Patterico's Pontifications

10/27/2007

Madame President and the First Gentleman

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 8:28 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Can you name the popular President who served two terms but can’t serve another and who may be replaced by his wife the Senator?

It’s not Bill and Hillary. It’s Argentina’s President Kirchner and his wife, Senator Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner:

“She met her future husband while studying law and joined him as he rose from governor of a small state to the presidency. A powerful first lady and senator in her own right, she’s now campaigning hard to be the first woman elected president of her country. Hillary Rodham Clinton? Try Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina’s first lady.

The wife of President Nestor Kirchner is the clear front-runner on the presidential ballot, favored to clobber 12 rivals in voting Oct. 28 and succeed her husband at the helm of South America’s second-largest economy.

And like Bill Clinton, who jokes about becoming “first laddie” someday, President Kirchner says he’s looking forward to becoming “first gentleman.” If the polls are right, Kirchner will place the presidential sash on his wife’s shoulders on Dec. 10, ending his four-year term and launching hers.
***
Like Bill and Hillary, the couple are said to consult each other on everything, especially political matters, and Kirchner is his wife’s cheerleader-in-chief, promising she’ll be an even better president than him. Like ex-President Clinton, Nestor Kirchner says he’s looking forward to life as a private citizen. Nobody seems to believe this — and none of his wife’s supporters seems to care.”

Like Hillary, Cristina has been criticized for her appearance:

“Dubbed “Queen Cristina” by many critics — and “the queen of Botox” by Carrio — Fernandez campaigned in gritty slums in designer clothes, and many joked that her frequent campaign trips abroad were focused more on shopping than politics.

Fernandez, speaking to a local radio station Thursday in one of her only campaign interviews, said such criticism reflects “a certain level of misogyny.” “Should I have to dress up as a poor person to be a good political leader?” she asked.”

Fernandez will be the first second woman President of Argentina if she is elected. The last poll before the October 28 election showed her leading by 30 percentage points with a projected 48% of the vote. She must win 45% of the vote to avoid a runoff.

Update: Thanks to commenter Peter Metcalfe for noting that Isabel Peron was the first woman President of Argentina.

— DRJ

Tim Rutten Claims that TNR Has Been Unable to Communicate with Scott Beauchamp Since August 7

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 3:11 pm

Tim Rutten today:

A report in the Weekly Standard alleged that, as part of the Army investigation, the private also had signed a statement totally disavowing his piece. When the New Republic inquired about such a statement, an Army spokesman denied it existed.

Since then, Beauchamp has remained in Iraq with his unit and the magazine has been unable to communicate with him.

Utterly false.

An Army spokesman denied the existence of the statement on August 7.

“Since then,” the magazine has not been “unable to communicate with him,” as Rutten claims. The magazine has communicated with him at least three times since August 7. Rutten even mentions the first of those communication in his column — including the date.

So why does Rutten say that “since” August 7, the magazine has been unable to communicate with Beauchamp? Is Rutten lying? Or is his grasp of the relevant timeline really this tenuous?

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and go with the latter theory. Doesn’t that mean that Rutten has no business writing about this to begin with?

P.S. Rutten says: “The magazine determined that the incident involving the disfigured woman was concocted and corrected that . . .” But later in the piece, he calls Beauchamp “the alleged fabulist, Beauchamp.” Huh? If even the magazine says he “concocted” an incident, how is he an “alleged” fabulist? (Of course, the magazine has not conceded that he concocted that incident in any event — another detail Rutten fumbles.)

UPDATE: More from Bob Owens.

Ron Paul Takes It to the Next Level

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 3:05 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Putting his campaign funds to good use, Presidential candidate Ron Paul is buying TV and radio ads in primary states:

“Hoping to defy more expectations, Rep. Ron Paul is ratcheting up his maverick Republican presidential campaign by launching TV and radio commercials in early primary states and setting an ambitious $12 million fundraising goal. For a candidate often relegated by pundits to second- or third-tier status, Paul’s ability to make a big entry into advertising wars is unusual. With just over two months until the first primaries, experts question whether the libertarian-leaning congressman from Lake Jackson can expand his intense following to make a credible showing in these early contests.

Officials with Paul’s campaign acknowledge they have an uphill battle, but say they plan to broaden his support with an advertising campaign that includes $1.1 million in television spots that begin airing Monday in New Hampshire. Campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said the purpose of the ads was to “give people a full picture of who Ron Paul is. The war is a component, but there is a heck of a lot more, too.”

I think this will help Paul’s candidacy, especially with moderate voters who view the war as secondary to domestic issues. In addition, Paul appeals to fiscal conservatives. I certainly admire him because he walks the walk, as well as talks the talk:

“Paul — whose district includes Galveston and areas on three sides of Houston — has run a frugal campaign, spending $2.8 million for the first nine months of this year compared with $30 million by GOP front-runner Rudolph Giuliani and $53 million by Mitt Romney.

Unlike some rivals, Paul mostly flies commercial, except for two trips where his campaign paid $40,000 for a charter. His catering tab included Costco and Sam’s Club in Des Moines, Iowa, and Peters’ Cut Rate Liquor in Freeport.”

The quasi-libertarian, fiscal conservative parts of me like Ron Paul. Too bad he and I are so far apart on the war. That’s a deal-killer for me and many conservatives but I’m glad his other ideas are getting the attention they deserve.

— DRJ

TGIF: The House needs a Break

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 12:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Democratic leadership in Congress plans a new, lighter workload beginning next year:

Shortly after winning a majority last year, Democrats triumphantly declared that they would put Congress back to work, promising an “end to the two-day workweek.” And indeed, the House has clocked more time in Washington this year than in any other session since 1995, when Republicans, newly in control, sought to make a similar point.

But 10 months into the session, with their legislative agenda often in gridlock with the Bush administration and a big election year looming, the Democrats are now planning a lighter schedule when the 110th Congress begins its second year in mid-January. The House majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, told fellow Democrats this week that the House would not be in session next year on Fridays, except in June for work on appropriations bills.”

With October’s dismal 22-27% approval ratings, Congress might very well be better off if the public sees and hears less from it, but the official explanation provided by the House Democrats for this change was a family-friendly motivation:

“Explaining that decision to reporters, Mr. Hoyer said, “I do intend to have more time for members to work in their districts and to be close to their families.”
***
… Democrats conceded that the hectic pace had taken a toll, especially on lawmakers who must travel long distances home and who have small children. And members of Congress have not gotten a raise or cost-of-living increase this year.”

It’s hard to feel sorry for people who decide to run for political office and then complain about how inconvenient it is. They can always go back to their home districts and get less challenging work, but that’s an option few politicians find palatable.

Overall, though, I favor less government so this is good news. The less time Congress works, the less they get done.

— DRJ

A Moment of Silence

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Law — DRJ @ 11:53 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Chicago Tribune reports the filing of a federal court case challenging a statute that requires a moment of silence in Illinois public schools. The statute became effective October 11 making Illinois one of 10 states that require a moment of silence, along with about a dozen more with laws that permit it.

Here’s an overview of the Illinois statute:

Titled the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, Illinois’ law makes obligatory what had been an optional moment of silence since 2002. Lawmakers overrode Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto to pass the measure, which states “the period shall not be conducted as a religious exercise.” Enacted Oct. 11, the law was effective immediately but carries no penalties for schools that do not comply.”

The plaintiffs are a high school freshman student and her father:

A 14-year-old suburban girl and her dad, atheist activist Rob Sherman, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Friday that challenges the constitutionality of a law requiring Illinois public schools to observe a moment of silence.

Sherman and his daughter Dawn, a freshman at Buffalo Grove High School, contend that the law providing for “silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day” runs afoul of the constitutional separation of church and state.

The Shermans are seeking an injunction that would prevent the observance of a moment of silence in Township High School District 214, which is scheduled to begin the practice Tuesday. They also hope to reverse the statute statewide, said Gregory Kulis, an attorney representing the father and daughter.”

Dawn Sherman’s intention is to prevent the moment of silence from interrupting her education, while her father is committed to preserving the separation between church and state:

“I just don’t want my education to be interrupted,” Dawn Sherman said.

Her father has challenged the use of a cross image on the seals of such municipalities as Rolling Meadows, Palatine and Zion. “The whole purpose for changing the law is to get more prayer in the public schools and everybody knows it,” Rob Sherman said. “Private business should be done on personal time, not time paid for by the taxpayers.”

The ACLU often assists plaintiffs in this type of lawsuit but the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois has declined to participate because it believes the Illinois statute is not legally objectionable:

“[ACLU of Illinois] Spokesman Ed Yohnka declined to explain the reasoning beyond noting the statute’s dual focus on meditation or prayer. A moment of silence during the school day is not legally objectionable, Yohnka said. A moment of prayer is. The legal distinction, however thin, is significant.”

In the 1985 case of Wallace v Jaffree, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Alabama statute that authorized a daily moment of silence because the record showed the law was passed to permit prayer in the schools. However, in 2001, the Supreme Court refused to hear Brown v Gilmore, a Virginia case that challenged a similar statute so the Virginia moment of silence law was allowed to stand. Since then, several states have passed mandatory or permissive moment of silence statutes.

While this type of statute now seems constitutional, it didn’t stop these Illinois’ plaintiffs from challenging it nor did it discourage similar Texas plaintiffs in a lawsuit tried in August 2007. It appears the Texas trial court has not yet ruled in that case.

Moment of silence statutes remain hot-button political topics – enough to generate an article in Education Week that included this down-to-earth opinion of the Illinois statute:

“Benjamin S. Schwarm, an associate executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, said his group wasn’t troubled by the legislation, on which it did not take a position. He said the law appears to afford districts ample flexibility and is unlikely to be too disruptive.

“We’re just amazed by the attention this bill is getting [in the media],” he said. Mr. Schwarm pointed to other new state mandates that he argues pose far more problems, citing as examples legislation requiring defibrillators on all outdoor school playing fields and a measure requiring the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products. “They’re telling us what cleaning supplies … to use in your bathroom in the school district,” he said.”

I wonder if there would have been a lawsuit if the statute had required a moment of silence for the environment?

— DRJ

Work Out while you Work

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 11:27 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

This Walkstation sounds like a good idea:

“A number of employers apparently are willing to let their workers walk. Steelcase Inc. says many companies have expressed interest in its newest product, which combines an office workstation with a treadmill so workers can burn calories while earning a paycheck. The nation’s largest office furniture maker will begin taking orders for its Walkstation beginning Nov. 19.

“What we have done is taken science from the lab to a product that could potentially help millions and millions of people,” Walkstation developer James Levine told The Grand Rapids Press for a story published Thursday. “I think it’s the next iPod. Everybody is going to want one.” Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who has spent the past 15 years studying energy expended during daily activity, collaborated on the Walkstation with Steelcase.

He approached staff members of the Grand Rapids-based company with the idea while they were doing research at the renowned medical facility. Within a month, a prototype was built that combined a height-adjustable workstation produced by Details, a Steelcase subsidiary, with a treadmill from the company’s fitness area.

The final product, which will sell for about $4,000 and be the first product of Details’ new FitWork line, incorporates a specially designed treadmill by St. Louis-based True Fitness Technology Inc.”

It’s set at a slow-walk speed (3.5 rather than 10 mph) with low noise, and lets users burn calories while they work.

— DRJ


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