Monthly archives: June, 2008

Is your middle name “Hussein” too?

Some Barack Obama supporters are informally adopting the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate’s middle name as their own.  According to the New York Times:

Emily Nordling has never met a Muslim, at least not to her knowledge. But this spring, Ms. Nordling, a 19-year-old student from Fort Thomas, Ky., gave herself a new middle name on, mimicking her boyfriend and shocking her father.

“Emily Hussein Nordling,” her entry now reads.

With her decision, she joined a growing band of supporters of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who are expressing solidarity with him by informally adopting his middle name.

Very cool.  Reminds me of the end of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, where children declare one at a time, “I am Malcolm X!”

Barack Obama is an intriguing personality.  By all rights, he has the absolute worst name for politics in the United States.  But here we stand, in classic Americana, embracing the other.

I’ll change my Facebook profile also, proudly adopting the Senator from Illinois’ middle name as my own.

You should consider doing the same.

Supremes explode on right to bear arms

Thursday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court protecting an individual right to own a gun for personal use is good news for some, but downright frightening for those who worry about the ever escalating gun violence in the Chicaogland area and the rest of the country.

First, the New York Times:

The Supreme Court on Thursday embraced the long-disputed view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun for personal use, ruling 5 to 4 that there is a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.

The landmark ruling overturned the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, the strictest gun-control law in the country, and appeared certain to usher in a fresh round of litigation over gun rights throughout the country.

Next, Mayor Daley via the Chicago Tribune:

An angry Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday called the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Washington D.C. handgun ban “a very frightening decision” and vowed to fight vigorously any challenges to Chicago’s ban.

That challenge was not long in coming. Hours after the high court’s ruling was made public Thursday, the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association sued the city and the mayor in an effort to overturn Chicago’s quarter-century ban on handguns.

“We think we’re such an improved society,” [Daley] added. “The rest of the world is laughing at us.”

The London Times Online broadens the perspective a bit:

Professor Laurence Tribe, a leading expert in constitutional law said that “regretfully, and speaking as a liberal scholar” the Second Amendment did appear to support an individual right to possess guns.

“The more important point is how far that right can be regulated,” he told The Times. It would still be possible for states to impose limits on carrying concealed weapons, regulate the sale of firearms and stop certain categories of people — including the mentally ill or those with criminal records — from owning guns. “I’m not persuaded that more people will die,” he said. “The cause and effect is much more complicated. What we will see is all sorts of challenges and litigation. This will be a lawyers’ bonanza.”

Asked if England and Wales — where there were 50 deaths through gun crime in 2005 compared with 12,352 gun-related murders in the US — could teach America a lesson, he said: “We come from a much more violent culture, one in which it would be much more difficult to enact and enforce a complete ban. Whatever the law, we’re not going to become England.”

What an astounding contrast: 50 deaths through gun crime in England and Wales in 2005, compared with 12,352 gun-related murders in the US.

The 157 page split opinion, another lengthy and loquacious product the Roberts court is famous for, does not claim the Second Amendment is unlimited, “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues.” However, the decision does extend to trigger-locks:

The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional.

The split vote:

SCALIA, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, and GINSBURG, JJ., joined.

Scalia parses the Second Amendment:

The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment is naturally divided into two parts: its prefatory clause and its operative clause. The former does not limit the latter grammatically, but rather announces a purpose. The Amendment could be rephrased, “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

So the right to bear arms is not granted for the purpose of creating a “well regulated Militia.” Indeed, the majority do not seem to want any regulation at all.

Which arms are permitted? Here again, Scalia rambles on for pages, reflecting on the historical meaning of what the words “bear arms” might mean. Is this right limited to the military? Does the phrase mean we have the right to bear arms that existed in the 18th century?

Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.

That’s a rather broad interpretation. So Scalia narrows it down a bit:

There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s right of free speech was not, see, e.g., United States v. Williams, 553 U. S. ___ (2008). Thus, we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.

Scalia references Pennsylvania and Vermont for historical justification to separate the phrase “right to bear arms” from “a well regulated militia”:

Two of them—Pennsylvania and Vermont—clearly adopted individual rights unconnected to militia service. Pennsylvania’s Declaration of Rights of 1776 said: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the state . . . .” §XIII, in 5 Thorpe 3082, 3083 (emphasis added). In 1777, Vermont adopted the identical provision, except for inconsequential differences in punctuation and capitalization.

Leaving no room for wiggle, Scalia’s opinoin is laced with rebuttals to the opinions of the dissenting justices. Scalia strongly rebukes Justice Stevens’ minority opinion:

JUSTICE STEVENS thinks it significant that the Virginia, New York, and North Carolina Second Amendment proposals were “embedded . . . within a group of principles that are distinctly military in meaning,” such as statements about the danger of standing armies. Post, at 22. But so was the highly influential minority proposal in Pennsylvania, yet that proposal, with its reference to hunting, plainly referred to an individual right. See 2 Documentary Hist. 624. Other than that erroneous point, JUSTICE STEVENS has brought forward absolutely no evidence that those proposals conferred only a right to carry arms in a militia.

Back to the Chicago Tribune:

In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.” He said such evidence “is nowhere to be found.”

In the long run, Scalia’s marked lack of ability to get to the point may very well be the greatest weakness of this decision. His attempt to write an all-encompassing history of weaponry weakens his argument, raising more questions than it answers, and may very well open the door for thousands of loopholes that could allow Chicago to keep its ban on handguns.  Chicago’s legal officials seem confident, at least for now:

“We are confident that this does not invalidate Chicago’s ordinance at this point,” said Jennifer Hoyle, spokeswoman for the city Law Department.

Still, the decision is a victory for the pro-gun lobby, and “a very frightening decision,” to quote Mayor Daley, for the rest of us.

Dr. James Dobson cries out from the gutter

Dr. James Dobson
Dr. James Dobson decided to climb out of the depths and take a shot at Barack Obama this week.

We last took note of Dr. J in November, 2006, when he refused to serve on the panel of Christian experts who were working to restore disgraced preacher Ted Haggard.

Now Dobson is an expert again, and he had to reach all the way back to 2006 to fabricate something nasty about Barack Obama.  Why go back to 2006?  Was he on a “Haggard Hiatus”?  Just now opening his email?

From the Chicago Tribune:

The conservative Christian group provided The Associated Press with an advance copy of the pre-taped radio segment, which runs 18 minutes and highlights excerpts of a speech Obama gave in June 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal. Obama mentions Dobson in the speech.

“Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” Obama said. “Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” referring to the civil rights leader.

Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.”

Dobson did not react well to Obama’s speech:

Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament.

“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,” Dobson said.

“… He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.”

Dr. J must feel aweful lonely these days.  No doubt he hardly recognizes the Christian right these days.  They’re not obsessed with abortion and homosexuality any more.  They’re concerned about global warming.  They’re concerned about global poverty, health care, and AIDS.  They don’t like the war in Iraq.

Many of them may just vote for Barack Obama.

It’s worth it to read the full text of Obama’s ‘Call to Renewal’ Keynote Address.  The senator reflects on a bizarre statement from his 2004 carpetbagging opponent for the U.S. Senate, Alan Keyes:

I want to give you an example that I think illustrates this fact. As some of you know, during the 2004 U.S. Senate General Election I ran against a gentleman named Alan Keyes. Mr. Keyes is well-versed in the Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson style of rhetoric that often labels progressives as both immoral and godless.

Indeed, Mr. Keyes announced towards the end of the campaign that, “Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.”

Obama used the occasion to share his own path to church:

It wasn’t until after college, when I went to Chicago to work as a community organizer for a group of Christian churches, that I confronted my own spiritual dilemma.

I was working with churches, and the Christians who I worked with recognized themselves in me. They saw that I knew their Book and that I shared their values and sang their songs. But they sensed that a part of me that remained removed, detached, that I was an observer in their midst.

And in time, I came to realize that something was missing as well — that without a vessel for my beliefs, without a commitment to a particular community of faith, at some level I would always remain apart, and alone.

He stressed the importance of participating in a faith community:

Faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have doubts.

You need to come to church in the first place precisely because you are first of this world, not apart from it. You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away – because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.

How will Dobson argue now that Obama is a Muslim?

It’s a long road to walk alone.  Dobson doesn’t care for John McCain, but he hates Obama more.

I’ll pray for Dr. J, and campaign for Barack Obama.

Lieberman Must Go!

This just in today from Brave New Films:

Joe Lieberman is a war hawk, plain and simple. He staunchly supports George Bush’s War in Iraq and John McCain’s plan to stay in Iraq for 100 years. But Lieberman’s new alliance with the Republican Party runs even deeper. He has endorsed and stumped for McCain, wants to be the star of the Republican National Convention, and has even served on a 527 group that smeared Barack Obama with a nasty attack ad.

And yet Lieberman still holds a top rank within the Senate Democratic Caucus as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Senate Democratic Steering Committee needs to know just how much of a conflict of interest this is. That’s why we created Lieberman Must Go.

Watch the video:

Here’s what you can do: Sign our petition today and tell the Senate Democratic Steering Committee to strip Lieberman of his leadership role in Congress. Then, e-mail this video to everyone you know and spread it on sites like Digg and elsewhere.

Recently in Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall suggested that the best way to limit Lieberman is by encouraging the Steering Committee to render him powerless in 2009. Lieberman must go, and you can make that happen by donating to Brave New Films today.

Robert Greenwald
and the Brave New Team

I’m happy to give them a spot on Turning Left.  I agree…

Joe Lieberman Must Go!

Bill Daley wants to be your governor, Illinios

Bill Daley has been talking to all the right people, working to position himself for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor of Illinois. Brother of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Bill took a shot at the governor’s mansion in 2002. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

Bill Daley flirted with a race for governor in 2002 only to be bullied out by Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), father-in-law of Gov. Blagojevich.

Mell threatened to dirty up the mayor’s brother with talk of Bill Daley’s divorce and Daley’s stint as president of Amalgamated Bank.

With federal investigators swarming over the Blagojevich administration, the governor’s former fundraiser Tony Rezko now a convicted felon and Mell now estranged from his son-in-law, Bill Daley is apparently looking to scratch his lifelong political itch.

Well, Blagojevich has certainly become quite the itch.

I’m willing to take a look at Daley.

Daley has name recognition in his own right.  He served as Secretary of Commerce in President Bill Clinton’s second administration.  In July 2000 he became chairman of Vice President Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

This man has a respectable history already, and throws his hat into a crowded field.

For years we’ve heard talk that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was planning a run for governor.  Madigan is exceptional.  I’ve heard her speak on a number of occasions.  While her father is very well-connected, Lisa is not Speaker Mike.

Lisa is not a Todd-Stroger-wannabe, running just because daddy already holds office.  Neither is Bill Daley running because of his brother.

If these two throw their respective hats into the ring, Democrats are in for quite the ride.  Democrats will have two very respectable candidates to consider.

Personally, I’ll probably offer my support to the one who does not go negative first.

Fun With War Crimes #3 – A Throbbing Surge

Our friends from are back. We need the humor these days. Enjoy!


A terror attack would be great for John McCain

A “senior adviser” to John McCain told Fortune Magazine that a terror attack would be “a big advantage” for John McCain.  Charles R. Black, Jr. was forced to “recant” his opinion:

First, McCain said the substance of Black’s comments were untrue.

“I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America,” McCain told reporters today. “If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree.”

Then, outside a fundraiser in Fresno, Black read a statement aloud to reporters from handwritten notes:

“I deeply regret the comments – they were inappropriate. I recognize that John McCain has devoted his entire adult life to protecting his country and placing its security before every other consideration.”

We’re all waiting for the infamous “October surprise.”  Terror attack or no, however, we all know that McCain and his ilk are hoping for a bomb to go off.  That would be so sweet for John.

Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) put it best:

“For the McCain campaign to say it would benefit politically from another September 11 attack is disgraceful. That Mr. Black would even think in those terms, let alone express the thought publicly, is very sad. John McCain was right to disavow his remarks. The politics of fear have no place in our national life.”

But McCain’s camp is thinking in those terms.  And, I would argue, deep down inside, so is John McCain.  These remarks don’t just slip out.  Somewhere along the line, the “insiders” were joking around, maybe tipping back a few, and in grand “group-think” mentality, convinced themselves that John McCain would, in fact, benefit from a terror attack.

Problem is, after the buzz wears off, you’re not supposed to say those things in public.

Unless, somewhere deep inside, you really mean it.

Three young women were shot…

The sad news from today’s Chicago Sun-Times:

Three young women were shot and wounded while sitting on a porch early Sunday on the South Side.

Officers responded to a person shot at 2:20 a.m. at the 2900 block of East 87th Street and found three females, 16, 18 and 20, who were shot on a porch, according to South Chicago District police.

Were you expecting to hear they died? I was too, when I first read the headlines. I was expecting more bad news.

The girls are listed in fair but “stable” condition.

This is bad news. We have a serious problem with guns in this country. I will not be naive and suggest that we ban guns. That discussion will go nowhere, and I don’t believe it will ever happen.

Rather, we must explore the reasons we shoot each other. We can talk about poverty. We can talk about drugs. We can talk about domestic violence, and gangs, and lack of family values.

And we should. We should seriously have numerous discussions about all of these things.

But the fact remains that we have a serious problem with violence in this country. This is the most violent country in the world outside a war zone, and even then there’s room for competition.

We have to ask ourselves why it is so easy for us to kill each other — or die trying.

S**t, P**s, F**k, C**t, C**kS**ker, M*t**rF**ker, and Tits, George Carlin is Dead

Thanks, George.

I remember my shock and delight in the 70s when I first heard The Seven Words You Can Never Say On Tv.  Those were different days, when we all “suspected” that Elton John was gay but couldn’t bring ourselves to believe it, and the crudest things we heard on television came from the mouth of Archie Bunker.

And Archie was just holding a mirror up to our faces, and laughing along.

George Carlin chose another venue: the live audience and the recorded voice.  He was extraordinary.

Carlin made his living on words, and he was their master:

I love words. I thank you for hearing my words.
I want to tell you something about words that I think is important.
They’re my work, they’re my play, they’re my passion.
Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid.
then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for
that thought, so be careful with words. I like to think that the same
words that hurt can heal, it is a matter of how you pick them.

Thank you, my friend.  Thank you.

Meet Chris Coleson, the new Jared

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Chris Coleson tipped the scales at 278 pounds in December. The 5-foot-8 Coleson now weighs 199 pounds and his waist size has dropped from 50 to 36.

His diet?



The Virginia man lost 80 pounds in six months by eating nearly every meal at McDonald’s:

Not Big Macs, french fries and chocolate shakes. Mostly salads, wraps and apple dippers without the caramel sauce.

Proof that we can lose weight, no matter where we eat, if we watch what we eat.