“We don’t leave our First Amendment rights in the hands of FCC bureaucrats”

Although I support Elena Kagan’s confirmation on the grounds that it is certainly the best that we could hope for from an Obama presidency, stuff like this really concerns me.  Please listen to the audio at the link.  The quote comes from Justice Alito.  When General Kagan was questioned about infringements on speech and banning books, her response is that the government’s never actually applied it to books, as if that somehow makes the ability to ban them OK.  If the framers of the Constitution had thought “just trust the government” were a good strategy, I don’t think they would have bothered with the First Amendment at all. 

In today’s hearing, she attempted to make the argument that books were somehow different from movies, something about traditional electioneering methods.  It still doesn’t work.  How about we just don’t ban any speech at all?

What part of “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech” doesn’t work for her?


Just caught a little bit of the Kagan Hearings Yesterday

Noticed that Sen. Chuck Schumer went on (and on, and on) about how he feared that Citizens United would return us to the Lochner era or something (yeah, I didn’t follow that, either).  Then, Ms. Kagan did her speach, and praised America as being, a land where “you can work as hard as you want” to acomplish your goals. 

Lochner v. New York struck down regulations prohibiting bakers from working more than 60 hours a week.

Sticks to the Facts, and Shows Loyalties Towards Dictators

A disturbing review of the Oliver Stone film “South of the Border.”

Here, Stone sticks to the facts, and makes it quite clear where his loyalties lie, namely, with Chavez in Venezuela, with Castro in Cuba, with Morales in Bolivia and with other South American leaders of populist movements. Why? Because he ostensibly admires how these freedom fighters have somehow managed to break the cycle of exploitation of their countries’ people and natural resources for the benefit of white Western nations.

Over the course of the film, Stone not only narrates, but interviews 7 democratically-elected presidents in order to highlight how they ascended to power as a consequence of a mandate from the majority. Ad infinitum, he drives home the point that we aren’t dealing with dictators or strongmen as is often suggested by the mainstream media so fond of vilifying these working-class heroes.

Hugo Chavez jails judges that make decisions he dislikes, prosecutes dissenters, and controls broadcasters.  He’s being sued for “terrorism, torture, violation of human rights, and crimes against humanity”  by a man who tried to counter the state-approved media and expose corruption, and was forced to flee and rely on the U.S. for asylum.  The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reports:

In the report, the IACHR identifies a series of issues that restrict the full enjoyment of human rights. Among other issues, the IACHR analyzes a series of conditions that indicate the absence of an effective separation and independence of the public branches of power in Venezuela. The report finds that not all individuals are ensured full enjoyment of their rights irrespective of their positions on government policies. The Commission also finds that the punitive power of the State is being used to intimidate or punish people on account of their political opinions. The Commission believes that conditions do not exist for human rights defenders and journalists to be able to freely carry out their work. The IACHR also detects the existence of a pattern of impunity in cases of violence, which particularly affects media workers, human rights defenders, trade unionists, participants in public demonstrations, people held in custody, campesinos (small-scale and subsistence farmers), indigenous people, and women. 

And so on. 

As for Castro, here’s what Human Rights Watch said upon Fidel’s resignation:

For almost five decades, Cuba has restricted nearly all avenues of political dissent. Cuban citizens have been systematically deprived of their fundamental rights to free expression, privacy, association, assembly, movement, and due process of law. Tactics for enforcing political conformity have included police warnings, surveillance, short-term detentions, house arrests, travel restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and politically motivated dismissals from employment.

Cuba’s legal and institutional structures have been at the root of its rights violations. The rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and the press are strictly limited under Cuban law. By criminalizing enemy propaganda, the spreading of “unauthorized news,” and insult to patriotic symbols, the government curbs freedom of speech under the guise of protecting state security. The courts are not independent; they undermine the right to fair trial by restricting the right to a defense, and frequently fail to observe the few due process rights available to defendants under domestic law.

“Since Fidel Castro first turned power over to his brother, the Cuban government has occasionally indicated a willingness to reconsider its approach to human rights,” said Vivanco. “But so far it hasn’t taken any of the steps needed to end its abusive practices.”

Wikipedia has an entire page, with sources, devoted to “Censorship in Cuba,” in addition to its page on “Human Rights in Cuba.”  (Wiki’s not a good primary source, of course, but if you check the links, they provide a wealth of sources that are generally accepted as reliable.) 

I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Bolivia or Morales, and my research suggests that he doesn’t belong with the other two.  But he’s only been president for a few years, and hasn’t had time to amass the totalitarian power of Chavez and Castro, so perhaps time will tell.  But I am not criticizing Stone for liking Morales. 

Per the review, Stone’s love for these enemies of freedom is based on the fact that they were “democratically elected.”  Even if that is really true (This Wikipedia page has a number of links that question the legitimacy of Chavez’s election, and it is well known that Cuban elections are largely meaningless), an election is certainly not free and democratic when media and information is controlled with an iron fist.  Saddam Hussein was “democratically elected,” too.  That didn’t stop him from being a dictator of immense evil.  Ask an actual Cuban who has escaped to America about life under Castro-  it’s not pretty.  (Miami has plans to throw a rockin’ party when Fidel finally kicks it; real mandate from the people there.)

Oliver Stone is a very accomplished filmmaker.  He is not a dumb man, so I can only assume that he knows of the human rights abuses under Castro and Chavez and simply doesn’t care.  Perhaps he believes that artists of his prestige would be rewarded under such a system (provided they toe the government’s line), perhaps these men fawn over his work in such a way that strokes his ego in just the way he needs, perhaps he is as bloodthirsty and totalitarian as the men he admires.  Either way, the way that Stone thinks is not in line with American values, nor are they compatible with freedom.  Stone’s work has been influential; it is important to know what he values when we consider it.

Stay Classy, Vice President Biden

Vice President Biden called the manager of a custard shop outside of Milwaukee, Wis., a “smartass” after the man asked him to lower taxes.

Biden made the comment Friday after the Kopp’s Frozen Custard shop manager told him that his dessert would be on the house if he lowered taxes.
“What do we owe you?” Biden is heard saying in footage captured by WISN-TV.
“Don’t worry, it’s on us,” the manager replied. “Lower our taxes and we’ll call it [the custard] even.”
“Why don’t you say something nice instead of being a smartass all the time?” Biden said a few minutes later.
Biden had walked in to Kopp’s mistakenly asking for ice cream instead of custard.
The manager said later in an interview with WISN that he thought Biden didn’t seem happy initially about the taxes comment, but that the vice president later whispered that he was just kidding.

Of course, if that were my custard shop (Oh, I wish I owed a custard shop!), I’d get a big sign, with a picture of the event, and make sure everyone knew that this was the place that the Vice President stuck his foot in his mouth yet again.Updated: Ann Althouse says: “Bite me!”  Stay classy, Althouse.  Oh, who am I kidding; I like you unclassy.  If you seek higher office, then I’ll expect class.

Creamy Peanut Butter Sauce with Chicken and Pasta

This is a great “go-to” recipe.  It’s easy, pantry friendly, can be made in the time it takes to boil noodles, and can be a full meal (veg, meat, starch) in one dish.  Plus, it’s delicious and hearty.  The peas add a wonderful sweetness, but green beans can work in place of (or in addition to) them. (You’ll want to cook them or thaw them first.) 

Approx. 4 servings

  •  1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (smooth or crunchy, your choice)
  • 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth or Stock
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tsp Asian Sesame Oil, divided
  • 2 Tsp Chili Oil, divided
  • 1.5 Tbs Sugar
  • 2 Tbs Red Wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1-2 Tbs Sriracha or Other Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 lb or so linguine
  • 1 large or 2 small Chicken Breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or Cooking Oil to coat pan
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs minced or grated fresh ginger
  • Frozen Peas, optional (approx. 1/2 lb, or whatever you like)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Lightly salt (not as much salt as you would use for most pastas).  Add the pasta and boil until tender, approximately 9 minutes.  (Asian-style pasta dishes are generally cooked to a little more tender than an Italian-style al dente.) 

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and saute over medium heat until lightly browned and cooked through.  Remove from pan and reduce heat to medium low.

While chicken is cooking, combine all remaining ingredients except garlic and ginger in a blender or food processor, using 1 tsp each of chili and sesame oils.  After the chicken is removed from the pan, add a small drizzle of oil and saute garlic and ginger until fragrant (approximately 1 minute).  Add peanut sauce and chicken and heat through.  Stir in peas, then stir in pasta.  Stir continuously until completely warmed, approx. 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and drizzle in a bit of sesame and chili oil.  Serve with additional hot sauce, if desired.

Hey, what do you call a conservative who’s winning an arguement?

A racist.  (ba dump bump!)

I didn’t even have to start an argument against a commenter who followed me here from my new distractor blog hangout, Corporette (which is really fun for fashion tips for professional women) to already be winning it. She just dropped in, accused me of being a racist, extremist, radical, etc., gave absolutely no examples or support of why she thinks that way, and dropped back out.

If you want an example of the shallowness of the liberal mindset, please read Pamela’s comment, and my response, in my “about me” section.  Feel free to chime in here or there if you disagree with either of us.

Presidents of the United States are Just Like Us!

In case you’ve ever wondered what it looks like whan I walk my dog, it’s pretty much like this:

Just replace the tall, athletic guy with an adorable 112 pound redhead who couldn’t shoot a basket to save her life.  Oh, and add a few more pounds to (and remove a good bit of the pretentiousness from) the dog.  And assume that the dog’s owners don’t have a full-time staff who probably take the dog on regular walks and train him well. Otherwise, we could be twins.

(In case you’re not quite as cultured as me, the title there (and here) is a reference to that monumental publication “Us Weekly,” which has a regular series titled “Celebrities are Just Like Us” (parodied here), which involves squeeing with delight over pictures of celebrities doing things like buying coffee or tying their shoes.  I had a roommate who read it, OK?)