Saturday, March 25, 2006


Non-endorsement of the Day

I don't intend to endorse Eliot Spitzer [for Governor], but I will say, if asked, he's done a magnificent job as attorney general, better than any I have ever seen. —Former New York Republican Senator Alphonse D'Amato speaking of the presumed Democratic nominee for Governor

Related post
My nominee for President in 2008 (11/9/04)


Malfeasance of the Day

He [the IRS auditor] said this was indeed a political audit. The lawyers that we worked with to get through this audit told us this has not been happening until the Bush years. The political referrals were not being listened to at the I.R.S., that, indeed, they are now. So, this is a resurgence of this kind of activity, not seen since Richard Nixon was using the I.R.S. to audit his enemy's list. —John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA on Democracy Now!

Friday, March 24, 2006


Prayer to the Second Degree

Rob Stein of the Washington Post wrote an update on recent prayer studies. This one caught my attention—
Krucoff, a cardiologist, published a study last summer involving 748 heart patients at nine hospitals. That study failed overall to show any benefit. But Krucoff said he did find tantalizing hints that warrant follow-up: A subset of patients who had a second group of people praying that the prayers of the first group would be answered may have done better.

And I'm praying for the group that's praying for the group that's praying for the house that Jack built. Is this what they mean by a Daisy Chain?

Dr. Krucoff voiced an interesting concern over the possible danger of an effect that is not known to exist—

Krucoff and others say it is also important to study prayer as an adjunct -- not a replacement -- to standard medical care, to make sure it is safe.

Speaking of the effectiveness of prayer, here's a case that should be studied—

KATMANDU, Nepal (UPI) -- One hundred village women danced naked at the local school in hopes the gods will allow the rains to fall in a remote mountainous village in Nepal.

The Katmandu Post reported Tuesday that 100 local women gathered at a school, smeared their faces with black powder and danced naked before the Hindu god Mahadev.

"People in this area believe Mahadev will be happy and provide rain once women perform such a nude dance," said a local teacher.

Even if it doesn't rain, I'd be surprised if everyone doesn't feel better.

Which gives me an idea. Why don't we bring these women to Texas, which really could use some rain? It should be fun to watch freedom of religion in action while we prove the power of prayer.


Quote of the Day

The Drug War is not about health. You cannot incarcerate your way to good health. The Drug War is all about obedience and dogma. —Marc Emery, the Canadian "Prince of Pot," in his online chat at the Washington Post

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Epithet of the Day

I'm the commander in chief. I'm also the educator in chief. —George W. Bush holding forth at Wheeling, West Wirginia


Legal Advice of the Day

To the extent a person wants to ensure that his possessions will be subject to a consent search only due to his own consent, he is free to place these items in an area over which others do not share access and control, be it a private room or a locked suitcase under a bed. —Chief Justice John Roberts dissenting in Georgia v. Randolph [pdf, p. 9 of Robert's dissent]


Reason for Solitude of the Day

[W]e should acknowledge that a decision to share a private place, like a decision to share a secret or a confidential document, necessarily entails the risk that those with whom we share may in turn choose to share—for their own protection or for other reasons—with the police. —Chief Justice John Roberts dissenting in Georgia v. Randolph [pdf]


Racial profiling à l'anglaise

Racial profiling is a particularly nasty "tool" of law enforcement since it offers to people predisposed to ignorance and prejudice—no small number of which may be found among the police—a license to exercise those traits to the fullest. In the end racial profiling comes to look and behave exactly like racial ignorance and prejudice with a badge, which can lead, among other unpleasantnesses, to death.

Happily for Vikesh Bhatt, an Indian living in London, that has not been the case. Aside from the annoyance, embarrassment and inconvenience of it all, it has led mostly to irony. You see, Vikesh Bhatt is working on the British Home Office's Stop and Search website, which will explain, when it goes live, that despite all appearances the citizen still has rights.

I got stopped and then searched last week at Euston Station.... It was my third since the 7 July bombings. All of this because I was traveling in a group of three guys carrying hand luggage. The group was my brother and our friend and me. They wore suits (they were going to work after all) and I was in jeans and on my way to Fibre.

After 7/7 the British Transport Police announced they were going to practice profiling with full support from the government....

.... [T]he lovely PC [police constable] pulled us over, emptied our pockets and bags (this in front of commuters we travel with every day) and then started to quiz me about my hair. After looking at my travel card – I had long hair when the picture was taken – he asked when I’d cut it. “Oh about a month ago,” I said.

“That’s interesting.” our amateur Frost said. “We’ve had a half a dozen Asian guys cut their hair over the past few months.” (He showed a surprising interest in hair trends. Though I doubt he could tell us if white guys were cutting their hair.) This PC though had nothing on the second cop who stopped me and told me not to wear my iPod. The wires were “suspicious.” It was just after the police wrongfully killed Jean Charles de Menenzes at Oval station. Needless to say my iPod stayed at home for a few weeks.

Next the PC took us through a long pink form.... It asks up top where I was born and then proceeds to ask about my ethnic background (a question usually only asked by local governments to ensure that they have diversity at the local level). But here, if the officer can’t get an answer to that question, the form demands he give an explanation as to why. That’s how important my racial background is to the transport police.

Of course an hour later I was at Fibre working on the Stop and Search site. Its title: “You can be stopped. You can be searched, but did you know you have rights?” And of course I had to ask the PC for a copy of the pink form, which is a guaranteed right. But then maybe he hadn’t had a chance to look at the site. It’s supposed to go live this week.

I'll be eager to see what rights Vikesh has—other than a copy of the form documenting the discrimination.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Stink of the Day

Lord Levy, the [Labor] party's fundraiser-in-chief, advised that millionaires were more ready to give loans than donations because it avoided the embarrassment of disclosure of names....

Can the loans be converted into donations at a later date?

Yes. There is nothing to stop the loans quietly being turned into donations when the dust has settled....

— Q & A in The Independent

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