Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Taxation Without Representation

Being a legal resident of the great swing state of Florida, I decided against registering as a DC resident because I hated the idea of giving up a valuable vote for a nonexistent one. (I guess every vote is supposed to count, but let's be honest - our electoral system means a Florida vote in an election that could go either way is worth way, way more than a vote in DC, which is heavily Democratic. Plus, Florida actually has Senators and Representatives. Anyway.)

The issue of whether to give the nation's capital the vote is a big, big deal around these parts. The slogan on the license plates is "no taxation without representation," people. Apparently people have very strong feelings about the issue. Well, apparently DC voting rights activists have figured out a way to try to get some movement: trade the DC (shoe-in Democratic) vote for a new district ( = new Representative = new vote) in Utah. That would bring the grand total of reps in the House to 437 without fundamentally changing the balance of power between the parties.

Someone in the Senate (Lieberman maybe? I need to check on that) put in a bill to do exactly that, and the Senate is debating it today. DCist is doing live updates on the debate, which you can follow here if you're at all interested. The educated guess is that there will be a filibuster, so they'll need 60 votes to pass the bill. I think it's pretty great to hear Sen. Hatch from Utah stressing the need to give the DC residents the vote - 'cause you know that's what he really cares about, and not the fact that his state will get one more voice in the House. Anyway, it's an interesting issue that's not going to go away anytime soon.

NB: I'm pretty sure the US Constitution established the seat of government as neutral territory, while giving Congress the power to change the number of representatives in the house pretty easily. So even if the bill passes, you can bet on a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court, which, given its makeup, would probably take the conservative stance and require the government to go about the (very long and onerous) process of actually amending the Constitution itself before DC gets the vote.

You can read more about the campaign to get DC the vote here. (If anyone knows of a website with a decent argument against DC voting rights, please pass it along.)

UPDATE: Taxation without representation continues, as the Senate votes 57-42 in favor of closing the debate on the DC voting rights bill (aka, not enough votes, so no pass). For DCist's take on what this really means, click here.

(For added ridiculosity, note the line about how Congress has passed a law that forbids DC from using its own funds to lobby for voting rights.)

Nothing To Do With Law

This is easy for even me to forget, but I was actually trained as some sort of scientist. (We'll withhold jugment about the quality of that training for the present.) In an effort to keep that part of my brain alive during the next three years, I read some dorky science-y things, the best of which is the Human Nature column on Slate.com. (The columnist, William Saletan, has some personal views that tend not to fall into an easy political box, which makes for interesting reading. Besides, he's a local guy.) It made me laugh today, so I thought I'd share. Click here for the full column.

Breast-cancer gene carriers are debating preemptive mastectomy. A quarter-million U.S. women have the gene, which gives you a 60 to 90 percent chance of getting the cancer. Self-invented name: "previvors." Mastectomy arguments: 1) You're lucky to be the first generation that knows what's coming. You'd be a fool not to take advantage of the knowledge. 2) If you do it, you'll never feel like a real woman again. 3) If you don't, you'll worry about cancer all the time. 4) If you delay it a few years, science may find a cure. 5) Science might find a cure in time for your daughters, not for you. Do it now so you'll live long enough to have them. 6) If you do it too early, no man will marry you, so you'll never have kids anyway. 7) Get married fast so you can have the kids and get the surgery early. 8) Rushing your boyfriend will just drive him away. 9) You can still get a man, by replacing your real boobs with fake ones. 10) No, fake ones look fake. 10) Yeah, but they're getting better. 11) Yeah, but to keep your nipples, you have to slightly increase your risk of cancer. 12) OK, then here's the deal: Lose the breast, keep the nipples.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

This week's must-read: Why is Tony Snow broke?

This Slate article takes an interesting angle on Tony Snow's resignation as press secretary, asking questions like: (1) Is Snow really broke? (2) Did he save for retirement during his corporate years? (3) How is he paying for his chemotherapy? And (4) How does this all square with the bullshit he's been feeding us as press secretary about the "ownership society" and how "health savings accounts" are the answer to our health care crisis?

For the US Treasury's FAQ on health savings accounts, click here.
For a critique of health savings accounts by the Center for American Progress, click here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

At Last, A Beginning.

I've been unsure about how to start this blog. I can't seem to decide what this space should actually do. Should I talk about my life? Should I write for other law students? Should I write like a magazine, making it interesting for everyone and anyone? I suppose I could think myself to death. Instead, I'm just going to start writing, see what comes out, and then make my theory to suit my practice. And soooo... hello!