Wednesday, April 16, 2014

So Much To Rant At, So Little Time

There was a time when I blogged almost every day.  Then, with a new job in an unfamiliar field requiring more of my energy and focus, I took a break.  Over the last year, I've slowly waded back in, and sporadically posted when I've felt the compulsion to do so.  While I don't have time to write anything in depth at the moment, there are a few issues that I just can't let go by without saying something.
  • I've written frequently about the Senate Republicans' use of the filibuster to thwart democracy judicial nominations, most recently here.   Their tactics became so obstructionist that even the timid Democrats in the Senate agreed to change the rules and preclude the filibuster for judicial nominations.  But this hasn't stopped Republicans from continuing to prevent President Obama from appointing federal judges, using an arcane procedure that essentially gives home-state Senators veto power by withholding "blue slips" that allow a nominee to proceed to a confirmation hearing.  Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chair of the Judiciary Committee, can abandon this custom just as Republican Orrin Hatch did when he was committee chair.  For some unfathomable reason, Leahy has been unwilling to end the blue slip requirement, but you can sign this petition to urge him to do so before Obama runs out of time to fill judicial vacancies.

  • Which brings me to the related topic of who President Obama is nominating to the federal bench when he does get the opportunity.  First, there are the unacceptably conservative nominations put forward to fill two Georgia district court seats.  These were part of a misguided attempt by Obama -- prior to the filibuster rule change -- to cut a deal to get the intransigent Georgia Republican Senators to move an 11th Circuit nomination forward.  Civil rights and abortion rights advocates strongly oppose these nominations.  Obama's judicial nominations, generally, have been disappointing, with a large majority coming from the corporate sector or the prosecutor's office and rarely from public interest firms or public defenders' offices.  These are lifetime appointments.  Given the zeal with which both Bush Administrations pushed young, right wing judges to fill the federal judiciary, it is critical that a Democratic Administration, particularly with what may prove to be a short-lived Senate majority, not let pass the opportunity to elevate progressive-minded lawyers to the bench.

  • Donald Rumsfeld proudly writes to the IRS every year when he files his return, complaining about the complexity of the tax code and professing not to know whether his return is accurate.   Rumsfeld's absent-minded government stooge routine has worn remarkably thin.  Rumsfeld revealed to documentary filmmaker Errol Morris in The Unknown Known, that he never read the so-called Torture Memos and professes to have no second thoughts -- or very many thoughts at all -- about his role in the "War on Terror" and the War on Iraq.  Two things.  First, Rumsfeld should be immediately audited given his admission about not submitting knowingly accurate tax returns.  Second, should it be determined upon a thorough audit that Rumsfeld has overpaid his taxes, it wouldn't come close to paying what he owes this Country for the damage he has wrought.

  • Oliver North, a self-professed "right wing goon," is a television consultant on the FX series, The Americans.  Relied on for his so-called expertise, he received a story credit for an episode in which KGB spies living in the U.S. infiltrate a contra training camp.  Recall that North was involved in one of the more shameful episodes in American history, when, as a member of the National Security Council, he played a central role in selling arms to Iran and funneling the profits to the Nicaraguan contras, at a time when Congress had banned such funding due to the contra's human rights abuses.  North admitted he had lied to Congress, shredded critical documents and altered key records.  Because of issues revolving around a grant of immunity for his Congressional testimony, North's felony convictions for obstructing a Congessional inquiry were eventually vacated, and he has remained for all these years an unrepentant, vindicated hero to the far right.  The fact that he is now peddling his "expertise" for mainstream consumption is unsettling to say the least.

  • The joy of the new baseball season has been marred not just by the usual spate of Met injuries, bizarre personnel moves and erratic play, but by new Major League rules involving instant replay.  I understood the need for the original instant replay rule, which was designed to review home runs.  New fangled ballparks with unusual angles and idiosyncratic seating make it much more difficult to discern with the naked eye when a ball was actually hit out of the park.  But the success of the original rule has led to the inevitable slipperly slope -- new rules which have expanded replay into many more areas of the game.  Although only weeks old, expanded replay is proving to be a disaster.  These rules which try to eliminate human error are applied by human beings, resulting in ... plenty of human error.  Instant reply is causing delay, uncertainty and more bad calls.  Baseball managment needs to stop trying to remove the human element and accept that baseball is a game of imperfection.
Thanks for listening.


Anonymous said...

Have you forgiven Dylan for Newport yet?

Lovechilde said...

Are you suggesting, Anonymous, that I tend to hold a grudge? For the record, I've always been pro-Electric Dylan. Now, his Born-Again phase is another matter.

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