Month: June 2012

Fat Tony is F%$#ing Nuts

I’ve said on a number of occasions that Antonin Scalia has given up even trying to appear not to be a partisan hack.

Well, I think that I was wrong. Antonin Scalia has gone nuts.

His dissent on today’s Arizona immigration law decision, is a clear evidence of this. A prominent constitutional scholar Adam Winkler, called it jumping the shark, but I simply think he’s gone around the bend.

I cannot excerpt it and do justice, you can read the full opinion and dissent here, he suggests that federal immigration legislation would have sundered the union (this is strict constructionist?), declares it somehow illegitimate for the executive to prioritize enforcement, and that it’s just the same as bubble gum.

Seriously, I think that Scalia has been waiting for nearly 30 years to be the chief justice, and when he realized it was never going to happen, he had two choices:

  1. Leave the court, and make millions on the paid right wing talker/book circuit.
  2. F%$# you.

He has clearly chosen door number two, and I am expecting his spleen to leap from his body and throttle a litigant soon.

As to the actual decision, the Supreme Court struck down 3 of the 4 sections of the law, with the “papers please” section being given a pass for now, though the opinion makes it clear that this is not a final thing, and that there can be additional challenges to this section of the law, either on a constitutional level, or on the specific implementation.

Quote of the Day

If a 14 Year-Old Can Deliver Your Message, It’s Not Because He’s Gifted, It’s Because Intellectually You’re a Child

— Bill Maher

He is referring to the fact that 14-year old Caiden Cowger’s hate filled screed against gays:

When 14 year-old boys sound exactly like you [Rush Limbaugh] do and can produce radio shows and books and speeches that sound exactly like yours, maybe you should rethink the sh%$ that’s coming out of your mouth.


H/t Cthulhu.*

*No, not the unspeakably malevolent super-being, the contributor to the Stellar Parthenon BBS.
OK, I’ve never seen the two of them together, so Cthulhu might actually be the Cthulhu, but the mere fact that he is on a BBS, interacting with humans would seem to mitigate against this.
Yes, I know, this is the internet, where no one knows if you are a dog.

I’m Surprised

It turns out that the Egyptian Generals decided not to steal the presidential elections. My guess is that they decided that reducing presidential authority, as well as disbanding parliament was enough:

As his supporters in Tahrir Square were chanting on Sunday for the end of military rule in Egypt, the country’s president-elect, Mohamed Morsi, had glowing words for none other than the army, saying he regarded it with a “love in my heart that only God knows.”

Mr. Morsi’s remarks, during his first address to the nation after his victory was announced, were an acknowledgment of his new, changed role. He had gone from being a representative of a banned Islamist group to the leader of a nation and its public’s chief negotiator with the military generals who assumed power after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

As the first freely elected president of Egypt, Mr. Morsi has a historic opportunity, but he faces a litany of challenges that could prevent him from becoming more than just a figurehead. He will have to spar with the generals, who, just after the election, stripped much of the power from the presidency, and he must overcome the doubts of those who chose his opponent — nearly half of the voters — and millions more who did not vote.

Mr. Morsi will also have to convince Egyptians that he represents more than just the narrow interests of the Muslim Brotherhood and to soothe fears among many that his true goal is to bind the notion of citizenship itself more closely to Islam.

I’m thinking that there was a lot pressure put on the generals to accept this from inside of and outside of Egypt, and they blinked.

And On a Related Note

4 Heredim have been charged by the Brooklyn DA with covering up child abuse within the community:

The Brooklyn district attorney, facing a wave of public criticism about his handling of sexual abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, on Thursday charged four men with attempting to silence an accuser by offering her and her boyfriend a $500,000 bribe, and threatening her boyfriend’s business.

The district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, alleged that the men were part of an effort to protect a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidic community, Nechemya Weberman, who has been accused of 88 counts of sexual misconduct, including oral sex with a child younger than 13 years old. The charges all involve one girl, now 17, who was referred by her school to get counseling by Mr. Weberman, and then alleged she was abused by him during therapy sessions.

The charges are the first time in at least two decades that Mr. Hynes has charged Hasidic Jews with intimidation of a witness in a sexual abuse case, even though victims, their advocates and prosecutors say intimidation has long been a major obstacle to prosecution of abuse among the ultra-Orthodox. In recent weeks, Mr. Hynes has been saying that the intimidation of witnesses in the ultra-Orthodox community is worse than in the world of organized crime.

“I’m hoping that this will be a message to those who are intimidated that they should come forward and help us,” Mr. Hynes said at a news conference. “No one can engage in this kind of conduct and feel free that, based on prior experience, nothing can happen to them.”

Prosecutors charged Abraham Rubin, 48, of Williamsburg with bribery, witness tampering and coercion. They said that he had been recorded offering the accuser’s boyfriend the money, and he suggested that the young couple could flee to Israel to avoid testifying. He also offered to provide them with a lawyer who could help them avoid cooperating with prosecutors.

Prosecutors also charged three brothers, Jacob, Joseph and Hertzka Berger, with coercion, saying they threatened and then removed the kosher certification of a restaurant run by the accuser’s boyfriend. The brothers are sons of a local rabbi who issues kosher certifications to stores.


I will note that, much like the previous post, it is very likely that this will lead to senior Rabbinic authorities in the region.


Monsignor William Lynn, assistant to the late Cardinal Bevilacqua of Piliadelphis, has been convicted of child endangerment for covering up child abuse:

Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former cardinal’s aide, was found guilty Friday of endangering children, becoming the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States convicted of covering up sexual abuses by priests under his supervision.

The 12-member jury acquitted Monsignor Lynn, of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, of conspiracy and a second count of endangerment after a trial that prosecutors and victims rights groups called a turning point in the abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic Church.

The single guilty verdict was widely seen as a victory for the district attorney’s office, which has been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002, and it was hailed by victim advocates who have argued for years that senior church officials should be held accountable for concealing evidence and transferring predatory priests to unwary parishes.

Monsignor Lynn, 61, sat impassively as the jury foreman announced the verdicts, but relatives behind him were in tears. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina of the Common Pleas Court revoked his bail, and the monsignor stood up, removed his clerical jacket and was led by sheriff’s deputies to a holding cell area. His conviction, on the 13th day of deliberations, could result in a prison term of three-and-a-half to seven years; sentencing is set for Aug. 13.

The trial sent a sobering message to church officials and others overseeing children around the country. “I think that bishops and chancery officials understand that they will no longer get a pass on these types of crimes,” said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a professor of law at Duquesne University, a canon lawyer and frequent church adviser. “Priests who sexually abuse youngsters and the chancery officials who enabled it can expect criminal prosecution.”

Here’s hoping that his conviction will encourage other priests to roll on those involved in the coverup.

It’s fairly likely that the path will lead directly to Rome.

Scotus Slaps Down FCC

Roll George Carlin!

I agree with the outcome of the ruling, but it’s too limited for my taste:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission failed to give two television networks, FOX and ABC, advance notice of standards before punishing them for broadcasts in which outbursts of expletives and brief nudity were aired.

“The Commission failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the unanimous court.

The ruling does not affect the FCC’s policy banning indecency in TV broadcasting.

The court said that it did need not to address the First Amendment implications of the FCC’s indecency policy nor did it need to reconsider its prior indecency ruling in a 1978 decision regarding prolonged recitation of vulgar words.

The 1978 decision was bad, and vague, and they didn’t clear it up.

They took a very narrow ruling, and invalidated the fines because the FCC was arbitrary and capricious, and did not rule on the basic underlying issue. Ruth Bader Ginsberg felt the same way, and noted so in her concurring opinion.

Prop 13, That’s Why

Big Media Matt wonders why construction in Texas has outstripped that of California:

Houston is the fastest-growing city in America, but what’s really remarkable about Houston is that it’s not just Houston. The Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin metro areas are all also growing super-fast and so are several of Texas’ smaller metro areas. There are many factors inspiring this population growth, but as you can see above one striking thing is simply that Texas is handing out building permits at a rapid clip (data here).

It used to be that California led the nation in building permits. That makes sense. Even though California’s not as geographically expansive as Texas it is extremely large. And a whole bunch of factors would lead you to assume that California would add people more rapidly than Texas. They share proximity to Mexico, but California is home to our Pacific Ocean ports and certainly trade with Asia has exploded. What’s more, California has better weather than Texas and substantially higher wages. But in the nineties California downshifted its permitting and ran neck-in-neck with Texas for a while. Then starting in the mid-aughts Texas has just gobbled up a bigger and bigger share of America’s permitting. The precise legal and economic underpinnings of this are complicated, but the key difference to me is simply a different mentality. Texas politicians of both parties by and large want to see growth. They brag about it. California politicians fear it, as if we’re one new building away from dystopia.

He is ignoring the elephant in the room, Proposition 13.

Proposition 13 limits the amount that property taxes can go up by 2% a year, so if you bought a 4BR house in 1980 for $60,000, you would be paying property taxes for a value of $120K.

If you downsize to a bungalow, and it costs $300K, you would be paying 2½ times as much in taxes, because when you buy a new house, the level starts at the sale price.

It really does not make sense to downsize if your property tax bill triples, so you stay in your old home, which restricts the supply, and makes housing more expensive, and reduces demand.

Any analysis of California which does not take into account the suicide pact that is their culture of initiative petitions.

If you bought a house in 1980 for $80,000.00

Merkel Blinks

Thank God:

Under intense pressure at the G20 summit in Mexico to take more decisive action to contain the European sovereign debt crisis, eurozone leaders were reported last night to be preparing to allow the Continent’s bailout funds to intervene directly in the capital markets to ease the pressure on Spain and Italy.

G20 sources suggested that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was preparing to allow eurozone institutions to begin buying bonds issued by member state’s governments. The purpose of the intervention would be to bring down sovereign bond yields of weaker eurozone states, which have been pushed up to unsustainable levels by wary investors in recent months. Spanish 10-year yields this week hit their highest levels in the history of the single currency at 7.28 per cent.

An impending move was hinted at by the Chancellor George Osborne last night. “We will see what the eurozone announce in the next couple of weeks, but there is no doubt that they realise that individual measures in individual countries are by themselves not enough,” he said.

Whoever knocked some sense into Merkel’s head should be commended.

The FOMC Talks, and Says, “Meh”

It really doesn’t amount to much. Basically just some minor interest rate action:

In a pattern that has become familiar, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the economy was growing more slowly than it had forecast, in part because its efforts to hasten recovery had proved insufficient.

With the economy stumbling into the summer months after the false promise of a relatively strong winter, the Fed announced a modest expansion of its efforts to stimulate growth.

The Fed said its senior officials now expected growth of 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent this year, half a percentage point lower than they forecast in April. They predicted the unemployment rate would not drop below 8 percent this year, and that inflation would not climb above 1.7 percent.

Those are the vital signs of a patient who will be ill for some time. And the Fed noted that the outlook could worsen if events in Europe unnerved financial markets or if politicians in Washington failed to resolve a stalemate over fiscal policy.

The central bank pledged to buy $267 billion in long-term Treasury securities over the next six months as part of a continuing campaign to reduce borrowing costs.

Like I said, Meh

Wrong Again, Matthew Saroff Edition.

The Greek Democrats have formed a governing coalition including the 3rd place PASOK party:

A conservative-led government took power in Greece on Wednesday promising to negotiate softer terms on its harsh international bailout, help the people regain their dignity and steer the country through its biggest crisis for four decades.

The swearing-in of Antonis Samaras as prime minister after elections last Sunday ended weeks of uncertainty that rattled financial markets and threatened to push near-bankrupt Greece out of the euro zone.

Samaras, a Harvard-educated economist from a prominent Greek family, will head an alliance of his New Democracy party and Socialist PASOK rivals – the same discredited establishment parties which have dominated politics since 1974.

I said that it would not happen, and it did.  Oh, well.

BTW, the outgoing PASOK leader, George Papandreu, went to Harvard too (and Amherst, and the London School of Economics).

You know, I think that the value of a Harvard education might be overrated.

Another Wanker of the Day

Chuck Schumer:

One week after Apple announced it was booting Google Maps from iOS and photographing the world with its own aerial fleet, a top US Senator has written to both companies expressing concern over their “military-grade spy planes.”

“Barbequing or sunbathing in your backyard shouldn’t be a public event,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a statement on Monday. “People should be free from the worry of some high-tech peeping Tom technology violating one’s privacy when in your own home.”

Schumer noted that although Google Maps and Google Earth have used satellite imagery in the past, “reports have suggested” that both Google and Apple have upgraded their capabilities to aircraft-based photography that can see through windows and capture detailed images with four-inch resolution.

Although Schumer specifically mentioned sunbathing – and we never even knew he was a Reg reader – his remarks suggest that his main concern isn’t high-flying voyeurism, but rather intelligence that could aid terroists and other miscreants.

“Detailed photographs could also provide criminals and terrorists with detailed views of sensitive utilities,” he wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Larry Page, noting that although there are online sources which currently show such potential targets as power lines, substations, and reservoirs, those images are in low resolution.

“However,” Schumer surmised, “if highly detailed images become available, criminals could create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States. With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location.”

So, we have yet another participant in the war against maps.

Let’s keep everyone ignorant, because someone might do something bad with information someday.


New Protests at Tahrir Square

And I still don’;t expect any pro-democracy actions to be taken by our government, because, after all, the Egyptians buy our weapons, not Russian weapons:

Tens of thousands have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers.

The protests were called by the Muslim Brotherhood, as it claims its candidate won last weekend’s presidential poll.

His rival, former PM Ahmed Shafiq, also says he has won.

Wanker of the Day

Senator Scott Brown:

Senator Scott Brown today rejected a debate proposed by Victoria Reggie Kennedy, after the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy refused his precondition that she not endorse a candidate in his reelection campaign against Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

“We respect Vicki Kennedy’s decision but we regret that we cannot accept a debate invitation from someone who plans to endorse Scott Brown’s opponent,” Brown Campaign Manager Jim Barnett said in a statement. “The Kennedy Institute cannot hold itself out as a nonpartisan debate sponsor while the president of its board of trustees gets involved in the race on behalf of one of the candidates.”

The announcement came shortly after representatives of Vicki Kennedy said she would not agree to Brown’s demand that she remain neutral in the race, in exchange for the senator’s participation in a late September debate she had proposed be hosted by the University of Massachusetts Boston and Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Barnett had said Monday that Brown would participate only if Kennedy, president of the board at the Kennedy Institute, not endorse in the race and that MSNBC not be the broadcast sponsor of the debate.

What a whiny bitch.

He’s (rightly) terrified that Elizabeth Warren will have his sorry ass for lunch, so he’s making up excuses.

Snark of the Day

Jonathan Chait, writing in the New York Magazine, has an article, titled, “Beltway Sleazeoids Concerned About Partisanship, about Howard Kurtz’s puff piece on the joint venture between Michael Steele (Mr. Foot in Mouth), and Lanny Davis (Lobbyists for brutal dictators).

His criticism is that Kurtz is far to credulous, and far too laudatory, of their efforts.

I agree. Even on a cursory examination, this is clearly concern trolling for lobbying dollars.

What stands out though is his slam against Howie for his lack of journalistic integrity:

There’s an old saying, “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,” but patriotism’s scoundrel-cleansing abilities have worn off with time. The newest refuge is surely bipartisanship. Thus, deposed Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele and disgraced lobbyist Lanny Davis have formed their own firm. Howard Kurtz reports — or, at any rate, writes down — that Steele and Davis are pitching their firm dedicated to urging people to “tone down the negativity and personal attacks.”

(emphasis mine)

The criticism for years about Kurtz has been two fold, that he has a conflict of interest because his wife is a paid political operator, and that he is little more than a stenographer for the conservative side of the Beltway consensus.

As to the stenography allegation, Chait must be commended for being clever, clear, and original in his statements.