Just weeks after the Bush administration gave the green light to an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks — thus putting an end (we thought) to months of delaying tactics and prevarications — the Republican-controlled House of Representatives spiked the proposal in an abrupt about-face of the President’s about face.
Did any Republican congressmen come forward to make a forthright comment about the lightning-fast double zig-zag? Naaaaaah. Democrat Tim Roemer (D-Ind.), though, summed up the obvious: “I worry,” he said, that “the White House may try to run the clock out as we near the end of the session.”
Lights Out! Greenpeace dishes out some environmental advice: when you tango, tango in the dark. Right on, I say -- but that's not enough. What about soot from burning candles? And CO2 from heavy breathing — those are greenhouse gases, people.
Let's get serious about saving the planet. Think about nature before you let nature take its course. ;)
Eldred v. Ashcroft Oral Arguments Yesterday two legal teams went to battle before the Supreme Court over Eldred v. Ashcroft, a case that could determine the health of the public domain of ideas for years to come. Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law handled arguments for the plaintiff, who filed suit to invalidate a federal law extending copyrights 95 years past the life of the owner; solicitor general Theodore Olson defended the government.
Two Yale Law observers who posted at LawMeme reported that Lessig's First Amendment argument came off like a damp squib, while another post noted an interesting imbroglio shaping up about whether to interpret the law through strict construction [to simplify, literally] or framers' intent [i.e., historical context]. People seem to feel muted about Eldred's chances, but there's a bevy of commentary floating around.
ON THE MEXICAN WAR TO WILLIAM H. HERNDON. WASHINGTON, February 15, 1848.
Your letter of the 29th January was received last night. Being exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to submit some reflections upon it in the same spirit of kindness that I know actuates you.
Let me first state what I understand to be your position. It is that if it shall become necessary to repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the Constitution, cross the line and invade the territory of another country, and that whether such necessity exists in any given case the President is the sole judge.
Before going further consider well whether this is or is not your position. If it is, it is a position that neither the President himself, nor any friend of his, so far as I know, has ever taken. Their only positions are--first, that the soil was ours when the hostilities commenced; and second, that whether it was rightfully ours or not, Congress had annexed it, and the President for that reason was bound to defend it; both of which are as clearly proved to be false in fact as you can prove that your house is mine. The soil was not ours, and Congress did not annex or attempt to annex it.
But to return to your position. Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him,--"I see no probability of the British invading us"; but he will say to you, "Be silent: I see it, if you don't."
The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood.
Four years ago, during the last midterm election campaign, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore barnstormed the country on behalf of Democratic Congressional candidates, just as President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are doing for Republicans this year.
In 1998, Representative Joel Hefley, Republican of Colorado, became so irritated by the amount of political travel at the White House that he sponsored legislation that was passed by the House but never became law requiring the political parties to reimburse the government for the cost of the president's and vice president's travel if a fund-raising event was scheduled.
On Saturday, Mr. Cheney will appear at a fund-raiser in Mr. Hefley's district, and the government will pick up most of the tab. Mr. Hefley said he still believes in his bill, but he has not talked about it since Mr. Bush won.
Rep. Tom Tancredo walked away from his term-limits pledge Wednesday, saying his political career and controversial crusade for immigration reform are "in God's hands."
The Republican from Littleton said in a letter to supporters that he has "struggled mightily" with the fact he signed a pledge four years ago to serve no more than three terms.
"I would not counsel anyone seeking this position to sign such a pledge," the letter said. . . .
By ending more than a year of speculation about his political plans, Tancredo drew a new round of blistering criticism after being blasted in recent weeks for asking immigration officials to investigate the family of a Colorado honor student who publicly admitted being in the country illegally. . . .
In 1996, Tancredo tried unsuccessfully to get a measure on the ballot that said officeholders who don't vote for congressional term limits would find the words, "VIOLATED VOTER INSTRUCTION ON TERM LIMITS," beside their name on the next election ballot. . . .
And that takes us to California, where the Republican gubernatorial nominee just ate a healthy crop of his own words:
After accusing Gov. Gray Davis of illegal fund-raising, Republican challenger Bill Simon Jr. was forced to back away from the allegation Tuesday after release of a photograph that contradicted the charge.
At a raucous news conference in North Hollywood, Simon initially described the photo as proof that Davis had accepted a campaign contribution in his state office when he was lieutenant governor.
But the office pictured was not the one the GOP nominee said it was.
After questioning by reporters, Simon retreated from his allegations of criminal wrongdoing. "Whether or not it's the lieutenant governor's office, it may or may not be," Simon said. "That can be determined. That's not my job to determine that. . . ."
The . . . photos are stamped Jan. 31, 1998, when Davis was running for his first term as governor.
Davis strategist South said the governor was not even in Sacramento when the photos were taken, but was at an event with then-Vice President Al Gore in Pacoima.
Isolated incidents? Could be. But you may want to keep this in mind when the Republican Party, say, asks for your trust on Iraq.
Oh, So That Explains It He wins all the time, but he gets no respect. Why? Because fans know what comes next: a dizzy ride to the brink of greatness, followed by a fall with all the grace of, say, Twyla Tharp in showshoes. It's happened so often that the faithful know the script by heart: win we must and win we shall, but forget about winning it all.
A Wee Bit o' Wanderlust I've hardly been one for great adventures lately, but my friend Ted, a lobbyist from the Georgia Municipal Association, roadtripped north on I-85 last week with his s.o., Diane, for a grueling, nonstop week of exertion called Cycle North Carolina. The route runs from Statesville, near the western mountains, clear to New Bern on the coast. Given how much of a frustrated outoorsman I've been lately — I haven't gone fishing in a over a year! — the notion of pedaling my way clear across a state sounds like a mighty good time.
Of course, there's no need to sulk — after all, I can take the trip next year. Come to think of it, Trek just sent e-mail this afternoon to spread the word that its 2003 models are out. Mmmm, methinks Greg may go browsing at a bike shop or two this weekend . . .
Berkeley High Lays Organics Low You know, I wouldn't have minded having vegan options alongside the usual tater tots in the dining hall at my high school. [For that matter, I would have praised the heavens just to have veggies other than "taters, 'maters and squarsh." But I digress.] Out in Berzerkley, though, where the school board decided not long ago to experiment with expanded dining options for high schoolers, tempeh tacos and bulgur burgers have met with about as warm a welcome as an hour's detention.
Some of the best-fed high school students in the country are back to burgers and fries at Berkeley High School after officials decided the gourmet organic lunch idea went over like liver on the teenage palate.
Berkeley High brought new meaning to the term cafeteria food last year when it invited local restaurateurs to deliver daily organic lunches. Famed chef Alice Waters served up organic pork tacos, while bike messengers pedaled to the school's new food court bearing hormone-free chicken sandwiches and farmer's market-inspired vegetable chow mein. . . .
"But from the very start, it never caught on," said school board member Terry Doran, who championed the organic plan.
The food court was out of sight, tucked in a hallway of the campus theater. Hordes of students walked right by it on their way to Shattuck Avenue, where they said the portions were larger and less expensive at the fast-food chains and delis. . . .
"Students realized if they walked off campus, they could get a bigger burrito for the same price at the same restaurant," student Zack Sultan said.
Much as I want to feel some empathy here, my mind keeps drifting back to one point: these students can leave campus at lunchtime for burritos?! They just don't realize how lucky they have it . . .
Weekend Update I missed the Sunday shows over the weekend, so if Denny Hastert threw any bombs on Meet the Press yesterday, I have no comment. Except, that is, that the concept of Hastert throwing bombs of any kind -- once you think about it -- is inherently funny.
I toyed with buying The Emerging Democratic Majority, but the first thought across my mind when I saw it in Borders yesterday was “wow, this book’s pretty thin.” A truly deep thought, I know — but still, I’ll probably order it from Amazon to snare the discount, or wait for the paperback.
I went right ahead and sprang for the new Supergrass disc, though, which I knew absolutely beans about until I saw a review in the latest Mojo. I’d tell you to get it now, except that, well, you can’t.
The band’s actually the source of one of my chief frustrations with the music industry. Supergrass makes some of the best power pop in the world — I say this objectively, of course — but two times in a row, they’ve had to go forward with record releases without any promise of a U.S. release date. That means fans have to fork over extra cash to get a copy; for mine, I paid almost 20 bucks yesterday at Amazon.ca.
Imagine how much less hassle that would be if record companies had embraced online file trading early on. Say Parlophone had put the record out in the U.K., and not the U.S., but had downloadable copies available on its web site? I would have gladly paid 9 pounds for the download, no questions asked. I would get the music, the record company would get its cash with minimal production and distribution costs — who would be the loser there, aside from Tower Records?
Since we can’t do that yet, though, I went ahead and bought the CD. Was it pricey? Sure. But here’s one of the great things about bachelorhood: being able to waste disposable income without facing immediate grief about it. =)
On another note, I found out a moment ago that a classmate from Virginia Law ’98 represents “Fightin’ Doug” Forrester, the New Jersey Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. On a personal level I have to applaud him — c’mon, who wouldn’t be happy for the first student from your year to get a case anywhere near the vicinity of the Supreme Court? — but still: what a dog of a case.