owlmoose: (cats - tori peeking)
I kind of want to share some links, and I'm kind of afraid they'll all be out of date within five minutes of posting them. (At the very least, by 5pm Eastern Time today, which is when we seem to be getting our daily bombshell.) It's been less than two weeks since my last linkspam post, and in the meantime it feels like an entire year's worth of news has happened.

But, this the teaspoon I have, and so I'll keep going at this ocean for as long as I can.

  • It's hard to say what's the biggest story in the long run, but for now I'll put my money on the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Could this be the thing that brings it all toppling down? Vox thinks it might be.

  • Not just the firing itself, but the way that the White House narrative tried to deflect the blame onto Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein might be what triggered the appointment of a special counsel (FINALLY OMG). Unfortunately, the special counsel doesn't quite have the power or independence of a special prosecutor, but it's probably the best of the options we have right now. Vox has a good overview of what a special counsel is and what they have the power to do.

  • This close reading of James Comey's farewell letter to FBI staff is a work of genius. So is the farewell letter itself.

  • Don't forget The Comey Memo. (Does anyone else hear that in the cadence of "The Reynolds Pamphlet"? Just me? Okay.) This New Yorker article is a pretty good summary of the memo's importance and how it raises the stakes for everyone involved. Also, I'm pretty sure the last shoe has not dropped on revelations from James Comey. Not even close.

  • I suppose it might be a staggering coincidence that the White House invited Russian officials into the Oval Office with only Russian media present, and that 45 dropped some key intel to make himself look important (and SERIOUSLY? You are the President. Of. The. United. States. You don't need to puff yourself up to look important anymore, I promise) on the day after the man leading the investigation into Russian ties with the campaign was fired, but. Well. It doesn't look good. Politico's brilliant take on how Trump supporters are trying to spin this story is both illuminating and a work of trolling genius:
    Others accepted the report but contested the suggestion that Trump’s behavior was problematic. “This is only a scandal in the minds of those who haven’t heard that the Cold War is over,” said white nationalist Richard Spencer, who over the weekend rallied a peaceful, torch-bearing mob in support of the Confederacy at a park in Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • If you haven't seen it yet, [personal profile] renay's story about trying to get involved with the local Democratic party only to run into roadblocks and uncommunicative people at every turn is frustrating and infuriating. As I said on Twitter, red state and rural progressives are fighting enough battles. Getting the attention of the Democratic infrastructure shouldn't have to be another.

  • There are currently six Democrats in Congress who identify as pro-life and regularly (though not always) vote for anti-choice legislation, three Senators and three Representatives. All of them are white men. This is my surprised face.

  • Meanwhile, voter suppression is back in the news, as The Nation reports on new research into the effects of Wisconsin's voter ID law. I still contend that voting rights is THE issue we need to fix if we're going to straighten things out in the long run. Even with all the balls in the air, we need to keep an eye on this one.
owlmoose: (avengers - a little help)
I'm sure no one really wants to think or talk about anything other than the House's narrow passage of the AHCA today, the bill that's intended to replace Obamacare and dismantle our entire healthcare system in the process. It's terrible, awful, and terrifying for a lot of people; I don't expect to be affected in the short term myself, but the ripple effects could be tremendous if this bill becomes law. It's hard to know what the odds of that happening are. The GOP got away with this in part by rushing the AHCA through before the CBO could prepare its report on how much the updated bill will cost, and how many people it will affect, and that report is expected to be ready before the Senate can vote. It's also commonly thought that the House bill is too draconian to pass the Senate as-is, but if the Senate softens it up too much, it might not survive another House vote. (Never forget: the GOP got this bill through the House by insuring fewer people. I think about that, and compare it to Obama's fruitless efforts in 2009 to win even one Republican vote for the ACA, and it makes me want to cry.) But never underestimate what this group of thugs, bullies, and fascists is willing to do. That said, if you are feeling defeated today, I recommend you to this Twitter thread, which I found a small beacon of hope on a dark day. Friends, we were dealt a setback today, maybe the worst one since January 20th; it's okay if you need a little time to rest and regroup. But I hope you come back refreshed and ready to fight another day. The marathon continues.

Some other stuff that happened:



Today's fun link: The Sandwich Alignment Chart. "What is a Sandwich" is possibly my favorite low-stakes debate topic, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if we come back to this one.
owlmoose: (quote - questions)
I didn't take my laptop with me on my East Coast trip, mostly because I figured we'd be out and about a lot, especially in New York. I was mostly correct in this, so I fell a little behind on world events while I was gone, which is probably just as well.

  • I found this overview of the violent protest in Berkeley this Saturday to be a good and thoughtful summation of the situation. As usual, it's more complex than you might think from headline news. It's not really Trump supporters vs. anti-Trump; it's the latest evolution of a long-running conflict between the white supremacist right and the anti-fascist left, with the white supremacists using more moderate Trump voters as cover.

  • From The Nation, "Fear of Diversity Made People More Likely to Vote Trump." This is a nice way of saying that Trump voters were racist (or, to take it a little more broadly, xenophobic, but the poll discussed by the article asked questions specifically about race and racial anxieties). The article never comes out and uses the word "racist" but the implication is clear. I'm getting a little frustrated by the mainstream media's inability to call racism out by name, even left-leaning publications like The Nation, but at least they're still raising the issue.

  • Of all the various takes inspired by the United Airlines debacle last weekend, I was most interested in Vox's history of airline industry deregulation and consolidation, and how that's led to current miserable flying conditions. It also answered a mystery that has long puzzled me: whatever happened to America West? (Answer: they bought out US Air and kept the US Air brand, so through various mergers they're basically now American Airlines.)

  • From The Washington Post's Daily 202 newsletter, poll results show that the change in support for military intervention in Syria is driven entirely by a massive swing in Republican opinion. Only 22% of Republicans approved of potential airstrikes in 2013, when Obama sought permission from Congress to punish Assad for using chemical weapons against civilians; today that number is 86%. (Democratic opinion is nearly unchanged, from 38% to 37%, well within the margin of error on the poll.) But sure, tell me that their opposition to Obama was principled.

  • I really appreciated this interview with political scientist Marcus H. Johnson on the problems with Bernie Sanders and his approach to fighting Trump, and the problems with infighting in the Democratic Party.

  • As you might therefore guess, I'm not on board with primarying every moderate Democrat under the sun in 2018 (please stop making noises about Dianne Feinstein; I don't love everything she does, but she has serious seniority in the Senate, and she flexes those muscles when it matters). But there are exceptions, and it seems like these eight New York Democrats who caucus with the Republicans are prime candidates for some challengers.

  • It's a little too depressing to go back and chronicle the events that led up to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court now that the damage is done, but I did want to share the article about his purported plagiarism, largely because it was a centerpiece of Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley's epic filibuster last week, which I caught part of. Merkely wasn't blocking any particular vote by speaking overnight; it was mostly a protest move. But I found his effort inspiring anyway.

  • Jill Filipovic on why it's a problem that Mike Pence won't eat a meal alone with a woman who isn't his wife. This is not an uncommon stance among a certain strand of conservative Christian -- it's known as the Billy Graham Rule, because the evangelist famously pioneered the practice when Christian leaders were getting caught in sex scandals. It's still offensive in that context, but when a world leader adopts the policy, it's flat out discrimination. What if Pence becomes president, and has to take a private meeting with Angela Merkel? Will he insist that his wife be in the room? It's a system-wide problem, too, as this survey of female Congressional staffers shows -- they report being routinely excluded from after-hours networking opportunities because it would require them to be alone with male members of Congress.

  • On the good news front, recent local elections in Illinois elected a record-shattering number of Democrats to office. Includes a video from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who runs a boot camp for people planning to run for office. It's called Build the Bench, and of the twelve alumni who ran in this cycle, at least eight of them won. This is exactly the kind of effort we need to be putting in, and I hope we see it spreading across the nation.

  • On that note, and related to my comments about primarying moderates above, here's a "List of Things Progressives Should Do Before Primarying Joe Manchin", moderate Democratic Senator from West Virginia. I'd add the caveat that if West Virginia progressives believe it's worth putting in the time and effort to mount a primary challenge to Manchin, then more power to them, and I'll support their efforts. (Same for Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, etc.) But on the national level, I absolutely agree that everything on this list takes higher priority.

  • Jill Filipovic has been killing it in her editorials for Cosmopolitan lately, and this piece on abortion rights as a precondition for economic justice is no exception.
owlmoose: (lost - hurley dude)
  • A presidential appointee to an EPA leadership position is stepping down because staffers won't play along with his climate change denial agenda. "They’re here for a cause," he said. A cause, like, say, protecting the environment? WHO KNEW.

  • The New York Times and The Washington Post Are at War, and Everyone Is Winning: when two major news organizations are trying to out-do each other in their investigating efforts, there can be no losers (except maybe the Republican administration).

  • I could share a lot of links about the Day Without Women, the strike scheduled to coincide with International Women's Day last week, but I already wrote a whole post about it, so I will limit myself to this New Yorker piece, The Women's Strike and the Messy Space of Change.

  • Ever wonder why the big news always seems to break at night? The Atlantic has a good explainer; the short version is that newspaper publishing deadlines are at night, we're just now getting the stories as soon as they're filed, rather than having to wait for the next morning to read them.

  • Some professors at NYU staged a gender-swapped version of the three Clinton-Trump presidential debates, and did not get the reactions they were expecting from the audience. There's a clip from the rehearsal, which is fascinating to watch. I'd be really curious to see the whole thing.


For your Thursday funny/cute, I commend you to Olly the Terrier have the time of his life at a dog show skills competition. The announcer's affectionate amusement makes it even better.
owlmoose: (CJ)
Happy International Women's Day!

I hope that today's events lead both to a continuing groundswell of the progressive actions that have been going on for years but came into focus for many more with the Women's March in January, and to a greater recognition of International Women's Day in the United States. Interesting reading: this Slate article on the history of International Women's Day, which discusses its roots as a day of strikes and pro-worker action through a defanged and commercialized holiday somewhat akin to Mother's Day. (Also an excuse for self-styled wags and MRAs to complain that there's no International Men's Day. Which: 1. shut up; 2. November 19th, in case you actually care; 3. It's during White History Month and Straight Pride Week, duh.)

Although I'm wearing red today, and ate breakfast at home instead of going out as I often do on workdays, I haven't varied my routine much otherwise. I contemplated not working, but since I'm on a major deadline and had a couple of meetings, I decided it would inconvenience the wrong people without sending any useful messages. I felt a little bad about it, but I also firmly believe that every person needs to decide this sort of thing for themselves. I have heard and sympathize with some of the criticisms that not every woman is in a position where they can afford to take a day off work and/or care-taking; I think that's legit, but I've also seen too many women -- and by this I mean the well-off white women who could most likely take the risk -- use that criticism as an excuse not to participate. In the end, if trusting women is important -- and I believe that it is -- then we need to trust women to evaluate their own lives and know what actions are appropriate for them. We can critique the larger meaning of an action without getting too bogged down in the choices of individual women. I'll be interested to see if any statistics come out about the aggregate effect of Day Without a Woman, and if the strike tradition continues.

(Post title is from a Peter Gabriel song, "Shaking the Tree".)
owlmoose: (narnia - edmund coat)
I probably need a catchier name for this project....

Not much this time because I actively avoided posting news and politics links while I was in Hawaii. A few gems, though.

  • A quick rundown of the attempt of Congressional Republicans to defang House ethics rules and the almost immediate reversal. The two main takeaways: public outcry sometimes works, but we have to keep watching them like hawks.

  • I found this Tweetstorm on this history of reconstruction from [twitter.com profile] arthur_effect (Arthur Chu) to be both informative and thought-provoking, in terms of what might happen next in this national backlash to progress on civil rights issues.

  • Another on the "Third Reconstruction," from Rev. William Barber, the leader of North Carolina's Moral Monday movement. Moral Monday is an excellent model for liberal resistance, and I hope more of us can adopt it.

  • Very good takedown of the idea that Hillary Clinton lost "working Americans". It largely boils down to the media's limited definitions of "working" and "Americans" (i.e. white men in very specific kinds of jobs).

  • From Brookings, a blueprint for what path the media should follow to cover the incoming administration.
owlmoose: (quote - flamethrower)
I've been thinking I'm sharing most of the best resources I find on Twitter and Facebook these days, and given the speed at which things have been happening since the election, good stuff sometimes gets lost in the social media firehose. If I noted the best of those links and posted them here, say on a weekly basis or so, would people find that useful and/or interesting?

I'm a librarian; curating and sharing information is what I do. If I can take that task on in a way that helps people, I feel like I should. So I'll try this for now, but if folks have feedback or suggestions, definitely let me know.



And now for something completely different: NPR's Monkey See blog is putting together a Pop Culture Advent Calendar, sharing one perfect pop culture moment from 2016 per day. I love this idea, and perhaps in its spirit, I should make sure to include at least one happy or uplifting thing in each links collection. We can't have four years of unalloyed misery, no matter how bad things get -- that way lies burnout and despair. As I've said before, we need to take our bright spots where we can get them, even if it feels like trying to keep a candle lit against a firehose. This is my candle, and I will do whatever it takes to keep it burning.
owlmoose: (Obamoose '08)
President Obama gave one of his final press conferences today. The transcript is an interesting read, and this version has some annotations from Washington Post reporters. I'd call his tone guarded but hopeful, particularly in terms of the future prospects of the Democratic Party:

I believe that we have better ideas. But I also believe that good ideas don't matter if people don't hear them.... We have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere. We have to work at a grassroots level, something that's been a running thread in my career....

And the challenge for a national party is how do you dig in there and create those kinds of structures so that people have a sense of what it is that you stand for. And that increasingly is difficult to do just through a national press strategy. It's increasingly difficult to do because of the splintering of the press. And so I think the discussions that have been taking place about, how do you build more grassroots organizing, how do you build state parties and local parties and school board elections you're paying attention to, state rep races and city council races, that all, I think, will contribute to stronger outcomes in the future. And I'm optimistic that will happen.

For Democrats who are feeling completely discouraged, I've been trying to remind them, everybody remembers my Boston speech in 2004. They may not remember me showing up here in 2005 when John Kerry had lost a close election, Tom Daschle, the leader of the Senate, had been beaten in an upset. Ken Salazar and I were the only two Democrats that won nationally. Republicans controlled the Senate and the House, and two years later, Democrats were winning back Congress, and four years later I was President of the United States.

Things change pretty rapidly. But they don't change inevitably. They change because you work for it. Nobody said Democracy's supposed to be easy. It's hard. And in a big country like this, it probably should be hard.


Considering that Obama has already said that he plans for his main political cause post-presidency to be getting Democrats elected locally and fair redistricting for the House of Representatives, I think he's going to put his money -- and his time -- where his mouth is on this one. And I hope to support this effort every step of the way.

Although I haven't read it yet, he did an extensive exit interview with Doris Kearns Goodwin in September's Vanity Fair, and apparently in that interview he suggested that once he's out of office, the gloves are coming off. I think we've gotten a bit of a preview in the last couple of years, and I can hardly wait for the rest. (Except for the part where I really, really don't want him to leave. Especially not now. *clings like a limpet*)
owlmoose: A bright blue butterfly (butterfly)
As it typical for me in the third week of November, it's a concert week, which means I don't have time for much outside work and rehearsal. This year's main piece is one I've done before, "Dona Nobis Pacem" by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and it's one of my favorites. This cantata is a setting of several texts, including three poems by Walt Whitman about his experiences as a Civil War nurse ("Beat! Beat! Drums", "Reconciliation", and "Dirge for Two Veterans"), various Biblical passages, and a speech by the British orator John Bright opposing the Crimean War. Vaughan Williams was himself a veteran of the First World War, in which he served as a medic, and he wrote this piece in 1936, with the dark clouds of the Second looming clearly on the horizon. It is a meditation on the horrors of war, and a plea for peace, ending on a note of hope for the future, and I can think of nothing more appropriate to sing right now.

I found this article with some background on Vaughan Williams himself as well as "Dona Nobis Pacem, and a complete recording on YouTube in case you're interested, and my concert is too far away for you to attend. (But if you're local and would like more details, let me know!)
owlmoose: (think)
Maybe so, but they got the wrong bums. The Republicans are cruising to an easy takeover of the Senate, and seem to have picked up a number of governorships as well. I'm not sure how much this changes anything on a practical level, though. Even if the GOP has a Senate Majority, it's not enough of one to get anything done, any more than the Democratic majority was before. Certainly not enough to override any presidential vetoes. And despite all the hand-wringing I saw on MSNBC about Republican governors in blue states as harbingers for 2016, it's not like New England and the Mountain West haven't had Republican governors before. Remember, it's not so long ago that Mitt Romney was the governor of Massachusetts.

I really do continue to boggle at the Democratic inability to capitalize on success, though. People like the Affordable Care Act! Why do you keep running from it?

Meanwhile, I did of course vote this morning. California is rather insulated from the national stuff because Jerry Brown was reelected in a walk, and neither of our US Senators were up this year. We also had slightly less of the proposition-related ridiculousness this year, although "less" is not "none". But it looks like almost nothing I voted against is going to pass, and nothing I feel strongly about is going to lose, so that's generally okay.

If only the midterms being over meant that we were done with election nonsense for awhile. But alas, it seems that will be with us always.
owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
A 6.0 earthquake hit the Napa Valley early this morning, about 40 miles north. It didn't do any damage here, but I did wake up at 3:20 am, alert and ready for the emergency. Then I went back to sleep.

Folks in Napa were not so lucky -- almost 90 people injured (no deaths reported, thankfully), significant damage to buildings, minor damage to roads, power outages and water main breaks, and possibly a whole lot of spilled wine. That sounds like a joke, but it's not. If wineries and restaurants lost too much of their stock, it could have a serious economic impact on the region and the state. It'll be awhile before we'll know the extent of the damage.

This is the second largest earthquake I've ever felt (the largest being the Loma Prieta, back in 1989), and without question the scariest in the moment, in part because it woke me up and in part because it was so long. They're saying the shaking (more of a rolling) lasted 20 to 30 seconds, which is forever in earthquake time. Long enough to know what's going on, but not enough time to really do anything about it.

Fun times. I still wouldn't live anywhere else, but the reminder of the dangers is always useful. We really need to update our emergency supplies. Maybe in a few days, when the initial reaction has died down.
owlmoose: (cats - silver kitty)
After a long off and on battle with cancer, Roger Ebert passed away today. I didn't always agree with Ebert (particularly not on the question of video games and the artistic merits thereof), but I always wanted to hear what he had to say about a movie, and enjoyed his writings on many other topics. He was one of our greatest living writers, and his contributions to our culture will be greatly missed.

If you're ever looking for something to read, you could do a lot worse than surf his review archives for his Great Movie reviews, or the reviews of movies he hated -- no one could take apart a bad movie better than Roger Ebert. His site is down right now, probably due to heavy traffic, but come back in a couple of days and take a look.

Progress

Nov. 8th, 2011 09:32 pm
owlmoose: (book - key)
It's probably cheating for so many of my posts this month to be about my Mega Flare progress, but it is the main focus of my time and attention right now, so maybe not? I can't decide.

Anyway. Got some good editing done yesterday and today, maybe halfway through this first editing run, and once this post is done, I'll dive back in. Current wordcount is 26,483; I haven't discovered any gaps yet, but I've flagged a few sections for possible rewrite. It would be in great shape if I had about a week longer, or at least if I weren't completely booked this weekend. As it is, well. We'll see.

In other news, bleah. If Ed Lee wins outright, I am going to be Very Irritated. Can San Francisco politics get nothing right?

All right, enough of that. Back to work. If you see me on Twitter or Tumblr, smack me on the hand, will you? Thanks.
owlmoose: (heroes - hiro dino)
Eleven candidates for mayor? Eleven? And I have to make a decision because the person I least want to see win is the incumbent?

At least in the old days I could have waited for the runoff, but no, SF had to adopt an instant runoff system (pick your top three candidates). So I get to pick now. Not to mention choosing among the three candidates for sheriff, and six for district attorney, and the half-dozen local propositions. Bleh.

Well, off to go read all my political spam. (Seriously, it's been ridiculous. I'm tempted to count up the number of mailers I've received over the last month and vote for the person who sent me the fewest. All those dead trees. Very sad.)
owlmoose: A photo of a Highway 1 roadsign, with the California Coast in the background (california - sign)
Oh, like I could resist that subject line when we just had two noticeable earthquakes less than six hours apart. Supposedly they were about the same magnitude, 4.0 and 3.8 respectively, but the second was much scarier to me, probably because it lasted a lot longer, maybe a whole 10-15 seconds. (That may not sound long, but in earthquake terms, that's awhile. The 1989 quake was 30 seconds, and it felt like an eternity.) They were also in about the same place, along the Hayward fault in the East Bay; the news is calling the second one an aftershock. No real damage anywhere, just a little nerve-wracking.

In other news, iPhone 4S! The sharp screen is pretty sweet, although I'm not sure how I feel about the edge ridges. I liked the curvier feel of my 3GS. Also, I would prefer if TweetDeck did not crash all the time, thanks. That might be an iOS 5 problem, because it got a bit crashy on my old phone, too, after I upgraded it. Let's hope that gets resolved soon.
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
Try as I might, the world doesn't stop moving when I go on vacation. Here are some things I would likely have written more about if I hadn't been trying to keep up on my phone as they were happening. This is also my official notice that I am as caught up on LJ/DW/Twitter/email/Google Reader as I'm going to get. If you posted something you wanted me to see and I haven't commented on it, or otherwise indicated that I've seen it, drop me a line.

-- Supreme Court says video games are protected speech: Most excellent news, of course. It's not a particularly surprising result, but I'm still glad to see it. Maybe more on this one later.

-- Major fanfiction site is bought by a web developer as a money-maker: Haven't we been here before? Ah, the FanLib debacle. Good times. Of course, you remember how that all turned out: FanLib bought by Disney, then shut down only a couple of months later. Good thoughts on why this new for-profit venture may or may not be a problem from the OTW blog, here.

-- IMF head and accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn will likely go free; he was released from house arrest, and the case against him is falling apart, largely for the same old tired victim blaming reasons we've seen a thousand times before. And yes, presumption of innocence and better to let a thousand guilty men go free than to lock up one innocent and all that. But isn't it funny how so many of those guilty men who go free are those who have been accused of sexual assault?

-- Google+: I received an invite, haven't gotten around to using it yet, but I expect I'll at least poke around. My antipathy toward Facebook is well documented; on the other hand, I get nervous about outsourcing too much of my online life to Google, especially when they bungled their last attempt at social networking so badly (remember the disaster that was the Buzz launch?). What it really comes down to, of course, is that a social networking tool is only as useful as the people who are on it. So I am adopting a wait-and-see attitude. I may end up using Facebook for RL and Google+ for fandom, if enough people migrate.
owlmoose: (hepburn)
I've been around, just busy, spacey, tired. Way behind on my writing schedule. Feeling alternately oppressed by and excited about world events, between the goings on in the Middle East and the political malarky at home. It feels like we're on the cusp of something, something really wonderful or really terrible, or maybe both at once.

Also it's a concert week, which will be eating my life as usual. We had our last piano rehearsal last night and we're sounding really good. Let's hope it holds up when we meet up with the orchestra tomorrow!

Finally, in media news, T and I are finally playing Dragon Age, which I expect will get a post of its own sometime soon. Enjoying it so far, for sure, although I always get a little nervous when I play a game this open, worrying I've missed some major quest or plot point by not talking to every single NPC, or by choosing the wrong option in a conversation. Non-linearity is overrated.

For complicated reasons having to do with my school's schedule, my President's Day holiday is this upcoming Friday. I cannot wait, even though the three-day weekend will be dominated by concerts and other events. But it will be worth it.
owlmoose: (quote - B5 avalanche)
This is clearly my week to return to current events topics I haven't posted about in awhile.

Back in early December, I wrote a post about the rape charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. A day or so later, Twitter exploded, and suddenly this topic was everywhere I looked. I followed the #mooreandme campaign very closely; I didn't post about it here, because it moved too fast for me to gather my thoughts enough for a post, but I did keep up with the hashtag and retweeted quite a lot. After Michael Moore made good (sort of), things died down, but the case is still very much in the media and on my mind, largely because people keep saying stupid things.

People like Naomi Wolf. )
owlmoose: (BMC - juno)
Though I haven't talked about it much, I've continued to follow the various Proposition 8 trials and tribulations with great interest. Right now it's at the appeals stage; the hearing was about a month ago, at the federal courthouse about a block from my workplace. I happened to head that direction for lunch that day -- not on purpose, just by chance -- and I walked right through the anti-equality protest that had set up shop. One of the protestors was a man with a bullhorn who proclaimed that the morning rainstorm represented "God's Judgement on the city of San Francisco".

Considering that we've had a few drought years and need all the rain we can get, I wonder what message we're actually supposed to be taking, here.

Anyway, so the trial happened, and today we finally got some news: a punt of sorts. The Court of Appeals did not issue a ruling; instead, they sent the case back to the California Supreme Court to determine whether the proponents even have "standing" -- in other words, the right to appeal the original ruling that declared Prop 8 unconstitutional. (If you're not familiar with the standing issue, this is a pretty good summary.) If the quotes from this Daily Kos article are any indication, the Court of Appeals seem to think that the proponents ought to have standing, but given the lack of case law in California on this issue, they want the state courts to make the final ruling. Which is logical, even if it does draw the case out even further.

So I find all this interesting, as I have found all the twists and turns in this case interesting, but that's not actually why I linked to the article. Another issue that came up on appeal was whether one of the judges, Stephen Reinhardt, ought to excuse himself from the case because his wife is an executive at the ACLU. He dismissed this charge entirely, in a memo that includes this awesome quote (pulled from the Kos link, above):

My wife’s views, public or private, as to any issues that may come before
this court, constitutional or otherwise, are of no consequence. She is a strong, independent woman who has long fought for the principle, among others, that women should be evaluated on their own merits and not judged in any way by the deeds or position in life of their husbands (and vice versa). I share that view and, in my opinion, it reflects the status of the law generally, as well as the law of recusal, regardless of whether the spouse or the judge is the male or the female....

When I joined this court in 1980 (well before my wife and I were married), the ethics rules promulgated by the Judicial Conference stated that judges should ensure that their wives not participate in politics. I wrote the ethics committee and suggested that this advice did not reflect the realities of modern marriage–that even if it were desirable for judges to control their wives, I did not know many judges who could actually do so (I further suggested that the Committee would do better to say “spouses” than “wives,” as by then we had as members of our court Judge Mary Schroeder, Judge Betty Fletcher, and Judge Dorothy Nelson). The committee thanked me for my letter and sometime later changed the rule. That time has passed, and rightly so.


It would be one thing if the ACLU were actively involved in this particular case, but they aren't. The only reason to think Reinhardt might have a conflict of interest is if you assume that married couples are incapable of holding independent opinions. This is an obnoxious assumption, and I'm always glad to see it smacked down.
owlmoose: (art - gorey neville)
SE asked me to give my opinion on WikiLeaks and its creator/leader Julian Assange.

Secrecy, government, and freedom of speech )

Julian Assange himself. )

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