My favorite magazine, The Realist, used to have an irregular column whose subtitle was something, "A Round-Up of Some of the Crap That's in Orbit" — satellites having been much in the news in those days — and I've always liked the idea, which is where I came up with "News Briefs" for AVN, and later "America Held Hostage" (well, actually, I took that title from something Rush Limbaugh used to say every day on his show, which had something to do with the number of days left in the Clinton administration) and "Religious Right Watch" (which I'd wanted to call simply "Religion Watch," but "saner heads" around here apparently didn't think religious lefties were likely to be much of a problem, so whatthehell...)
So anyway, here are a few notable tidbits I've gleaned from the news of the past 10 days or so:
• Seems Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has ruled that Bush's Executive Order #13,233 is illegal, so Bush and the former presidents no longer have the power to stop the National Archive from making any president's presidential records available to the public ... including 68,000 pages from Reagan's presidency. So I'm guessing that anything you might want to know about Reagan's personal involvement in Iran/Contra is about to hit the front pages ...
• There was an interesting article in the NY Times about how a whole bunch of Miss America contestants have gotten screwed out of the scholarship money they were promised, and a several of them are now suing the various local pageants that filter up to the big national pageant. For instance, Ashley Wood, who won Miss South Carolina in 2004, was told that she would not get a promised $20,000 for winning the Miss South Carolina pageant in part because the two local pageants she'd earlier won had not paid her $950 that she had won from them ... and then, because she did not receive the state money, the national pageant sent her a letter in June saying she was ineligible for the $5,000 from it, even though the deadline to use her national scholarship had not passed.
''It's like a game of gotcha,'' she said. ''What is very clear to me is that the goal is to not give out the scholarships if at all possible.''
Jeez, with that kind of run-around, she might as well have gone into porn!
• The Supreme Court's going to be considering whether states can require voters to present state-issued ID cards at the polls before they can vote. Asshole conservative Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner — described in an NY Times article as "certainly the most provocative federal appeals court judge in America" — predictably managed to talk out of both sides of his mouth on the issue, recognizing that "It is exceedingly difficult to maneuver in today's America without a photo ID," and that "As far as anyone knows, no one in Indiana, and not many people elsewhere, are known to have been prosecuted for impersonating a registered voter," but still voted that it was OK for states to require the ID. The lone dissenter on the appeals panel that considered the issue saw it for what it really was: "Let's not beat around the bush," Judge Terence T. Evans, a Clinton appointee, wrote in his dissent from Judge Posner's panel decision. "The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage Election Day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."
•There are over 2,050,000 adults in prison in the U.S. these days — the 2006 figure was 2,050,206 — about double the number in prison in 1990, and significantly more, as a percentage of the adult population, than any other country in the civilized world. And about half of those were arrested for possession or sale of pot.
On the other hand, due to the "widespread availability of pornography," rapes in the U.S. dropped 2% between 2005 and 2006. (Well, I'm just speculating on the reason ... but you can be sure that if it had gone the other way, the theocons would have said just those words about the increase!)
• The biggest asshole regularly writing for the New York Times, ultraconservative David Brooks, has decided that when it comes to the 2008 election, people like me (and Arianna Huffington and Markos Moulitsas and Josh Micah Marshall and Avedon Carol ) don't count:
"Now it's evident that if you want to understand the future of the Democratic Party you can learn almost nothing from the bloggers, billionaires and activists on the left who make up the 'netroots'," he wrote in a column titled "The Center Holds" — which is suspiciously missing from the list of his columns available on the Times' website! "In the first place, the netroots candidates are losing. In the various polls on the Daily Kos Web site, John Edwards, Barack Obama and even Al Gore crush Hillary Clinton, who limps in with 2 percent to 10 percent of the vote. Moguls like David Geffen have fled for Obama. But the party as a whole is going the other way. Hillary Clinton has established a commanding lead."
Of course, Brooks' "opinion" couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that the religio-fascists desperately want Clinton to be the Dems' presidential candidate, since they think they can pummel her with so much crap from both her husband's administration and her own missteps in the Senate that even a Republican candidate like Romney or Giuliani or Thompson could look good by comparison.
Yeah, Dave: You just keep telling the "netroots" how they should vote ... and I promise, we'll all listen!