DOMA, GWB and large sugary drinks

Yeah, I hate agreeing with Tucker Carlson too.

Recent news stories of interest to me:

The U.S. appeals court in Boston became the first appeals court to strike down as unconstitutional the federal Defense of Marriage Act. This seemed obvious to this old poli sci major that DOMA violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

The prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards is officially a waste of time and federal resources. Not surprising to me: I had predicted his acquittal. My, I hope the government doesn’t decide to prosecute again after the jury was hung on five of the six charges.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush for the unveiling of their official portraits. It’s true: GWB can be a funny guy. He starts speaking at about the 10:40 mark; Laura had a good line or two.

Obama Ordered Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran. “Concerns have been raised that the revelations will set a dangerous precedent for the future of cyber warfare and international relations.” Makes me feel rather unsettled as well.

The SpaceX Dragon, after its trip to the International Space station, splashed down safely. While I’m still wishing NASA were doing this, I’m glad some entity in the US is going into space.
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On the heels of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s announcement that he is seeking a citywide ban on all sugary drinks larger than sixteen ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, food carts, and ballpark concession stands, Jon Stewart spent the first third of Thursday’s edition of “The Daily Show” excoriating the proposed law— and Mayor Bloomberg himself.

For Stewart, Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban put him in a particularly tough position: being forced to concede a point to a political adversary who blasted Bloomberg’s idea on Fox News. “I agree with Tucker Carlson,” Stewart said, holding back mock-tears.

Yeah, I hate agreeing with Tucker Carlson too.

The ban reeks of …here’s a term I almost never use, because I generally agree with the legislation protecting people from themselves; I mean, wear that damn seat belt! But this is…nanny state run amok. And The Wife, independently, used the same term. Not that I recommend a Big Gulp – it would give ME a royal headache; I DO recommend these cartoons on the topic.

Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US; “The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself.”

Green Lantern relaunched as brave, mighty and gay. This was reported a “major character,” but this GL “is not the emerald galactic space cop who was, and is, part of the Justice League and has had a history rich in triumph and tragedy. Instead…, Alan Scott is the retooled version of the classic Lantern whose first appearance came in the pages of ‘All-American Comics’ No. 16 in July 1940.” The marketing of this by DC feels like a stunt.

ALEC Slips Exxon Fracking Loopholes into New Ohio Law. “While the new law will allow doctors to obtain disclosure of fracking chemicals, it places a gag order on them…meaning some chemicals aren’t disclosed to the public at all.” My barber asked me this week what I thought of fracking; I am generally suspicious of the use of so much fresh water. But the secrecy really tips the scale against it.

I’m giving my daughter a sample spelling test. Seven of the first ten words are: break, sleigh, steak, eight, great, weigh, prey. I realized I had to give her definitions, because every single one of those words has a common homonym; English is so tricky.

John Edwards, George Zimmerman trial prediction

We discover that the Securities and Exchange Commission had staff IN the Lehman offices MONTHS before the disaster, and apparently didn’t recognize what was going on.

John Edwards (D-NC), the 2004 Vice-Presidential nominee on the John Kerry ticket, is on trial for misappropriation of 2008 Presidential campaign contributions in order to support Rielle Hunter, his former lover and mother of his youngest child. This was going on while Edwards’ wife Elizabeth was was dying of cancer; a sordid affair. Edwards was offered a plea bargain that would have given him months of jail time, though he would have lost his law license; he could get 30 years. I suspect he turned down the deal because he thinks he can win in court. The crux of the matter is whether those payments to Hunter were actually campaign contributions.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Melanie Sloan notes “Sen. Edwards’ conduct was despicable and deserves society’s condemnation, but that alone does not provide solid grounds for a criminal case. DOJ’s scattershot approach to prosecuting public officials is incomprehensible and undermines the integrity of the criminal justice system.”

The lead prosecution witness is Andrew Young (no, not this Andrew Young), and he has a lot of credibility issues. I believe Edwards will be found “not guilty.” If by some bizarre chance he is convicted, he’ll win on appeal.

George Zimmerman

After the initial procrastination, prosecutors decide to charge George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the case of Trayvon Martin. They could have charged him with manslaughter or some other lesser charge. Because the Sanford, Florida police understood the law in a particular way on the night of the incident, the jury will never know, for instance, whether George Zimmerman had been drinking or on some other substance. Absent new evidence, I think Zimmerman will be found “not guilty.”

Lehman Brothers

From the Los Angeles Times: “Less than a year before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Bros. plunged the global economy into a terrifying free fall, the Wall Street firm awarded nearly $700 million to 50 of its highest-paid employees… The documents, which were among the millions of pages submitted in Lehman’s bankruptcy, show the list of top earners each were pledged $8 million to $51 million in cash, stock, and other compensation. How much, if any, of the stock was cashed in before the bankruptcy wiped out its value couldn’t be determined. Still, the rich pay packages for so many people raised eyebrows even among compensation experts and provided fresh evidence of the money-driven Wall Street culture that was blamed for triggering the financial crisis.”

Now, why haven’t there been indictments in THIS situation? If you saw the CBS News program 60 Minutes on April 22, you have a pretty good idea. “Steve Kroft talks to the bank examiner whose investigation reveals the how and why of the spectacular financial collapse.” We discover that the Securities and Exchange Commission had staff IN the Lehman offices MONTHS before the disaster and apparently didn’t recognize what was going on. Perhaps this makes the case more difficult to prosecute. Will ANYONE from Lehman Brothers be indicted? Maybe, for show. Will anyone be convicted? I’m not holding my breath.

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