Republicans Prevent Unemployment Benefit Extension For Third Time

Recall it is the GOP that wants to be put back in charge again…..

For the third time in three weeks, Republicans in the Senate on Wednesday successfully filibustered a bill to continue providing unemployment checks to millions of people.

But since Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine voted with Democrats to advance the $33 billion measure, its passage seems assured next month once a replacement is named for Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who died on Monday. Democrats would then have a filibuster-proof majority for the bill.

About 1.3 million people who have been out of work for more than six months have already lost jobless checks averaging about $300 a week when benefits began running out earlier this month.

Read Wisconsin Supreme Court Gay Marriage Decision

You can read it here.  And my thoughts on the matter here.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions Wednesday in a unanimous ruling that disappointed gay rights advocates.

The court’s 7-0 ruling concluded that the constitutional amendment was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum in 2006. Justices rejected a lawsuit that claimed the amendment violated a rule limiting constitutional amendments to a single subject.

Why I Really Like Elena Kagan Has To Do With Her View Of Constitution As Living Document

I have often posted my disdain for those who think the U.S. Constitution is locked in concrete and not a breathing and living document.  Therefore I was very pleased to see Elena Kagan demonstrate so ably why the idea of a living document is the only way to proceed when dealing with matters that come before the Supreme Court.

Ms. Kagan didn’t shy away from declaring that the country’s understanding of the Constitution changes over the years—a notion challenged by constitutional originalists, who argue that judges should adhere as closely as possible to the framers’ original intent.

Ms. Kagan said the framers knew they were crafting a document that had to remain relevant through changing times. She cited such provisions as the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable” searches, which she suggested was necessarily open to interpretation because unreasonable is an imprecise term.

On that same theme Walter Dellinger, Head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Clinton administration; partner at O’Melveny & Myers offered this assessment on the matter.

First and foremost, Kagan rejected a crabbed version of originalism, one that is actually contrary to the expectations of the Framers. She noted that sometimes the Constitution contains specific rules (Senators must be 30 years of age) and those rules must be followed. But for other matters, she argued, the framers rejected specificity and adopted general language (searches must not be “unreasonable”) that they knew would require the exercise of judgment by later generations in light of a changing world. Because we have a more expansive view of freedom of expression than the Framers’ generation, she believes that judicial precedent is the surest guide in First Amendment cases. She defended the major civil rights in similar terms. This was a breath of fresh air in constitutional debate.

After Wisconsin Court Ruling Gay Marriage Remains Our Generations Civil Rights Fight

I had hoped, as many in Wisconsin did, that the Wisconsin State Supreme Court would have decided differently on the process of how the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions was drafted and placed before the voters.  The process question was not murky in the eyes of many average folks such as myself, but the legal minds that sit on the bench saw it differently.  While I strongly disagree with the outcome, as always I respect the judical process that puts these frothy issues into the hopper, stirs them around, and spits out a ruling.

There will be many who will feel sad and further marginalized by this ruling.  That is certainly understandable.  But the fight for gay marriage, the civil rights issues of our generation, continues.  It is more of a struggle in this state given the draconian language that was used by those who wanted to insure that hate was imbedded in the constitution.  They succeeded in 2006, but history over and over again shows that justice, though taking more time than we often like, ultimately prevails.

This morning as the news came over the radio of the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision I thought of another jurist way back in history.   Chief  Justice Taney ruled in 1857 that even if a black man was free he still could not be a citizen of the United States, and was not able to have the rights of a white man.   I am not equating  in any way today’s decision from Wisconsin with that of the pre-Civil War ruling, but instead am making  a larger point.  Regardless of the time in which we live the fight for justice never ends.  And as always the power to change what is clearly an injustice resides in the hands of average citizens like those who read this blog, walk the dog, and mow the grass on weekends.

I am under no illusions that the road for gay marriage will not continue to be rocky and all uphill.  But that is no reason to lower our sights on making sure that gay couples have the same rights as all other loving couples do when it comes to marriage.  The last huge battle over marriage was the one that seems silly today, that being the right for those of different races to be able to wed.  As the 2006 fight in Wisconsin was underway to stop the constitutional amendment I kept using a few figures over and over.  More than 90% of Americans opposed interracial marriage in 1948.  That was the same year that the California Supreme Court required that if interracial couples wanted to be married they must be allowed to do so.   The U.S. Supreme Court would not find the ‘correct case’ until 1967 so to render a national decision on the matter.

The amount of money and anger from those who wish to deny gay civil rights will one day be looked at in the same light as those who worked feverishly to deny inter-racial couples their rights. 

All those in the fight for justice need to keep their heads up, and their eyes on the horizon.

History predicts a victory on gay marriage.

Grammar Lesson Thanks To Senator Robert Byrd, Lie Vs. Lay

When I started to ask the question about which other senators had been honored with lying in repose in the Senate chamber like Senator Robert Byrd, I ran into newspapers that incorrectly used the words “lie” and “lay”.

I just am on a nerdy trend tonight ( I can see the smiles from your computer screen) so I offer the following hints to use the two words correctly.  ( I screw up too, but did catch the newspaper error.)

If you exclude the meaning “to tell an untruth” and just focus on the setting/reclining meaning of lay and lie, then the important distinction is that lay requires a direct object and lie does not. So you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the book down on the table (the book is the direct object).

This is in the present tense, where you are talking about doing something now: you lie down on the sofa, and you lay down a book.

There are a bunch of ways to remember this part.

I think of the phrase lay it on me. You’re laying something (it, the direct object) on me. It’s a catchy, dorky, 1970s kind of phrase, so I can remember it and remember that it is correct.

What’s that I hear, music in the background? I know I don’t normally play music, but I love Eric Clapton, and his song Lay Down Sally can actually help you remember the difference between lay and lie… [record screeching sound] because he’s wrong.

To say “lay down Sally” would imply that someone should grab Sally and lay her down. If he wanted Sally to rest in his arms on her own, the correct line would be “lie down Sally.”

We don’t have to judge Clapton on his grammar; we can still love his music and at the same time know that it’s grammatically incorrect! In fact, that helps us remember, and we can love him more.

If you’re more of a Bob Dylan fan, you can remember that “Lay Lady Lay is also wrong. The lyrics should be “Lie lady lie, lie across my big brass bed.”

OK, so that was the present tense. It’s pretty easy; you lay something downpeople lie down by themselves, and Eric Clapton can help us remember.

Which Other Senator(s) Honored With Lying In Repose In Senate Chamber Like Robert Byrd?

UPDATED…at the end of this post….what a great topic….if I can take credit for something being interesting on this blog.  One of those who was lain in repose was Wisconsin’s Joseph McCarthy in 1957.  He did not deserve that honor to be certain.  But I still want a full list.

This is a historical trivia type question that is driving the geeky part of me nuts this evening.

I think it remarkable and appropriate that Senator Robert Byrd be honored with the chance to lie in repose in the Senate chamber.   I know that there have been funerals in the chamber and was used often in the 1800’s for these events…. but I want to know who else (by name) has been so honored in the Senate chamber?

Anyone who knows the answer please chime in.

The body of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, will lie in repose in the U.S. Senate chamber on Thursday, two Senate aides familiar with the plans told CNN.

Byrd, the longest-serving member of the U.S. Congress, died Monday. He was 92. Byrd served for six years in the House before moving to the Senate, where he served nine terms.

Byrd will lie in repose in a closed casket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, a senior Senate aide said. Senators and others will be asked to be in the chamber at 10:30 a.m., when Senate chaplain Barry Black will give a prayer.

It was unclear whether members of the public would be on the floor or watching the proceedings from the visitors’ gallery above.


A senator’s casket last lay in repose there in 1959, the year Byrd joined the chamber.   ( Bloggers note…it should read lie in repose as opposed to the way this newspaper wrote it.)

Back in Washington, there is ample precedent for memorial ceremonies in the Senate chamber, but none has occurred since North Dakota Republican Sen. William Langer’s funeral in 1959, according to the Senate Historian’s Office.

Including Mr. Langer, 46 senators have lain in repose in the Senate chamber. One additional funeral, the first, was held there for a New Yorker who never was a senator: George Clinton, Thomas Jefferson’s second vice president, lay in repose on April 21, 1812.

Other senators honored include South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun in 1850, Kentucky’s Henry Clay in 1852 and Wisconsin’s Joseph McCarthy in 1957.


Wal-Mart Fires Man Over Medical Marijuana Use

Another classy move from Wal-Mart!   Isn’t this about what we should expect from this low-life of a corporation?

Wouldn’t one require marijuana just to work at Wal-Mart anyway?  Then add  the pain from cancer on top of the job…..bottom line is let us hope Wal-Mart pays through the nose for this nonsense they are pulling.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart for the termination of a Michigan employee whose doctor verified his illness qualified for medical marijuana use.

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, fired Joseph Casans in November 2009 after he failed an on-the-job injury-related drug test. Casias suffers from a rare form of cancer in his nasal cavity and brain, and he relied on his doctor’s medical marijuana prescription to alleviate the daily pain. Casias is one of about 20,000 legal medical marijuana users in Michigan.

“Medical marijuana has had a life-changing positive effect for Joseph, but Wal-Mart made him pay a stiff and unfair price for his medicine,” said Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.

“No patient should be forced to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, and no employer should be allowed to intrude upon private medical choices made by employees in consultation with their doctors,” Michelman said.

Questions For WGN Radio

Just a few questions that say as much as they ask.

Is there anyone anywhere cheering what is happening to WGN radio?

Is there one article in support in Chicago papers of the actions taken by WGN radio?

Have listeners spread the word to friends and neighbors to tune in and hear……?

The obvious answer is NO!

So the reason to undermine the station was………..?