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Wednesday, June 27, 2007
What Say You?
Me? I like the Constitution. I think it is one of the greatest things ever written, and in the couple of centuries since it was put down, I have yet to see a nation anywhere on earth write a better founding document. It has been amended a few times, mostly to beneficial effect, although more idiotic proposals to "improve" it have been tossed around than I'd care to recall.
My guess is that most Americans, and even citizens of other countries can agree that it's a pretty superlative document. Flexible enough to give discretion to judges, while at the same time providing clear and sensible guidance. For example:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Is that clear enough for you? We understand that yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater endangers lives in a concrete way, so we file that under "inciting panic." Sensible. There is room for this sort of interpretation, and I'm confident that the founders understood and wanted it that way.
The Constitution also established that there would be three co-equal branches of government: The Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislative. No branch would be able to go rogue without being reined in. Article II even went so far as to define the specifics of the branches:
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term...No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
The 12th Amendment further clarified the requirements of office:
But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
The President is the head of the Executive branch. The Vice-President must meet all of the same requirements of office as the President, and has always been an obvious member of the Executive.
Dick Cheney is now claiming that he, as VP, is not part of the Executive Branch of the US government. Because his duties include being president of the Senate in order to break tie votes once every couple of years, he has asserted that he is a member of the Legislative branch in order to skip out of a request for classified documents for archival purposes.
Please don't confuse this tactic with his repeated and nearly constant claims of executive privilege in order to avoid having to disclose information about policy meetings and the like. It might be easy to make that mistake, because the word "executive" appears in both "Executive branch" and "Executive privilege." Let me assure you that according to Mister Cheney, that is some sort of weird coincidence.
I just need to ask those who have defended the Vice President (an deliciously ironic title), what do you say now? How do you explain with a straight face this twisted perversion of the law? How do you defend this administration from so many egregious violations of our country's most sacred text? Can you honestly say that these men love our country? Can you possibly believe that what they do is in anyone's interest, save their own? And most curiously, why would you bother defending any of it?
Make me understand. Demonstrate that these many illegalities are somehow ethical. I don't want to believe that I live in a country being run by amoral criminals.
I will not leave. This is my country. I will not allow it to be changed to suit the whims of a short-sighted few. I would gladly stand before the entire country and shout these words:
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Defend the Constitution.
Not the office of the President. Not even the country. The Constitution. America means nothing if these words are allowed to be rendered meaningless.
Your defense of these men is partisan, and it is small. This is not about party, agenda, or ideology. It is about liberty, freedom, and the right to know what our leaders are doing. To want or expect anything less is, to me, un-American.
posted at 7:50 PM
My new all-time favorite thing
posted at 10:32 PM
Paul Krugman owes me a dollar
Paul Krugman is a columnist for The New York Times, an economist, and one hell of a smart guy. During the run-up to the fiasco in Iraq, he was really the only voice saying that there was a lot of BS flying around, and many of the things that he predicted have come to pass. He took a lot of crap for it, and probably still does, for the high crime of noticing that the emperor wears no clothes. I'm a fan.
But now he's ripping me off.
In his column today, Krugman elaborates on a subject that I wrote about over three years ago. Now, since this is important, and his readership is slightly higher, I'm content to let this go. But honestly, acknowledging me would have been the decent thing to do. Or at least get me a gig at The Times.
Keep railing away, Paul. I'm just happy to help.
posted at 7:31 AM
I'm at the store a couple of weeks back, and I see this black bag in the chips section. A new flavor of Doritos? And a mystery flavor at that? Well, I'm not made of stone.
I stand there thinking about buying this thing, having no idea what it's going to taste like. I'm sort of pleased at not knowing, because frankly, most of the new flavors of things introduced recently suck ass. Plus, it's all "EXTREME!" or "RAD" or "VIOLENTLY AWESOME FLAVOR!"
An aside. I'll tell you when the word "extreme" officially lost any oomph that it had (assuming it actually had any). February 1997, Boston Market introduces the Extreme Carver sandwich. I love committee thinking...
"What do the kids like? Extreme stuff, that's what! We'll get them into the stores by labeling this otherwise dull food item with a cool buzzword!"
I was at that meeting. I meekly raised my hand and said, "Why don't we call it the Cool Buzzword sandwich?"
I got fired for that.
The other thing that makes me nervous about this anonymous Doritos is that I'm positive this is just another variation on Ranch. I'm trying to recall when everything we ate needed to be drenched with a bucket of Ranch dressing, but I can't pin it down. I've rarely encountered anything more nauseating than Ranch dressing, and I've made a real effort.
Having a plate of healthy veggies? Make sure to dunk them in some creamy fat!
Chicken wings too spicy for your widdle mouf? Get the Ranch dressing fire hose!
Ranch dressing is a culinary pacifier for adults, and yes it makes your ass look big.
Anyway, I'm still standing in the aisle at the store. I'm finally overcome by the lure of the black bag with the mysterious scientific-sounding name on the label. Into the cart they go. I cracked the bag open a couple of days later, and you know what? They're really good!
But what do they taste like? It took me a minute to place the taste, but I think I have it, and you'll need to eat a few before it really hits you, because the first bite is a little odd.
They taste like MacDonald's cheeseburgers.
That may not appeal to you, but that is exactly what they remind me of. I doubt they'll end up using that as the name of the flavor, but it's true. A little mustard, a hint of pickle, cheese, ketchup and onion. It's all there.
I hate to sound like a whore for these things, but go try a bag, and let me know if I'm right.
posted at 1:27 PM
The Sopranos finito
And, it's over.
A lot of people complaining about the ending, which is hardly unexpected. People always like to bitch when something they like gets taken away from them, and especially with a TV show. I kind of liked the ending being non-specific, but with some possible outcomes suggested for the not-too-distant future.
With the Shah's head squished, does the relationship with New York get better?
Will Tony be indicted and sent to prison?
I'll admit, I kind of didn't like the strong suggestion that the family may have been about to be murdered. (I also don't care for that sentence structure.) I don't mind not knowing how the whole story ends, but that's a big meatball to leave hanging out there. But then again, it's a nice "Eat it" to the people that overanalyze things like this.
I'm sure the graduate students loved it. Say hi to your moms for me when she brings your Pop Tarts down to the basement.
posted at 8:21 PM
Boy, life sure is crazy sometimes. One minute, you're skating out of jail for some mansion arrest with your Tiffany ankle monitor strapped to your leg, the next, you're being carried out of court, kicking and screaming.
And what's really crazy is that I can honestly say Paris Hilton is being treated unfairly.
The LA County Sheriff let Paris out of jail for a couple of reasons:
She didn't really like jail very much.
She was being mentally stressed by the incarceration.
As far as those two factors go, tough shit. I'm actually pleased by both of those things, because I'm not a very nice person. But there was another explanation, too.
LA County jails are overburdened, to no one's surprise. The sheriff concluded that a person with Hilton's record would reasonably be one of the first released in order to clear space for more dangerous criminals. He also suspected that if her name was Shmaris Shmilton, she'd never have even seen the inside of a cell.
So, he let her out, and sent her home with conditions. Confinement to the home, no false eyelashes exceeding two inches in length, etc.
As you've read here, I was not pleased.
And as you're reading here now, I still really don't give a damn that she has to go back to jail, even though as the law goes, she's being treated differently.
Now, being treated differently is something that people like Paris have gotten used to, and they wouldn't have it any other way. Usually, this treatment results in what we might call privileges. This time, it's to her detriment.
And as I looked at the photos of her screaming and crying, I was not really moved, even though as I've said, she's not being treated fairly.
But you know what? She understands something now that she never understood before. She understands what real fear is. She understands that a bad bottle of Cristal is not an actual tragedy. She is beginning to see that sometimes the bills don't always go to the accountant. She has begun to understand what life is like in a world where no one is there to protect you, and you have to clean up your own messes. This experience will be a revelation for Paris Hilton.
But it will pass. I assure you, nothing good will come of this. So enjoy it while you can, if you get a kick out of seeing an heiress forced to eat hot dogs. I'm not too proud to admit that I will.
posted at 12:06 AM
So, Paris Hilton is out of jail, apparently for health-related issues. Sources tell me that she has a scorching case of Rich White Lady.
But she's not free, lest you be concerned for the safety of your children and prescription pills. She's been confined to her home for the next six and one-half weeks. Now, that might seem harsh to you, but then, you're probably not an heiress.
If you are an heiress, and are a fan of my writing, I would really like to meet you. I believe a mutually beneficial arrangement could be worked out.
But if you are like me, and not the heir to some large fortune or other, then you might think that being confined at home is something of a hardship. Fortunately, her place is a lot nicer than yours. Still, questions remain.
"Will she be allowed out of the house to mow the lawn and other household chores?"
Actually, no. People have been hired to take care of these things for her. They will be paid in cash, under the table.
"Is she to be permitted to go to her place of work?"
Sadly, Paris is currently between jobs, much in the same way that Ronald Reagan is between lives. But with all of these legal problems, how is she supposed to get work?
Paris is free. Maybe there is a God.
posted at 9:34 AM
posted at 10:29 PM
Sixty-three years ago today, Allied forces landed over 600,000 men on the beaches of France.
It boggles the mind what a country can do, with allies, when it has a just cause, and a nation invested to the hilt, in both manpower and treasure.
Still waiting for results from the surge. Get serious, play to win, or go home. Vietnam proved that half-measures in war do not work.
posted at 2:34 PM
I watched the debate tonight on CNN between the Democratic candidates for president. It's really very different than four years ago, when I looked at the field, and wondered why the hell I should care. It's really interesting, because each of the eight have at least a couple of traits that I appreciate, and that a president could certainly use. Even the ones who have no chance, like Dennis Kucinich, have important things to add to the debate, and would make good additions to a Democratic president's cabinet.
Tuesday, the Republican field will debate from the same venue in New Hampshire, and I will watch. It won't be easy.
I am old enough to remember Ronald Reagan's presidency in fairly vivid detail. In spite of the nostalgia-tinted glasses and fuzzy-gloved handling of the era, it wasn't all lollipops and handjobs. Which is what makes it all the more surreal for a Gen-Xer like me to watch ten grown men claim that they are the political heir to a man who claimed that ketchup was a vegetable.
In 2000, I would have voted for John McCain, multiple times if possible. It was a grand time, when he spoke truth, like when campaigning in South Carolina, he said ''Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell on the right.''
Of course, Bush set loose Karl Rove and his pandering band of flying monkeys to bludgeon McCain senseless, and sent the Straight Talk Express plunging into Mealy Mouth Gulch. Since that time, McCain has been willing to do and say anything that might get him even a single vote, and he has joined the ranks of politicians who cannot be trusted as far as they could be thrown.
What a nice segue to Mitt Romney!
First of all, I don't care that he's a Mormon. Most of these guys are only paying lip service to the religious anyway, because America will elect a black, a Muslim, a Jew and a homosexual president before it elects an atheist.
Romney is funny because he was governor of Massachusetts, a place that most Republicans refer to as the most liberal state in the country, and yet apparently is just to the right of Ayn Rand. That's a neat trick under any circumstance. This guy is an empty suit, and the fact that he's even in the race shows how desperate things have gotten for conservatives.
"Can he win? Then I'll support him!" Bringing us to...
I've discussed this drag queen at length, but I would simply invite anyone who actually thinks Giuliani is some sort of war hero to take a quick glance at Radio Silence F.D.N.Y.: The Betrayal of New York's Bravest. The events of 9/11 were made considerably worse by the actions and inactions of the mayor, and the more these failures are spoken of, the further Rudy will sink in the polls. Besides, If you want a serial adulterer in office, either re-elect Bill Clinton, or vote for Newt. Giuliani's tough talk about war is about as convincing as George W. Bush parading around in a flight suit.
But don't despair, there is always Ron Paul, who has no chance at all, mainly because he's not completely out of his mind. He's a true Goldwater-type conservative. You remember them, right? You kicked them out of your so-called big tent in 1980, when you exchanged "Live Free Or Die" for "Pray Right or Burn."
The people of New Hampshire do not care for your revisions, and I hope they bring tomatoes Tuesday.
posted at 8:34 PM
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