The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Would you like an upgrade, Mr. Bond?

I don't know whether this is funny or sad. The Italian government is using the frequent-flier records of several CIA operatives to build their prosecution:

It is unclear whether the operatives intended to take advantage of the free flights garnered at government expense—CIA personnel on such assignments are permitted to fly expensive international business class—or whether they simply were attempting to bolster their covers as private-sector executives.

So keep this in mind, all you road warriors: Someday someone may track your movements based on your quest for Executive Platinum.

ABA says Bush signing statements are probably bad

It's old news, but the President has frequently attached "signing statements" to bills he's signed indicating that, his signature notwithstanding, he won't enforce the law:

Bush has vetoed only one bill since taking office, a bill approved by Congress last week relaxing his limits on federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research. But he has on many occasions signed bills, then issued statements reserving the right not to enforce or execute parts of the new laws, on the grounds that they infringe on presidential authority or violate other constitutional provisions.
Perhaps the most prominent example was legislation last year banning cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners at U.S. detention centers. Bush signed the bill into law after a struggle with Congress, then followed it with an official statement indicating that he might waive the ban under his constitutional authority as commander in chief, if necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.

The American Bar Association says that the President can't just say "I'm not enforcing the law" without provoking a constitutional crisis:

"The president is indicating that he will not either enforce part or the entirety of congressional bills," said ABA president Michael S. Greco, a Massachusetts attorney. "We will be close to a constitutional crisis if this issue, the president's use of signing statements, is left unchecked."
The report seemed likely to fuel the controversy over signing statements, which Bush has used to challenge laws including a congressional ban on torture, a request for data on the USA Patriot Act, whistle-blower protections and the banning of U.S. troops in fighting rebels in Colombia.
"The President's constitutional duty is to enforce laws he has signed into being unless and until they are held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court or a subordinate tribunal," [the ABA] panel members wrote. "The Constitution is not what the President says it is."

(Emphasis mine.) It's a bit weaselly, isn't it? He doesn't want to veto something, but he says he simply won't enforce it, which is almost a veto. I'm reminded of President Jackson, after the Supreme Court ordered him not to forcibly move the Cherokee from Georgia, "The Chief Justice has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Not good.

Days like this might convince me to like summer

Yesterday I rode 80 km (50 miles) in some of the most beautiful weather Chicago can have. It started off cool and got pleasant but not hot, with a light breeze and low humidity. If every day were like this, I thought, we'd be in Santa Barbara.

It rained a little last night (here, anyway; a collossal thunderstorm charged through the Western suburbs), so new we have even better weather than yesterday, if such is possible. If my legs were not still rubbery right now I would go for a bike ride.

Stupid post, I know, but that's what this weather does to me.

Minor changes to my personal site

This will interest just about no one but those people who, out of blind love for me, set as their home page. I've made a minor change to it, adding my biking stats. To save you the click-through, here they are:

  2006 All-time
Day (km) 61.3 Jul 15 117.9 2005 Sep 18
15km sprint 33:42 Jul 21 33:42 2006 Jul 21
20km 45:42 Jul 21 43:32 2005 Jul 2
1 hour (km) 25.1 Jul 19 26.4 2004 Aug 13
Speed (km/h) 42.1 Jul 12 49.0 2003 Jul 22
Season (km) 496.3 Jul 21 1212.1 2005 Oct 4
Convert km to miles
Last ride: July 21, 20.0 km

Oh, and a friend pointed out that today is Senator Paul Wellstone's birthday. He would have been 62.

Priorities in Chicago

A long-awaited report concludes that Chicago police tortured and brutalized suspects for decades, but the huge issue consuming the city council is: fat.

It's like the U.S. Congress writ small.

"If we don't do anything about this, it could be our next pandemic," [48th Ward Alderman Eugene] Schulter said, referring to widespread obesity. "No question about it, [fast-food chains] are causing a major health problem."

(Heh. "Widespread" obesity. Heh.)

Seriously, though: perhaps the obesity, um, pandemic might have to do with, um, over-eating? I don't blame fast-food restaurants for my girth, mainly because I choose not to eat in them. Which, by the way, probably helped me avoid girth in the first place.

On the other hand, I do blame the police for kicking the snot out of suspects in a dirty, windowless south-side interrogation room. Maybe the alderman should beef about that instead.

Sod this for a game of soldiers

Today was the hottest July day ever in London: 35°C (95°F). At this writing it has cooled somewhat, to 34°C (93°F)—but it's still 36°C (97°F) in Paris where the Health Ministry is blaming the heat on nine deaths (French). The Times of London reports:

Today has been the hottest July day ever with temperatures eclipsing 36 degrees (97°F) in Surrey—surpassing the previous record which has been held since 1911.
At 3pm, Charlwood in Surrey was the hottest place in the country, with Heathrow close behind, recording 35 degrees, and extreme heat also felt in Oxfordshire, Wilkshire and Hampshire.
The full results will not be analysed until tomorrow morning, but it seems unlikely now that temperatures will be higher than the all-time record, 38.5 degrees (101°F) reached in Faversham, Kent, in August 2003.

For comparison, the hottest day in Chicago this year was yesterday (36.1°C, 97°F), and the hottest day of the past four years was last July 25th (38.9°C, 102°F). (Fortunately for me, on that particular day Anne and I traveled from Galway to Killarney, Ireland, where it was 20°C (68°F) and delightful.)

Means to an end

More on the fight being more important than the win: a Congressional report today found that 20 out of 23 federally-funded pregnancy information centers lied about the risks of abortion. I found this bit interesting:

[Molly Ford, a] spokeswoman for one of the two large networks of pregnancy resource centers, Sterling-based Care Net, said that the report is "a routine attack on us that's nothing new."

No, Molly, it's nothing new. Your side have lied about abortion since the 1870s, and we keep defending the truth. You can't win on facts so you fight on emotion.

That's the pro-life strategy. And they won't stop fighting, ever, because somewhere in the U.S. abortion will always be safe and legal, even if only in a few New England and upper-Midwest states.

The pro-choice side, on the other hand, just wants to be left alone. That's our entire platform: leave us alone. Yet still they attack, incessantly, and because the supposed object of their fight can't be achieved by political means, they will always fight. They live to fight. We live for peace.

I wonder why the right is so angry?

Yesterday's game: Hot times, cold pitching

I had a great time at Wrigley Field yesterday, except for two things. First, the field temperature was 33°C (92°F) at game time. Second, the sixth inning...well...look:

No, I mean, look closely:

Yeah, two grand slams, a two-run homer, and a solo homer in one inning. And it's worse, because, as the Tribune pointed out: "For the first time in the 130-year history of the franchise, the Cubs gave up two grand slams in one inning Sunday in a stupefying 13-7 loss to the New York Mets."

Plus, someone let a whole bunch of Mutts fans into my section. Criminy.

Morning roundup

First, I'd like to gloat that Anne and I had dinner last night at Charlie Trotter's, to celebrate our anniversary. Wow. I mean, wow. We've decided to save up to go again, which we hope we can do before our children graduate college.

Now back to the program.

Frank Rich (sub.req.) today reminds us that, despite the new story making the rounds about how the Administration (919 days, 3 hours) is trying a new foreign policy, the fact remains the Administration does not have now and has never had a foreign policy of any kind:

The only flaw in this narrative—a big one—is that it understates the administration’s failure by assuming that President Bush actually had a grand, if misguided, vision in the first place. Would that this were so. But in truth this presidency never had a vision for the world. It instead had an idée fixe about one country, Iraq, and in pursuit of that obsession recklessly harnessed American power to gut-driven improvisation and P.R. strategies, not doctrine. This has not changed, even now.

And yesterday, Josh Marshall summed up the differences between Republicans and Democrats:

Democrats seem to have a highly evolved (and perhaps misplaced) sense of sportsmanship: magnanimous in victory; chastened in defeat. Whereas Dems will rise to a political fight when they deem circumstances warrant, Republicans consider politics nothing but a fight, with peace the exception, not the rule.

I think this hypothesis has legs. We Democrats want to live in peace and not be bothered, pretty much. The Republicans claim the same things, but to them, the fight is never done. Even if they got everything they wanted, they'd still fight, because that, more than the things they're fighting for, is more important.

Fortunately, I think most people just want to be left alone, which is why the Republican strategy always over-reaches.

Finally, I'd like to complain that Chicago weather has taken a turn for the worse, with temperatures expected today around 37°C (99°F). This will not stop me from going to Wrigley Field this evening.