Archive for March, 2012

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Roy Blount, Jr.—author, humorist, poet, reporter, performer, and frequent guest on Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!—once wrote the following:

The local groceries are all out of broccoli,

Loccoli.

It’s a terse rhyming couplet that probably expresses the way many people feel about the green cruciferous vegetable. I don’t know how Antonin Scalia feels about eating broccoli—but I do know that the nutritious vegetable has been getting a lot of press lately due to remarks that the Justice made about it and the health care mandate during the recent Supreme Court hearings on the Affordable Care Act:

“Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food,” Scalia said, discussing a hypothetical. “Therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”

He added, “Does that expand your ability to, to issue mandates to the people?”

Some journalists and bloggers believe that Justice Scalia didn’t come up with that bad broccoli analogy on his own. They think he may be echoing GOP and conservative media talking points on the ACA.

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Leave The Driving To Google

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

I know it’s supposed to be safer, but …

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Incense And Peppermints

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger 


For you listening enjoyment, we present Strawberry Alarm Clock in glorious STEREO!

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Exit Olbermann

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Current TV and its biggest star have parted ways – and none too amicably. Following months of tension, the cable brainchild of former Vice-President Al Gore and legal services magnate/Democratic kingpin, Joel Hyatt, delivered a letter of termination to bombastic Keith Olbermann ending their 5 year, $50 Million deal after barely a year. In an open letter to viewers, Gore and Hyatt blamed a difference in values for the break-up:

We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before. Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.

Olbermann immediately shot back on Twitter in the blame game and threatened to sue:

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Talk about an attractive nuisance. This week a currency truck spilled Canadian “loonies and toonies” all over a highway. The accident then caused a candy truck to crash and spill candy on top of the money. I can just picture two Canadian guys saying “Give it a second, eh, there has got to be a Moosehead Beer truck coming along.”
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In Minnesota, Gabrielle Tywon Allen, 20, is being held on a rather odd crime — using puppies as a weapon. The Anoka County woman grabbed three 1-week-old pit bull puppies to throw at her boyfriend David Peter Remme, 25. Remme was arrested on suspicion of assault after breaking her nose and she was arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty.

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Sgt. Dennis Weichel, 29, gave the world a measure of the bravery and humanity of our soldiers serving abroad this week. Weichel, a father of three from Rhode Island, gave his life to save an Afghan girl from being run over by a 16-ton armored fighting vehicle this week. While Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called all Americans “Demons” , Weichel did not hesitate to give his life for a little girl in danger.

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This is Johanna Quaas who (at 86 years) can still perform with remarkable agility.

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In Florida, two Coral Springs police officers — Nicole Stasnek and Derek Fernandes — have been accused of false statements against a woman after an audio recording surfaced contradicting their claims about a roadside arrest of Susan Mait, 60.

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I just saw this video from 2006 where escaped inmate Richard McNair convinced a Louisiana police officer that he is just out for a jog. I love the officer’s statement to McNair that when he first spotted him he thought “how lucky can I be?” Apparently not that lucky.

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While our troops are being gunned down by Afghan allies and the President of Afghanistan is calling Americans “demons,” the Administration remains committed to spending billions in that country and keeping U.S. troops in harm’s way. The solution? Have U.S. troops serve as “Guardian Angels” to protect other U.S. troops so our allies do not kill them while they sleep.

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Last night, the police released this video showing George Zimmerman shortly after he killed an unarmed Florida teen. I discussed the legal significance of the video on Countdown last night.

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Robert Biggs, 69, was in the Bean Soup Flats near Whisky Flats and wanted to get back to Paradise. The California man was watching a family of bears and had decided to go home when he was attacked by a mountain lion. However, before the lion could kill him, the mother bear ripped the lion off of him and fought the lion until it ran off. The mother bear then went back to her cubs and left Biggs alone.

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Some of the Supreme Court appear skeptical of the claim that, if they strike down the individual mandate provision, they must strike down the entirety of the Act. Early accounts of the justices from the courtroom appeared to be favoring severability but new reports have cast doubt – yet another example how artificial the denial of cameras and live coverage has become. As the argument unfolded, conservative justices appear to suggest that it really is an all-or-nothing proposition.

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A new report is out that the average education debt for law graduates at private schools last year was nearly $125,000. The list of the top schools in the debt competition may surprise you.

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Well, it is official. Yesterday we passed the 11 million mark for “hits”.  We continue to be ranked in the top ten most visited legal blogs in the world by AVVO. We are also just short of 5000 followers on Twitter.

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An elderly Florida couple in Sanford, Florida is living through a nightmare after director Spike Lee sent their address to his 250,000 followers on Twitter — wrongly stating that this was the address of George Zimmerman, the man who killed an unarmed black teen, Trayvon Martin, in Florida. It was a uniquely stupid act by Lee and invited the very type of vigilante response that Zimmerman has been accused of. The question is whether there is liability for such negligence as David McClain, 72, and his wife Elaine, 70, live in fear of threats and packages arriving at their home.

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It appears that this DUI suspect had the right but not the inclination to remain silent. Instead, he offers a full performance of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. I must say that the selection of the song was pure genius.

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It appears that the Supreme Court justices did not hear about the results of the GW Supreme Court deliberations. Key conservative justices expressed notably skepticism about the constitutionality of the health care law. The statements of Roberts and Kennedy are particularly interesting. I will also note that the continued refusal of these justices to allow cameras into the courtroom is indefensible and insulting. The fact that millions of Americans have to wait for individuals to offer second-hand accounts is a ridiculous exercise that, I believe, would have been viewed as positively moronic by the Framers.

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As I mentioned on Countdown last night, my Supreme Court class (which reviews the leading cases of the term and deliberates as an alternative Supreme Court) ruled on the constitutional challenge over the individual mandate provision (we will be considering the other issues in a separate class). The class ruled 12 to 2 to reverse the 11th Circuit and uphold the health care law. The class also voted on the ethical question of Kagan’s recusal as well as their prediction of what that other Court would do. The associate justices were not sway by the stated concerns of the Chief Justice (here and here) over the future of federalism if the Act is constitutional.

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There is a new report that the mother of Trayvon Martin is seeking trademark ownership for the phrases like “I Am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon.” I have long been a critic of scope of claims under our trademark and copyright laws. Despite my sympathy for the family, I fail to see why anyone should have trademark ownership over “Justice for Trayvon.” Moreover, I would think that there would be a preference for unlimited and widespread use of such terms.

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The great American selloff continues with cities and states selling parks, government buildings, and other sites (here and here and here and here and here) to raise money — as we continue spend billions in Iraq and Afghanistan where our allies have called us “demons” and sought to create governments that deny basic rights to citizens. Even national parks are being pushed on the chopping block. The latest such example is Baltimore which is preparing to selloff over a dozen historic sites.

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This story is so bizarre that I had to check it twice to make sure it was not an early April Fool’s joke. The New York City Department of Education has barred the use of “Dinosaur” on tests to avoid upsetting people who believe creationism. Putting aside the fact that creationists do not deny that dinosaurs existed, the decision is to bar the use of a reference to an entire species because a fact might insult religious sensibilities.

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While the parents of Trayvon Martin are saying that he is wearing a hoodie in heaven, Geraldo Rivera went on the air to denounce hoodies as evil garments causing the death of teenagers across the country.

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Was the first day of arguments over the health care law historic . . . or just a giant practical joke? Paul Clement, representing the 26 states challenging the law, said the first day of arguments in the litigation was “a kind of practical joke that the court is playing on the public.” It would not seem the most politic comment to make when you will be seeing these nine jokers in the morning.

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Meet Jonathan Antoine

Sometimes great things come in big packages.

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This week, the Supreme Court will take up its historic three-day consideration of the health care law. My Supreme Court class will be spending two weeks on the four insular issues before the Court, including the question of federalism.

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The facts behind the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida continue to slowly emerge. I have previously stated that I view critical facts as murky for a prosecution — even though I believe that there was sufficient evidence to arrest George Zimmerman at the scene. While we have still not seen some of the forensic evidence, a new report indicates that police may have based their initial decisions in part on the statement of a witness. We have been discussing the maddening gap in witness testimony at the critical moment of the confrontation. Now a new report suggests that there may have been a witness to the struggle and that witness reportedly told police that it was Martin who was on top of Zimmerman before the fatal shot was fired.

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Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi has a blockbuster on his hands. The Islamic writer has a book that has sold out in many bookstores in India. The book lays out in detail how Muslim husbands should beat their wives.
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This foreign news segment has gone viral and frankly it is pretty embarrassing. If you wonder why other countries view us as insincere and artificial, just listen to these clips of President Obama complimenting a series of “little countries” for “punching above their weight.” It is insulting on so many levels but Obama appears entirely clueless.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

In a recent op-ed, entitled The Elephant in the Room, Rick Santorum, Republican candidate for President, decided to take on evolution and claimed that “the scientific consensus becomes an ideology that trumps the pursuit of truth.” According to Santorum, the “High Priests of Darwinism” challenged his amendment that suggested there is controversy surrounding evolution

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

NASA researchers wondered what would happen to spiders if treated to a variety of mind altering substances. The drugs chosen were LSD, Speed, Marijuana, and Caffeine. To test their faculties the researchers administered the drugs then let spiders be spiders and build their webs. Here are the results: (more…)

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It’s Just A Matter Of Time

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


For your listening enjoyment, we present Brook Benton in glorious STEREO!

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Back in 2007, Christopher Hitchens penned an article for Vanity Fair titled Why Women Aren’t Funny. In it he wrote:

Men are overawed, not to say terrified, by the ability of women to produce babies. (Asked by a lady intellectual to summarize the differences between the sexes, another bishop responded, “Madam, I cannot conceive.”) It gives women an unchallengeable authority. And one of the earliest origins of humor that we know about is its role in the mockery of authority. Irony itself has been called “the glory of slaves.” So you could argue that when men get together to be funny and do not expect women to be there, or in on the joke, they are really playing truant and implicitly conceding who is really the boss…

If I am correct about this, which I am, then the explanation for the superior funniness of men is much the same as for the inferior funniness of women. Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates.

So—according to Hitchens—women are really “the bosses” because they are the baby makers. Men are the funny ones because they mock the authority of women who have wombs…and, therefore, the power! Who knew?

I get it. I think this explains why so many men in the GOP these days are proposing reproductive legislation.  These male vagina vigilantes—“uterati” is what I call them—must believe that their extreme legislation will give them (the funny guys) authority over women (the humorless baby makers). They’re trying to gain authority over the opposite sex by taking control of contraception…and women’s bodies.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Stony Brook University (SBU), in an effort to “maximum instruction for students in the most efficient and effective manner,” will no longer cancel classes on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and will not include Good Friday and Passover in their spring break. The American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) has sent a letter to Dr. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., President of SBU, threatening noting that ACLJ attorneys have argued before the Supreme Court.

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Find The Kitteh Contest

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Click to enlarge.

Solution below the fold.  (more…)

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Bad To Me

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Break out your headphones/earbuds for Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas in glorious STEREO!

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

With leaders from all sides of the political spectrum coming together and calling for a Grand Jury investigation into the senseless slaying of teenager Trayvon Martin, surely there has to be one wacky voice. And who better than Fox & Friends contributor, Geraldo Rivera. On the show, (more…)

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The House of Representatives has passed a controversial tort reform bill that contains serious flaws that would limit recovery of people harmed or kill by acts of malpractice. H.R. 5, the “Protecting Access to Healthcare Act” would impose a cap of $250,000 that would severely cut the damages of victims and make it far more difficult for such victims to secure contingency counsel. THe bill passed 223 to 181 with seven Democrats joining Republicans to pass the bill.
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The former chief drug prosecutor for Wayne County, Michigan has been disbarred for her role in soliciting false testimony. Former Wayne County assistant prosecutor Karen Plants had originally been suspended for only two years, but the Attorney Discipline Board on reconsideration bumped the penalty up to full disbarment on reconsideration of her case due to her “lack of reflection.”

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Last night I was on Countdown discussing Florida’s “stand your ground law” and the recent shooting case of the Trayvon Martin case. We discussed yesterday’s ruling in the the case of Greyston Garcia and the dangerous ambiguity created by these laws. The second-degree murder charges against Garcia were thrown out by a Florida judge under the Stand Your Ground law despite the fact that he did not just stand his ground, but ran after a man who tried to steal his car radio and proceeded to stab the unarmed man to death.

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We have previously discusses alarming moves in France to limit or deny speech through blasphemy prosecutions to hate speech to barring “antihistorical” speech. Now, in the wake of the recent killings by a Muslim extremist, the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy is proposing a new law that would jail repeat visitors to extremist web sites. It is a measure that strips away core free speech rights of citizens and gives the government a new ambiguous power to arrest people for the things that they read.

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Former William Mitchell sports law professor Clark Calvin Griffith, 70, has been charged with indecent exposure in a meeting with a 24-year-old student. The son of the former owner of the Minnesota Twins, Griffith resigned from the faculty and denies the charges.

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Susan Cole thought she had a clever way out of jury duty. The author and Denver cosmetologist dressed up as a mentally unstable homeless person suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from military service and domestic violence. It worked . . . at least until Cole called a radio station to brag about her dubious success. Now, the former Juror No. 4361 has returned to court now as a criminal defendant.

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Former Navy SEAL Don Shipley is outraged. Barry “Bear” Silverman has been running a business called “Tactical Deterrence” in Broward County that allegedly sells SEAL training by people who falsely claim to be former SEALs. Such profiteering on the SEAL experience should go to . . . well . . . Shipley who runs his own faux SEAL training camp in Virginia. Shipley has filed a lawsuit that is basically Stolen Valor meets Stolen Value on who gets to sell the SEALS.

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New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has been suspended without pay for the 2012 season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was banned indefinitely for the team’s infamous bounty system on opposing players. However, Goodell said that he will review Williams’ status after next season. While I used to live in New Orleans and often cheer on the team (when the Bears are not playing), I think Williams should have received a lifetime ban and I am not sure Payton did not also deserve such a ban over the disgraceful practice. I also do not understand why the defensive line players who took this money have not also been punished, but Goodell said that he will address them separately. Goodell did fine the Saints $500,000 and took away their second-round draft picks this year and next year — sending a clear message to all teams.

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It is time again for me to vent and add another item to my “Things That Tick Me Off” list. Today’s gripe is excessive celebration. I started thinking about this recently as the father to two fencers. In attending fencing competitions, I have been shocked by the practice of some to scream after scoring a point. I will return to that practice is a second. Then I saw this click of Pete Weber winning his fifth PBA U.S. open title — screaming at the crowd. I realize that this is (hopefully) an unguarded moment of someone caught in the euphoria of his win. However, it raised again for me the concept of excessive celebration in football (my favorite sport) and the need for such a rule in fencing (below). I believe all sports should have rules like the NFL’s, but fencing (with so many young players) should make it a priority to establish a rule against screaming celebrations as shown below.

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Federal authorities have announced that they are now intervening in the investigation of the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. That will certainly enhance the completion of forensic evidence, which we discussed earlier as critical to a case like this one. I have previously cautioned that this is not such an easy case as has been suggested, even with the 911 tapes. One of the greatest barriers is the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law.

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The Israeli Knesset became the latest legislative body to ban skinny models. The new law prohibits both Israeli and foreign ads with “underweight” models and requires disclosure of when pictures have been manipulated to make the model look thinner.

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A court in Moscow has upheld a lower court decision declaring books on Scientology to be extremist literature and banning publication or distribution of such books. This decision follows moves by other countries against Scientology as a criminal or fraudulent enterprise as well as testimony against the church by former high-ranking church members.

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