Thursday, May 31, 2007

Obama's Approach to the Game

Anita Blanchard

Senator Barack Obama, left, and friends at their annual competition last Christmas in Hawaii.

Yes, I am a sports geek, but you do learn a lot about someone from how they play the game.

NYTimes: Barack Obama's Basketball Family (video)

NYTimes: One Place Where Obama and Elbows Still Meet

Good Reads

SI Neg. 77-10004. Date: 1977...Mammoth, Ice Age Hall, National Museum of Natural History ..Credit: Chip Clark (Smithsonian Institution)

I'm on the road today, so here's a sampling of online reads:

Boston Globe: Doctor blogs about his own malpractice trial; opposing lawyer finds out, case settles. Arrogant dummy.

New York Times: Greywater Guerrillas in California reusing household water with Rube Goldberg contraptions. My favorite part of the article is on page two: "Two years later, as the Guerrilla Greywater Girls (at the time, Cleo Woelfle-Erskine was a woman) they published a “Guide to Water,” a crude sheaf of photocopies...." So California.

The guy Rachel Paulose replaced as USAttorney for the District of Minnesota, Tom Heffelfinger? The LATimes reports that he was ousted because he was too vigilant in protecting the right of Native Americans to vote.

Digby on the latest suicide at Guantanamo
: It's a terrorist attack! Asymetrical PR!

From McClatchy, Joe Lieberman gets a message from the troops he visited in Iraq: "We don't feel like we're making any progress." Joe Lieberman responded "La la la, I can't hear you." Well, not really, but he may as well: "I think it's important we don't lose our will," he said. "To pull out would be a disaster."

From the Consumerist, a comparison of fast food salads v. fast food burgers. Go ahead, have the burger, it's healthier.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stop Voter Fraud

FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky wrote a law review article while he was a staff lawyer at the Justice Department supporting a photo identification program for voters in Georgia.
Photo Credit: By Charlotte B. Teagle -- Atlanta Journal-constitution

Stop the Republicans from putting one of their number one vote-challenging whores on the Federal Election Commision. Hans von Spakovsky is the guy who masterminded the 2000 Florida "felon" purge that prevented tens of thousands of legitimate, mostly African-American Florida voters from casting their ballots for Al Gore. He has been nominated to a four-year term on the Federal Elections Commision by the Chimperor, and there is a hearing on the nomination on June 13, 2007 by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Please call your senator if they are on the list below; if he makes it through committee, all senators must be contacted.

dailykos: Keep Yer Vote Thievin' Hans Off (the FEC): Action Alert!

Hans Von Spakovsky will appear before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration on June 13, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. for his confirmation hearing. []

Dianne Feinstein (CA) - (202) 224-3841
Robert Byrd (WV) - (202) 224-3954
Daniel Inouye (HI) - (202) 224-3934
Christopher Dodd (CT) - (202) 224-2823
Charles Schumer (NY) - (202) 224-6542
Richard Durbin (IL) - (202) 224-2152
Ben Nelson (NE) - (202) 224-6551
Harry Reid (NV) - (202) 224-3542
Patty Murray (WA) - (202) 224-2621
Mark Pryor (AR) - (202) 224-2353

Robert Bennett (UT) - (202) 224-5444
Mitch McConnell (KY) - (202) 224-2541
Thad Cochran (MS) - (202) 224-5054
Trent Lott (MS) - (202) 224-6253
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX) - (202) 224-5922
Saxby Chambliss (GA) - (202) 224-3521
Chuck Hagel (NE) - (202) 224-4224
Lamar Alexander (TN) - (202) 224-4944

McClatchy: Efforts to stop `voter fraud' may have curbed legitimate voting

WASHINGTON - During four years as a Justice Department civil rights lawyer, Hans von Spakovsky went so far in a crusade against voter fraud as to warn of its dangers under a pseudonym in a law journal article.

Writing as "Publius," von Spakovsky contended that every voter should be required to produce a photo-identification card and that there was "no evidence" that such restrictions burden minority voters disproportionately.

Now, amid a scandal over politicization of the Justice Department, Congress is beginning to examine allegations that von Spakovsky was a key player in a Republican campaign to hang onto power in Washington by suppressing the votes of minority voters.

"Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote," charged Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief who worked under him.

He and other former career department lawyers say that von Spakovsky steered the agency toward voting rights policies not seen before, pushing to curb minor instances of election fraud by imposing sweeping restrictions that would make it harder, not easier, for Democratic-leaning poor and minority voters to cast ballots.

WaPo: Official's Article on Voting Law Spurs Outcry

Scalito Court Limits Employment Law

WaPo: Supreme Court Limits Pay Discrimination Suits
Justices Back 180-Day Deadline for Claims

Today the Supreme Court said a worker can be discriminated against for years, and if they sue for back pay, they can only get it for the preceding 180 days before they file suit. This is a massive change in prior precedent, and gives employers an incentive not to tell employees how much their co-workers are paid. How do you know you're being discriminated against if you don't know what everyone else makes? So most employers make a big point of telling employees not to tell each other what they make.

This decision ignores the practical realities of the workplace. Many workers are still on probation for the first 180 days. They're supposed to be figuring out they're being discriminated against, and hiring a lawyer, while they're trying to hold on to a new job? Ridiculous.

''This short deadline reflects Congress's strong preference for the prompt resolution of employment discrimination allegations through voluntary conciliation and cooperation,'' Alito said.

The decision was written by Strip Search Sammy Alito, and we have these weasel Democrats to thank for his presence on the court, because they voted for cloture and let Alito through:

Akaka (HI), Baucus (MT), Bingaman (NM), Byrd (WV), Cantwell (WA), Carper (DE), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Inouye (HI), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lieberman (CT), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Rockefeller (WV), Salazar (CO)

In dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg calls on Congress to pass legislation overturning this cramped view of discrimination law; let's hope the Democrats in Congress can find a little courage on this one.

Are You Going to San Francisco?

Homeless people and panhandlers walk along Haight near Ashbury. A lot of ex-hippies are weary of the newcomers.
(Robert Durell / LAT)

It's not like it used to be. I lived in San Francisco briefly in 1980 and Haight Ashbury was a scary drug-infested place then, too.

LATimes: There's not a lot of love in the Haight
Gutter punks roam where, 40 years ago, flower children protested the war in Vietnam.

The song: San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)

As performed by Scott McKenzie and the Mamas and the Papas, 1967:

Andrew Card Honorary Degree Booed Lustily

From the YouTube poster:

On May 25, 2007 Andrew Card faced hundreds of boos and catcalls as he was given an honorary degree during the graduate school commencement at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Before the commencement, about 200 protesters staged a rally and press conference outside the Mullins Center on the UMass campus. Hundreds more students and faculty who opposed the honorary degree would later protest inside the hall.

Card, former Bush Administration Chief of Staff and chief salesman for the invasion of Iraq as head of the White House Iraq Group, faced signs calling him a war criminal. People are now calling on UMass to rescind the honorary degree.

The protests followed weeks of growing opposition. 400 protested on May 15 (see the rally and march on YouTube at TraprockPeaceTV) and on May 22 protesters marched from the campus to the Amherst common.

After the commencement, activists gathered at the Jones Library for a celebration and speakout. Video of both the pre-commencement rally and post-commencement speakout are coming to TraprockPeaceTV.

Video recorded and edited by Charles Jenks; © 2007 Traprock Peace Center. Websites may embed the video for non-profit use, with attribution. Please let us know if you use the video; email

The protest was organized by a large coalition of campus and community organizations, too numerous to list. Traprock was one of many community groups that supported the tremendous efforts by the UMass community of students, faculty and staff, and UMass organizations.