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So the Supreme Court is looking at the issue of global warming for the first time, in an interesting case in which California and about a dozen other states, plus some cities and environmental groups, are asking the court to force the federal Environmental Protection Agency to do something about regulating carbon dioxide levels in automobile emissions. The New York Times has a good article on the case today, which I am summarizing parts of in this post.

The case raises some questions that are interesting to lawyer-types, and perhaps mind-numbing to the rest of the population. First, is carbon dioxide an air pollutant within the meaning of the federal Clean Air Act? An interesting question, because if it is, that means that you, me, and every other person on the planet are regular polluters, simply by the act of breathing.

Second, do the states, cities, and environmental groups even have standing to bring a suit against the government in this matter at all? One rule in litigation is that the party bringing the suit must have what is known as legal standing, that is, “sufficient connection to and harm from the law or action challenged.” (Quote is from linked Wikipedia entry.) That is, are they truly the appropriate party to be bringing the action? One wonders who would be, if not the states as representatives of their citizens — you know, the people who will ultimately be harmed by global warming? Still, according to the NYT, this issue seemed to be the focus of many of the justices’ questions, with Scalia, Roberts, and Alito in particular troubled by the standing question.

Of course, the right-wing trifecta of Scalia, Roberts, and Alito would like nothing better than to rule on this case as a standing issue, rather than on the interpretation of the Clean Air Act and EPA regulations. Why? Because then they wouldn’t have to evaluate the scientific arguments, which could well put them in a position of disagreeing with their buddy Dubya as a matter of law. That would certainly be embarrassing.

All of this relates to the question of whether states should have to sue the federal government to enforce its own statutes to begin with? This is not really one of the questions posed by the NYT article, but I want to raise it because I think it goes to something that is a recurring theme with the present administration. Our alleged president has been (justly) criticized recently for issuing a large number of “signing statements” when he signs bills into law that would purportedly allow him to ignore the laws if he felt like it. I know of no legal or constitutional authority for such signing statements, nor am I aware of any reputable legal scholar endorsing such signing statements. (Perhaps not surprisingly, I do not consider Alberto Gonzales a reputable legal scholar).

At the heart of the Executive Branch’s constitutional authority is the responsibility for executing the laws enacted by Congress. Our alleged president seems to believe he can enforce (or obey) the laws he likes, and ignore the rest. Congress and the Supreme Court should not be allowing this. Our governmental system was conceived as a system of checks and balances for a reason, and it is high time that the other branches of government started asserting their authority in response to this administration’s more questionable activities.

Perhaps in 2007 we will finally see some movement in this area. Or is that just wishful thinking?

jane doe

John Amato, over at Crooks and Liars, has posted a video from MSNBC from yesterday, in which Dana Priest of the Washington Post in essence says her paper does not label the current situation in Iraq a “civil war” because the government doesn’t use that label. Yes, you read that right. They are, in essence, refusing to call a duck a duck because the government won’t, without questioning for one moment the White House’s own motivation for avoiding the term. Newspeak is alive and well, friends and neighbors!

jane doe

John Amato, over at Crooks and Liars, has posted some video from NBC’s broadcast today, if you want to go watch it.

…for an alleged president who is rumored to have read only the children’s story A Pet Goat (or possibly My Pet Goat)– during the past six years? Apparently a pretty big one. According to the Daily News, Duhbya hopes to raise half a billion dollars for his presidential library. No that’s not a typo, I do mean billion with a B.

I can’t help thinking how much our public libraries across the country, most of which are desparately underfunded, could do with half a billion dollars. How many people could be fed, clothed, housed, and educated with that kind of money. Surely there are better things we can be doing with half a billion dollars than building a monument to the national embarrassment currently occupying the White House. Somebody please put a stop to this insanity!

jane doe

P.S. And yes, before my non-existent readers go running to correct me, I am aware of recent claims by Duhbya that he has been reading Serious Works of Literature. I don’t buy it for a minute, though. He’s probably only reading the Cliff’s Notes.

I’m a bit late with everything today, but this is definitely worthy of a mention: after careful consideration, and with voluminous documentation, NBC has made the decision that, as a matter of editorial policy, they will now refer to the situation in Iraq as a civil war. To which I say, about effing time.

Politicians and those with political agendas have been performing verbal gymnastics for years in order to describe their perspectives on controversial events or issues in the most flattering light possible, and the press has for far too long been giving them a free pass on this, reporting the euphemisms, repeating the euphemisms, without ever questioning the euphemisms.

So kudos to NBC for cutting through the euphemisms and calling the mess in Iraq what it is. I’ve no doubt they are in for a shitstorm of criticism from the alleged president, his minions, and their shills over at Faux News — which only proves how right NBC was to do this.

jane doe

Credit the Huffington Post for this tip: a woman in Colorado has been told by her homeowners’ association to remove her wreath, which she has modified to look like a peace sign, because neighbors have complained that it is either an anti-Iraq protest or a symbol of Satan. I’m not making that last one up — follow the link to the AP article if you don’t believe me.

The HOA is fining her $25 a day for as long as she leaves it up, but she has announced that she will leave it up through the holidays. It’s interesting, because the HOA’s rules apparently prohibit “signs, billboards or advertising” — nothing about holiday decorations. And what’s really interesting is that it seems the HOA president is out to get her — he reportedly ordered the HOA architectural control committee (which authorizes signs) to require the woman to remove the wreath, but they quite sensibly said that it was “a seasonal symbol that didn’t say anything” and refused, whereupon the HOA president fired all the committee members.

Bah Humbug indeed.

Now, I am not a Christian, but I’ve always thought of Jesus as a promoter of peace. Perhaps I am missing something, but those “Know Jesus, Know Peace” bumperstickers seem pretty straightforward. (Though as a non-Christian, I must admit I generally find the “No Jesus, No Peace” part troubling…is that supposed to be some kind of threat? ‘Cause it sure sounds like one.) And isn’t there some Christmas song that says something like, “Peace on earth, good will to men”?

And as for the people who thought it was some sort of satanic symbol, are they being disingenuous, or have they been living under a rock for the last forty years? Come on people, wake up and join the rest of society.

jane doe

Think Progress pointed out this little Washington Post story about Laurie David trying to donate 50,000 DVD copies of An Inconvenient Truth to the National Science Teachers’ Association. They refused to take the DVDs, ostensibly because other special interests might also ask them to distribute materials. This is a fair enough objection, at least at first blush. After all, I certainly wouldn’t want to see the NSTA accepting donations of anti-evolutionary theory DVDs from the Intelligent Design people, nor would most science teachers.

But Laurie David points out one troubling thing: the rejection e-mail also apparently expressed concern that by accepting the DVDs, the NSTA might be risking major sources of financial support, which according to Laurie David includes major donors like Exxon Mobil Corp.

That’s right. They can’t accept this donation, because it’s message conflicts with the message that another donor prefers to have before the public — the message that global warming is nothing but a myth spread by scary liberals who don’t want anyone to have any fun at all.

Now, I will support the NTSA’s right not to be used as a mouthpiece for political viewpoints. That is their right. But they should be consistent about it. Don’t want to accept DVDs that talk about the dangers of global warming because they are too “political”? That’s fine. But don’t then turn around and accept what could be construed as hush money from an organization that has a vested interest in silencing public debate about global warming. That is conflict of interest, and one that should be clearly disclosed to your members, the public, and the students you teach.

Because, after all, how can students (or teachers, or the public) evaluate any of the arguments about global warming if they don’t have all the facts?

jane doe

…about two states I love to hate: Florida and Texas. The first concerns the election for the reprentative from Florida district 13 — Kos presents a strong case for those claiming the election was stolen on behalf of the Republican candidate (Vern Buchanan) in a 369-vote “victory” over Democrat Christine Jennings in an election where nearly 18,000 votes apparently failed to register on electronic voting machines used in the district. The second involves the almost poetic outcome of DeLay’s gerrymandering of the Texas congressional districts, which resulted in the losses of a number of established Democratic representatives from that states (bad) with the net effect of removing Texas from any positions of power in the House committees in the new Democratic-controlled HoR (poetic). Texans who are displeased with this outcome: you now know who to blame…

jane doe

Okay, this one is appalling, if unsurprising: George Duhbya, the alleged president who has done more than any other in recent memory to undermine our civil liberties, has the gall to talk about being “grateful for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution” in his annual proclamation about Thanksgiving on the White House website. It would be funny, if it weren’t so very infuriating and sad…

jane doe

Apparently, Faux News Channel is considering airing a right-slanting version of The Daily Show, with at least a couple of episodes slated for “Saturday nights in late January” according to a story cited by the Huffington Post. As if Faux’s regular fake news coverage weren’t enough of a joke. Seriously, how will their viewers be able to tell when the network’s regular fake news ends and the allegedly satirical fake news begins?

Personally, I can’t wait to see what Jon Stewart has to say about this. Unfortunately, TDS is in reruns this week, so we’ll have to wait for a while on that.

jane doe

Okay, I promised myself I wouldn’t blog from work, and I’m blowing it on my first day back in the office after creating this blog, but this is simply too appalling to wait until I get home. Rep. Howard Rangel (D – NY) is proposing to bring back the draft. His logic? That reinstituting the draft would deter politicians from launching wars.

With all due respect to Congressman Rangel, that is the kind of logic that would support giving a spendthrift a high-limit credit card in order to encourage him to live within his means.  Yes, I know, the CNN story reports that his logic is that politicians would be more hesitant to enter ill-advised wars if they believed their sons or daughters, or the sons and daughters of their well-heeled financial backers, would be called upon to fight. Nice logic, except that it has always been the children of the very wealthy and powerful who were able to escape the draft — one need look no further than our current alleged President for evidence to support that statement.

If one truly wants to deter unnecessary wars, one should institute a requirement that the leaders that cause us to enter such wars must truly lead their troops — into combat, on the battlefield, risking death right alongside our men and women of the armed forces.  That would get them to think twice before invading countries that haven’t actually attacked us lately. Yes, I realize that this would be impractical, and I’m not truly serious (though I fully expect some right-winger to quote me out of context on that, anyway). But it would be a great deal more logical than reinstituting the draft if one’s goal is to deter unnecessary wars.

Questions? Comments?

jane doe

Okay, this is interesting. It seems that, perhaps as part of his severance package, the DoD is allowing the departing Donald Rumsfeld to post his resumé on their website. It certainly makes for some interesting reading…

Now, naturally, when one finds oneself, as a musician friend of mine once described it, “between gigs”, one wants to describe ones past accomplishments in the most positive terms possible, and one would expect no less (or more) of the former Secretary of Defense. However, there is a world of difference between describing one’s prior position as a “sanitation engineer” when in fact one drove a garbage truck for one’s livelihood, and some of the — well, lying is a harsh (though apt) word, but perhaps whitewashing? — one finds on this website. I hardly know where to start, but let’s look at a few quotes, shall we?

“Overall: A multinational coalition has liberated more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq, with formation of representative governments and security forces.”

Okay, first of all, this statement falls under the heading “War on Terror”, and while I will allow that while that argument may hold true for Afghanistan, there has to date been no proof that Iraq was involved in 9/11 or otherwise supporting al-Qaeda. Indeed, there is now evidence that Hussein was nearly as opposed to bin Laden and crew as we are (I will post a like as soon as I can remember where I saw the article). I will, however, allow that Iraq has certainly become a breeding ground for terrorist activity in the months since Dubya declared “Mission Accomplished!”

Beyond all that, I am forced to wonder how many civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan are feeling at all liberated these days…moving on:

“Recruited, Organized, Trained, and Equipped Iraqi and Afghan Security Forces”

I’m sorry, but given the current chaos in Iraq, I’m afraid it is logically and grammatically impossible to use the word organized in the same sentence with the phrase Iraqi Security Forces. Moving on…

“Suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have revealed information that has helped thwart attacks against our troops, the American people and our allies.”

No mention of interrogation techniques used to obtain that information, of course. Torture is such an ugly word to put on one’s resumé – even euphemisms don’t help much there. Nor should they.

I could go on (and on, and on), and I’m sure others will (if I see a more detailed analysis elsewhere, I will post a link), but I’m sure you get the general idea. It would be amusing, if it weren’t for all the dead bodies stacking up as a result of Rummy’s policies.

Seriously, would you hire this man?

jane doe

Yes, I am blogging under the name “jane doe” — the ubiquitous pseudonym for a female defendant whose name is not yet known in legal briefs and decisions. This was not my first choice for posting in this forum. I had originally intended to blog under my real name. I am a person of strong beliefs, and I prefer to stand up for those beliefs, not to hide behind a fake name to protect my identity.

Unfortunately, reality intruded.

You see, I, like most bloggers, do not expect to be able to make my living through blogging. I have a job, one that I rather like, which keeps a roof over my head and Ben-and-Jerry’s in my freezer. My place of employment is in fairly regular contact with, and frequently does work for, government officials of both political parties.

Many of those individuals would probably not find the views I plan to express here terribly pleasing.

Since I like my boss and my job, I do not want to create difficulties for either when I shoot my mouth off in this forum. Thus, the pseudonym.

I ask you, gentle reader, to indulge my weakness in this respect, and consider my words and ideas posted here on their merit, though you do not have a real name to link them to. In return, I pledge that, if and when my employment circumstances change, I will reveal my true identity and dispense with the pseudonym.

Very truly yours,

jane doe

Comment Policy

Thoughtful comments from all viewpoints along the political spectrum are welcome. Abuse and ad hominem attacks are not, and may be deleted. Got a problem with that? Start your own damn blog.


janedoe.tcm [at] or follow me on Twitter: @janedoe_tcm
November 2006