The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson wonders why the President (959 days, 2 hours) thinks anyone really believes gay marriage is the most important issue right now:
Let's check in on what's happening in the real world:
Iraq has become a charnel house for the victims of escalating sectarian slaughter. On Saturday, a car bomb killed 28 people in Shiite-dominated Basra, and hours later gunmen killed nine Sunni worshipers in a mosque. On Sunday, on a road near Baghdad, assassins pulled travelers out of their minivans, sorted them by faith, killed nearly two dozen Shiites and let the Sunnis go. Yesterday, men wearing police uniforms grabbed at least 56 people from bus stations and travel agencies in Baghdad and took them away—no one knows why, no one knows where.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's new government remains toothless and ineffectual, despite his pledge to end the sectarian violence. On Sunday, he failed yet again to reach agreement on who will run the only two ministries that matter—the ones in charge of the army and the police. The butcher Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most prominent figure in the armed Sunni insurgency and the most hunted man in Iraq, remains at large and periodically manages to issue messages inspiring his followers to continue their jihad. (Just like his hero, Osama bin Laden.) Yet the president spent his weekend radio address pushing "a constitutional amendment that defines marriage in the United States as the union of a man and woman."
In other news, California is having a primary election today that will determine which Democrat will lose to sitting quasi-Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November. Turnout is expected to be so low that the San Francisco Chronicle's story about the election is third down, under the top story that people really like Trader Joe's. (I have to say, Anne and I care more about TJ's than about the California Primary, so maybe the Chronicle's Web site is just playing to a more national audience.)
In her column today (sub.req.):
There's no way to teach someone not to shoot an unarmed woman or child. If somebody doesn't already know why they shouldn't murder a baby, it's not clear that a refresher course will help.
After Katrina, all the major news outlets are reporting the start of the Atlantic hurricane season today. None seems to have reported that the East Pacific season began May 15th, which has already seen its first tropical storm. Perhaps Americans really don't care what happens to Mexico?
Again, probably because of increased media interest, this morning's "Tropical Weather Outlook" newsletter had a lot more information than usual:
TODAY MARKS THE FIRST DAY OF THE ATLANTIC HURRICANE SEASON...WHICH
WILL RUN UNTIL NOVEMBER 30TH. THE LIST OF NAMES FOR 2006 IS AS
NAME PRONUNCIATION NAME PRONUNCIATION
ALBERTO AL BAIR- TOE LESLIE
BERYL BER- IL MICHAEL
CHRIS NADEEN NAY DEEN-
ERNESTO ER NES- TOE PATTY
FLORENCE RAFAEL RA FA EL-
HELENE HE LEEN- TONY
ISAAC EYE- ZAK VALERIE
THE GREEK ALPHABET...ALPHA...BETA...GAMMA...ETC...IS USED SHOULD THE
STANDARD LIST OF NAMES BE EXHAUSTED...AS IT WAS LAST YEAR. IN
2005...A RECORD 28 STORMS FORMED...INCLUDING AN UNNAMED OCTOBER
SUBTROPICAL STORM THAT WAS ADDED TO THE OFFICIAL LIST IN APRIL. THE
LONG-TERM AVERAGES FOR THE NUMBER OF NAMED STORMS...HURRICANES...
AND MAJOR HURRICANES ARE 11...6...AND 2...RESPECTIVELY. THE NOAA
SEASONAL OUTLOOK FOR 2006 CALLS FOR ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS OF ACTIVITY.
(I think it's cute how the National Hurricane Center, which has some of the most powerful computers on the planet, still puts out 1970s-era block-letter reports. It's their own form of bureaucratese.)
Keep in mind, November 30th is only a guideline. We had a named Atlantic storm in January this year. In fact, let me make a prediction you can tease me about later: by 2010, the NHC will track the Atlantic hurricane season from May 15th to December 31st, and by 2025, they'll abandon the concept altogether and just start the name list on January 1st each year.
The California Court of Appeal, Sixth District, has reversed a lower-court order that blogger Jason O'Grady had to turn over his sources for a story he wrote about Apple Computer:
Online writers are protected by the state's shield law for reporters as well as by the 1st Amendment, the state Court of Appeal in San Jose ruled, reversing a lower court decision.
Apple subpoenaed the e-mail provider of Jason O'Grady, publisher of O'Grady's PowerPage, an Internet site that posted information in 2004 about an unreleased Apple product.
The ruling establishes that Web reporters have the same right to protect the confidentially of sources as other reporters, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The case is O'Grady v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County (184 kB, PDF).
The jury is no longer out: one can now say, without fear of libeling them, that Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are a couple of theiving fraudsters.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne writes today about Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) asinine English Language amendment:
There is no point to this amendment except to say to members of our currently large Spanish-speaking population that they will be legally and formally disrespected in a way that earlier generations of immigrants from—this is just a partial list—Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, France, Hungary, Greece, China, Japan, Finland, Lithuania, Lebanon, Syria, Bohemia, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia were not.
Immigrants from all these places honored their origins, built an ethnic press and usually worshiped in the languages of their ancestors. But they also learned English because they knew that advancement in our country required them to do so.
My great-grandmother came from Russia, and about the English language amendment she would say: Ich hob in bodereim. She actually never learned English, though she tried desperately. One of her grandsons went on to win a couple of awards for writing, including two from the Writers Guild and a couple of EMMY nominations. So at least in my family, immigration and speaking some other language didn't hurt. I think our story is pretty typical.
Dionne doesn't mention that foreign immigrants have always strengthened the U.S., and we're better for their contributions to language and to everything else. Imagine if you couldn't eat a burrito with salsa while sipping a margarita in a plaza; wouldn't your life be less enjoyable?
 One of them. The other three came from Wisconsin, from the English-language enclaves of Milwaukee and Janesville.
 "I have it in the bathtub." I'm not sure what this means exactly, but inexactly it's the equivalent of "je m'en fiche" or "I don't give a [darn]."
Montenegro has voted to secede from Serbia:
With 95% of the votes counted from Sunday's referendum in Montenegro, on independence from Serbia, 55.4% of voters were in favour of the break. It is possible, but unlikely, that the few votes still to be counted will change this. The much more likely prospect is that Serbia and Montenegro will negotiate their divorce in the weeks and months ahead.
Montenegro's prime minister will visit Brussels next week to formally request recognition from the European Union. Kosovo may also seek independence from Serbia next year.
I may have opined on this subject earlier, but here follows my prediction, with which people may ridicule me in three years:
In approximately 974 days and 15 hours, we will see the inagurations of President Gore and Vice President Warner.
I believe I am making this prediction with considerably more evidence than Shrub made his prediction that democracy would flourish in Iraq within the same time-frame.
Excellent column by Bruce Schneier:
A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It's intrinsic to the concept of liberty.
Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.
Direct Democracy has a wonderful pair of maps showing, shall I say, a subtle change in political colors since the 2004 election.
For those keeping score at home, there are only 171 days and 22 hours until the 2006 election.