Mar. 27th, 2003

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(Mr. Smith is the lawyer attempting to overturn the Texas sodomy law in the case currently before the Supreme Court)

...For example, one of Mr. Smith's goals was clearly to persuade the court that while the concept of gay rights as such did not have deep historical roots, there was a libertarian spirit of personal privacy that did reach far back to the country's beginnings. "So you really have a tradition of respect for the privacy of couples in their home, going back to the founding," Mr. Smith said. He noted that three-quarters of the states had repealed their criminal sodomy laws for everyone, "based on a recognition that it's not consistent with our basic American values about the relationship between the individual and the state."

"Well, it depends on what you mean by our basic American values," Justice Scalia said, clearly unimpressed by the argument that a newly emerged consensus on any subject should receive constitutional weight. "Suppose that all the states had laws against flagpole sitting at one time" and subsequently repealed them, Justice Scalia said. "Does that make flagpole sitting a fundamental right?"

This gave Mr. Smith an opening, and he took it. "No, your honor," he said, "but the court's decisions don't look just at history, they look at the function that a particular claimed freedom plays in the lives of real people." He offered the rights to contraception and abortion as examples.

"I don't know what you mean by the function it plays in the lives of real people," Justice Scalia said. "Any law stops people from doing what they really want to do..."

Oh, gosh. What a unique way to look at it.

You know how when someone who's basically a goon tries to be funny and everyone struggles to be subtle about ignoring it as if it were a wet steaming cowflop on the table at a formal dinner and the goon swells their chest, assuming that they've silenced the room with the force of their argument?

Just, you know, asking.


Mar. 27th, 2003 04:45 am
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The Supreme Court today narrowly upheld a nationwide program that channels millions of dollars every year to legal services for the poor by pooling the interest earned on short-term deposits that lawyers hold in trust for their clients.

The 5-to-4 decision rejected the argument of a conservative legal group here that the program amounted to an unconstitutional "taking" of the clients' property. The group, the Washington Legal Foundation, has conducted a decade-long litigation campaign against the program, arguing that it violated private property rights and that the clients of law firms should not be forced to provide financial support to causes with which they might disagree.

The majority said today that even assuming that the government did appropriate money that was technically the property of the clients, the action did not violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against taking private property without "just compensation." That was because transaction costs would otherwise have wiped out whatever interest an individual account would have earned, Justice John Paul Stevens said.

"Just compensation" under the Fifth Amendment "is measured by the property owner's loss rather than the government's gain" and the depositors suffered no actual loss, Justice Stevens said...

Rehnquist and Thomas signing on to Scalia's "Robin Hood" dissent.

Now if he could only work up a head of steam about stealing from the poor to give to the rich.
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...Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) may put House consideration of the Bush plan on hold to assess the damage of the defection of Snowe, Chafee and Sens. George V. Voinovich (Ohio) and John McCain (Ariz.).

Insiders view Snowe, who has twice voted to hold the cuts at the $350 billion total, as the one to watch in the weeks ahead. With a seat on the Finance Committee, which will write the details of the Senate tax package, Snowe could tip the scale against Bush by firmly siding with committee Democrats, who are expected to unite in opposition to the president's plan. Republicans have a one-vote majority on the committee.

If Snowe shows no signs of buckling, Grassley all but concedes that the dividend tax cut would be scaled back or dropped to make way for a different bipartisan package. He said that if he can't win support for at least a 50 percent reduction in the dividend tax, "you might as well forget [it] and move on to something else." In the interview, he opened the door to including in the mix new tax cuts if he were to drop the dividend provision.


did you clear this with Sally Quinn?

...It was the late 1990s -- or was that 100 years ago? Indeed, it's hard to recall the impeachment hearings without acknowledging how small it all seems now, compared to everything that's happened since.


A reporter who never signed up for the Pentagon's embedding program in Iraq has run afoul of the military.

Phil Smucker, who writes for the Christian Science Monitor, told his paper yesterday that military police were going through his belongings and were concerned that he had disclosed too much information in an interview, according to Monitor Foreign Editor David Scott.

Despite repeated attempts to contact Smucker, "that's the last we've heard from him," Scott said. "He was upset. I don't think he felt like he'd done anything."

"Some general in Qatar blew a fuse and said, 'Get rid of this guy,' " said Smucker's father, John, who lives in Alexandria.

Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said she is looking into the report but could not confirm that Smucker had been detained. "Our overwhelming experience to date is that people are trying very hard to be very careful, very responsible," she said. "There have been less than a handful of incidents in which someone revealed information they shouldn't."

Smucker has been traveling with the 1st Marine Division even though he is not one of the 600 "embedded" journalists who formally agree not to disclose information deemed too sensitive by military commanders. Since Smucker is independent, said Bryan Whitman, Clarke's deputy, local commanders can "treat him as any other civilian on the battlefield..."

A reporter, an american reporter from a respected newspaper, disappeared, after being taken into custody by the military police of a coalition "partner," and the only thing Torie Clarke has to say is that it's careless and irresponsible to report on things somebody's army might not want you to?

Then to make things perfectly clear, her aide comes back and says that because he's not embedded, the reporter is only entitled to the lesser level of treatment that our allies mete out to civilians?

Yeah, that'll keep him safe from those nice democrats in the region. Good work, guys.


Intelligence analysts at the CIA and Pentagon warned the Bush administration that U.S. troops would face significant resistance from Iraqi irregular forces employing guerrilla tactics, but those views have not been adequately reflected in the administration's public predictions about how difficult a war might go, according to current and former intelligence officials.

CIA analysts "thought there was a good chance we would be forced to fight our way through everything," said one intelligence official who sat in on many briefings. "They were much more cautious about it being an easy situation."

With U.S. and British troops being forced to defend a more than 200-mile supply line from the Kuwaiti border to U.S. troops 50 miles from Baghdad and to fend off small-scale attacks by the Iraqi irregular forces, analysts at the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency are complaining that their reports would be softened as they moved to the White House. "The caveats would be dropped and the edges filed off," the intelligence official said.

"The intelligence we gathered before the war accurately reflected what the troops are seeing out there now," one military intelligence official said. "The question is whether the war planners and policymakers took adequate notice of it in preparing the plan." At least one pre-war intelligence analysis described potential threats of Iraqi irregular forces mining harbors, planting bombs and firing at troops while disguised in civilian clothes, according to one senior intelligence official.

Thank god the White House ignored them, right? Wimp appeasers.
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via bad things:

The Agriculture Department's settlement with a Texas company that mishandled gene-altered corn, portrayed three months ago as a stringent crackdown designed to send a message to other potential violators, actually involved a no-interest $3.5 million government loan that means American taxpayers will effectively subsidize cleanup efforts...


Mar. 27th, 2003 08:37 am
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the eminent Mr. Bogg commenting on one of Ben Shapiro's less inspired efforts:

French President Jacques Chirac pledged to oppose any U.S.-led effort to gain an "after-the-fact" U.N. resolution condoning our campaign to disarm Iraq. In a letter to fellow peacenik Pope John Paul II,

Pope John Paul II...peacenik? Sure there's the incense and the sandals and he has seemed kind of down since Phish stopped touring, but, come on....

go team!

Mar. 27th, 2003 10:44 am
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MB from Wampum tells us that 9,000 people have hit her post about Dr Meng Frist and his vaccine bill.

That's the six of you and 8,994 other people!

I'm so proud.

Please write an email or a letter or make a free phone call. This bill is a terrible idea on every single level that it could be a terrible idea on.
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God, I love Dahlia Lithwick.

...Justice David Souter asks whether Texas really has a 200-year tradition of criminalizing gay sodomy. "Was this law on the books in 1803?" he asks.

"Texas wasn't a state in 1803," offers Rosenthal.

"Good question!" applauds Scalia. "Don't fall into that trap!!"

Breyer notes that during World War I people also thought it "immoral" to "teach German in schools. … Immoral is a hard line to draw."

"There is a rational basis," insists Rosenthal.

"You're not giving us a rational basis," snaps Breyer.

"The rational basis," says Scalia, "is that the state thinks it's immoral. Like bigotry or adultery."

"Or teaching German," grins Breyer.

Souter wonders why Texas doesn't limit sodomy among heterosexuals. "Because it can lead to marriage and procreation," says Rosenthal...
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Uncle Donald got you a movie video

What's it called?

It's called Spirited Away. It's a japanese cartoon, and it just won an academy award.

What's it about?

It's about a little girl who gets a job at a bathhouse for gods.

What does she do?

She helps gods take baths.

Does she put the statues in the tub?
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