tomorrow and probably the day after

23 May 2006

a primer on discrimination, 2000 pli/rep 2006.

republicans in congress are hosting a clinic these days on discrimination. here's how it works:

first, attack people for wearing atypical hairstyles (blaming the cynthia mckinney debacle on her afrocentric hair). next, attack people for entering atypical marriages (straight marriage amendment). next, attack people for speaking atypical languages (immigration bill amendment to establish english as national language). the current republican platform reads like 'steal this book' for the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, redneck revolution (did i miss any?) - not to offend anyone.

here's my alternative proposal for a national language:

'learn as many freaking languages as you can. speaking foreign languages is worth its weight in gold in today's global economy. and by the way - don't be an asshole.'

what exactly is the point of declaring english the national language? i'm not normally one to jump to conclusions (lie, sorry), but the only reasons i can come up with are despicable. props to anyone who can conjure a non-hateful explanation for this amendment.

22 May 2006

reaching the summitt.

pat summitt signed a landmark deal today, becoming the first female coach, and the first coach of a women's basketball team, and (maybe?) the first coach of any women's athletic team, to earn a million dollars a year. the story is here.

tennessee university will pay summitt $1.125M to coach their lady vols in 2006-07, and $7.75M over the next six seasons. congrats to summitt, who has spent the last 32 years at tennessee (an outstanding accomplishment itself, the fact that she's a woman coaching amateur women's basketball aside).

everyone is writing and talking these days about hillary clinton's 08 presidential bid. i've wanted to contribute some thoughts, but before today, i didn't have an original angle. now i do: if a woman can earn over a million dollars to coach a women's college basketball team for a single season, then hillary can be elected president of the united states.

sports do not share the arts' storied history of progressivism. the negro leagues; adolf rupp's kentucky basketball team; some white player conspicuously raising his foot as he slides into second base to disrupt jackie robinson's double play with a metal cleat to the shin; or jim brown being paraded condescendingly around the browns' all-white after-game party, before being told candidly to leave. sports have traditionally been behind the curve when it comes to acceptance and inclusion, and change seems only to have been galvanized by major societal restructuring.

until very recently, women have been totally absent from large-scale organized sports, with a small handful of notable exceptions. but things seem to changing, and not particularly slowly. this week alone you've seen michelle wie battling to earn a spot in a men's pga tournament; and pat summit signed a contract to take nearly 8M bucks off of tennessee's hands before 2013. is there any doubt that things are changing? that they're changing in a significant and probably irreversible way? that resisting is futile?

you can hardly watch television, or read a paper, and go outside without realizing the trend. you probably get your world news from a woman (katie couric), your sports news from a woman (linda kohn), not to mention your life (and probably a lot of your positive characteristics) from a woman (your mom - no joke). germany has a female chancellor (merkel), and france may soon have a female president (royal). all the talk about hillary is great - the fact that our country is having the discussion at all is evidence of progress. but if you think hillary can't win because she's a woman, or just that a woman can't win generally, then i suggest you go ask pat summitt. my guess is she's got a different idea, and plenty of time on her hands to explain it to you.

19 May 2006

Gay Opposition Party

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported the federal marriage amendment (S.J. Res 1) on a party-line vote of 10-8.

A couple of weird things happened: the markup was held in a different room that the usual one, a small room off the Senate floor, while the full Senate was considering the immigration bill, so there was little opportunity to properly debate it. Whatever – we’re only dealing with writing discrimination into the Constitution and allowing religion to trump politics. No big deal.

Furthermore, staff and press could hardly fit into the room, which suggests that Chairman Specter didn’t want to be all too public about this. Senator Feingold criticized Specter for not facilitating a real public meeting and said he would leave the markup. As he was about to leave, Specter shot back: “I do not need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I. If you want to leave, good riddance!”

Feingold’s response: “I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman. See ya.”

‘The world’s greatest deliberative body’? I don’t think so.

But weirder than that is Specter’s reason for voting in favor: After saying he “totally opposed it,” Specter voted for the amendment “to allow its consideration on the floor.” That’s an interesting approach. I am totally opposed to the on-going genocide in Sudan, but in the interest of floor consideration, I am just going to go ahead and vote in favor of it. In fact, I’ll vote for it on the floor as well, just so we can get a real debate in society about this. Huh?

There is not a majority for the same-sex marriage amendment in the Senate, so this is nothing more than the kick-off of Senator Frist’s presidential campaign. And I guess that campaign is much more important than, say, solving all the real problems in America.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the amendment after Memorial Day recess, the week of June 5.

12 May 2006

a quick look.

legal analysts gave short shrift this week to the idea that the nsa's newest domestic surveillance program might violate the fourth amendment. rather, they say the nsa probably violated several congressional statutes, including fisa and a 1930's communication act. by all accounts, the nsa program appears so comprehensive in scope that i would give the constitutional question a closer look. i would also consider the possibility that the court, if properly asked, might narrow its prior holdings to disallow this egregious govt overreaching.

the 1979 case of smith v maryland is right on point. in smith, a baltimore woman was robbed near her home. she described to police her assailant, as well as a suspicious 1975 chevrolet monte carlo she had spotted around the time of the robbery. later, the woman began receiving threatening phone calls from a man who claimed to be the robber. on one such occassion, the caller asked her to look outside, which she did and saw the 75 monte carlo cruising past her home. she notified police, who located nearby a man in a 75 monte carlo meeting the robber's description. the police used the car's license plate number to obtain its owner's address. then, without even applying for a warrant, the police installed a 'pen register' at the local telephone company to record the numbers dialed from the owner's telephone. the next day, the woman's phone number was dialed from the monte carlo owner's phone. the police used this nugget to acquire a search warrant for the owner's home, where they found evidence of the robbery. the defendant's motion to suppress the evidence as 'fruit of the poisonous tree' was denied by the maryland courts. the supreme court affirmed that decision.

the supreme court held that there is no legitimate expectation of privacy in the numbers you dial from your telephone. people have no subjective expectation of privacy in these numbers, which they share voluntarily with the phone company, nor would such an expectation be one society is prepared to accept as reasonable. the court was particularly persuaded by the distinction between monitoring the numbers dialed from a phone, versus the content of the communication. no fourth amendment violation occurs where the govt monitors only the numbers dialed, and does not even learn whether any communication ensued.

the facts of the smith case were not apt to produce any other result. first, the police could likely have obtained a warrant to monitor the monte carlo owner's calls based on the facts already known to them. therefore, i would characterize the case as involving a quasi-exigency. the exigencies were not those that traditionally obviate the need for a search warrant, but the search in this case was so limited in scope that lighter exigencies could be found to justify it. you might call this a 'sliding scale' exigent circumstances test based on the intrusiveness of the warrantless search for which justification is sought. this interpretation of the smith facts would severely limit the precedential value of the case in a consideration of the govt's conduct now at issue.

the nsa program appears to be far more expansive than the limited use of a pen register at issue in smith. if, as seems to be the case, the govt is collecting enormous amounts of information without any cause for suspicion, then it may have violated the fourth amendment. the govt could easily use records of outgoing phone calls and internet activity to paint an extremely vivid picture of any american's personal life. the govt would not need the content of a person's communications to accomplish this. the mere placement of calls and websites visited encapsulate nearly all our interaction with the outside world. a person's expectation of privacy, therefore, is not in any specific number dialed from his/er phone, but rather an expectation of privacy in large quantities of information that collectively could be used by the govt to extrapolate almost anything about his/er life. i believe americans do expect that large quantities of this type of information will be kept private, and further that this expectation is eminently reasonable.

the govt will clearly seek to limit the court's consideration of these issues. if the govt may constitutionally collect each dialed number individually, how can it violate the fourth amendment simply by collecting many dialed numbers? this is a clever argument, and it is certainly the conundrum the smith holding presents. but ultimately i don't think the distinction will be compelling in a court of law or the court of public opinion. consider as an analogy a bucket full of water. to convince you the bucket is not full of water, i remove one cup of water at a time, each time noting that i am not removing a bucketfull of water. when the bucket is empty, i explain that the bucket could not have been full of water because i emptied it without ever removing a bucketfull of water. point is, it's possible to accomplish an impermissible result by taking many small steps, each one itself permissible.

i, for one, would like to see the expectation of privacy viewed extremely broadly in this case to disallow a 'big brother' style collection of personal data by the govt. and, i would like to see the smith case limited, or distinguished away, to accomplish this result. thoughts?

10 May 2006

the war on calling things the war on.

the war on exams is over. it went well, thanks for asking. i promised a post on the cover article from last week's sunday new york times magazine, entitled 'the war on contraception'. i hate how everything these days is 'the war on [blank]'. it kills me.

until a few months ago, i wasn't aware of the full extent of the christian right's opposition to contraception. i knew that the legal underpinnings for the right to choose an abortion (roe v wade) and the right to purchase contraception (griswold v connecticut) were connected. and i knew that most strains of christianity consider pre-marital sex a cardinal sin. and i knew the catholic church was opposed to the morning-after pill. but i didn't realize that the very same anti-choice, pro-life, anti-abortion (whatever you call it) movement had on its long-term agenda the criminalization of all forms of birth control. i'd imagine many other folks were in the same boat as me.

a double shot of work at naral pro-choice america and two weekends of catholic marriage preparation classes brought me up to speed on the issue. i learned immediately that naral considers its fight to encompass protecting not only the right to choose surgical abortion, but also the right to use safe, non-natural methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies, i.e. family planning. this makes good sense, because the catholic marriage 'preparers' sought to ensure that no one - literally, no one - uses any non-natural form of contraception; be it condoms, birth control, or anything else. i was shocked the learn that there is actual dispute over whether people should have access to contraception. i'd imagine many other folks were also shocked sunday morning when they saw the cover of the times magazine.

russel shorto's article exposes the christian-based organizations that put themselves out as fighting against abortion, but whose ultimate goal is no sex for non-procreative purposes. although this goal is kept mostly quiet, the article makes clear that it has wider support than most americans can probably fathom.

there is nothing to be done about private religious groups voicing their opinion. elected officials, on the other hand, should not be allowed to get away with sharing these radically conservative and puritanical views. politicians who oppose access to contraception need to be weeded out of american govt like the infiltrators they are. these beliefs are nowhere near the american mainstream, and voters have a right and a responsibility to learn who shares them.

i propose a constitutional amendment etching in stone once and for all (prohibition aside) the right to contraception. the right to privacy, first enunciated in griswold then expanded in roe, has already been added to several state constitutions. but the privacy right, which includes the right to abortion, is almost certainly too unpopular to succeed in the amendment process at the federal level. on the other hand, contraception is probably sufficiently well-accepted to gain the necessary support in all fifty states. this process would force politicians who believe contraception should not be legal and/or available to voice that opinion at the national level. let rick santorum take the podium and tell america he believes condoms should be against the law on a global level.

how about a war on people who are fighting a war on contraception. and a war on calling things the war on. sign me up.

07 May 2006

william safire is william safire.

i know, i know. i'm supposed to be studying for exams, not blogging. i'm on my way to the library now. but first i have to point everyone to william safire's 'on language' column in today's new york times sunday magazine. the column, entitled 'tautophrases', is here.

we were talking about tautologies on tomorrowandprobably way back here. there was some dispute about whether iamwhoiam is a tautology. safire's tautophrase encompasses the spirit of that debate. he offers an interesting look at some famous tautophrases from throughout history - from moses' 'i am that i am', to john wayne's 'a man's gotta go what a man's gotta do'. it's a brief (one page), and humorous read.

the cover article from the sunday mag is entitled 'the war on contraception'. i read the intro, but don't have time to finish the article, let alone blog about it. look for a write-up late next week (after exams!!). see everyone tuesday, when i come out of my cave (read: the library).

30 April 2006

clooney for __________.

george clooney is making the rounds on political news shows and at popular protest rallies like a seasoned campaign veteran. my question is: what is clooney running for?

he's already been elected people magazine's sexiest man. and he locked up the vote for classiest-actor-ever at this year's oscars with his immaculately delivered acceptance speech about the history of hollywood progressivism. and when it seemed recently that clooney's popularity was peaking, and had nowhere to go but down, the public's adoration for him only continued to grow. the burden of proof has basically shifted to anyone who says clooney isn't the coolest guy in the milky way.

in the past week, clooney has been interviewed by wolf blitzer in the situation room, given a press conference with sens. obama and brownback, and featured prominently at a rally in front of the us capitol for increased intl involvement in darfur - not to mention probably dating a dozen beautiful women. i'll concede it's possible that clooney's ultimate goal is just to increase public awareness about the genocide in sudan. actors and other celebs are prone to taking up various public causes. immediately coming to mind are tim robbins and susan sarandon, bono, and... well, that's it, but i'm sure there are others. in this case, i'm not convinced clooney isn't opening the door for a future political career. he must be looking at arnold in california, and thinking, 'they elected that guy and he's not 1/10 as popular or handsome as me.' i already feel sorry for the avg-joe who has to run against clooney. that's a tough act to follow.

28 April 2006

america, la bonita.

president bush proclaimed today that america's natl anthem, the star-spangled banner, should be sung only in english. wow. the story is here (i love the picture of bush - it looks like he's singing the anthem himself).

politicians are often accused of speaking out of both sides of their mouth; toeing the line on important issues; attempting to pander to both sides of a heated debate. such criticism is frequently justifiable, but often overblown in my opinion. it's the nature of politics for those who practice it not to be perceived as extreme. the us is largely a nation of centrists, any media portrayal otherwise aside (i know, it's a quote from west wing, but an accurate one i think). no politician could ever get elected if s/he did not get some votes from both sides of the aisle. as such, a bit of pandering and line-toeing in politics is acceptable; healthy even. but bush in this case has gone too far. he literally and figuratively has one foot on either side of the immigration debate fence.

first of all, people can sing whatever they want, whenever they want, in whatever language they want. people can stand on their heads on the sidewalk outside the white house, singing the anthem in pig latin, if that's their prerogative. any suggestion otherwise is offensive and irresponsible.

and furthermore, spanish language is an integral part of many aspects of american culture; one that should not be ignored, much less repudiated. turn on the radio. turn on the tv. eat in a restaurant. better yet, work in a restaurant. hire a nanny, or an in-home caretaker for your elderly relative. or just plain ask someone. spanish language is everywhere around us, rapidly integrating itself into all aspects of american society. my guess is it's only a matter of time before spanish language is required learning at all public schools, not to mention next to essential for proper functioning in most major cities. the increased prevalence of spanish language in the us is an unstoppable force, regardless of what anyone has to say or do about the current flux of illegal immigration.

bush would have you believe that by singing the natl anthem in spanish, immigrant protesters aim to demonstrate the differences between us. this may be the next 'mexican flag' issue at the may first immigration rally/protest/boycott. but singing the anthem in spanish is completely distinguishable from carrying a foreign flag. in truth, any singing of the anthem, whether in spanish, dutch, or chinese, should properly be viewed as recognition of our common ground as americans, from whatever corner of the globe we came, and whatever language we now speak. i for one, would love to hear protesters on may first sing the anthem proudly in their native languages. that's what makes america beautiful in the first place.

9/11 profiteering.

starting tonight, all americans can join the passengers of flight 93 for the mere cost of a movie ticket. i listened to a discussion this morning on c-span's washington journal about whether it's 'too soon' for this movie to come out. some quick thoughts (about something other than the internal revenue code, which by the way is a fantastic read - let me tell you).

i think it's too soon. then again, i think any time would be too soon. with one possible exception. there's a big debate going on right now about funding for a memorial to the passengers of flight 93 in pennsylvania where the plane crashed. back in 2001, the federal govt agreed to pay half the cost of building the on-site memorial, with a contribution cap of about $7M. sounds reasonable. now the folks responsible for getting the thing done wanna spend $100M for a memorial spanning like 40 acres, and they want to fed govt to pony up half the dough. that's $50M - a whopping $43M more than the feds were looking to spend. many congresspeople were appropriately reluctant to authorize such an enormous payment, which response was obviously met by accusations of anti-americanism. if you don't want to pay $50M for a forty acre memorial in the middle of podunk, pa, then you're no patriot.

my suggestion. take the $$$ from the movie and use it pay for the memorial. no one should be taking a profit off this movie anyways. it's just wrong. especially considering they didn't even get any big actors to star in it, and it generally looks like they spent about 50 cents to a dollar on production. the makers knew full well that people would go see the film just the same because it's the first 9-11 flick to be released, regardless of how good the movie actually is. i mean, what person interested in seeing the movie is gonna be swayed by a bad review? no one. it's a cheap shot. plus, if the producers agreed to give all the profits to the pa memorial, they could charge like two-and-a-half times the normal admission and people would still go.

it's always too soon to take a profit off of people dying. making this movie is akin to war profiteering in my mind. so take the movie's earnings and donate them, in full, to building a pa memorial to the passengers of flight 93. that would kill two birds with one stone.

27 April 2006

$100 and a mule.

exams suck. there are so many good stories to blog about, and they're passing me by like so much sand in the hourglass. but alas, i couldn't resist a quick note about the new proposal by republican senators to send every single american taxpayer a $100 check to help offset the rising cost of gas.

i'm angry about the cost of grapes. can i have a govt check for 75 cents? is this any kind of solution? it strikes me as absurd that the wealthiest american, driving around in a hummer and sipping a goblet of 10w30, gets the same check as a lower-middle class american, driving around in a hybrid he can barely make payments on. the only appropriate way to do a repayment program like this is to give the money to people who need and/or deserve it. and that simply raises administrative costs to the point where we're spending more figuring out who gets the money than we are repaying those folks. point is, this is a ridiculous proposal and one that should be rejected out of hand. the fact that republicans are tying the repayment plan to an emergency appopriation bill for iraq/katrina relief, and including a provision for oil drilling in anwar, is absurd.

dems should be knocking the gas price issue out of the ballpark. it's almost redundant to say that republicans are tied to oil interests. republicans are oil interests. i'm not saying dems should be telling the nation they have all the answers. our dependence on oil is a complicated problem; one that has developed over many decades. but you can't possibly expect any progress when the govt is controlled by politicians entirely beholden to the oil companies. and seeing as there are only two political parties, that means...

and for goodness sakes. you people elected an oil tycoon, a modern-day-john-rockefeller, to the white house. what did you think was gonna happen to the price of gas? expecting george bush to get 'tough' on 'big oil' is akin to appointing bill gates to head up the ftc and looking for lower prices on your next copy of windows vista. don't hold your breath.

i am willing to put some of the blame on clinton for this. the federal govt allowed a rash of big oil company mergers in the late 90s, on clinton's watch. it strikes me that these mergers must make it easier for the remaining oil conglomerates to collude on supply and price. in hindsight (actually a lot of people had foresight on this), the govt could probably have stalled some of this mess by blocking all those mergers. exxon/mobil. bp/amoco. bp-amoco/arco. etc/etc.

in any event, no one is fooled by the $100 check. i mean, don't get me wrong. i'll take it. no risk of me sending mine back. but this is such an empty maneuver it's laughable. demand more now.

UPDATE: I just noticed in another article that the rebate check is not for every taxpayers. it's for single taxpayers with income less than $125k, and joint taxpayers with income under $150k. not as bad as i had previously thought. but foolish and unproductive, nonetheless.

17 April 2006


what happened to the panel discussion that was scheduled to air tonight after pbs' new documentary 'the armenian genocide'?

there are two possibilities: (1) it's running on some local pbs affiliates, but not weta, channel 26 here in dc; or (2) pbs opted not to air the panel at all after contoversy arose about the views of two of the panel members. i thought at first that perhaps there might have been a mistake; that there was never intended to be an actual panel. but the pbs website says the following:

Nevertheless, despite that recognition, PBS also went ahead and commissioned Oregon Public Broadcasting to produce a 25-minute panel discussion — which is already taped and scheduled to air immediately after the documentary — that includes two scholars who support the view implicit in the film's title, and two who question, among other things, the accuracy and use of the label "genocide." The panel discussion is called "The Armenian Genocide: Exploring the Issues." It is moderated by National Public Radio correspondent Scott Simon.

The New York Times quoted Lea Sloan, PBS's vice president for media relations, as saying the network "acknowledges and accepts that there was a genocide." But it ordered the panel discussion, she told the Times, to explore more deeply the question of why the Turkish government and its supporters continue to reject the genocide label. A PBS statement later added that "the specific intent is to examine the question of how historians can come to such radically divergent conclusions about these events. An important part of the mission of public television is to engender responsible discussion and illuminate complex issues."

if in fact pbs canceled the panel, and its decision was in any way influenced by members of the us govt acting on behalf of armenian lobbyists, then i think that is very troubling. i would be extremely interested to learn whether the letter j-pack referred to was ever sent; and if so, by whom. i don't have the time or energy now (exams!) to research the possible first amendment problems raised, but i will do so later if in fact i discover that such a letter was delivered.

i was glad the documentary itself was explicit in its affirmation of the genocide as a historical fact. it was especially interesting to learn that a yale law professor had the armenian tragedy specifically in mind when he coined the very term, 'genocide'. as a less than technical matter, it is certainly bold for turkey to deny that the very historical event for which the word genocide was created now does not fit the word's definition. apples are no longer apples. as a highly technical matter, the facts as presented in the documentary certainly seemed to me to deserve the genocide label, as it is laid out in the un convention.

the program did include commentary by at least two deniers of the armenian genocide, the chairman of the turkish historical society, and the turkish ambassador to the us. these two men, and all deniers, were presented as operating entirely at the fringe, and serving political and psychological goals far removed from fidelity to the study of history.

if anyone sees or hears anything related to the apparent cancellation of the controversial panel discussion, please point it out in the comments.

define scapegoat.

i often find the democratic response to bush's weekly radio address to be poorly written and ineffectively delivered, sometimes bordering on offensively incompetent. but this week congresswoman hilda solis delivered an excellent response on immigration reform.

i didn't hear it (vegas!), but i read the transcript. i've highlighted the phrases i'll discuss.

Good morning. This is Congresswoman Hilda Solis from California. As hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of America's cities for comprehensive immigration reform, all of us got to see the real human face of this vital issue.

The peaceful rallies all over the United States showed our country's great diversity, and showed that immigration affects not just Latinos, but also Asians, people from Africa, even the Irish. There was a wonderful coalition of Americans from every background who know that together, America can do better.

Many of those who marched were the children or relatives of immigrants, those who understand that immigration is both about our border security, as well as about family.

As hundreds of thousands waved American flags, recited the pledge of allegiance, and asked for a shot at the American Dream, it made me proud to be an American.
Like many of them, I am proof of the American dream.

My parents met and married here after moving from Mexico and Nicaragua and still live in the home that I was raised in. They instilled in my six siblings and me a deep sense of pride in our heritage, our country, and our community. We learned early on that with dedication, perseverance, and a good education, the American dream could be ours.

But we also learned that we have a stake in each other's future, and a responsibility for our neighbors' well being as much as our own.

Those values are not unique to my family, and they are not just Democratic values, they are American values.

The United States deserves realistic solutions to immigration, consistent with American values. That means reform is tough and smart - comprehensive, but also compassionate.

What America saw during the last few weeks did not happen overnight. The Republican Party set out to scapegoat immigrants in order to divide voters and win elections long ago, just as they did in the past elections on issues such as gay marriage.

Throughout the past year, the Republican Party has steadily built up its assault on immigrants. First, it was the Real ID measure that denied refugees a fair chance to seek asylum despite having been forced to flee their countries of origin.

And, in December, the same Republicans approved the House Republican Bill authored by Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner that would criminalize immigrants, families and even the clergy - making it illegal to offer communion to undocumented immigrants. The Sensenbrenner bill also would force local law enforcement to conduct racial profiling and require a wall be built along America's southern border.

Worst yet, Republicans passed these punitive and anti-immigrant measures after President Bush issued a 'Statement of Administration Policy' declaring his strong support for the bill.

In the last two weeks as the Senate considered immigration legislation, it was the Republican Party who stood in the way of comprehensive immigration reform that protects our borders, cracks down on employers who hire illegally and exploit workers, and brings millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.

President Bush and Senator Frist lack real leadership to stop extremists in their party from trying to kill bi-partisan efforts for real, comprehensive reform.

The American people want change, not more of the same ineffective immigration proposals that scapegoat immigrants.

Democrats will continue to fight for that change, so that Americans get the tough and smart comprehensive immigration reform that they deserve.

I commend Democratic Senator Harry Reid for calling on Bill Frist to bring immigration reform to the floor of the Senate again as soon as Congress returns from recess.

Our hope is that Republicans, including the President, will finally show some leadership and help get the job done.

Republicans are not just alienating Latinos with their surrender to the far right, they're alienating Americans of every background who know that scapegoating any group of people is wrong.

And they're alienating every American who knows that we need real solutions to strengthen our borders, protect U.S. workers and their wages, and make it possible for immigrants who pay taxes and don't have trouble with the law to earn the opportunities and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship.

Together, America can do better.

This is Congresswoman Hilda Solis, thank you for listening.

there's that line, 'tough and smart', again. solis used it twice. i first noticed the phrase in 'real security', the democratic position paper on natl security. it's an excellent take - a concise idea voters can attach to, and an argument democrats can win. dems cannot win the immigration debate based solely on being tough. as solis accurately notes, republicans are willing to encarcerate their priests to deter illegal immigration - they think and speak only in terms of ends, and perceive no ethical constraints to the means.

solis drew attention to the republican attack on asylum-seekers, which i discussed here and here.

she noted that republicans' punitive plan offends not only latinos, but americans of every background. this is a nice retort to the outrageous suggestion (dobbs and cafferty!) that all the protesters were illegal mexican immigrants.

she criticized bush's support for the sensenbrenner plan (a fact i had not been aware of, and am somewhat surprised by).

she compared gay marriage as another example of republicans pandering to their bigoted constituents.

she even threw racial profiling in there. i'm pleasantly surprised a dem had the guts to raise this issue in the wake of the cynthia mckinney fallout.

i'm a bit confused by the multiple references to republicans 'scapegoating' immigrants. i can think of several possible meanings to this criticism, but i think solis left her particular message a bit unclear. that sucks because the scapegoating bit is what got reported here by cnn. how would you define scapegoat in this context?


here i am. back from vegas (at least in body, if not in spirit). one thing i'll say about the trip: there's nothing in the world like having best friends. respect to everyone who came. for those who didn't, we'll plan something out east before august.

i'm working on a few new posts, though time is of the essence with exams now peering over my shoulder. apologies up front for what promises to be a slow month here at 'tomorrowandprobably'.

in any event, i wanted to remind everyone to watch the documentary / panel discussion about the armenian genocide tonight on pbs (at 10pm on mpt). j-pack posted here on a controversy over two of the panelists, who deny a genocide took place. more info from pbs about the show is here. armenia is here on the map, east of turkey and nw of iran - i admit i could not have pointed it out. i'm looking forward to hearing the panelists' differing perspectives, and generally learning more about a significant historical event i (and i suspect most others) know frighteningly little about.

down a couple hundred, if you were wondering.

12 April 2006


oops. i forgot to give you a tuesday-afternoon-open-thread. my apologies to those who were dying to vent about something yesterday. a day late and dollar short...

11 April 2006

get jack cafferty the hell off my cnn.

i generally like cnn. in fact, i'm happy to get a lot of my internet and television news from them. they do good work. but i cannot understand why they continue to have jack cafferty, an absolute racist and loud-mouthed fool, on their station.

cafferty has his own cnn program, but also makes appearances on other shows, including the lou dobbs anti-immigrant show and wolf blitzer's situation room. now i don't like dobbs or blitzer, but i'm prepared to bite my tongue on their antics. cafferty yesterday crossed the line. here's an exchange between cafferty and blitzer that nearly had me in tears:

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Wolf. Once again, the streets of our country were taken over today by people who don't belong here.

In the wake of Congress failing to pass immigration legislation last week, America's cities once again were clogged with protesters today. Taxpayers who have surrendered highways, parks, sidewalks and a lot of television news time on all these cable news networks to mobs of illegal aliens are not happy about it.

With every concession by the Bush administration, and the ever- growing demands of Mexican president Vicente Fox, America's illegal aliens are becoming ever bolder. March through our streets and demand your rights. Excuse me? You have no rights here, and that includes the right to tie up our towns and cities and block our streets. At some point this could all turn very violent as Americans become fed up with the failure of their government to address the most pressing domestic issue of our time.

Here's the question: What effect will the immigration protests have?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of these demonstrators, you know, Jack, are legal. And many of them are citizens of the United States. They're not all illegal immigrants, the people protesting.

CAFFERTY: How do you know?

BLITZER: Because I as out on the streets. I saw.

CAFFERTY: Well, where's the immigration service? Why don't they pull the buses up and start asking these people to show their green cards? And the ones that don't have them, put them on the buses and send them home. BLITZER: There's a -- well, that's an expensive proposition, as you know -- 12 million -- 12 million of them.

CAFFERTY: As opposed to the cost we're enduring by having 12 million of these people running around the country.

BLITZER: Jack, much more coming up. We have a debate. Lou Dobbs is standing by as well.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you very much.

how outrageous is that? cafferty suggested that every single person attending the rally, latino or not, is an illegal immigrant. cafferty blamed the rally, and america's immigration problems, on vicente fox. cafferty threatened immigrants with violence if they don't shut up. and cafferty tells the ins to go to the rally and start checking green cards. yes, jack, arresting people at enormous protest rallies is a great idea. it's worked so well for the us govt in the past. why even bother asking for green cards? if they're all 'illegals' anyway, why not just firehose them all the way back to mexico?

i know that cafferty, despite his conservative tendencies, is often described as a maverick. he did go on a pretty awesome rant about bush and fema during hurricane katrina. but that will only take you so far. yesterday's bigoted spiel was too much. it's time for cafferty to go. he has no place on a legitimate news station... if cnn purports to still be one.

in perpetuity es sanctum.

here is a very interesting article about a catholic church's attempt to guarantee that no abortions will ever be performed on land it currently owns, but intends to sell.

st mary's catholic church owns a tract of land in potsdam, new york, which it intends to sell. a local potsdam hospital wants to buy the land to build a new full-service medical facility. but the hospital walked away from negotiations when the church demanded that a clause be written into the deed providing that no abortions be performed on the land.

can the church do this? what about shelley v kraemer? i've mentioned the classic supreme court case multiple times. at one point i even promised a full post on it, which i have yet to follow through on. i'll say a bit more here.

in shelley, a black family bought a house in an all white neighborhood. racist neighbors sought to have the sale revoked based on a restrictive covenant written into the property's deed. the covenant required that the land not be sold to colored folks. state courts enforced the covenant to rescind the sale, but the us supreme court reversed. the court held that state enforcement of the covenant constituted state action, subject to the constitutional requirement of equal protection. the court rejected the previously adhered-to notion that mere enforcement of the common law of property, which required the sale's rescission, did not constitute state action. this was absolutely huge because it brought private contracts, i.e. racially-discriminatory covenants in property deeds, within the realm of constitutional scrutiny. no more all white neighborhoods.

similarly, state enforcement of the church's no-abortion covenant would also constitute state action, subject to the constitutional right to choose under roe and casey. the state cannot ban abortion on a tract of land, just as it cannot prohibit black people from buying the tract, even when the state's only action is to enforce private contracts. any thoughts?

i love shelley. it makes so many crappy ideas unconstitutional.

08 April 2006

let's make a deal.

the us senate closed up shop friday for a two week recess without reaching a compromise on immigration reform. the republican blame game is in full swing, with president bush at the helm. the cnn story is here.

a brief review of the facts (also see j-pack's previous review here). the us house last december passed an enforcement-only bill - we would've have to build an entire complex of new federal petitentiaries to lock up the immigrants and employers who would be imprisoned as a result of the bill, which included no opportunity to any illegal immigrants to stay in the country. then, the senate judiciary committee voted up a comprehensive package that beefs up border security but also allows undocumented workers to stay in the us and eventually gain citizenship if they (1) pay $2000 fine, (2) pay all back taxes (i'm still curious what the govt will do will folks who paid taxes with phony soc sec numbers), (3) learn english, (4) pass a criminal background check, and (5) are determined to pose no threat to national security. republicans and the prison guards' union criticized the sjc bill as 'amnesty'.

bill frist, who had originally opposed any sort of amnesty or guest worker program, agreed to negotiate. tough negotiations led to a compromise, dubbed the 'roots' program. if an immigrant has been here five years, then s/he can stay and eventually gain citizenship. if s/he's been here between two and five years, then s/he has to go home but s/he can basically come right back and gain citizenship (negotations yield strange results sometimes, don't they?). if s/he's been here less than two years, then no change from your current status, illegal. at a press conference thursday, frist and minority leader harry reid announced that compromise had been struck, and the senate was going to pass something. i'm glad i took a healthy dose of pessimism before the press conference, because the compromise fell apart about forty five seconds later.

the most outspoken anti-latino republicans demanded the opportunity to present amendments to the compromise bill for vote on the senate floor. democrats refused, fearing that these new amendments would allow the joint house/senate conference on the bill to undo everything. so dems put the bill up for cloture vote on friday morning. 38 of 44 dems voted yea, and every republican voted nea (j-pack can correct me if my numbers are a bit off). democrats, particularly harry reid, firmly opposed any new compromise that included the republicans' amendments.

republicans, led by bush in his weekly radio addressed, accused reid and dems of stalling the legislative process. i'm not sure that's an accurate representation of what transpired in the senate. we've seen recently how republicans like reasoning from tautology; well i prefer reasoning from analogy. i saw john kerry on meet the press this morning talking about the senate debacle. consider the following hypothetical exchange between kerry and mtp host tim russert:

russert: top o' the mornin' to ya johnny-boy.
kerry: great to be here timmy, old buddy old pal.
r: great to have you.
k: by the way timmy, that's a great green and blue striped tie you've got on.
r: thanks john, i wear it every time you're on the show.
k: that's because you wear it every week.
r: you got me there, john.
k: say timmy, i'll give you thirty bucks for that tie.
r: thirty bucks? no way, this tie is carolina herrera. how about forty five dollars?
k: thirty five.
r: forty two.
k: thirty six.
r: forty dollars and seventy five cents.
[two days later...]
k: thirty seven dollars and fifty cents.
r: thirty seven dollars and fifty cents, payable in commemorative texas quarters and you've got yourself a deal.
k: deal.
r: deal. say john, let's hold a press conference to tell everyone we've reached a compromise.
k: great idea timmy.
[after the press conference...]
r: say john, i don't like a our deal anymore.
k: too bad. we had a deal.
r: i know, but i wanna make a small change - make it thirty seven fifty payable in texas quarters, plus you give me the shirt off your back.
k: the shirt off my back? are you crazy? if you take the shirt off my back, then what am i gonna do with your tie?
r: i don't care. give me the shirt or no deal.
k: no deal then.
r: you stalled the process.
k: i didn't stall the process. we had a deal and you tried to change it so it wasn't a good deal for me anymore.
r: no i didn't. you stalled the process.

see the analogy?

07 April 2006

tortured logic.

over the past five years, bush et al have tortured everyone and everything they can get their hands on. it was only a matter of time before they came after logic.

the white house explained today why bush did not flip-flop his position on leaking classified info to reporters. in a sense, albeit one that makes a person of sound mind grimace, this is correct. you see, the executive branch [read: bush] determines what info is classified in the first place. and there used to be a process for declassifying classified info, which had to be followed even at the highest levels. but a couple years ago, bush ruled by executive order that he and 'buckshot' cheney don't have to follow that process. they can declassify whatever they want whenever they want. hell, they can declassify info that wasn't even classified in the first place. they can declassify stuff that isn't even info. bush says he and cheney can declassify your mom if they want. what are you gonna do? what?

so, it's essentially a logical impossibility for bush to 'leak' classified info. he has only to declassify it first, which he can do on a whim, as he sees fit, and no one can stop him down. in that sense, it's correct that he did not flip-flop. other people should not leak classified info, but he can do what he wants.

[picture me stabbing myself in the stomach]

oh the pain. it hurts so bad. make it stop. please mr pres.

talk about getting off on a technicality. what a crap definition of 'leak'. bush declassified natl security intel to get it to the natl media for political purposes - to bolster his failing defense of the iraq war, which has only proven more failing since. that he can (by his own executive order) declassify any info he wants is largely irrelevant. he did exactly what he lambasted others for doing - not to mention threatened with criminal investigation. he took classified natl security info and gave it to reporters for political purposes.

first they came for the poor, and i said nothing. then they came for the arabs, and i said nothing. then they came for logic, and i said nothing.

Should denying genocide be illegal?

I work for a Member of Congress from the Los Angeles area. Her Congressional district is largely Hispanic – over 70%, one of the largest Hispanic concentrations in the country - but there are a few other ethnic communities intertwined amongst the 640.000 constituents comprising her district. One of these communities is a thriving Armenian-American community. Our office meets regularly with the groups representing Armenian-American interests, and in a recent meeting something interesting happened.

PBS is airing a documentary on the Armenian genocide later this month. The Armenian-American community is obviously delighted that PBS has chosen to show an hour-long, independently produced documentary, simply titled The Armenian Genocide, one week before the annual ‘Armenian Remembrance Day’ is marked in the U.S. But they are very far from enthusiastic about the fact that PBS will air a 25-minute panel discussion immediately following the documentary, which includes two scholars who support the view implicit in the film's title, and two who question, among other things, the accuracy and use of the label ‘genocide’. Armenian groups have likened this step to airing a statement by neo-nazi Holocaust deniers immediately after showing Shindler’s List.

PBS officials, responding to critique in a statement, said they “accepted The Armenian Genocide for the schedule based on its merits and because the information it presents is an important part of recent world history”. Implicit in PBS's decision to accept the film for distribution, the statement says, is PBS's “recognition that the overwhelming majority of historians have concluded that a genocide took place”.

The Armenian genocide, conducted during the rule of the ‘Young Turks’ of the Ottoman Empire as World War I engulfed Europe, leaving upwards of a million or more Armenians dead, has never been officially recognized by Turkey. This has lead to tensions between Armenia and Turkey for centuries. In explaining its motivation for the inclusion of the genocide-deniers on the panel debate, network officials stated that the network "acknowledges and accepts that there was a genocide." But it ordered the panel discussion to explore more deeply the question of why the Turkish government and its supporters continue to reject the genocide label. A PBS statement later added that "the specific intent is to examine the question of how historians can come to such radically divergent conclusions about these events. An important part of the mission of public television is to engender responsible discussion and illuminate complex issues."

The two historians questioning the Armenian genocide are, not surprisingly, of Turkish descent. Not only do Turkish historians come to radically divergent conclusions than their colleagues abroad - they pretty much have to. Turkey law states that "A person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment". This law has been used, for example, to bring charges against writer Orhan Pamuk in 2005 for stating that "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it".

So, back to our meeting a few weeks ago. Our Armenian friends ask us if the Congresswoman would be so kind as to sign on to a letter from some Members of Congress (all of which have sizable Armenian constituent groups in their districts) to PBS, requesting that they refrain from airing the panel discussion with the genocide-denying Turkish historians. In my opinion, this is the point where the meeting takes a turn into a philosophical hornet’s nest. This request collides with the question of free speech and the responsibilities that accompany that freedom. It is troublesome for a Member of Congress to ask a public broadcasting network to take something off the air because it displeases constituent group x, y or z.

My boss didn’t sign the letter. We will continue to work with our Armenian friends to fight for recognition of the genocide, but not by silencing the deniers. The PBS debate represents an opportunity for Armenian academics to present their evidence and arguments to a broad audience. I am convinced that it is better to flesh out the deniers’ arguments and refute them one by one, despite the fact that genocide-denial is obviously an extremely hurtful phenomenon to people who’s lives or ancestor’s lives have been affected. But the more people witness the refuting of false arguments, the better. Silencing deniers does not make their arguments go away. Criminalizing deniers makes martyrs of those who are prosecuted, such as the deranged British historian David Irving, who was recently sentenced to three years imprisonment in Austria for Holocaust denial. Presenting credible, consistent arguments in response to historical revisionism has a stronger potential to prevent others from repeating the lies than silencing them by law.

Free speech is a condition of legitimate government. If one supports Orhan Pamuk’s right to speak about the Armenian genocide in Turkey, then one is forced to support genocide deniers right to oppose it elsewhere. Curtailing the rights of those who speak untruthfully about the genocide in the US or elsewhere will be used as a lever to curtail the rights of those who speak truthfully about it in Turkey. If we expect deniers, racists and bigots to accept the verdict of the majority once the majority has spoken, then we must permit them to express their denial, racism and bigotry in the process whose verdict we ask them to accept.

I’ll be watching the documentary and the panel discussion on PBS April 17. I urge everyone else to do the same.

187 on a [bleep] 527.

a cat stuck in a tree would probably get more msm coverage than the 527 reform act. even the blogosphere is pretty quiet on it. strange, considering the impacted groups are supposed to be leaders of the grassroots get-out-the-vote movement. it makes you wonder how good they are at their job.

in any event, the alliance for justice does have some interesting commentary on the bill, including this opposition letter to reps tuesday, as well as this fact sheet on 527s and how they would be affected. anyone interested in campaign finance reform should check out the afj site. it's incredibly informative, and much more readable than my attempt here to discuss the possible constitutional implications of the new bill.

in any event, the bill is headed to the senate. maybe the political orgs are just saving their energy for a nastier fight there. after all, if you wanna make sure nothing gets done, the senate is the place to do it... err, not do it. whatever.


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