The Spectacle Blog

Canadian Medicine

By on 6.26.06 | 9:36PM

Got this on one of my email lists. A definitive description of Canadian health care:

Two patients limp into two different medical clinics with the same complaint. Both have trouble walking and appear to require a hip replacement. The first patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week.

The second sees his family doctor after waiting a week for an appointment, then waits eight weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn't reviewed for another month and finally has his surgery scheduled six months from then.

Why the different treatment for the two patients?

The first is a Golden Retriever.

The second is a human.

Keller Caught Lying

By on 6.26.06 | 7:40PM

Hugh Hewitt has the letter Treasury Secretary John Snow has sent to NY Times editor Bill Keller. What is clear is that Keller was simply lying about the amount of contact the NY Times had with Treasury, White House, Congressional and intelligence sources.

Built on top the devastating letter is that one of the reporters on the story is also caught out in a lie.

That reporter is Eric Lichtblau, an individual, according to knowledgable Department of Justice sources, who in 2004 had his credentials from the Department pulled briefly due to his refusal to fairly report stories involving the Department. Only after senior Times officials stepped in did Lichtblau receive a reprieve.

In an interview with Editor and Publisher, Lichtblau says of the Bush Administration's efforts to have the Times hold the finance-tracking story were similar to objections to the terrorist call monitoring program that Lichtblau helped leak earlier this year:

RE: Michael Steele… Racist?

By on 6.26.06 | 5:40PM

To me it smells like an indication of Democrats' desperation. Steele is winning over African-Americans in Maryland, and if he wins over enough the Dems don't have a chance of beating him, national trend or no national trend.

It also seems rather stupid. Democrats should remember that the Horton ads worked (Bush I was elected) although not for the reasons they think-i.e., they were racist. They worked because Horton was a murderer and rapist, and he committed those crimes while out on a weekend furlough. Michael Dukakis, Bush I's opponent, defended the furlough program and even vetoed a bill intended to change it.

Finally, I like Steele's response:

"When I look across the aisle, I see a Democratic leader who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan," he said, referring to Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd from West Virginia, who has said his membership in the Klan as a young man was "a major mistake."

"That doesn't stop Democrats from taking his money," Steele said.

Re: Free Speech Victory

By on 6.26.06 | 4:20PM

John, we just made sure to cover all the angles.

But if this is the ceiling for campaign finance regulation in the new Roberts Court, I would sure like to find the floor. Among those voting to overturn the Vermont law, there is an acceptance of the general principle that campaign expenditures are a form of free speech. You don't hear any of the nonsense about battling the corrupting influence of money.

I will also remain optimistic because of Alito's opinion -- the respondents were playing on the wrong field to overturn anything: McCain-Feingold or Buckley. I'll wait until a case takes on the campaign finance "legal universe" and see what happens.

Re: Free Speech Victory

By on 6.26.06 | 3:52PM

Didn't see your post before putting mine up, Dave, and I hope readers will forgive the redundancy. But I wouldn't get your hopes up too high, based on this decision, that McCain-Feingold is in trouble. Election Law blogger Rick Hansen argues that this is "about the best decision that (realistic) supporters of campaign finance regulation could have hoped for from the new Roberts Court." I'd quibble with Hansen's analysis a bit (Roberts and particularly Alito's deference to the Buckley precedent doesn't necessarily indicate that they'll never find contribution limits unconstitutional), but he's surely right that "Battles will rage across the country over the constitutionality of particular contribution limit laws."

A First Amendment Victory

By on 6.26.06 | 3:29PM

The Supreme Court has overturned Vermont's draconian caps on campaign contributions and expenditures in Randall v. Sorrell (.pdf). As usual with campaign finance cases, the Court's divisions are complicated -- and, given the addition of Roberts and Alito since 2000's McConnell v. FEC, interesting.

Breyer wrote the plurality opinion, ruling that Vermont's law is inconsistent with 1976's Buckley v. Valeo, which overturned limits on campaign expenditures but allowed limits on campaign contributions; he was joined by Roberts. The holding on expenditure limits is straightforward (they aren't constitutional), while the holding on contribution limits is less so: Vermont's contribution limits are held to be so low that it crosses some threshold that the limits at issue in Buckley did not.

Free Speech Victory

By on 6.26.06 | 2:49PM

The Supreme Court today struck down Vermont's excessively restrictive campaign finance law, by a 6-3 vote (Randall v. Sorrell). Breyer joins the usual group of five: Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy.

Despite that unlikely grouping, the opinions are scattershot. The plurality (Breyer and Roberts) argues that the Vermont law fails to meet the principles set forth in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), and upholds that precedent. Alito concurs in part with the plurality, but differs where it speaks highly of stare decisis and the Buckley precedent. But since respondents did not fully make the case that the Court should revisit Buckley, he would not consider it.

Ethically Challenged Congress

By on 6.26.06 | 2:27PM

The headline on page three of the Wash Post says it all: "Call for Lobbying Changes Is A Fading Cry, Lawmakers Say." Subhead: "Calming of Political Storm Cited as Reason for Attitude Shift."

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