This travesty began last December with an inadvertent clerical error after the Senate approved the bill by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking a tie. Owing to that accidental change, the version that passed the House by a mere two votes differed from the Senate measure. A provision on Medicare calls for covering the rental of certain medical equipment, like wheelchairs, for 36 months, instead of the 13 months in the Senate version. Although that may sound like a minor deviation, it adds up to a $2 billion difference.
Made aware of the discrepancy, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist apparently made a command decision not to try to fix it by having their chambers vote again, this time on the same measure. Given the closeness of the first votes, after all, there was no guarantee a rerun would end in passage. Besides, rank-and-file Republicans weren’t exactly pounding on their leaders’ doors to demand another chance to go on record in favor of deep spending cuts in popular programs benefiting the needy.
Instead, the leaders barged ahead. Mr. Hastert signed a statement with the president pro tempore of the Senate attesting that the act had been approved in identical form by both chambers when everyone knew that hadn’t happened. As for President Bush, his hands are hardly clean. He was well aware of the constitutional defect but chose to ignore it and sign the bill anyway — a dismaying reminder that the president’s instinct to cut constitutional corners isn’t limited to the war on terror.
In briefs filed last week, the Justice Department does not dispute this rendition of what happened, or the constitutional rule against transmitting one-house bills to the president’s desk. Instead it contends that a musty 1892 Supreme Court ruling requires courts to accept as fact Mr. Hastert’s fictional certification that both chambers passed the same bill. In other words, to enact large budget cuts affecting millions of Americans, the House and Senate needn’t bother to go through the tedious and politically fraught exercise of passing the same legislation. It suffices for leaders of each chamber to fudge and say it happened.
On July 4th, the space shuttle orbiter Discovery rocketed into space on mission STS-121. Now docked with the International Space Station, Discovery orbits planet Earth at about 27 thousand kilometers per hour. But in this dramatic sunset view taken in May, Discovery is approaching the service structures at Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39B at the blinding speed of (less than) 2 kilometers per hour. Of course, the orbiter, booster rockets, and external fuel tank ride on one of NASA’s workhorse crawler transporters. Built for the Apollo program to carry the giant Saturn V rocket, the crawler transporters have seen four decades of service.
In the Spring and Summer of 1961, several hundred Americans — blacks and whites, men and women — entered Southern bus stations, train stations and airports to challenge state segregation laws. Under federal law, interstate transportation facilities were no longer allowed to discriminate, but most did and were not interested in change. rayarsenault.jpgOver 400 people would be arrested in that landmark campaign, an “insistent and innovative movement that seized the attention of the nation in 1961, bringing nonviolent direct action to the forefront of the fight for racial justice,” according to historian Ray Arsenault in his good new book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Though the campaign was widespread across the South, the primary focus of the Freedom Rides came to be Jackson, Mississippi, where over 300 people were arrested. The Mississippi Freedom Riders were from all over the country, primarily New England and the Midwest, California and the South (especially Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana). Many were college students, though some were older, and a few were still in high school. All were convicted of breach of peace and did time in the city jail; most all of them also did six weeks at the state’s infamous prison, Parchman.
more pictures and ab excerpt from Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault.
A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed “large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists” to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.
“We’ve got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad,” the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, www.splcenter.org. “That’s a problem.”
Well, it worked for Lee Harvey Oswald and Timothy McVeigh…
We hold that the New York Constitution does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex.
By a 4 to 2 margin, the New York Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, upheld (70 page pdf) the state’s Domestic Relations law that bars same-sex couples from getting married in New York and denying same-sex couples the hundreds of family protections provided to married couples. The court accepted the justifications advanced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for the state law barring marriage by same-sex couples. “Pointing out that stable relationships between parents are important for children, that straight couples can conceive children by ‘accident,’ and that gay couples can only have children with advance planning, Bloomberg and Spitzer argued that straight couples need the stability of marriage, but gay couples do not.” The ruling was denounced by the ACLU, criticized by Howard Dean as based on “outdated and bigoted notions about families,” and applauded by the Marriage Law Foundation pleased by the “superb and straightforward legal analysis.” Background from NPR.
three comments in the tread on MetaFilter deserve an extra quote here:
So a (the?) primary reason for straight marriage being legal is that the couple might conceive by accident? Whaaa?
The primary reason that the decision was made was because “The Legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father.” In the detail that follows, the judgement essentially says that there needs to be long term scientific evidence that same sex parents are no worse than opposite sex parents before the constitution would ensure same sex marriage was allowed. This is of course complete bollocks – on this basis, any group that can’t prove that they aren’t ess good parents could be banned from getting married, e.g. poor people, the mentally ill, ex offenders, etc. Basically, if you can categorise your enemy into a group that can’t prove that they aren’t worse parents you can ban them from marrying – I’d like to see politicians prove that they aren’t worse parents than non politicians. So they’ve come up with a fatuous reason for discriminating against teh gays, so that they can claim to be objective, without thinking about the logical implications.
On a related note: 10 reasons gay marriage will ruin society.
I was waiting for a friend in the lobby of the Hilton down at Union Square. Near me was a middle-aged woman speaking loudly into a pay phone.
“Yes, yes, that’s right. You’ve got it. Now, here’s what I want you to type. ‘are em’ … yes. The letter ‘r’ and the letter ‘m’, together. Now type a dash. Yes, like a hyphen. OK, and then another ‘r’. Yes rm space hyphen r. OK, now another space and then a star. Shift 8. Yes. Now read it back to me. [pause] OK perfect. Hit return and tell me what happens. [pause] [pause] OK. Thank you. Goodbye.”
And she hung up and walked away while the command-line geek inside of me stood paralyzed with fear.
No doubt you’ve heard that Mac Users are a different breed, and care about things windows and linux users don’t care about. Well, I’ve got a great example right here…
ABC has held discussions on the use of technology that would disable the fast-forward button on DVRs, according to ABC President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw, with the primary goal to allow TV commercials to run as intended.
“I would love it if the MSOs, during the deployment of the new DVRs they’re putting out there, would disable the fast-forward [button],” Shaw said.
While MSOs risk losing some of their DVR customers if fast-forwarding were blocked, Shaw said the cable operators–who are beefing up their own local ad sales operations–”are in the same business we’re in.” “They’ve got to sell ads too,” he said. “So if everybody’s skipping everybody’s ads, that’s not a long-term business model for them either.”
So instead of changing the business model to follow an adjusting market, they want to force the market to stay with their business model. It all makes sense if you realize that their product is called “viewers” and their market “advertisers”, since that makes this a measure to protect the crop they harvest. Have you ever seen a farmer think about how his grain feels?
US authorities have disrupted a plot by foreign terrorists to attack the tunnel system running under lower Manhattan, it was claimed today.
FBI agents monitoring internet chatrooms used by extremists apparently uncovered planning to destroy vital transport networks in New York city.
One of the alleged plotters, identified as Amir Andalousli, has been arrested in Lebanon at America’s request.
The New York Daily News reported that the scheme was to blow up the Holland Tunnel, the most southern road link between Manhattan and New Jersey, with the aim of causing a torrent of water to shoot out and flood New York’s financial district.
It reminds me of this great bash.org quote.