Wednesday, March 30, 2005

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Wednesday Guinea Pig Blogging. Posted by Hello

Wow

Blogger hasn't let me on since yesterday morning! Well, folk I will be leaving the blog in Pasquin's more than capable hands for the next week or so. I don't know how much he will write or if he will write much at all.
It is finally time to get my over abundance of womanly attributes made into just an abundance and keep my fingers crossed that my neck and shoulders are made pain free. Tomorrow morning I will take my bag and drive across Texas to see a surgeon who will do my pre-op, which damn well better include vodka and valium because I am not sleeping, and then Friday morning off with the tits, or parts of them at least.
Perky ones are in my future I can feel it. I am hoping that Pasquin will post while I am in the hospital, and enjoying the joys of morphine based painkillers. It is the least a father can do since the last woman in my genetic line up to be so overly blessed was his grandmother.
Take care all and I will see yall when I can see my feet(something I haven't been able to do since I was 15!).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

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Go Read

Bark Bark Woof Woof on Activist Juries and the death penalty. Bark Bark Woof Woof, Activist Juries and the Death Penalty all in one sentence, I have a strong desire to growl right about now.

Monday, March 28, 2005

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Guns and Teachers

Even if President Bush had to be prodded to make a statement about the school slayings at the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Bemidji, Minnesota, the National Rifle Association waded right in. Commenting on the tragedy, Sandra S. Froman, first vice president of the NRA, suggested that perhaps teachers ought to be armed: “I’m not saying that that means every teacher should have a gun or not, but what I am saying is we need to look at all the options at what will truly protect the students.” Surely, few people can think Froman's idea has any merit. With the exception of three years when I was in the army, I have been around teachers all my life. I cannot think of one teacher, including me, that should be armed. I suspect that most teachers would wield a gun the same way that Froman wields the English language, and that is truly scary.

In my imagination, I can see the gun-totin’ teachers shooting each other, or a gaggle of the teachers and one or two students creating a deadly crossfire throughout the school, multiplying the number of dead and injured rather than decreasing it. Lord Rochester in “Satyr against Mankind” writes about how fear drives mankind: “for fear he arms, and is of arms afraid.” We fear losing power, popularity, wealth, position, and reputation. Fear begets fear; hate begets hate; violence begets violence. None of these ills can be reduced with guns, ameliorated with guns, or cured with guns.

Courtesy, tolerance, and respect are the hallmarks of a civilized society. I cannot count the number of books, television shows, newspapers, and websites that substitute rudeness for courtesy, intolerance for tolerance, and disrespect for respect. Calling a democrat a communist or socialist who supports Saddam Hussein or calling a republican a fascist or an American Taliban does not make the assertions so. The search for truth must be based on fact. Everyone has a right to opine whatever he wishes about anything, but he does not have a right to have his opinions given credence. Trying not to violate anything I have said above, I would have begun the story about the NRA and Susan Froman by writing: “The NRA today advanced their usual cure for anything that has to do with guns by suggesting that more people be armed with more guns.”

Sunday, March 27, 2005

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Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all, in our house it is like a mini Christmas; chocolate eggs, peeps and pretty dresses for one of our twice a year outings to church. Why go to church at all? Well some things are deeply ingrained I guess, and I do have a daughter that wants to go every week of her own accord. So we will get dressed up in our Easter bonnets, crowd in with all the other twice a year Mass goers, and sit through the Mass if we are lucky enough to find a place to sit, and then come home to fix an Easter dinner of smoked pork ribs, corn on the cob, salad and cheesecake. The girls will have an Easter egg hunt(on top of their already filled easter basket), and eventually make themselves sick on too much candy. Their father always buys too much candy, every year without fail, no matter how many times he says next year I will remember that we don't need 7 bags of chocolate for 2 little girls; for him it is like mashed potatoes there can never be too much chocolate or too many potatoes.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

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Terri Schiavo

I have avoided writing about this mess all week for numerous reasons. First, I was torn on the thought of a lingering death for anyone. Years ago, we had a friend who was dying of AIDS decide to have his feeding tube removed. I know it isn't an pretty or quick death. Euthanasia seems much kinder; but, it has been repeatedly pointed out to me this week it is illegal. Funny thing is I didn't know I was a proponent of euthanasia before this week. The things we learn, when we are forced by the media to watch someone we don't know die 24 hours a day for eight days straight. Secondly, it seemed to me that although Terri Schiavo's parent's had turned this into a media and blogosphere circus I did not have to participate. I could attempt to turn my head, as much as possible, and give her privacy from my words if nothing else.

But, there is always a but isn't there, as I watched the news last night, again this morning and went to some of my favorite sites Dohiyi Mir, Why Now,and The Yellow Doggerel all are talking about the courts system, activist judges and the legal ranglings of the "Schiavo case". I went to sleep last night grinding my teeth and started up again this morning first thing. The courts worked exactly the way they were built to. Nothing special happened in the courts with the "Schiavo case", nothing at all. The other branches of government may have collectively lost their higher brain functions in sympathy for a women without brain function, confined to a hospital bed in Florida, but the Judiciary has continued to work the way it was intended to, appointed by Republican or Democrat alike.

We can look at our elected officials, those who voted for the decidedly unconstitutional Schiavo Act, and realize that they fear those on the Religious Right far more than they do the large majority of American's who support Michael Schiavo's right as a husband to carry out his wife's wishes. We can also know there is something to be said for an unelected judiciary, for judges ruled only by the rule of law and not responsible to the whim, fancy or fervor of the public. When Terri Schiavo's wishes are carried out and she is allowed to die, it will be because the Judiciary worked, because nothing special happened in those courts this week; sure, they heard a lot of Terri cases but they did not do anything special with them. The Religious Right is blathering about activist judges, but these jurists are anything but activist; they followed the law as it was given to them.

Finally, and on a different note for some families, mine included, Terri Schiavo's impending death has brought home deeply held political and religious differences. If this media circus, for which her parent's should be ashamed, has done nothing else; make certain that your family knows your wishes. If there are deeply held differences make certain there is a plan in place to thwart the religious fanatic in your family who would want you hooked up to a tube for years. My suggestion, to surviving family members, if the religious fanatic goes near a lawyers office tie them bed of fire ants.

Friday, March 25, 2005

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Limerick anyone?

I have just enough talent with words to string the occasional sentence together, but Shakespeare's Sister thankfully has a bit of his blood in her veins it seems.

Good thing I don't get to stay home everyday, imagine all the blogs I could find!

So goes Ohio

On the 23rd a Judge in Ohio, how I have come to despise Ohio, ruled that state's amendment banning same sex marriage did not allow prosecutors to continue to prosecute household members the as they would a married couple. A felony assault charge was drop to a simple assault charge, and batterers all over the state of Ohio, those that can read, slapped their live in girlfriends in celebration.

This made me a bit curious to see what the Texas legislature was up to, because of course we must have a gay marriage ban ourselves! Currently two are proposed one simply states that marriage is between a man and a woman. The other is almost exactly like Ohio's though and it states:
SECTION 1. Article XVI, Texas Constitution, is amended by
adding Section 73 to read as follows:
Sec. 73. Marriage in this state shall consist only of the
union of one man and one woman. Legal status for unmarried persons
which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall
not be valid or recognized
.

As I was looking at both bills online the bill history states both have been referred to committee, where they sit, let's hope they stay there. I have my doubts.

Texas domestic violence laws are broader than Ohio's in that they do provide for the assault of household members, don't hit your roommate fellows! But Constitutional amendments can play havoc with state laws, as Ohio has just shown us.

Fear of anal sex, because you know most legislators could care less about Lesbian sex unless they get to watch, has made women more vunerable to repeat batterers, and we got Bush to boot!

"Culture of Strife"

More Jon Stewart, via Crooks and Liars.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

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Balderdash

“Like many opinion givers, lawmakers, and American citizens, I am shocked and saddened by the forced starvation of a young, helpless woman who is being sentence to death simply because she cannot feed herself. Applying this standard, infants, Alzheimers patients, the elderly and infirmed would face a court ordered death.”

The quotation above from Joe Scarborough suggests that David Horowitz ought to be more concerned about indoctrination from the press than from college professors. I will not point out the lack of the past participle in “who is being sentence” or take notice of the unfortunate s at the end of Alzheimer (compare, say, with cancers patients). I am loath to suggest that elderly and infirmed is an unfortunate error. What is important is the absence of any logic in the statement. No court has sentenced Terri Schiavo to death. More important, no court has sentenced her to death simply because she cannot feed herself. Simply stated, there is much more she cannot do. She cannot ask to be fed; she cannot ask to die; she probably cannot feel pain or pleasure; she probably has little, if any, cognitive function. If Terri Schiavo could do any one of these things, we would not have been subjected to the legislative and legal circus of the past week.

Most astonishing, however, is the assertion that by applying “this standard,” infants, the elderly, the infirm, and Alzheimer patients would “face a court-ordered death.” Mr. Scarborough must surely know that this “analogy” is absurd. No connection could conceivably be established between Terri Schiavo and the persons he mentions. His comparison seeks to appeal to emotion rather than reason. It does not explain or clarify any point. Young mothers and fathers, by Scarborough’s statement, need to fear the courts, for at any moment, some judge will call them before him and order them to starve their infants or aged parents to death.

Despite David Horowitz’s claim that universities are overflowing with liberal professors indoctrinating students (a claim I flatly reject), those professors at least have credentials that are examined and evaluated. Those professors, whether liberal or conservative, have demonstrated competence and perhaps expertise in their fields. Professors are rarely granted tenure when they are appointed; it is a perquisite that they have to earn. It does not guarantee continued employment. A tenured professor may be terminated if he fails to teach his classes, demonstrates disregard for his students or the rules and standards of his college or university. He may also be released for any other number of reasons. Releasing a tenured professor is, however, difficult—but not impossible. The point is that we (okay, I am an emeritus professor) do have standards and professional codes of conduct. Most of us also have a personal ethic that generally makes the standards and codes unnecessary. I fear none of these kinds of standards apply to any of the media—conservative, moderate, or liberal these days. I am sick unto death almost with this false insistence on fairness and balance. If I taught, for example, a course in Shakespeare, by the media’s practices these days (and perhaps David Horowitz’s ideas about how a university ought to be run), I should be required to give equal time to the preposterous notions that Bacon or Marlowe authored the plays. Balderdash.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

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Waxing

Completely stolen from Ang's Weird Ideas. It is too funny not to share.

WAX ON . . . WAX OFF:

The first thing you should know is that hair removal is not my friend. The particular talent of removing unwanted hair has eluded me. All methods have tricked me with their promises of easy, painless removal. The Epilady, the standard razor, the scissors, Nair, the EpilStop, and now ... The Wax.

My night began as any other normal weekday night. I came home from work, fixed dinner for myself and watched TV for a while. I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next couple of hours: "maybe I should use that wax in my medicine cabinet."

So I headed to the site of my demise, um, I mean bathroom. It was one of those cold wax kits. No melting a clump of hot wax, you just rub the clear strips in your hand, peel them apart, press it on your leg (or wherever) and ignore the frantically rising crescendo of string instruments in the background. No muss, no fuss.

How hard can this be? I mean, I'm not the girly-est of girls but I'm mechanically inclined so maybe I can figure out how this works. At least you'd think so. So I pull one of the thin strips out. It's two strips facing each other, stuck together. I'm supposed to rub it in my hand to warm and soften the wax (I'm guessing). I go one better. I pull out the hair dryer and heat the SOB to ten thousand degrees.

Cold wax, my ass. (Oh, how that phrase will come back to haunt me.) I lay the strip across my thigh. I hold the skin around it and pull. OK, so it wasn't the best feeling in the world, but it wasn't bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am Sheera, fighter of all wayward body hair and smooth skin extraordinary! With my next wax strip, I move north. I sneak into the bathroom for The Ultimate Hair Fighting Championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet. Using the same procedure, I then apply the wax strip across the right side on my bikini line, covering the right half of my vagina and stretching up into the inside of the right ass cheek. (Yeah, it was a long strip.)

I inhale deeply. I brace myself. RRRIIIIPPP!!!! I'm blind! Blind from the pain! Vision returning. Oh crap. I've managed to pull off half an inch of the strip. Another deep breath. And RIIIP! Everything is swirly and tie-dyed? Do I hear crashing drums? OK, coming back to normal again.

I want to see my trophy - my wax covered pelt that caused me so much agony. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold the wax strip like an Olympic gold medallist. But why is there no hair on it? Why is the wax mostly gone? Where could the wax go, if not on the strip? Slowly, I eased my head down, my foot still perched on the toilet. I see hair - the hair that should be on the strip. I touch. I feel. I am touching wax. I look to the ceiling and silently shout "nooooooo!!" And realize I have just begun living my own personal version of The Tar Baby.

I peel my fingers off the softest, most sensitive part of my body that is now covered in cold wax and matted hair, and make the next big mistake - up until this point, you'll remember, I've had my foot on the toilet. I know I need to move, to do something. So I put my foot down on the floor. And then I hear the slamming of the cell door.

Vagina? .... Sealed shut.
Ass? ..... Sealed shut.

A little voice in my head says "I hope you don't have to shit anytime soon. Your head just might pop off."

I penguin walk around the bathroom trying desperately to figure out what I should do next. Hot water! Hot water melts wax! I'll run the hottest water I can stand and get in - the wax should melt and I can gently wipe it away, right?

Wrong. I get in the tub - the water is slightly hotter than is used to torture prisoners of war or sterilize surgical equipment. And I sit. Now the only thing worse than having your goodies glued together is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of a tub. In scalding hot water. Which, by the way, does not melt the cold wax.

So now I'm stuck to the tub. I call my friend because she once dropped out of beauty school so surely she has some secret knowledge or trick to get wax off skin. It's never good to start a conversation with "So my ass and whohoo are stuck to the tub."

She doesn't have a trick. She does her best to suppress laughter. She wants to know exactly where the wax is on the ass "Are we talking cheek or hole, here?" she asks. She isn't even trying to hide the giggles now.

I give her the run-down of the entire night. She tells me to call the number on the side of the box, but to have a good cover story for where the wax actually is. You know that if we were working the help line at XXX Wax Co. and somebody called with their entire crack sealed shut we'd just put them on hold then record the conversation for everyone we know. You're going to end up on a radio show or the internet if you tell them the truth.

While we go through various solutions, I resort to scraping the wax off with a razor. Boy, nothing feels better to the girly goodies than covering them in wax, sticking them to a tub in super hot water and THEN dry shaving the sticky wax off!

In the middle of the conversation (which has inexplicably turned to other subjects!) I find the little, beautiful saving grace that is the lotion provided with wax to remove the excess. I rub some in and start screaming "It's working! It's working!" I get hearty congratulations from my friend and we hang up. I successfully remove all the wax and notice, to my dismay that the hair is still there. So I shaved the damned stuff off.

Hell, I was numb by that point anyway. And then I put the box of wax back in my medicine cabinet. Never know when a mustache might start to come in.

Tonight, I attempt hair dying.

Jon Stewart

Well the absolute depravity of it all can make you laugh it seems. Take a look at Jon Stewart's take on this mess. It doesn't make it any better, but it will make you smile.

Enjoy and thank Pasquin, who emailed me the link.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

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No child left behind...

I am not a fan of this law first because it leaves kids behind. It really leaves those kids with learning disabilities that can compensate for them behind, I know we live this nightmare day to day in my house; but I will whine about that later. I read in Salon yesterday and was surprised to find out that our kids names must be turned over to military recruiters as a criteria of federal funding, it is mandated in No Child Left Behind. So it turns out what No Child Left Behind really means is No Child Left Unrecruited!
From Salon:
One day in the next two weeks, a uniformed colonel from the U.S. Army is expected to pay a visit to William Cala, the superintendent of the Fairport Central School District in Fairport, N.Y., east of Rochester. While Cala has not been told exactly what's on the agenda, he knows why the colonel is coming: to try to talk some sense into him about how he's handled the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. It might seem strange that the Pentagon is sending an emissary to a school district, but it's actually the law.

The colonel's visit is the latest move in a three-year dispute between the Fairport school district and the government over a little-known provision of No Child Left Behind, the controversial landmark education legislation passed in 2001. The provision, under Section 9528 of the law, requires districts that receive federal funding to share students' names, addresses and phone numbers with military recruiters. This is where Cala, an outspoken critic of NCLB, has run into problems with the law -- he doesn't want to hand over student data to military recruiters without explicit permission from parents.


What a farce, in order to maintain the minimal amount of federal funding a school district receives it must turn over student information to military recruiters. What do you want to bet that those recruiters don't show up on doorsteps at 7 pm in the upper middle class neighborhoods, while they do in the poorer neighborhoods?

Monday, March 21, 2005

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Castle Rock v. Gonzales

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today regarding criminal restraining orders, in other states they are called protective orders and orders of protection, and whether or not police have an obligation to enforce them. If the court rules that the police are not required to enforce these orders then, they are essentially useless pieces of paper. Here is the article in Newsweek. This is a very important case for victims of domestic violence, who have gone to court seeking protective orders as a step in gaining their freedom with some safety from abusers. If the Court chooses to effectively nullify these orders, victims all over the United States will be left vunerable to the horrors of the home they fled.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

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Texas law..no money..you guessed it.

No names here I am not going to use a name, but I am disgusted by the right of money over the right to life in my own state, not surprised, but disgusted. This has become such a fucking three ring circus, excuse my language, but the end of life should never turn into this. That is all.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

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Future blogger PJ's and all. Posted by Hello

Torture

A few days ago a serial killer was executed in Iran, the mother of one of his victims was allowed to put the hangman's noose around his neck. The brother of a victim was allowed to stab him as he was being beaten and tortured before being executed, in public before a shouting and screaming mass of vultures. This was a horrid excuse for a human being. He was a rapist and a serial killer, he tortured young girls. I do not have misplaced sympathy for this man don't misunderstand me, yet it has made me change my opinion on one thing. For a few years I have thought that if we were to have executions, which I disagree with whole heartedly, then they should be public and bloody and brutal so people could see what state sanction murder was really is: murder. I WAS WRONG. I was wrong. Too many of us give into the darker demons of our human nature it seems for there to be public bloody executions, as a way to deter people from killing each other in the name of justice.

This post by Volokh, a con law professor and a respected one at that this week has shown me this; we have traveled so far down the path of disregard for human life, if we deem it of little value, whether it be because of religion or criminal background or regionalism that not only is the death penalty acceptable it isn't enough. Torture is a healthy expression of our anger, and we can and should amend the Constitution to allow for it. Obscene.

This should have passed as a fleeting fancy on the part of a smart man who had a moment of supreme stupidity. Yet, as we know the right wing blogs spread things like wild fire, and this morning I went to a mixed board where I have debated with people for over a year. There I see that the young girl in Florida who went missing three weeks ago, has been found. She was raped and murdered by a pedophile. The rightwingers on the board are calling not only for his execution now, which is what they would have wanted a week and a half ago, but for his torture as well.
Obscene.

I cannot comprehend wanting to see someone die. I cannot comprehend wanting to see someone tortured. What are we becoming when we are starting to advocate for the torture of a man before we kill him at the hand of the state?

Pictures!

Below are pictures of my family's trip to the zoo, while I slaved away at my office. It looks like that they had a grand time. I had a grand time this morning learning how to play with Hello!

You can feed the giraffes  Posted by Hello

21 Turtles Sitting in the Sun Posted by Hello

The Zoo Trip Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005

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Spring Break

This week was spring break for my older daughter, so my younger daughter got a break from daycare too. Their dad took them to the zoo yesterday and to the movies today. They saw "Robots", which the girls liked, but the grown up took a nap in. Our closest zoo is not much of a zoo, but it does have some fantastic giraffes, that you can feed crackers. Every time the girls go to the zoo this is their favorite part of the trip, feeding the giraffes. Hopefully, I can get a picture up soon of the giraffes and the trip to the zoo. My treat, I got to buy a new washing machine today to replace the one that decided to pour gallons of water out the bottom of it last week! It is a very nice washing machine, and Lacks loves me, everytime I pay down my account I buy something else.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

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Presidential Press Conference

He really is that dumb. I have nothing else to say, the transcript left me dumbstruck.

Quitting Smoking

Day two, yes I didn't mention day one but if you fail on day one who wants to have to come back and delete a post? So day two, everyone I live and work with are still living. I don't function well at work though. I misspelled someone's name today, that I had saved on my computer none the less. When I really want a cigarette I feel like I can't breathe properly unless I am inhaling smoke into my lungs, talk about irony. So quitting smoking is the pits, isn't fun and really should be done in a quick detox manner. Where they hook you up to some machine and purify your blood of all toxins, like they can do to heroin addicts. Then they should knock you out for at least a couple of hours and when you wake up, no cravings. Ta da!

Sandy, the Hound of Hell Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

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Social Security sense of the Senate amendment fails

Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 145 to to S.Con.Res. 18 (Budget resolution FY2006 )

Statement of Purpose: To express the sense of the Senate that Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt.
Vote Counts: YEAs 50
NAYs 50

It needed 51 votes to pass, with the exception of 5 Republicans who did the right thing it was a straight party line vote for deep benefit cuts and massive debt by the Republicans in the Senate.

Scalia and cruel and unusual

The below is a quote from a speech given by Mr. Justice Scalia regarding the Constitution and what is cruel and unusual punishment.
“What was "cruel and unusual" and unconstitutional in 1791 remains that today. Executing someone under 18 was not unconstitutional in 1791, so it is not unconstitutional today. Now, it may be very stupid, it may be a very bad idea, just as notching ears, which was a punishment in 1791, is a very bad idea. But the people can eliminate those stupidities if and when they want. All you need is a legislature and the ballot box.”

When orginalists attempt to 'know' what the founders intended by defining language or by looking at law from 1791 alone, this is what we end up with, a form of judicial activism just as dangerous as the one Scalia denounces. How? Because it ignores the necessity of the judiciary. He is basically saying here for the most part he isn't necessary. Therefore, his form of activism is one that says Marbury v. Madison wasn't necessary, it is one that doesn't see a need to say that institutionalized racism must come to an end, and that doesn't see that children are less culpable than adults when they commit horrible crimes.

Back to the original quote though,what he forgets, I guess, is that this was a federalist system even then and laws varied from state to state. To illustrate this and the problems with originalism let's all define these words when put together: No law. Now write down your definition and put it in the comments section. No changing it when you see someone else's, that would be scandalous.

Fractured Fairytales

Publius at Legal Fiction is on a roll check him out here and here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

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An escapade and an escape

While I was off visiting my parents, my beloved and still living 4-year-old daughter, accidentally let their dog; who shall be referred to as the hound from hell, damned dog, and other derogatives, out for the fourth, yes I did say fourth, time. This was Sunday morning, mother had gone to church, Daddy was playing golf, my older daughter was moaning about boredom and I was being a bum. I told the 4 year old not to worry, the hound from hell always returns and is too small to do any damage to anyone, and sent her to jump on the trampoline. Now, my daughter was wearing her ankle length nightgown, and I sent her out in my parents’ backyard. I am a bad mother, I did not make her get dressed first, and I should have. I know this now. The hound from hell decided it was a good time to bark at my 4 year old from the other side of the fence. Now at home we have a nice privacy fence and she would have never seen the damnable dog, nor would she have been able to find my nephew’s oversized tennis shoes and climb the chain link fence and take off after the demon spawned dog, down the easement between the yards. Nor would she have returned with the ‘nice’ neighbor Mr. Bush, no I am no kidding, who told me that my little girl (yes she told him her name), was out of the back yard chasing the spawn of Satan, whom he can normally catch but she must now be afraid of him because he always puts her in the backyard. He also told me that it wasn’t a good idea for me to let my little girl chase after the damnable dog. After bringing my 4 year old in, and explaining that climbing the fence was a bad thing and threatening her with a fate worse than death,letting her big sister babysit her, I went out and found the hound from hell, spawn of Satan, damnable dog and wretched beast all rolled up into one tiny Pekingese.

The results of the morning: Satan's spawn had yet another escapade, my 4 year old staged an escape, and my mother is having to explain to her neighbor's that contrary to what they are hearing I really am a 'good' mother, my father gets a good laugh because for once it isn't my sister, and I post this as a warning about chain link fences and 4 year olds.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

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A rant worth reading

Steve Gilliard is on a roll. The language is not for the faint of heart but when it comes to taking back our party from the DLC he is on target and when he writes about taking our country back from the GOP only one word comes to mind. Amen! (And I have never even stepped foot in a fundy church)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

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The Bankruptcy Bill, but not really

I am not an economist and I don't understand economics well enough to discuss them beyond the barest fundamentals without sounding like I am well, not an economist. But I have real issues with the bankruptcy bill that just passed in Congress. It is obviously a bad bill; it provides no protection for those who have suffered from a medical tragedy in their families, or for the soldiers in Iraq or in Afghanistan. It also doesn't put limits on the fees charged by credit card companies. Obviously, this is a hand out to the credit card companies at the expense of ordinary, everyday, middle-class to lower income Americans. I have seen this bill derided by netroot Republican and Democrats alike. It is not a bill that represents the interests of the American people. It represents the interests of Big Business; which is the point of this post. Proportional representation.

In Buckley v. Valeo 424 U.S. 1 (1976), the Supreme Court ruled that Monentary Donations to political campaigns equaled speech. All campaign finance reform laws have had to meet the burdens set forth in Buckley since. The problem with the Buckley decision, then and now is that it makes speech proportional. Those with the most money have the most access and the most 'speech'. Laws that serve the interest, of the monied, are more likely to be passed, at the expense of those who do not have the same amount of access or 'speech' i.e. money. In other words, our system of government is becoming, if it has not already become entirely bought by the haves at the expense of the have nots. Money must be removed from the equation for us to have a truly representation form of government. If, the credit card companies were not such big campaign donors, and did not have such a 'big voice' in Washington, the voice of the voters would have been heard last week when this bill came up for a vote. In fact, there is a distinct possibility this bill would have never been written.

It is time for real campaign finance reform. If this horrid bill doesn't illustrate that we are all soon to become serfs again and government is about to become nothing more than a form of corporate feudalism, I don't know what it will take to convince us, how many more bills it will take, how in debt to corporations must we become before we will act to remove them from government.

A meme game

Via Trish Wilson I found this fun and interesting meme game. It calls for you to list 10 thing you have done that you don't think that others might have done. I don't think I will have anything nearly as exciting as Trish, but here goes.

1. I went to Farm Aid II and got a 2nd degree sunburn that peeled 3 times. Lesson learned never wear a tank top to an outdoor concert in Texas.

2. I have coordinated three trials at once, one of them a murder trial.

3. I have worked a capital murder trial, the death penalty wasn't asked for thank goodness.

4. I have been on a murder trial jury, before I went into my line of work.

5. I have met Thomas Berger, James Dickey, and many other famous authors.

6. John Henry Faulk called me darling the first time he met me. I had accidentally awoken him from a nap he was taking in my parent's bed.

7. Participated in Jr. High demonstrations against boys not being able to wear earrings to school, we gave the boys our mothers clip ons so they could wear them on both ears that day; and no one being able to wear bandanas of any kind were we all wore bandanas on our heads to school one day.

8. Raising a child while in college and then going to graduate school while being pregnant with another.

9. Moved one week after having a baby.

10. Asked questions of a member of the department of Homeland Security.

Monday, March 07, 2005

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On the domestic violence front

A judge today granted a protective order to a mother and her three small children in a small West Texas county. It will not get any press coverage, most likely; but I am putting it out here because it offers hope to domestic violence victims and we have some damn good judges in West Texas, who have really begun to take domestic violence seriously.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

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A raise in the minimum wage NOT!

Nathan Newman has the details on the GOP plan to raise the minimum wage by $1.10 an hour. Read the plan though and it really is a plan to destroy worker rights and lower pay for many workers, including some of the already most underpaid workers among us. Atrios has a veiled reference up to Rick Santorum's staff hating us, I assume that means liberal activists, on Monday. Stayed tuned for details, worker rights are important, as is valid and actual minimum wage; we should do all we can to protect them both.

Hullabaloo

All two or three of you go read Digby if you haven't all ready. He has a great post up about defending liberalism, with a quote from FDR that gave me goosebumps. Okay, so most quotes from FDR give me goosebumps, but this one is timely and right on target. Go, go now!

Frank Rich

How did the Arts Editorialist at the New York Times become the best political commentator they have? This isn't really a redundant question I am quite curious. I look forward each Sunday to his column; because he will always have a bitingly honest assessment of the United States, whether it is our press core, our president, or our policies.

Today I found this little tidbit in the last page of his editorial...

Back in Washington, the Social Security Administration is refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests for information about its use of public relations firms - such as those that funneled taxpayers' money to the likes of Armstrong Williams. Don't expect news organizations dedicated to easy-listening news to get to the bottom of it.

He is right. It is sad and it is true and I have begun to wonder if we will ever really know what has gone on inside this White House or if it will all remain conveniently buried.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

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HB 449 More Texas Legislature Stuff

Steve at the Yellow Doggerel Democrat is talking about Good Hair Perry's inability to expedite a bill today. The author of that bill is Representative Dutton, which of course got me to thinking about another of Rep. Dutton's bills which would be great, if it weren't unconstitutional on its face.

The bill itself allows for a change in the affirmative defense in sexual assault of a minor cases, when the offender is a minor as well, or enrolled in school. It changes the age limit from three years of age difference to five years as long as both are enrolled in school, and the victim is 13 years of age, or older. I have worked with enough of these victims who have told me that they consented and they don't want the offender in trouble, that their parents do; that it is troubling to me to continue to see this happen. In addition, these offenders face a lifetime of sex offender registration, which as I stated in an earlier post is just wrong, for a consensual act between juveniles. So it is a great bill, and most victim advocates don't have a problem with it, because these victims aren't really victims, until the system takes control.

Unfortunately, Representative Dutton felt compelled to included the wording 'of opposite sex' in his bill. This is a direct contradiction to Lawerence v. Texas, which ruled that the State cannot legislate sexual acts between consenting, yes adults. This attempts to do so, by saying that consensual sex between heterosexual minors is acceptable, while consensual sex between homosexual minors is not acceptable and in fact the older juvenile can still be prosecuted as a felon. I hate that a law that could have changed a real miscarriage of justice in Texas is so blatantly biased, bigoted, and yes, unconstitutional. While I am aware that Lawerence does say adults in the decision; I do believe that this law goes completely against the principle set forth in the Lawerence decision.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

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Pharmacists Rights!

Yes in Texas there is now a bill being proposed by Rep. Frank Corte, R-San Antonio, that protects the rights of yes pharmacists not to dispense emergency contraceptive and abortion medications if they find them morally reprehensible.

Oh my! Yes, let us protect the delicate sensibilities of pharmacists in the state of Texas. Women who have been sexually assaulted in Texas? Who gives a shit about the state of their uteruses let alone about how having a pharmacist deny them a desperately needed medication after a brutal assault will possibly revictimize them; what that will do to a victim's battered psyche. The pharmacists of Texas must be protected from dispensing drugs they find morally reprehensible. The women of Texas, well they can bear children of rapists of course.

What crap.

The bill is HB 16.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

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Overwhelmed at work

But the Supremes are at play again today go read The Yellow Doggerel Democrat for what is going on, he has some great insights into the Ten Commandments case and Roper!

Blogger ate my post

It did at 5:30 this morning it ate it for breakfast! I hope I gave it indigestion.

Roper Dissents

O'Conner first because while I don't agree with her she was alone in her dissent and so I will look at her first. In her dissent she does not dispute that there may be a trend in the states to move away from the execution of juveniles, but states that the trend is not yet strong enough to meet the burden set in Atkins so it is not yet time to bar the execution of juveniles judicially. She also challenges the social science in the second section of the opinion. She states that some juveniles may be emotionally responsible enough and mature enough to deal with the consequences of their crimes. She then agrees with the third part of the opinion, that we as a country can look to the international community and states that she disagrees with Mr. Justice Scalia's opinion on the matter. So to summarize, O'Conner's dissent comes down to, it is just not time to quit killing kids, and some kids are mature enough to kill and Oh yes, I don't agree with the raving lunatic Scalia.

Scalia's dissent: Foam, Spittle, Rave, Foam, Spittle. How dare we look to other coutries; I am a xenophobic. Foam, Spittle, Rave, Foam, This is a disastrous opinion and the death of the constitution! We let children kill their babies; why can't we execute children! Foam, Rave, Spittle, Rave and so on. I usually enjoy Scalia's dissents. They are normally well written and well thought out. This one is like reading my eleven year old having a hissy fit, and arguing with her father coming back in the living room throwing everything she can think of at him as to why she is right and he is wrong. Sorry Mr. Justice Scalia you didn't do well this time out of the gate, but you did argue as well as my kiddo and she will make a great lawyer one day, because she would argue the color of the sky with God himself.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

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Roper v. Simmons

Having waded through opinion, here are the highlights: yes the Court has ruled that we may no longer execute juvenile offenders. It is about damn time. Mr. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court, which without the appendices is shorter than Scalia's dissent. First, some basic facts of the case; Christopher Simmons committed premeditated murder, he kidnapped his victim, and brutally murdered her. He was not a nice young man. He told his friends he wanted to kill someone and then he bragged about killing "the bitch" because she had seen his face. So he isn't a nice kid at the time of the crime, and who knows what he has grown up to be living on death row. It is no real wonder the jury did not like him much, although he did wave his Miranda right to remain silent, not very bright and this alone may illustrate he was a kid.

The opinion is written in three parts, the first part is based a on "the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society" to determine which punishments are so disproportionate as to be cruel and unusual.Trop v. Dulles. The Court then begins to report on the these evolving standards, beginning with their own Atkins decision, and using it as a basis for this decision. Because only 18 states have the death penalty for juveniles, and when the Court last took up the issue 22 states did, there is a trend as the Court sees it toward moving away from executing juveniles.

As in Atkins, the objective indicia of consensus in this case
the rejection of the juvenile death penalty in the majority of
States; the infrequency of its use even where it remains on the
books; and the consistency in the trend toward abolition of the
pratice--provide sufficient evidence that today our society views
juveniles, in the words Atkins used respecting the mentally retarded,
as "categorically less culpable than the average criminal.


The second part of the opinion notes that there are general accepted differences between juveniles and adults and therefore juveniles cannot be considered among the worst offenders. First, a lack of maturity and an under developed sense of responsibility. Second, juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences and peer pressure. And finally, the character of a juvenile is not as well formed as that as an adult. The Court notes that "In recognition of the comparative immaturity and irresponsibility of juveniles, almost every State prohibits those under 18 years of age from voting, serving on juries, or marrying without parental consent." And then goes on to point out that "If trained psychiatrists with the advantage of clinical testing and observation refrain, despite diagnostic expertise, from assessing any juvenile under 18 as having antisocial personality disorder, we conclude that States should refrain from asking jurors to issue a far graver condemnation--that a juvenile offender merits the death penalty.

The final, shortest, least stressed and from my reading the least important section of the opinion of the Court speaks of international standards of decency.

Our determination that the death penalty is disproportionate
punishment for offenders under 18 finds confirmation in the
stark reality that the United States is the only country in
the world that continues to give official sanction to the
juvenile death penalty.


Not once in the opinion does the Court state that the juvenile death penalty should be done away with because European nations have done so, but only use the fact that they have to illustrate the shift in mores. The Court ends its opinion on this note

It does not lessen our fidelity to the Constitution
or our pride in its origins to acknowledge that the
express affirmation of certain fundamental rights by
other nations and peoples simply underscores the centrality
of those same rights within our own heritage of freedom.


My take:
All in all it is a well written, well thought out opinion. It logically goes through the reasons why juveniles shouldn't be executed for crimes. It also answers Scalia's dissent, where Kennedy perceives the opinion might be vunerable, that is the last section, which is why I loved the last line of the opinion.

The concurring paragraph from Mr. Justice Stevens and Mrs. Justice Ginsberg deserves mention as well because it shots originalism in the foot.

Perhaps even more important than our specific holding
today is our reaffirmation of the basic principle that
informs the Court's interpretation of the Eighth Amendment.
If the meaning of that Amendment had been frozen when
it was originally drafted, it would impose no impediment
to the execution of 7-year old children today. The evolving
standards of decency that have driven our construction of
this critically important part of the Bill of Rights foreclose
any such reading of the Amendment.


Beautiful.

Scalia's dissent in the next post.

The Court gets it right!

The Supremes have ruled that it is wrong for states to execute juveniles! It is about time!
By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states.

The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.
The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.

It was the second major defeat at the high court in three years for supporters of the death penalty. Justices in 2002 banned the execution of the mentally retarded, also citing the Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

The court had already outlawed executions for those who were 15 and younger when they committed their crimes. Tuesday's ruling prevents states from making 16- and 17-year-olds eligible for execution.

Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority, noted that most states don't allow the execution of juvenile killers and those that do use the penalty infrequently. The trend, he noted, was to abolish the practice.
"Our society views juveniles ... as categorically less culpable than the average criminal," Kennedy wrote.


I hope to have read the opinion by this evening, Scalia is reported to have written a 24 page dissent, Fun Stuff!

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III

My research on His honorable Judge Wilkinson is coming along. He has been on the federal bench for 20 years. I should have the post ready by tonight.