Obama, Catholic Church & Abortion

November 30, 2008

A Catholic priest in Modesto, Calif, urges parishioners who supported Obama to confess their sin before taking communion since abortion is a mortal sin. 

the era of dithering is going to end

November 24, 2008

Here’s Austan. You go Austan!

Federal Judge, Appointed by Bush, Orders Release of 5 Gitmo Detainees

November 20, 2008

How about this good news?  Now will these 5 men be released?  Doesn’t this leave about another 220 prisoners?

Obama’s Civil Rights Agenda

November 20, 2008

Hey everybody, this is Geoff.  I work at the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief and I’m a former student of Laura Beth’s.  I have not been writing for the blog lately because law school applications have consumed me.  With all of that thankfully behind me, I am excited to get back to blogging.

I am sure that you know about Change.gov, the website for the office of President-elect Obama.   What you may not know is that this page is already in its second iteration.  Obama’s team wiped the site of its substantive content — i.e. specific policy changes — five days ago and replaced it with a simple statement of change.  Bloggers have done a great job of cataloging the pre-wipe content.  For example, here is what the “Civil Rights” section of Change.gov looked like on November 7th.

Notice the text, “Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement: Obama and Biden will reverse the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice. They will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.”  That language has been removed from the re-launched website, here.  There is also a new, much larger explanation of Obama’s GLBT-related policies.

This change is not very surprising, but it does raise a few questions.  First, why remove the old content entirely before changing it?  The act of taking down all of the issue-pages certainly raised flags here at the ACLU where we were wondering what sort of pushback could have caused Obama to do so.  Now that the page has been restored to a similar state, I am confident that this civil rights agenda will be stable going forward.

Second, what do you think about this language regarding employment discrimination?  “Combat Employment Discrimination: Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that curtails racial minorities’ and women’s ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” Laura Beth, what role can the executive branch play in helping to bolster plaintiffs’ standing to bring these types of lawsuits?  I don’t think the Department of Justice will be brining any cases of this sort, but I hope that I’m wrong.

In any event, there mere existence of this website is a positive development for the future of the executive branch.  Could anyone imagine Bush/Cheney launching a similar page in ’04?  Yikes.  I am just glad to see that transparency will rule the day over secrecy in the new administration.

the (il)legality of ugly food

November 20, 2008

A downward spiral in the global economy does some interesting things to the legality of unaesthetic food (in Europe, of course).

Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture, folks

November 14, 2008

In parts of the world, atrocities continue:


“Orphans and lost children slept at the Don Bosco Ngangi Center in Goma, in eastern Congo. Fighting in Congo intensified in August and has since displaced at least 250,000 people despite the presence of the largest United Nations peacekeeping force in the world. United Nations officials say both the rebels and government troops have committed crimes against civilians.”

When I saw this photograph in yesterday’s Times, my first thought was, can I have 2 of this kids?  or 3?  And then I thought, oh hell, I’ll take them all.

My second thought was, thank God these children are in a Salesian orphange.  The Salesians are dedicated missionaries.  A friend of mine, Fr. John Thompson, a Salesian ordained when I was a senior in high school, worked in Sierra Leone for more than 20 years until it became too dangerous for him to live there any longer.  So they reassigned him to Liberia.  I don’t know if he’s still there.  In any case, please pray for these people and for those who care for them.  I think we can assume that our next president won’t forget about genocide in Africa.

Everyone Sang

November 13, 2008

Back to the partisan stuff — Alex Ross’s outstanding blog, The Rest Is Noise, has embedded video of post-election celebrants singing The Star-Spangled Banner in Washington Square, and links to YouTube posts of spontaneous T S-S B outbursts in places like Berkeley, Ann Arbor, and Madison. Take that, Hank Williams, Jr.  Here’s the link. As Mr. Ross notes:

Two obvious conclusions: 1) contra Palin, the entire country is “pro America”; 2) increased support for music education would be nice.

Also — snobby, elitist bonus points for those who get the allusion in the title of this post.

what’s up with us?

November 12, 2008

how come we aren’t pulling stuff like this? I mean, if you are going to have a blog, this is what it shoudl eb doing! HA!

For the record: there is no truth to the rumor that Palin did not know that Africa was a continent. But ask in 2 years . . . This is actually quite scary. the thing I like most is that Fox news was the first to report the information from the “leak.”

Cool Maps of the Election Results, courtesy Scientific American

November 12, 2008

How’s this for some cross-disciplinary techno-gizmo fun:


I still don’t understand why I can’t get pictures to embed directly into my posts . . . anyway, this is a slideshow on Scientific American’s website, designed by a physicist at U of Michigan to overcome the geographical bias of the usual electoral map.  I particularly like map #4, the county-level map adjusted for population.

Does anyone have any new insight into why rural areas continue to vote Repubilcan so consistently and urban areas vote Democratic (note my use of the adjectival form of the word)?  It was a hopeful sign at least to me that every single county in Indiana had a higher Democratic turnout in 2008 than in 2004.  But as Jeff’s posts with the New York Times maps pointed out, that wasn’t true in a number of places, particularly in the deep deep South.


November 11, 2008

It’s my blog so I can add this non legal point. I am seeing this guy at a secret performance on thursday for fan members only in a very small venue.


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