1 Comment

Comment gets an election day (after) promotion

This started out as a follow-up comment to my post with the Florida/CNN map, but I thought I’d let this one try to stand on it’s own. If you’re a McCain supporter you might think this is just piling on, but that’s not the intent at all. This little post is for me and my kids. It’s not just for today, but years from now.

Today was a great day. EARLY this morning I had trouble turning off the television or putting away my computer. I’d see the celebrations in Chicago, D.C., New York, or any one of countless places around the world, and my breath would catch in my throat – turning into a joyous chuckle. I imagine if you were standing on the other side of a closed door you’d think I was a crazy person. Maybe you think that anyway….

Then a little later this morning (after a few hours of sleep) I made my way into work. We were all incredibly tired… but it didn’t matter. Everyone was grinning. The office was filled with high-fives and big smiles all day. I’ve still got a silly grin on my face now, going on 10 p.m., and I’m not sure it’s completely sunk in yet.

Barack won.

Everyone I spoke to today gets it. The history. The hope. The promise.

It was incredible.

The three day track still ain’t gospel, but…


I was just checking the county elevation maps – you know, just for kicks – no real reason. I noticed we’re eleven meters above sea level. Woo-hoo!

We went out tonight to refresh our supply of batteries and non-perishibles, to try and beat the rush. If the track still put’s it here Tuesday in tomorrow’s forecasts, we’ll probably start to see the stores’ hurricane supplies thin out a bit tomorrow night.

Here we go again

There’s been a lot of talk in the news here recently that hurricane season was about to giddy-up. Sure enough, look what arrived in my inbox this afternoon:


A few months ago Cheryl and I were talking about what it would be like to live in Vermont. I think I might be willing to trade severe tropical weather for a little cold air in the winter. I say a little like it’s a trifling matter. Fifty degrees, zero degrees… what’s the difference?

You know, I’ve been thinking. It seemed like our little off-ramp on the hurricane superhighway was pretty quiet while my sister was living Indy. She’s been here all of a month and we’re already looking at a possible landfall.*


*The five day forecast for a tropical storm is almost worthless, but we’ll be keeping an eye out just the same. It’s weird how these things pop up, even when you think you’ve been keeping up with the news.

For you consideration

Josh Marshall:

At some points during the Republican primary campaign especially, CINC (commander-in-chief) was being used almost as a synonym for president — much as we might substitute ‘chief executive’ for president. And the growing use of the term in this sense is an effective barometer of the progressive militarization of our concept of the presidency and our government itself…

we can observe its concrete effect in the Bush administration’s claims of almost absolute presidential power well outside of war-fighting — almost as if the president is a kind of warlord simultaneously directing the military and the civilian governments with similar fiat powers.

We need to re-familiarize ourselves with the fact that the point of the constitution’s explicitly giving the president the title of commander-in-chief was not to make him into a quasi-military figure. It was precisely the opposite — to create no doubt that the armed forces answered not to a chief of staff or senior general or even a Secretary of Defense (originally, Secretaries of War and Navy) but to a civilian elected officeholder who operates with the constrained and limited power of that world rather than the unbound authority of military command.

We’ve gotten the relationship seriously out of whack.

Banking crisis?

I was listening to NPR on the ride home, and I heard a story about bank failures, in light of the IndyMac collapse. I think it was someone from the FDIC being interviewed – but whoever it was, they pointed out the actual/projected bank failures of the current crisis weren’t on a track that would even approach the S&L crisis of the 1980s.

Two problems came to mind.

1. It seems like our economic projections tend to be crap.

2. One bank failure in 1985 may not equal one bank failure in 2008.

If I recall, we went through a period of banking consolidation a little while back (didn’t we?). If so, banks today may have a lot more assets/deposits than the banks of the 1980s – even controlled for inflation. Wouldn’t it suggest the over all impact of a single bank failure is greater today, and comparisons to the 1980s are meaningless?

I’m doing a bang up job of depressing myself today.

1 Comment

Gun nuts on the vine

There was an interesting AP story about gun related deaths earlier this week. It mentioned the percentage of gun deaths due to suicide: around fifty percent (of those states that keep such statistics – which seems to imply not all of them do), and it’s implications. I thought it was interesting stuff, but I would have left it at that if I hadn’t seen the comments made by other Newsvine users. It was the standard gun-nut fare: how commie liberals would never “get” guns, or America’s God given right to have ’em.

Well this commie-liberal couldn’t keep his fingers still. You might have noticed another bit of writing that owes it’s existence to my emotional flare-up (from another story on Newsvine), a few posts down.

I tossed out a question for their consideration: did they think the framers intended for the constitution to stand, as is, for all time? I know, I had to ask THAT question. What can I say, I’m incorrigible. I went on to agree the constitution protected the right to own guns, but I questioned the need to guarantee that right forever. That’s some kind of gall, right? That’s when I was told I clearly didn’t understand the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the founding fathers, the joys of gun ownership, the nature of freedom, and it’s utter dependence on an armed citizenry.

All of this enlightenment didn’t come to me right away, which is too bad. Life kept me away from Newsvine for several days. By the time I returned, the last comment was a couple days old. I thought about posting another comment. I even typed one up. But would anyone care at this point but me?

I hate to think my poor fingers’ efforts were in vain… so, I’m posting it here. (This is your cue to stop reading.)

Continue reading →

Look at the hang-time on that punt!


A federal appeals court on Monday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Syrian-born Canadian man who had accused the United States of violating the law and his civil rights after he was detained at Kennedy Airport and sent to Syria under what he claims was an act of “extraordinary rendition…”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled that because he was never technically inside the United States, his claims could not be heard in the federal courts.

We couldn’t have done anything wrong, because you were never really here. Yeahhh! That’s the ticket!

1 Comment

The God defense

Here’s a court decision I’m tempted to research a little further. It involves the Texas Supreme Court, a church I’m fairly certain I’d never belong to, Laura Schubert – a member of the church youth group who was injured, and a civil suit for damages.

Wait until you hear how she was injured.

Ft Worth Star-Telegram:

Schubert and her brother were involved with church activities while their parents were out of town. On (a) Friday evening, during preparations for a youth group garage sale, the atmosphere became “spiritually charged” when another youth said he saw a demon.

Under direction of the youth minister, the youth frantically anointed everything in the church with holy oil until, at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, the minister told the exhausted youth that they had finally been successful.

At the Sunday evening worship services, Schubert collapsed. Church members “laid hands” on her and forcibly held her arms crossed over her chest, despite her demands to be set free.

She reportedly cried, yelled, kicked, sweated and hallucinated while also making guttural noises.

She was released after she calmed down and replied with requests to say the name Jesus.

The following Wednesday, during a weekly youth service, Schubert reportedly began to act in the same manner. She curled into a fetal position and asked to be left alone. Church members thought she was in distress and held her down in a “spread eagle” position with youth members holding down her arms and legs.

During the incident, she suffered carpet burns, a scrape on her back and bruises on her wrists.

Just in case it’s not clear, they all thought she was possessed by a demon.

She was later diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, after the ordeal led to emotional outbursts, weight-loss, dropping out of school, and self-mutilation.

The parents sued and a jury found the church liable, awarding damages. An appeals court reduced the damages, but the Texas Supreme Court overturned the whole thing.

Justice David Medina, writing for the majority, said that while Schubert’s argument regarding physical injuries might be tried without mentioning religion, her case was mostly about her emotional or psychological injuries from a religious activity that was sanctioned by the church.

For the court to impose any legal liability for engaging in a religious activity “to which the church members adhere would have an unconstitutional ‘chilling effect’ by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs,” Medina wrote.

“Religious practices that might offend the rights or sensibilities of a non-believer outside the church are entitled to greater latitude when applied to an adherent within the church,” Medina wrote.

Bullshit. What offends me is a church group can hold someone against their will, move on to torment/abuse, write it off as religion, and not be held accountable. Maybe I don’t know enough about the case, but it seems to me it’s kind of hard to separate which actions caused the physical or psychological injuries. Maybe it’s because they’re the same? The judge’s majority ruling might hold a little water if I believed the psychological trauma was caused by the mere accusation she was under the thrall of the devil. Call it an exorcism, a beat-down, or what ever else you can come up with… I don’t think it would be all that hard to argue/prove the trauma resulted from being assaulted.

I picture the scene in my mind and it doesn’t just sound like a matter of civil liability; it sounds criminal. A group of people holding someone down with force (someone who’s probably suffering from exhaustion, having stayed up chasing “demons” all night), not letting her go when she begs and pleads to be let go, “laying hands” on her (a euphemism for slapping her around?), and batter and bruise her in the process. Then, still afraid for her safety, she’s brought back for more harassment the following Wednesday – where the scene repeats itself (when her fear is interpreted as “the devil’s work”). They may have sincerely believed she was possessed by a demon. I don’t really care. They could have done it in a church or in a back alley. Forget about civil liability. As far as I’m concerned they can all go to jail.

If someone can’t be held liable for damages resulting from criminal behavior, what is our tort system good for? Judge Medina wrote of being worried about a ‘chilling effect’ on a religion’s “core principles.” I find it far more chilling that a judge could excuse such abusive behavior.

May Discovery Launch

Beth’s been on me to post this for a while, but I was having trouble with a WordPress plugin for embedding QuickTime video. I could have gone the YouTube route, but that’s not nearly as fun as capturing the video from the DVR myself (nor as legally gray).

I never get tired of watching manned mission launches. I’ve never seen one live up close, but night launches are stunning even from Orlando (one bright spot during our year of purgatory in mouse town).

1 Comment

It’s all about the context


The mission has legal and political issues that may lead to interrogators being called to testify, keeping the number of documents with interrogation information to a minimum can minimise certain legal issues.

– Lt-Cmdr William Kuebler, quoting a Pentagon procedures manual for Guantanamo Bay interrogators.

I work for the government too, and one of the first lessons we learn is: if work isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. In my case, it’s meant as a threat. In this case, it sounds like a chilling promise. “Hey bro, don’t sweat it. As long as it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.”