Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for February 2nd, 2010

Money is NOT speech

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After thinking it over, I take strong exception to the notion that money is speech. Money is no more speech than a pencil and a sheet of paper.

If money is speech, what is it saying?

Is a microphone speech?

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Law, Politics

Interesting observation re: fate of political parties

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I found this interesting:

Source: The Atlantic, February 1, 2010

A Republican campaign attorney who agrees with the CU decision says he believes it threatens the political parties with extinction.The Supreme Court ‘s recent decision in the Citizens United (CU) case — which allows corporations to spend freely to influence elections — is already having an effect. Donations are surging into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as corporations start outspending political parties on lobbying and advertising.

In 2009, the Chamber raked in $144.5 million, compared to the RNC’s $71.6 million and the DNC’s $97.9 million, and for the first time, the lobbying and grassroots advertising budgets of the Chamber have exceeded those of the Republican National Committee(RNC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

In 2009, the Chamber financed a number of ad campaigns that largely worked. It scared the Senate away from considering cap-and-trade legislation and, with financial help from insurance companies, ran cutting ads opposing health care reform that arguably helped undermine support for that bill. Now it is spending in key states and districts to defeat financial reform legislation.

The Chamber, a powerful advocate for big business, is organized as a 501-c-6, and does not have to disclose its donors. Benjamin Ginsburg, a Republican campaign finance lawyer and partner in the Patton Boggs law firm who supports the CU decision, went so far as to say that he believes the political parties are "threatened by extinction."

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 3:21 pm

Email from the Marijuana Policy Project

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MPP is worth joining, IMHO. Here’s the email:

Hi there. My name is Teresa Skipper, and I use marijuana to stay alive.

When I found out in 1995 that I had HIV, my doctors gave me many different medications, and I’m grateful for them because they have kept me alive!

But the side effects are awful. One of my meds comes with a warning that it’s sometimes fatal. My stomach feels like a raw egg most days, which is strange, because I can’t eat most foods. I have no appetite and it’s hard to keep my weight up.

But I’ve been lucky enough to find something that makes me feel better, restores my appetite, and is the reason I still have good days. That something is marijuana.

Unfortunately, my marijuana also makes me a criminal. That’s why I’m telling you my story and asking you, from the bottom of my heart, to help MPP fight marijuana prohibition, because marijuana use should not make criminals of sick people.

Just like many other marijuana users, I have a husband, two children, and one beautiful grandson. I have a bachelor’s degree in financial management. I just want to go to work and have a normal life.

But my marijuana use makes me a criminal, and who wants to hire a criminal? If I give up using marijuana, my health deteriorates to the point that I can’t work anyway.

MPP is fighting to change marijuana laws so that sick people wont become criminals when they use marijuana to get relief from pain and suffering. Please help MPP today.

Thank you for letting me tell you my story.

Best wishes,

Teresa Skipper

P.S. $7.7 billion — that’s how much the U.S. government spends on marijuana prohibition every year. If you’d rather have your tax money spent on something useful, like stopping violent crimes, please donate now to help MPP change marijuana laws.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Drug laws

A most remarkable movie

with 2 comments

I just finished watching Lion of the Desert, a 1981 film with a stellar cast and played on a large canvas: the movie is 2 hours 42 minutes long and is extremely well-made and interesting. It’s not a completely comfortable movie to watch—one keeps thinking of the US in Iraq and in Afghanistan and wondering what sort of movies will be made in future decades about those wars.

Still, I would rate this one a must-see. The “making of” feature is also quite interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 2:22 pm

More on why bipartisanship won’t work

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This is an update to this post. Again, from James Fallows’s blog:

Yesterday I quoted someone who has worked in and observed national politics for many years, about why this era’s partisan impasse really from what we’ve known in other eras — and worse. In short, his point was that today’s GOP minority was acting like a parliamentary opposition — voting absolutely as a bloc, under the threat of party discipline — in our non-parliamentary system, which made it very hard to get anything done.
He is back with another installment, after surveying the range of internet response to his views:

"I’m surprised at the number of people who say, in effect, ‘But lots of bills have passed with Republican votes this year.’

"That’s the reason to keep including (as your blog post did) the word "major" in front of "legislation."  In a parliamentary system, the party does not make EVERY vote into one of required lock-step voting – only major votes.  Hence the notion of the "three line whip" notice in the House of Commons – defy that, and you’re dead.  But absent the three lines drawn on the whip notice, an MP can vote the way he or she prefers.  Or at least that was the way it used to work.  Probably it is all done by Blackberry messages now.

"What the GOP has got going is a three-line whip notice on major legislation.  The Recovery Act passed the House without a single GOP vote – not even one!  That could not happen without party discipline coming from the party, not spontaneously from each House member of the party.  It is true that there are lots of other bills that Republicans can vote for if they wish.  True, but irrelevant.  If any of the bills really matters to Obama in a big way, the contemporary GOP version of the three-line whip notice comes into play.

"(And how EXACTLY does each GOP member get the word that a particular vote really matters for this purpose?  Find the answer to that, and you will have the perfect comeback to those who try to blame intransigence of the Dems for the lack of GOP votes.  Someone somewhere is giving orders to GOP members, whether by verbal means, written or oral, or secret handshakes or numbers of lanterns hung in the steeples of churches.)

"A closely related development fascinates and infuriates me, partly re the GOP and partly re the press.  In the Senate, the GOP votes against cloture.  But when the Dems finally manage to get the 60 votes, lots of GOP senators typically vote for the bill on final passage.  "What’s up with THAT?" I’ve asked several times.  In the past, if you opposed a bill getting to a vote on the floor, typically (admittedly not always) you would also oppose it IN the vote on the floor.  That was the only reason to oppose it getting to the floor – because you opposed it!  The answer, I’ve been told several times (by Democratic staffers, who don’t seem at all surprised or perturbed), is that a lot of Republicans don’t want to be on record as voting against a bill they believe the public or their constituents favor.  Huh?  Trying to kill it without a vote is somehow safe politically, but voting against it on final passage is not?  Now that, I submit, is an anomaly the blame for which we can lay at the feet of the much-diminished news media, and the shortcomings of the Senate Democrats."

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Congress, GOP, Government

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) strongly criticizes Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)

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Today’s Republicans have no shame whatsoever, having gotten rid of those Republicans still capable of feeling it. Amanda Terkel at ThinkProgress:

President Obama’s judicial nominee facing the longest confirmation delay is Marisa Demeo, nominated to be a judge on the D.C. Superior Court. These judges are “usually approved by the Senate without generating controversy.” However, even though Obama nominated Demeo on March 24 and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs endorsed her on May 20, she still has not won confirmation because Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is blocking her.

The National Law Journal (subscription required) reports that conservative objections seem to be based on her strong legal advocacy work on Hispanic and LGBT issues. Demeo has an accomplished legal career, working for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, as an assistant U.S. attorney, and most recently as a D.C. magistrate judge since 2007. She also was a lawyer and lobbyist for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and as an openly gay woman, has been a member of the Human Rights Campaign and co-president of GAYLAW. From the National Law Journal:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who frequently delays Obama nominees, said he is holding up Demeo’s nomination in his role as chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, a caucus of conservative senators. “A number of Republicans had concerns and asked me, as chairman of Steering, to ask for limited debate and a recorded vote because of a history of very leftist activism,” he said.

DeMint said he had reviewed Demeo’s record as recently as Jan. 27 and found it unacceptable. Asked in a brief interview for specific criticisms, he said “it’s a lot more” than Demeo’s work for MALDEF but he declined to give details. “There are just a number of things that don’t look like a fair and balanced approach that you’d like in a judge,” he said. A spokesman for DeMint later declined to elaborate.

DeMint’s block on Demeo is incredibly hypocritical, considering what he said in 2005:

One of my goals as a Senator is to confirm highly qualified judges by ensuring timely up-or-down votes for all nominees no matter who is President, no matter which party is in the majority. That is my commitment, and I have encouraged Senator Frist to consider all options, including the constitutional option, to end the undemocratic blockade of judicial nominees. Senators were elected to advise and consent, not to grandstand and obstruct.

I would like to say something to my colleagues across the aisle. There is a reason George W. Bush was elected to serve as President of the United States. It is because the majority of Americans trusted him to nominate judges.

DeMint also opposed Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination for the Supreme Court, saying that he didn’t like her using the term “wise Latina” and was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to “decide cases based on the law and not her personal views.” During the confirmation process, the right wing equated Sotomayor’s affiliation with the National Council of La Raza with being a member of “a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses.”

Democrats have paired Demeo’s confirmation with that of Stuart Nash, who was first nominated by President Bush and received the Senate committee’s support in July. D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee Satterfield has said that if Demeo and Nash aren’t confirmed within months, there will be a dire situation” for the court. “[S]uch a scenario would certainly test our ability to administer justice for the people of the District of Columbia in a timely fashion,” said Satterfield.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 12:02 pm

Being an expert: It takes time, not talent

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Interesting post at Penelope’s Trunk:

I’ve been walking around with the July/August 2007 issue of the Harvard Business Review constantly, for close to three years. Sometimes, if I’m getting on a plane, I’ll put it with the other heavy stuff into my luggage, and then get it out later. When my last car broke down in the middle of an intersection, I got the magazine out of the trunk before I abandoned the car.

The article that I’m attached to is The Making of an Expert by Anders Ericsson, Michael Prietula and Edward Cokely. I would not normally bother to tell you all three authors for one article in my blog. This is not a medical journal. But I love the article so much, that I want you to know all of them.

The article changed how I think about what I am doing here. In my life. I think I am trying to be an expert.

Being an expert is not what you think, probably. For one thing, the article explains that “there is no correlation between IQ and expert performance in fields such as chess, music, sports, and medicine. The only innate differences that turn out to be significant—and they matter primarily in sports – are height and body size. “

So what factor does correlate with success?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

2 February 2010 at 11:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

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