Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Other Half

The NYT had a great article recently about how this recession is really hitting certain people harder than others - meaning, of course, the wives and mistresses of the banking class. Take a look:

Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. “One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”
Can you imagine? No golf! However will the poor dear survive?

In other, much less important news, 45 million Americans remain uninsured.

On the plus side, odds are looking pretty good that our poor Mr. Davis won't be off the links for long - at least not if he's in line for one of those fancy, publicly-funded bonuses.

In other, much less important news, 45 million Americans are completely unable to get basic fucking medical care.

The time for universal health care is now, and not a day later.

Of course, if you live in any industrialized country on the planet EXCEPT the wealthiest one in history, the time was years ago.

What are you waiting for, America?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Global warming - the skeptics

I get to listen to a lot of conservative talk radio in the truck at work, which is every bit as humourous as it sounds. One thing I occasionally get to hear about, both from the radio and from my boss, is climate change skepticism. Since environmental issues aren't my strong point (you won't find me outdoors unless I'm getting paid to be there), I decided to look it up.

I think my favourite article was this one from the Washington Post, back in March of 2008, on the climate change skeptics. An outtake:

Both the Republicans and Democrats are poised to nominate presidential candidates this year who back a mandatory federal cap on greenhouse gases. After years of voicing doubt, President Bush has said repeatedly that he is convinced that humans are contributing to Earth's warming and that the nation needs to break its dependency on fossil fuels.

Not so, say the skeptics. While the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore last year, this cadre of critics has formed a counter-group called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which issued a report yesterday arguing that recent climate change stems from natural causes. (While the IPCC enlisted several hundred scientists from more than 100 countries to work over five years to produce its series of reports, the NIPCC document is the work of 23 authors from 15 nations, some of them not scientists.)

(Above emphasis mine)

I've claimed before that the climate change skeptics were a vanishing minority of scientists, only to be contradicted that it's actually a whole slew of scientists from around the globe. In my search for proof of that statement, the closest I could find to any enumeration of the ranks of the skeptics was the above - hardly a rousing number for those last remaining die-hard deniers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wait, what?

I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome the President of the United States is.

Life is pretty darn good.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bush - Some Laws Still Unbroken, Good Luck Finding Them

When somebody writes a three-hundred page paper (or as I call them, "books"), it's probably because it's something they think is really important.

And when the author is the head of the House Judiciary Committee, well, maybe it IS really important.

And when the paper is a deconstruction of the most recent Presidency, with a step-by-step explanation of which laws were broken and how - well, with a new President about to assume the position, it doesn't get much more important than that.

h/t to my friends over at Comments From Left Field for pointing this one out.

The 4th Amendment? That's SO 20th Century.

It's just a few short days until Obama assumes the Presidency and his transition process is well under way. Consequently, the news media has been full of little else besides Cabinet postings, inaugural plans, and Bush legacy reviews. However, despite the perception of a nation on pause, the business of government proceeds apace.

Take, for example, yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the curious case of a man arrested mistakenly, then charged for legal violations discovered through his illicit arrest. From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that evidence obtained from an unlawful arrest based on careless record keeping by the police may be used against a criminal defendant.

The 5-to-4 decision revealed competing conceptions of the exclusionary rule, which requires the suppression of some evidence obtained through police misconduct, and suggested that the court’s commitment to the rule was fragile.

It is easy to sympathize with their decision. We've all seen an episode of "Law and Order" or similar show where the police are handicapped by the exclusionary rule and forced to use ridiculous mental gymnastics to get around it, usually to catch the worst dirtbags imaginable. After enough episodes of "CSI," almost anyone would be in favour of restricting the 4th Amendment.

What people often forget is why we have the 4th Amendment in the first place - and what kinds of cases aren't shown very often on TV. It's easy to imagine yourself the innocent victim of a crime, desperate for justice and frustrated as the police are handicapped by what appear to unnecessary laws. But it's much harder for us to imagine ourselves in the place of the innocent victim of police overreach, where our only protection is that very Amendment.

What's even harder to imagine is the case of the police officer who can't get a legitimate warrant against you, and so fakes one up and later claims it was a simple negligent mistake. All of a sudden, the burden of proof is on YOU to prove that the "mistake" was no mistake and your "guilt" is in fact innocence. In other words - as guilty as can be until you prove your procedural innocence.

I'm hopeful that most judges will apply this new ruling in the fair and honest method in which the Supreme Court obviously meant for it to be used; but after the last 8 years, can we really afford to take such a gamble?

I'm back!

Sorry for the long hiatus, dear readers (yes, both of you). I'm afraid planning a New Year's Eve event took almost all of my time for most of December. Now that the New Year has arrived successfully, I'm finding myself with a bit more time on my hands, and I expect to be putting some more work into this blog as a result. Watch this space over the coming weeks for articles on a variety of topics - I'll try to avoid the news coverage, which is posted about ad infinitum in the blogosphere, and stick to my main areas of interest. Which you probably share, if you're still reading.

In the meantime, here's a link through to an article from a conservative worth listening to. I've often said that I feel that true conservatives have a lot to offer this country, when they're not busy being hijacked by neo-conservatives bent on dominating the world and your personal affairs, and former Congressman Tom Davis is no exception.