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December 21, 2005

jimmy breslin -- you take first shot

I just walked in from Brooklyn, and boy are my legs tired.  The strike persists, which is unfortunate inasmuch as it seems three or four earth-shattering national stories break every day and I have no spare brainspace for them.  Poor national stories.

The tabs are screaming louder than usual that New Yorkers are fed up and sick of the "illegal" transit strike.  Sadly, I know none of these New Yorkers.  Perhaps these ghost New Yorkers are the same that believe that a single-earner household was a godless phenomemon and good riddance, and that paying half your income for housing is just too small a portion of your income.  Whatever.  Maybe these ghost New Yorkers are just waiting for the return of the age of robber barons.  I would love to invite these ghost New Yorkers to yell at me about our difference in opinion.

But no.  Go yell at Jimmy Breslin, who is as usual righter than all of us put together.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:27 PM

December 20, 2005


Let me start by saying that this Transit Strike is much less exciting than one would have thought.  I thought there'd be monkeys on trapezes and robots en pointe and general rioting and free love and such.  Not so.  Some people are walking; some people (you're lookin' at him) lucked into a carpool, which, from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, was much less daunting than predicted.  Judging from the streets of Manhattan and from the offices here at the dayjob, a great many of people are staying home.  Which people just hate to do.

An unscientific straw poll among friends and acquaintances falls about eighty percent behind the union.  This is not to say that there is no grumbling about convenience -- we are, after all, Americans, and our convenience is inviolate.  But the easy majority support the union and understand that we commuters are the collateral damage in this conflict between a collective bargaining organization and a corrupt utility that aims to break the union once and for all.

You wouldn't know this, sadly, from hitting the 1010 WINS website (which is the website of NY's largest all-news radio station), which is filled with Angry Commuters! and Union Betrays Us Sez Mayor! stories, which makes a certain sense when you realize that 1010 WINS is owned by CBS, which is in turn owned by Viacom, which does have a dog in the union-management fight, if you know what I mean.  (And, accordingly, no link for them.)

For a more complete overview of today's high novelty, as usual turn to Gothamist and check for updates.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM

December 19, 2005

all-president monday

Sadly, there's nothing better to write about today than our Commander-In-Chief.  In his little press conference, he delivered some opening remarks ("Hey, howyadoin, it's great to be here in Washington DC!") in which he stated:
As President and Commander-in-Chief, I have the constitutional responsibility and the constitutional authority to protect our country. Article II of the Constitution gives me that responsibility and the authority necessary to fulfill it.

It sounded real nice -- real resolute, especially in that slow way he talks when reading a prompter.

So I went and read Article II of the Constitution (easily available here.  To be absolutely honest, I read nothing that stated that the president's authority, whether as chief executive or, I dunno, king god, is to "protect our country".  Section 2 does provide that he is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and the power to make treaties (with concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate), but there ain't nothing that says that its his responsibility, or that he has the authority to, "protect this country".  I suppose the C-i-C provision could be construed that, as the responsibility to "protect this country" in the practical sense is a military matter, such responsibility broadly falls onto the shoulders of the president.  But if we so construe, then we should be reminded that the responsibility to feed and armor our military troops, as well as the responsibility to dig them latrines, is also the responsibility of the president.

Like I said, it sounds real resolute, but I can find no basis in fact.  Maybe there's something in the Federalist Papers.  Or, more likely, some memo delivered to the President by the administration's counsel (via God, of course).

And even if you do construe Article 2, through some leap of faith, to so empower the President, I believe that the extra-Constitutional spying on citizens can hardly fall under the President's authority as Commander-in-Chief.

I think we all agree that it is not the concept of surveillance that we are opposed to, no matter what straw man the President may construct and beat about the head and shoulders.  I think we all have no small problem with the shredding of the Constitution through the assumption of unchecked executive privilege.

And of course, the most interesting Section of Article II is Section IV, which unfortunately has already been invoked in the past ten years and did not leave so good a taste in any of our mouths, no.

Posted by mrbrent at 6:03 PM

bush, as fast as he can

I haven't quite yet fully grasped the specifics of the sudden barrage of the president moving his mouth/words coming out incidents.  And I'm not sure if I will -- I'm certainly not the target of his grim reassurances and solemn borderline-contrition.

From the text of last night's speech, and the prologue to today's presser, I will say that the old man's speechwriters have stumbled across a big new sound in the field of hypnotism.  Basically, take two speeches about two different subjects, and then weave them together, sentence by sentence.  For Bush, the sentences alternate between the topic of the threat of terrorism (and the accompanying "war" thereon) and the topic of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  While on the surface the speech seems coherent, if you listen closer you realize that each successive sentence if syntactically unrelated to the previous sentence.  And then you're getting sleepy, very sleepy, etc.

I'd also like to point out that, while President Bush may be known as somewhat less than physically graceful, he sure can tap dance.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:43 AM

December 18, 2005

festivus, suckas

Hoo, but Christmas Party Season is leaving me ragged.  Critical facilities have set a deadline of midnight Tuesday morning to return to the reading/thinking/writing lifestyle and leaving the eating/drinking/eating lifestyle behind.

Which is not to say that I am not enjoying the season.  I am.  This may be the most festive Christmas season in years.

And so I would like to join Alicublog in saying to certain types, "Thanks, morons!"

Posted by mrbrent at 1:33 PM