Entries Tagged 'Politics' ↓

Voting — a Free Lottery Ticket?

Arizona has placed a proposition on its ballot that could make a random voter a millionaire. Prop 200 proposes a million dollar lottery every two years for a lucky Arizona voter.

This would certainly increase voter turnout. A local Arizona newspaper has decried the idea, saying it doesn’t want uninformed voters. But maybe the winner will be a reader of your fine publication.

Honestly, the odds of winning a voter lottery are far better than the normal state lotteries.In 2004, about 2 million Arizonans voted so the odds of winning are 1 in 2 million. The odds of winning PowerBall are 1 in 146 million.

It makes voting seem like a good deal. (I believe they could speed up the state’s ballot counting by just looking at my ballot, and announcing the winners to be those for whom I didn’t vote. The last President for whom I voted was Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt.)

Now if they could just cut down on ballot propositions. This year, Arizona topped the nation with nineteen — including two each on land conservation and banning smoking in various places.

See this New York Times article:


NY Times about Judge Alito

This newspaper of record has come out on the issue of whether Judge Alito should be confirmed by the US Senate as a Supreme Court Justice.

Surprise! They are against him. In a piece entiltled Judge Alito’s Radical Views, they attack his “radically broad view of the president’s power” as well as “a radically narrow view of Congress’s power.” Sounds like the kind of Supreme Court justice any White House incumbent would want.

The previous court — with the retiring Justice O’Connor — stood up against the presidential push to violate the principle of habeas corpus, espousing the view that suspected terrorists could be held “indefinitely and without trial.”

This executive privilege has been named the “unitary executive” theory. Where was Judge Alito when President Nixon needed him?

The Times also thinks that the judge “would quickly vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.” The new Chief Justice Roberts made that point of strongly favoring judicial precedent over the Court’s power to legislate these diffficult matters from the bench — something Alito in his uninformative testimony has failed to do.

The Times says his paper trail is filled with cases favoring those in power at the expense of the little guy — whether they be racial minorities, the aging, workers or women. Or even, incredibly, car customers who think it should be illegal to turn back car odometers, insisting “Congress did not have the power” to protect them.

In summary, the newspaper feels that senators voting for this appointment will rue the day and wish they appointed someone more like Sanda Day O’Connor, with “her cautious, centrist approach to the law.”

The administration views Alito’s confirmation as an unevitable slam dunk. Time will tell.

See another blog’s take on the Times’ piece.

Judith Miller’s Op Ed in The NY Times

As mentioned yesterday in this blog, Times reporter Judith Miller has been given space to explain herself in the wake of her long-negotiated resignation from the paper.

In the Op Ed piece, she explains her decision to leave the Times after a distingushed 28-year career there.

She states her 85 days in jail for contempt for refusing to reveal her sources is more than twice as long a any other US journalist.

She agreed to testify only on the Valerie Plame Wilson matter , and only after Scooter Libby released her from her pledge of confidentiality. Once that was done, she did testify.

Some on Times felt she never should have testified, even if it meant she would be obstructing a serious investigation and therefore, would have been charged with obstruction of justice, a serious crime in itself.

The paper in response to the impasse between the court and Ms. Miller has advocated a Federal shield law to allow reporters to protect their sources without facing this level of legal coercion.

She has website, further discussing these matters, JudithMiller.org

Blog that predicts Supreme Court nominees

According to an MSNBC news program, one blog predicted Judge Alito would be the next nominee for the nation’s highest court.

The blog is scotusblog.com

While that was impressive, the blog, composed mainly by people from the law firm of Goldstein & Howe, also foretold that John Roberts would be nominated. One of them wrote “More likely, I think, is Judge John Roberts of the D.C. Circuit, who was only confirmed to that court last year.” This was written on November 7th, 2004. Justice Roberts was actually nominated on July 19th, 2005.

Another of the bloggers, Marty Lederman, said last Friday — before his latest prediction came true — “permit me to sheepishly add that I, too, predicted a Roberts nomination back in November (in a comment to Tom’s post, which apparently no longer exists online), and again in May.”

This particular blogger then goes on to say that his predictions seldom are correct.

Last Friday, one of the bloggers, Tom Goldstein, picked Alito as the next nominee and one “likely to energize the President’s conservative supporters.” He was right on both counts.

If you want to learn about the U.S. Supreme Court on the internet, this blog would be a good place to start.

Bush gets Billboard in New Zealand

Somehow, I don’t think he will like this kind of publicity.

Hell, it seems, is a New Zealand pizza chain. It’s new wave pizza, often served blanco with toppings like avocado, chicken, and cashews.

The billboard features a generic smiling President Bush photo with the headline, “Hell. Too good for some evil bastards.”

I thought they were on our side. Imagine the uproar if this ran in America.

Tonight’s Push Poll

A push poll is a negative campaign trick to besmirch your political opponent by tying them to something negative and conducting a bogus poll to spread the misinformation. For example, “I’m calling to take a poll on my opponent’s eating children for breakfast.” Assumes a fact not in evidence.

Tonight I received a seemingly innocent phone call. It was a political poll conducted by Citzens United.

United for or against what or whom, they didn’t reveal.

It was a poll about the ACLU and NAMBLA. I refused to answer the poll “questions,” but I did ask a few questions of my own. Like who the heck are you.

Citizens United is a right-wing group that seems to feel America would be better if it were more to the right. I don’t agree with that as I am a moderate, but in today’s climate this makes me somehow a Commie whacko.

From reading the ACLU site, it seems that the ACLU did defend the right of NAMBLA to have a website advocating its repellent sexual beliefs. (NAMBLA is the North American Man Boy Love Association. I do understand why no one would advocate these practices in South America or other parts of the world.)

But here’s the thing. Is this a news story right from today’s headlines? No, it is a five-year story dug up solely to attack the ACLU.

I am not a member of the ACLU, but I don’t favor attacking it in this way with a push poll, or as I call it, an attack poll.

This push poll is a scurrilous method used by Citizens United. It pushed me all right: away from Citizens United and towards the ACLU.

Emininent Domain & Justice O’Connor

There’s a terrific OpEd piece in The New York Times today, timed to coincide with 1) our celebration of our freedoms and 2) the impending replacement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court.

She argued in one of her last decisions that the concept of eminent domain as outlined in the constitution mut be taken too far.

Eminent domain is the idea that private property can sometimes be taken by the government if it creates a larger public good, for example, public roads.

But she decried extending this idea too far. D evelopers might take land willy nilly for the greater economic good of the area. This argument could be used to take anyone’s home whenever someone with deep pockets thinks they have a better use for the property.

Unfortunately, Justice O’Connor was on the losing side of the argument, so now eminent domain abuses “for the common good” can flourish.

The OpEd author, John Tierney, is a Pittsburg native. He has watched eminent domain’s abuses ruin a once vibrant downtown. Over five decades in the quest for the modern renewed city, the heart of Pittsburgh — with its homes, families, small businesses, even jazz clubs — has been replaced by cold corporate towers and empty plazas. The people living there and the life of the community have been drained away.

Voila, the Pittsburg Renaissance.

So, as we ponder a replacement for Justice O’Connor, let’s think about Pittsbugh, where its urban renewal policy has been turned into urban destruction.

Brooke Shields replies

The Brooke Shields / Tom Cruise battle is heating up. Brooke has posted an Op-Ed piece in The NewYork Times.

Apparently, Mr. Cruise had quite a run-in with Matt Lauer in an interview. He said Ms. Shields and her new memoir about her depression are way off base: postpartum depression is not a real problem. Moreover, said the star, psychiatry and anti-depressive drugs are worthless.

Instead, he suggested vitamins and exercise as cures.

It’s fine to have these opinions Tom, but keep them to yourself, not on national TV. And do not jump up and down on couches while talking like this, as you did the other day.

You know, you may need some meds yourself.

P.S. I believe Mr. Cruise — as some other celebrities (not Brooke Shields though) — is a Scientologist. Years ago, Scientologists actually picketed against anti-depressive drugs. So there is an unpleasant “party line” stink to Tom’s protest.

I’m afraid I have even less faith in Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard,* its sci-fi writing founder, than Tom has in modern psychiatry.

*True Story: Many years ago, Lyle Stuart, the book publisher and L. Ron Hubbard were in a creative writing class together.

As they pondered their future writing careers, L. Ron said that best way to make a lot of money, much more than writing, would be to start a religion. Of course, that’s just what he did, and it worked. He did become very rich.

Crest Goes Political

Crest Whitening Expressions toothpaste has come up with a new TV campaign. It spoofs famous politcal campaigns of the past like Reagan’s “Morning in America” from the 1984 campaign.

A fourth spot pictures a reporter interviewing people about their voting preferences — their preference for Crest WE flavors.

Woodward writes of Deep Throat

Drum roll. I guess now it can be told by Bob Woodward.

He wrote a long article in today’s Washington Post, explaining his long history with Deep Throat.

Appparently, this is a warm-up exercise for an instant book to be released soon by Mr. Woodward. Then, too Mark Felt’s little-read out-of-print autobiography, The FBI Pyramid from the Inside
will be revised and re-released with new Deep Throat information. (Amazon has a used $900 first edition that apparently has put there this week because the blurb for it mentions Deep Throat.)

Quite frankly, I feeel Mr. Felt should get my first book-buying dollar on this matter, because of the risks he took. (That puts aside that I actually like Nixon as a president. He was great on foreign policy but apparently a paranoid wacko on domestic policy. Really now, could student Vetnam protesters bring down the US government? Did they even want to do that?)

Woodward describes how he met Mark Felt so long ago that Woodward was in the Navy, a mere messenger carrying important papers to a meeting Felt attended. They somehow hit it off. Woodward realized Felt’s importance as an inside source in his future endeavors, and they kept in touch.