Later On

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

Archive for July 22nd, 2010

Food size

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I have to learn to evaluate food quantities again. It’s no problem at all to cook 2 qts of quinoa: 2 c. of grain in a quart of stock cooks up to close to 2 quarts in volume. That’s great, but a serving these days is 1/3 c, so 2 qts amounts to 24 meals. I just bought boneless chicken breasts. I initially was going to buy 3, which ran to just over 2 lbs, but then I recalled that a meal is 4 oz, so I was looking at 8 meals.

I need to cook less if I’m going to eat less—that, or become accustomed to fizzy food with a funny taste.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Inhofe’s summer silence

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James Inhofe goes for the front pages in the winter, with his igloo made following the record snowstorm in DC, but in summer, with record high temperatures, he is uncharacteristically silent. Timothy Egan has some fun with this in a column in the NY Times. From the column:

… Around Capitol Hill, I could not find what I was looking for: agitprop from the number one global warming denier, Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma. In February, remember, during a record snowstorm, Inhofe’s family constructed a primitive igloo.

“Honk if you love global warming,” was one of the signs placed in front of their snow cave. “Al Gore’s new home,” was another.

The snowy winter day was followed, all too quickly, by the hottest spring in Washington history. And then, early summer brought a spate of grim heat records around the globe. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, much of Africa, Russia — all posted their hottest temperatures of all time, accompanied by forest fires, water shortages and crop failures.

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded worldwide, and 2010 is on course to be the warmest year since record-keeping began, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In Senator Inhofe’s home state of Oklahoma, the National Weather Service issued a warning this week of “dangerous heat index values” of up to 110 degrees. A report from last month stated that, this year, “no other region has seen the variety of extreme weather” as much as Oklahoma.

Extreme weather. Perfect for an extreme politician, a man who won his senate seat in 1994 by using, as his slogan, the actual words of a cynical strategy to get people to think about anything but real issues: “God, guns, and gays.” Maybe, with this weather, God is trying to tell the senator something.

In Washington, I expected to see a homemade greenhouse constructed by Inhofe, complete with pithy remarks about the heat. No?

This is how he acts in his official capacity: when it snows, he makes fun of the consensus scientific view that the trend to a more inhospitable earth is incontrovertible. But during this heat wave, nothing. On his Web site, he’s still been highlighting a winter week when 49 of the 50 states had snow on the ground. There’s another reference to his much-quoted remark that global warming “is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” (Wait a minute: what about the Nigerian e-mail scam?)

And the official, taxpayer-funded site devoted to the Republican position on climate change — the minority page of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, where Inhofe is the ranking member — features a five-month-old video of Inhofe bloviating over the leaked emails of leading atmospheric scientists in England. He called it “the most significant scientific scandal of our generation.”

Surely, there would be an update, based on the latest of the independent investigations, the one released earlier this month, which found that “climategate” was much ado about poor e-mail etiquette, and nothing to do about hard science. Surely, he would want to set the record straight. But Inhofe did not post this update. If you relied on him, you would think it’s deep winter.

“The senator still believes global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” said Nat Dempsey, a spokesman for the Republicans on the Senate environment committee. He explained that the politicized igloo was the work of Inhofe’s grandchildren, and dismissed the recent heat records as a short-term phenomenon that should not be the basis for legislation.

True on the last count. Few things are more inane than trying to conduct public policy based on news of the moment, especially the weather. But that’s what we have with one side of the “debate” on climate change. I bring up the heat records to show that, if they were consistent with their calls for attention whenever it snows, Republicans would be alarmed during thermal meltdowns.

Senator Inhofe should be a harmless diversion, the kind of laughable fool that any state can kick back to the capital, where hard-earned ignorance is supported by a well-paid staff. But he is one of the lead Republican senators on climate change, and he doesn’t even believe the climate is changing. He gets his science from a dead fiction author, Michael Crichton, who wrote a fantasy thriller about climate alarmists. If Inhofe’s party wins control of the Senate, the igloo man will steer a significant part of American policy on this issue…

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Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 10:13 am

Is the "ministerial exception" a good idea?

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Marci Hamilton discusses the issue at FindLaw:

The Supreme Court has not yet addressed an important First Amendment religion doctrine that has percolated in the lower federal courts and in the state courts for years — to the point that courts seem to be putting their finishing touches on the nuances of the doctrine. This doctrine establishes the so-called "ministerial exception" — an interpretation of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses that requires the courts to avoid interfering with religious organizations’ employment decisions regarding clergy and other religious employees who are involved in religious doctrine.

As I have written in past columns such as this one, this is a doctrine that pits anti-discrimination laws (that is, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and their state counterparts) against religious-liberty claims. There is now a significant split among the courts regarding several aspects of the doctrine, and, therefore, it is time for the Court to weigh in. With federal appellate courts settling into their particular interpretations, we are seeing that the same claims can get significantly different treatment depending on the circuit.

Title VII Forbids Employment Discrimination But Not When the Ministerial Exception Applies

Title VII has an exception for religious groups that permits them to discriminate on the basis of religious belief. By contrast, there is no exemption to Title VII’s prohibitions on race, national origin, or gender discrimination. The decision to create the belief exemption but to keep the other civil rights laws in place was intentional. But courts have been uncomfortable when dealing with the question of who can be a member of the clergy. Churches do not enjoy autonomy from the law, but the Establishment Clause does forbid courts from determining religious beliefs and that extends to a prohibition on judicial oversight of the choice of clergy. In order to stay out of that quagmire, the courts have crafted the ministerial exception, which is a First Amendment doctrine that creates exceptions to Title VII for religious entities, including houses of worship, religious organizations, and schools.

The exception’s core idea is that the courts should not be in the business of second-guessing religious doctrine, belief, or the qualifications of clergy. Religious organizations have pushed to expand the latter category beyond official clergy to "ministerial employees"– which means that courts have had to define what constitutes a religious employee.

To my knowledge, no ministerial-exception case has ever held that a religious group can discriminate on the basis of race. Most of the cases deal with claims of gender discrimination, though claims of age and disability discrimination also have been raised.

The typical case involves a woman who experiences gender discrimination or sexual harassment (sometimes in the form of a hostile work environment). These claims are often paired with a retaliation claim — that is, a claim that the religious employer took action against the plaintiff after she complained about the discriminatory behavior.

One Notable Case: Lynette Petruska’s Suit Against Gannon University

A classic example involved Lynette Petruska and her employer Gannon University, a Roman Catholic institution in Erie, PA. Petruska was the University chaplain for which there was no gender prerequisite. The record before the court indicated that she was fired on the basis of invidious and arbitrary gender discrimination…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 10:03 am

Oklahoma: Nest of crazies?

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The Oklahoma legislature is an odd thing. Its latest effort is to ensure that judges in Oklahoma don’t suddenly begin applying Sharia law in the courts there. (I don’t think it’s a real problem, somehow, but this is Oklahoma we’re talking about.) That is still underway, but they have already passed a bundle of anti-abortion laws, some over the governor’s veto. Sherry Colb discusses one of these at FindLaw:

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma legislature passed several abortion measures, a number of which required overriding the Governor’s veto. One of the laws prevents a patient from suing her doctor for failing to reveal the presence of a fetal abnormality.

The structure of this law is different in kind from that of other abortion restrictions, and it accordingly calls for a separate analysis. I will here analyze how the Oklahoma law differs from garden-variety abortion restrictions and whether we ought therefore to view it in a different light.

How Most Abortion Restrictions Operate

Existing abortion restrictions generally make it more difficult for a pregnant woman who wants an abortion to get one in the time, place, and manner of her choosing. Waiting periods may require a woman who can ill-afford it to take several days off from work to visit a clinic repeatedly, before her provider may permissibly terminate her pregnancy. Mandatory ultrasounds and fetal-information lectures may cause emotional distress that many women would prefer to avoid. Gestational-stage deadlines (whether at viability or, as a Nebraska law that I discussed in another column provides, at several weeks prior to viability) prohibit abortion outright after a certain point, unless the woman can satisfy one of a narrow set of criteria, including a pregnancy that poses a threat to her life.

Method restrictions (e.g., the federal "Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act," which the Supreme Court upheld in Gonzales v. Carhart and which I discussed in a different column) limit a provider’s flexibility in selecting the abortion procedure that best meets the needs of her patient. Measures of this sort may also deter providers from performing even permissible later-term abortions, because of the risk that a provider will inadvertently render herself subject to criminal prosecution.

Finally, parental-notification and parental-consent requirements compel some underage women who would rather keep the information private, to reveal their desire for an abortion to either a parent or a judge (or alternatively, as in all cases, to forgo the abortion).

These restrictions and others operate to make it more difficult and burdensome — physically, financially, and emotionally — for a woman to carry out a decision that she has made to have an abortion.

Oklahoma’s Law: Liability Preclusion for the Physician Who May Not Want to Reveal Fetal Abnormalities to Pregnant Patients

As I noted above, the new Oklahoma law takes an approach quite distinct from that of the various laws I just described. Specifically, precluding liability for a doctor who fails to reveal a fetal anomaly to her patient is different from the above restrictions in two ways — one more significant than the other.

The less significant way in which this law differs from the others is that — rather than either requiring a doctor or a pregnant woman to do something that she considers burdensome, or prohibiting a doctor or a pregnant woman from doing something that she considers desirable — this law protects a provider from being sued by a patient for violating what might otherwise have been a duty to provide material information to her patient.

Under the Oklahoma law, a doctor who wishes to tell her patient about a fetal anomaly may do so without penalty. The law simply gives the provider the additional option of withholding the information without legal consequence…

Continue reading. Don’t you just love laws that encourage doctors to mislead their patients?

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 10:01 am

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Return of the public option?

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As noted previously, the Affordable Care Act is something that will be revised and improved over the coming years—and in particular it needs a public option. Steve Benen:

Even after Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) forced the removal of the public option from the health care reform package last year, proponents of the idea said the setback was temporary. The popular measure, generating competition between private and public insurance, would return, again and again.

As it turns out, it’s returning right now.

At a time when both political parties are worrying about the federal deficit, an unexpected and unorthodox proposal is coming back from the shadows of last year’s health-care debate the "public option." The idea of creating a major government health insurance program was roundly rejected last year, but the 128 House Democrats pushing to reconsider the idea are now advancing the argument that it would help hold down federal spending.

Their bill, which faces long odds, would allow Americans who do not get insurance at work to choose a government plan for their health coverage starting in 2014.

"There is all this concern about the deficit," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., a leading champion of the proposal. "Well, guess what, this would reduce the deficit because it saves so much money."

Why, yes, as a matter of fact it does. When policymakers were weighing provisions of the legislation that would produce savings, one of the most effective measures was always the public option. For conservatives, however, the debate was always more about ideology than pragmatism.

But if deficit reduction continues to dominate much of the public discussion, public option advocates have a new pitch: the CBO believes the idea could save the federal government $68 billion between 2014 an 2020.

Deficit hawks consistently say lawmakers are going to have to accept some choices they don’t want to make in order to get the deficit under control. Well, what do they have to say about $68 billion in savings from an idea that most of the country consistently loved during the health care debate?

Even proponents don’t expect action on this in the coming months, but Woolsey vowed to keep fighting for the idea. Good

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 9:53 am

Toxic Gulf: A 3-part series

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Part 1.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 9:40 am

Obama and the Sherrod smear

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So far as I can tell, Obama was totally not involved, save perhaps in directing Gibbs to apologize. But somehow people are trying to make this about Obama. Josh Marshall comments:

Forty-eight hours ago the story was another bad apple found on Obama’s cart. By yesterday morning it was another black eye for Obama and Tom Vilsack for rushing to dump a blameless woman on no good evidence and cravenly or cowardly or pusillanimously running for cover because Breitbart, Roger Ailes and whatever other gods of The Crazy said boo! For progressives mad at their president, at some level, that’s understandable. They have no relationship with and expect only the worst from the Breitbarts and Fox Newses of the world. But with Obama they expect more. And it’s personal.

Still, you just have to back up from that and realize that as disappointing as Tom Vilsack’s first crack at this was, the idea that he or Obama is the bad guy in this story is not only preposterous but verging on obscene. It’s like the NYPD as the bad guy in the Son of Sam saga because they didn’t catch David Berkowitz fast enough. Or perhaps that the real moral of the story is that the woman with the stalker should have been more focused on personal data security. Not for some time has something so captured the essential corruption of a big chunk of what passes as ‘right wing media’ (not all, by any means, but a sizable chunk along the Breitbart/Fox/Hannity continuum) and the corruption of the mainstream media itself as this episode.

Let’s review what happened here. And for the sake of conversation, let’s assume that Breitbart and his crew didn’t edit this thing and hadn’t seen any of the rest of the highly exculpatory video. (I’m willing to assume that for the sake of the conversation. And I think it may even be true as a matter of fact.) That’s by far the most innocent explanation. And that means that Breitbart got a piece of video he knew nothing about and published it with a central claim (that it was about Sherrod’s tenure at the USDA) that he either made up or made no attempt to verify. No vetting, no calls, no due diligence, not the slightest concern to confirm anything or find out what was true. Even setting aside the fact that, as Josh Green ably notes, most of Breitbart’s scoops center on race and/or race-baiting, for anyone else practicing anything even vaguely resembling journalism, demonstrated recklessness and/or dishonesty on that scale would be a shattering if not necessarily fatal blow to reputation and credibility.

Yet most of the coverage has been along the lines of Breitbart sparks debate about racism or White House pratfall on prematurely canning Shirley Sherrod. Indeed, ABC tonight is sending out an exclusive on Breitbart, which is … a puff piece about how he got his start in new media.

Or what about the Fox News? To use to terminology of infectious disease, Fox was the primary vector of this story. And to the best of my knowledge, there’s been not only no disciplining of anyone in the news room but as far as I can see no retraction, apology (with the exception of a semi-retraction, on a personal basis, from Bill O’Reilly) or even discussion of their primary role in an obvious smear. The only ‘press criticism’ I’ve seen is this piece by my friend Howard Kurtz which can’t be called anything but a white-wash, even including a self-serving internal email leaked from Fox about taking a careful, thoughtful approach to the story. (My god!)

For that matter, you simply can’t discuss Fox’s role in the Sherrod episode without …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 9:38 am

Timeline of Breitbart’s Sherrod smear

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I think we all recognize that the denizens of the Far Right—the Breitbarts, Hannitys, Roves, Gingriches, and the like—deal primarily in lies, with much reinforcement among themselves. Media Matters has an enlightening and detailed timeline of the Sherrod smear that’s worth reviewing to see just how the attack machine works. It begins:

Media Matters has documented a timeline of Andrew Breitbart’s smear of Shirley Sherrod, from Breitbart’s initial posting of his deceptively edited clip of Sherrod — which was amplified by Fox News and other right-wing media — through the release of the full video of Sherrod’s comments, which made clear the context of her remarks.


11:18 a.m.*: Breitbart posts Sherrod video, calls her "racist," claims "Context is everything."Breitbart posted the heavily edited video of Sherrod and falsely suggested that Sherrod discriminated against a white farmer in her capacity as the Agriculture Department’s Georgia Director of Rural Development:

We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from "one of his own kind". She refers him to a white lawyer.

Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

Fox News amplifies Breitbart’s deceptively edited video. On July 19, reported: "Days after the NAACP clashed with Tea Party members over allegations of racism, a video has surfaced showing an Agriculture Department official regaling an NAACP audience with a story about how she withheld help to a white farmer facing bankruptcy." The article further reported that "[t]he video clip was first posted by" and that " is seeking a response from both the NAACP and the USDA." The article is no longer available on but was republished on another website: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 9:31 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Media

Rose and iKon

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Tryphon Rose shaving cream again uses no dye and the fragrance, though pleasant, is not strong. It created a good lather with the G.B. Kent BK4, and the iKon with its Swedish Gillette blade did three quite comfortable passes. I used thee iKon open-comb again this morning to compare it with the Mühle open-comb, but the two are close enough (for me) that I will have to use them both in the same shave to note any differences. They both are, for me, quite comfortable and pleasant razors. Some of TOBS “A Gentleman’s Aftershave Balm” and I’m good to go. I actually like this balm quite well.

Written by Leisureguy

22 July 2010 at 9:22 am

Posted in Shaving

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