I have responded to my "torture is acceptable" commenter with an entire new post called "Torture: once more with feeling."

[livejournal.com profile] pecunium, I link to some of your comments in Making Light, about how torture does not work.
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( Mar. 22nd, 2006 10:37 pm)
There's that cartoon going around which gives out S.D. State Senator Bill Napoli's work number, and suggests women call him.

Funny.

It gives out his home phone number.

Not funny. Not funny, and not cool, either.

Look, we've always screamed when pro-choice politicians and abortion providers had their home phone numbers publicized. Nothing makes this at all different.

Yes, I know he's in the book. Doesn't matter. There are legitimate reasons for public officials to be listed, which should not make them subject to harassing phone campaigns at home by non-constituents. Not to mention the other members of his household: whatever their views are (one assumes that they agree with the Senator, but who knows), they are private citizens, and really should have their privacy respected.

The Golden Rule, remember? Do unto others as you -- rightfully -- insist they should do unto you?

"The ends justify the means" rarely, if ever, proves a fruitful approach to anything.
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( Mar. 22nd, 2006 11:21 am)
seen in [livejournal.com profile] griffen's journal:

Post the lyrics to an anti-war song.

Waist Deep in the Big Muddy -- Pete Seeger )


This song was written about Vietnam, but it applies to Iraq completely. It was also part of a fight in another war: CBS executives originally censored it when Seeger performed it as part of a medley on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. The Smothers took their case to the press, and in the end, Seeger performed the song on the show. I can't imagine a network backing down like that these days, unfortunately.
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Remember that ballot initiative I wrote about yesterday? As pointed out by [livejournal.com profile] texaslawchick in her comment in [livejournal.com profile] pecunium's journal entry, the SD legislature -- both houses -- unanimously passed a resolution condemning the initiative and calling on voters to reject it.

Even if they do, this isn't the end for this particular snake: the group behind it, Judicial Accountability Law (JAIL) are trying to pass these in every state.
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( Mar. 16th, 2006 10:28 pm)
[livejournal.com profile] pecunium discloses another reason to avoid South Dakota like the plague.

Can an entire state go completely batshit crazy?
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( Mar. 6th, 2006 04:11 pm)
As [livejournal.com profile] jmhm says, sometimes you can't improve on things.

One of the nicknames for Elizabeth Cheney, Dick's daughter, deputy Assistant Sec. of State for Near Eastern Affairs is apparently "democracy tsar".

Because, of course, the tsars were such models of democracy.
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( Mar. 1st, 2006 11:41 pm)
I was going to go to bed early, but then a breaking political story came up and I'm so angry I don't when I'll be able to sleep.

No, it's not the Katrina videotape. I mean, really, is anyone surprised by that?

No. It's that in the most recent immigration bill passed by the House, churches are required to check immigration status before granting aid.

Rat bastards.

The H of R, not the churches. Mahoney in L.A. came out lambasting it today in his Ash Wednesday sermon.

Repeat after me: These people ARE NOT CHRISTIANS.

From the news stories I've read churches -- a few SBC churches, RC churches are the ones I've heard mentioned, but I'd be really surprised if ECUSA didn't come out against it as well -- are basically indicating that they are going to ignore it even if it does get passed by the Senate and signed into law.
Before everyone starts screaming about the SCOTUS decision this morning in Scheidler v. National Organization for Women (04-1244), claiming that the court has said that it's okay for anti-abortion protesters to engage in threats or acts of violence, let's step back and take a deep breath.

What the Court is doing is statutory interpretation. NOW's claims rested on alleged violations of the Hobbs Act, which prohibits violence of threats of violence for purposes of extortion or robbery. This question had sort of been presented to the Court before, in 2003. Then, the Court had ruled that the violence or threat of violence had to be in furtherance of an attempt to obtain property from the victims in order to be extortion and thus fall under the Hobbs Act. At that time, the Court found that preventing access to clinics did not constitute an effort "to obtain property" and therefore was not extortion thus invalidating Hobbs Act claims (as well as state anti-extortion law claims). They then sent it back down to the District Court to find for the protesters.

At the District Court, NOW argued that there were acts of violence and threats of violence that were not extortion related but that did affect interstate commerce, and that these were likewise prohibited by the Hobbs Act, through a somewhat ambiguous reading of one part of the Act. The District Court said, hmm, makes sense to us, and found for NOW.

SCOTUS basically said that the Hobbs Act was clearly and on its face aimed at preventing extortion. And so found against NOW. (There is also the "We already decided this case, doofuses, why didn't you do what we told you?" aspect to the decision.)

It's a good decision. To get to the decision NOW wanted required distorting a reasonable reading of the statute. Personally, I don't want a Court that engages in expansive readings of legislation, even when the outcome is one I would otherwise want, especially under this administration. Even if one were to argue that the Court is quite willing to read legislation expansively where it suits its purpose, I don't think "everyone does it" makes sound legal reasoning.

Three things worth noting:

It was a unanimous decision (Alito did not take part since he was not there for oral argument), which means that even the "liberal" wing agreed that NOW's position was wrong.

In 1994, Congress passed the "Freedom to Access to Clinic Entrances" (FACE) Act, prohibiting violent and obstructive behavior by anti-abortion groups. Yes, Congress could always repeal the FACE Act, but they could always amend the Hobbs Act to provide that it does not cover the sort of activity NOW wants it to, as well, so that argument doesn't wash.

One of groups filing an amicus brief in support of the protesters was PETA. Doesn't surprise me at all.
[This discussion is occurring in someone else's LJ, someone I don't know. I am not in a mood to discuss something this important "dispassionately" or "logically," so I am going to post this here. Because I am going to be insulting.]

If you cannot understand the difference between a physician refusing to assist at an execution and a pharmacist refusing to fill prescriptions for morning-after contraception, then you lack the modicum of common sense necessary for me to discuss politics with you.

Since you need it spelled out...

A doctor takes an oath to protect human lives. The basic ethical foundation of medicine is "first -- do no harm." The AMA's Code of Ethics states "a physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount." Somehow, I fail to see how putting somehow to death against their wish is being responsible to their welfare.

A pharmacist is ethically required, among other things, to respect the dignity and autonomy of their patient. While pharmacists are also allowed to consider duties to "community and society," nothing in the Pharmacist's Code of Ethics allows them place personal religious convictions ahead of their patient's autonomous decisions over health care.

Got that? The doctor fulfills his responsibility to his patient by refusing to participate in his execution; a pharmacist abrogates his responsibility to his patient by refusing to fill legal prescriptions on personal religious grounds. If you want to argue over that second one based on the "duty to society" issue, go ahead -- but don't claim that the two cases are equivalent because they are not even remotely close.

It isn't that hard once you stop trying to overanalyze things, for God's sake.
Adventus has a really good post about the law, and the protection it affords us. It's a nice accompaniment to [livejournal.com profile] pecunium's post from a while back about habeas corpus.

At the end, RMJ points out "The Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that Guantanamo detainees are entitled to hearings. In 2006, those same detainees are still on hunger strikes to protest their incarceration, and are being treated in brutal and inhumane ways, in violation of international law as well as U.S. law. And yet that treatment continues."

This is true -- every time the SCOTUS has told the Administration the have to do something, they have stonewalled, and gone back to court to argue over what it really means, anything rather than provide hearings for these people. And I'm beginning to wonder...

What do we do if, when the cases finally reach the SCOTUS the second time around, and the court unequivocally says you have to provide hearings and these are what they are to look like and this is when they have to happen... what if the Administration flat out refuses?

Of course, by virtue of stonewalling, they will have waited until they could change the composition of the court, so it probably won't happen. That's why Alito matters so much: O'Connor wrote the majority in Hamdan which required the Administration to provide the detainees with due process.

But still, what happens when they finally push things too far, and the Court stands up and says, "No more"? What then?
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( Sep. 20th, 2005 10:29 pm)
Just when I thought there had been a cease fire in the mommy wars, the whole damn thing -- courtesy of Steve Gilliard's rant about women profiled in the New York Times who choose to stay home after going to places like Harvard and Yale -- blew wide open in my face. Steve, who of course has many years under his belt as a stay-at-home-mother, wades into the fray, claiming that young women who think that having a Ivy-League degree doesn't necessarily mean one has to automatically foreclose life options enjoyed by women at lesser institutions are living in a fantasy land.

Oh, joy.

This is a subject of more than passing interest to me, since I am one of those women who are the object of Gilliard's scorn, having both B.A. (cum laude) from Wellesley and a J.D. (with distinction) from Stanford. I am, in his eyes, living in a "childish fantasy", parasitically taking up resources that could have been oh so better used by someone else, self-indulgently choosing to be a primary care giver to my children -- hell, too stupid to know that I'm not supposed to be bored senseless. While I did not set out on my educational path intending to be a stay at home mother (SAHM, as it says on my business cards), and while there are a whole host of issues which would affect my potential return to employment, many of his arguments apply to me. To which I say...

Grow up, child. And stop presuming you know about other people's lives. And show some damn respect for other people's choices for a change.

Look, just because you happen to find dealing with children mind-numbingly dull doesn't mean everyone has to. It beats hell out of reading SEC regs or the tax code and buddy, I've done both. And there are people who actually enjoy doing those things and old Stevie wouldn't presume to make snarky comments about them, I suppose. (Most kids are actually rather interesting, if you don't assume going in that they are going to be boring.)

And isolating? Yeah, it can be. So can working in a cubicle, depending upon the office. You can change that.

And it's interesting... people keep saying "nobody can afford to live a middle class lifestyle on just one income anymore." That may just depend upon how you define middle class: I see an awful lot of women doing just that. Do they drive BMWs? No. Do they go to Switzerland on vacation? Generally not. But they do get by without a second job in the family ? Yes -- it can be hard, but it can be done.

As far as the self-indulgent angle... I guess all the stay at home mothers (and fathers)out there who spend at least part of their time volunteering in their schools and in their communities, doing things as diverse as being room mothers to being school board trustees, really don't matter.

As far as the women who got screwed when they stayed home and ended up divorced -- yes, that's a problem. No doubt. Women need to protect themselves. There were also a lot of people who got totally screwed in the dot-com bust. Does that mean that no one should ever go to work for a start-up?

Life happens. It's hard.

And hey, don't you love the sexism of that "your man will resent you if you don't bring home a paycheck" argument? Men, of course, are too stupid to understand larger issues and the subtle economics of non-monetary contributions so they will of course act like petulant children when their wife doesn't "earn her keep."

There are a lot of women for whom not working is well and truly NOT an option for economic reasons. There are other women who are happier or for whom working outside the home just makes more sense. I would not in a million years second-guess those decisions. Each woman -- each family -- makes whatever decision is right for them in the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Unlike what Gilliard says, one size does NOT fit all.

But what infuriates me most is the utter contempt Gilliard has underneath for these women: how dare they presume to want to be educated! Unlike all those French Lit majors who need that degree to go to work at an ad agency, they don't need to be educated, they're going to be mothers!

I've got news for you, buddy.

Anything that makes you a better person, makes you a better mother. Anything that makes you a wiser person, makes you a better mother. Anything that gives you more resources -- emotional, spiritual, or mental -- makes you a better mother. Anything that makes you a better citizen, makes you a better mother. And when you refuse opportunities to women, or make fun of them, because they choose to exercise options that will make them better mothers, you not only shortchange them and their children, you shortchange the rest of us as well, by denying them the opportunity to be the best that they can.
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( Sep. 5th, 2005 10:14 am)
My earlier post about Mary Landrieu reminded me of Bill Clinton's reaction when told of Dennis Hastert's remarks about New Orleans having to be bulldozed:

In Syracuse, N.Y., former president Bill Clinton was discussing New Orleans's dilemma when someone described the speaker's comments. Had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, Clinton said, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."

It strikes me that Bill Clinton, who grew up working class in Arkansas, would have a lot more empathy for the people of Louisiana than the blue-blood Bushes from Texas.
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( Sep. 3rd, 2005 11:25 am)
There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize. There is a failure here that topples all our success .... and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 25.
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( Sep. 3rd, 2005 10:13 am)
I suppose I could do a rant about politics and the federal response to New Orleans, but well, Steve Gilliard already did that.

Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jmhm for the link.
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