed a guy who wears a bunny-fur hat? No? Huh.) that the U.S. has turned to the Taliban in an effort to restore order.
We've turned to the Taliban.
To restore order.
Uh...is it me, or wasn't the whole point of the attack on Afghanistan to obliterate the f***ing Taliban?
I know I'm just a midwestern guy with a blog, but I would tend to think that, when trying to destroy terrorists, and making a point of destroying terrorist governments, you might want to keep them destroyed.
I don't recall the Americans going in to Germany, ca. 1947, and saying, "Well, the Nazis were evil and all, but this country is in a shambles. What the heck, they were efficient sons-of-guns. Let's put them back in power, as long as they don't let that Hitler guy run the place."
Will we be turning to the Baathists in Iraq a few years hence?
Does anybody care about this?
People keep talking about what a great wartime leader Bush is. Well, let's see:
Afghanistan: Taliban about to be returned to power. General chaos.
Iraq: Saddam probably still alive, no WMDs found yet, little to tie them to al-Qaieda.
Al-Qaieda: Blowing up people in Saudi Arabia. Osama probably still alive. Damaged, but not destroyed.
Saudi Arabia: Our Best Friends, despite increasing evidence that they are not.
Israel/Palestine: Roadmap for peace lasted two days.
So what great thing has GDub accomplished? What wonderful victory has he steered our nation to? What glorious thing has he done?
Guess what, folks. He's done nothing more than anyone would have done as President--indeed, he's done quite a bit less.
He had the chance to capture Osama in Afghanistan, and failed.
He had the chance to put pressue on the Saudis, and failed.
He had the chance to obliterate the Taliban, and failed.
The only thing he has succeeded in doing is to oust a thuggish dictator who had little, if anything, to do with the attacks on America--far less than our buddies in Riyadh. And while he focused our attention there, he let it slip in Afghanistan to the point that we are about to go into bed with the very people who aided and abetted the murder of three thousand Americans--simply because we could not simultaneously occupy Afghanistan and fight Iraq.
Bush is not a good wartime leader.
He is an abysmal wartime leader.
And it's time we started saying it.
But I thought the war was over!
We continue to have a heck of a good time managing the peace. Oh, and still no WMDs. Otherwise, everything is going swimmingly in the fifty-first state. I know it is, because GDub says it is.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
What kind of world do we live in when the most coherent analysis of DFL failings in the past legislative session comes from...former Gov. Jesse Ventura?
Don't laugh. Ventura actually makes sense here (he often does, when he's not holding political office). The money graf:
It [the 2002 Ventura budget] was a proposal that Democrats could have and should have supported. But not Moe. When Roger had the chance to show strong leadership and do the right thing (avoiding Draconian cuts to social services and other programs), he sold out the party for his own selfish gain. Roger and his followers got into bed with those civilized Republicans, called my proposal "Jesse taxes" and agreed to ignore the problem for another year, when we all knew it would double in severity.
The main reason I voted for Tim Penny over Roger Moe or Tim Pawlenty was that Moe and Pawlenty both sold the state down the river so they wouldn't have to campaign with tax hikes or spending cuts over their heads. When the time came for the Democrats and Republicans to face the state's fiscal crisis in 2002, they cheerfully sidestepped the issue--because it was bad for them politically. Hey, if things went wrong, they could always blame Jesse.
Well, we all know what happened. The budget defecit leapt, Pawlenty refused to raise taxes (though fees jumped about three-quarters of a billion dollars), and the DFL got steamrolled. Had they joined with Jesse, they would have had to justify the tax cuts they had passed--but the outcome could scarcely have been worse. (Heck, given the rapidity with which Hottinger and the Senate DFL folded, would it really have mattered had the GOP taken the Senate as well?)
As Jesse says, "Seems to me that you have to give credit where credit is due: To Gov. Pawlenty and House Speaker Steve Sviggum for suckering the Democrats into a trap, and to Roger Moe for falling head first into it."
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Partial Birth, Blah Blah Blah
The Pro-Lifers took a weapon out of their arsenal by passing the ban on late-term D & C and D & X abortions (yes, I know they like the term "partial birth." I refuse to use it, as I refuse to use terms like "womyn." It's made-up.)
Of course, since the bill lacks an exception for the health of a woman, it is almost certain to fail judicial scrutiny. (The bill tries to get around this by simply asserting that it is never necessary for a woman to have this type of abortion, but come on. Not even Bill Frist can say it would never be needed--he's a cardiologist, not an ObGyn.)
I can't say I care about this bill. Banning late-term abortions doesn't bother me much--it's hard to argue a fetus in the eighth month is not "alive" in a very meaningful sense. I would care very much if this was attempting to ban a first- or second-trimester procedure (when the life, or lack thereof, of a fetus or embryo is much more questionable), but it isn't.
This is a political tool, one that has served the GOP and Pro-Life Action Ministries very well over the past decade. But it's a pretty meaningless one. By retiring this issue, the pro-lifers will be forced to find a new, more on-point issue to debate--like whether or not to ban abortion. Of course, that one doesn't have overwhelming support. Too bad for them, I guess.
''This is not what they were selling."
Former Secretary of the Army Thomas White blasted the Pentagon, saying that they were understating the commitment required to rebuild Iraq.
In a word: duh.
Now, I'm on record as saying that I fear a quick pullout--that we must stay the course in Iraq, and do what needs to be done to rebuild a country that we invaded and conquered. (That we may not have needed to invade is beside the point; we did, it's done, we have a moral obligation to help rebuild.)
The money graf:
White said it is reasonable to assume the Pentagon will need more than 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to provide stability for at least the next year. Pentagon officials envisioned having about 100,000 troops there immediately after the war, but they hoped that number would be quickly drawn down.
Nice try, guys.
The peace, folks. It's all about the peace.
The Columbia astronauts could have been saved had NASA known about the problems on the wing. So says a new NASA report. It is easy to figure these things out in hindsight, tragic that this was not figured out before. We can only hope that we learn from our mistakes, and go forward into space better armed against calamity.
"Thou Shalt Not Kill." --Exodus 20:13
The Wellstone conspiracy wingnuts are a lone few. Sadly, a few more people seem to be of the "Eric Rudolph is a swell guy" camp.
Now, for the record, let's review. Eric Rudolph has killed and maimed hundreds. He has set bombs in two states, including at the 1996 Olympic games. He has been on the run for the past five years, eluding the federal government. He has held the top spot on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list (though sadly for him, he lost the spot to Osama bin Laden.) He is an evil, sick man.
But hey, he was bombing abortion clinics and gay bars, so it's okay! Because, like, God doesn't like them.
Make no mistake about it: Eric Robert Rudolph is a terrorist. Just because he isn't Muslim doesn't mean he doesn't fit the definition. He bombed abortion clinics and gay bars in an effort to strike fear into their patrons and workers. That is terrorism. Period. End of discussion.
How many of Rudolph's fans cried when the World Trade Center was attacked? How many lashed out in blind rage at "those Muslims" who had done it? How many talked about how Islam was a sick religion that bred hatred?
Eric Rudolph was a Christian. Yes, he espoused a sick, twisted version of Christianity, but he believed in Jesus. He was a Christian Terrorist, and no, that phrase is not oxymoronic. Any religion or ideology, be it Christianity or Socialism or Atheism or Libertarianism, can create evil if it is misued.
Rudolph decided that he opposed gays and abortionists, and so he tried to kill them.
Osama decided that he disliked the westerners, with their liberated women and lavish lifestyle, and so he tried to kill them.
They are the same. The only difference is the degree of damage they did. And when Eric Rudolph goes on to whatever judgement awaits us in the afterlife, he will find that his sentence is no less harsh than that of the al-Qaieda members, the IRA members, the Tamil Tigers, the Hamas followers, or any of the guerillas and terrorists that kill civilians because they believe the "wrong" thing, belong to the "wrong" faith, love the "wrong" people. I have faith their punishment will be swift, and severe.
As will be the punishment of their supporters.
And the plane went back, and to the left...back, and to the left....
The Wellstone conspiracy buffs really don't deserve any more attention than they've already gotten--a front-page article in the Strib--but it behooves liberals to denounce these idiots. Whenever a leader dies, whether King or Kennedy, Carnahan or Wellstone, conspiracy buffs will spin wild tales of how "They" killed the beloved figure because "(Beloved Leader) had to be stopped from (doing something They wouldn't like)." It's understandable, but still silly. The chance that the Wellstones and their staffers died due to some EM pulse weapon being discharged is so close to nil as to be beneath consideration, and if you doubt that, consider this: it's doubtful that a Sen. Mondale would have been more of a thorn in the Bushes' side than a Sen. Wellstone, and had the Democrats managed not to completely mishandle Wellstone's memorial, Fritz Mondale is precisely who would have been sworn in to replace Paul Wellstone.
I strongly dislike GDub, but he didn't kill Paul Wellstone. Period. In the immortal words of Bob Casey, "Now quit this!"
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
We did find Weapons of Mass Destruction! You saw the trailer!
The Senate will be conducting hearings on the WMDs in Iraq. Of course, Sen. John Warner (R-VA) is chairing, so don't get your hopes up. Still, the fact that a Republican Senator feels compelled to investigate tells you that this is more serious than some Republicans would have you believe (hi Mitch!)
Despite the immediate, euphoric post-war polls, the missing weapons is an issue that's going to grow--because Americans don't like it when their President lies.
Of course, it's not over an affair, so this lie doesn't count, right?
Hey, there were two phone calls to Homeland Security from the Texas DPS!
So says Josh Marshall, so sayeth the Lord.
Oprah Winfrey is saying she won't run for President, but I can tell you right now, if she did, I'd be on the bandwagon. Why? Because she'd kick seven kinds of tail, that's why. Oprah would be our next President, and anyone is better than GDub, with the possible exceptions of Pat Buchanan (Reform-Berlin) and Carol "Mobutu? He's a swell guy!" Mosley Braun. So join with me, folks, and Draft Oprah!
Monday, June 02, 2003
Okay, this is getting ridiculous
The trailers ain't WMDs.
Come on, folks. They just aren't. They might have been used to create biological weapons--along with other trailers with equipment that hasn't been found. They were a technical violation of UN resolutions, but so what?
So we haven't found any WMDs yet. At all. Period.
Before the war, I was pretty well convinced that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction. I was convinced enough to support, albeit weakly, an attack on Iraq.
Today, I feel duped.
I feel like I was sold a bill of goods. Like I had the wool pulled over my eyes by folks who decided, for bureaucratic reasons, to claim there were WMDs in Iraq in order to goad Americans into attacking.
Why did we attack? Well, Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, says it was to get us out of Saudi Arabia.
Now, let's check this. Osama bin Laden bombs the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in part because he wants American troops out of Saudi Arabia. So our response is to attack Iraq (a country that did not supply most of the hijackers) in order to get our troops out of Saudi Arabia, just like Osama wanted.
So we are now pursuing policy based on the wishes of madmen in caves on the border of Pakistan, another country we pretend to like.
This isn't pursuing a successful policy in the War on Terra. This is a shameful capitulation.
Now, there were other reasons to invade Iraq other than WMDs. And maybe, had the case been made in that way, most Americans would have rallied to support our actions. But by at the very least overstating the threat Saddam Hussein posed to America, the Bush administration has managed to shred American credibility, which should be helpful when trying to repair the damage to our shredded international prestige.
Of course, we now hear that it doesn't really matter if WMDs are found. I could tell you why it does, but instead I'll turn over the floor to the distinguished Prime Minister of Great Britain, who said, simply, "It matters immensely [whether WMDs exist] because the basis on which the war was sold to the British House of Commons, to the British people, was that Saddam represented a serious threat."
Trailers won't cut it when you were telling us about massive stockpiles of VX. I would say that we need to find something soon, but I'm increasingly convinced we won't. I'm increasingly convinced that our President misled us, and that we have killed two hundred Americans for no particular reason (and yes, democracy in Iraq is lovely. Have we invaded Congo lately? They need democracy too).
Maybe the lefty peace protesters were right. Maybe it was all about oil. Or family revenge. Or any of the things the Bush=Hitler crowd said. I don't want to believe that, but I can no longer believe what the Bush administration tells us.
I do know this: lying about having an affair is a damn sight less important than this. The Clinton administration was far from moral. The Bush administration may have just made them look like saints.