Congress could be where thinking began

Congratulations are in order to the United States Congress. In a bold move of understanding, it stripped a needless provision from the port security bill it passed over the weekend:

Congress is patting itself on the back for passing the Port Security Act last Saturday. But the day before, a House-Senate conference committee stripped out a provision that would have barred serious felons from working in sensitive dock security jobs. Port security isn’t just about checking the contents of cargo containers, it also means checking the background of the 400,000 workers on our docks.

Felons will not be barred from crucial jobs where a reasonable person not using the wonderfully intuitive powers of deductions granted to our smartest leaders might believe that to be a Bad Idea&#153. But leadership involves understanding the full picture of society, those “unintended consequences,” if you will. When viewed together with this provision of the port security deal, the good senators (Sen. Frist, in particular) understood that we wouldn’t want to exclude a significant portion of American adults.

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last night on legislation to tighten maritime and port security regulations and, in a last-minute move, added an unrelated measure that seeks to ban Internet gambling.

The port security and Internet gambling legislation was approved 409 to 2 in the House and on a voice vote in the Senate early today, as lawmakers rushed to leave Washington for their fall reelection campaigns. Senate Republican and Democratic leaders announced it would be passed by voice vote after the House’s late-night vote.

You see, foresight! The Congress knew that many Americans could now become felons for operating a financial institution that offers customers a service they want violating Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s morality funding drugs and terrorism┬╣! That’s bad, and they should pay the price, but we still need secure ports. We don’t want no stinkin’ foreigners handling that job.

┬╣ From the Washington Post’s article:

Proponents of the crackdown said the industry, which is mostly based overseas, provides a front for money laundering, some of it by drug sellers and terrorist groups, while preying on children and gambling addicts. Americans bet an estimated $6 billion per year online, accounting for half the worldwide market, according to analysis by the Congressional Research Service.

Am I going too far out on a limb to request that the reporter investigate this claim rather than accepting spoon-fed horseshit from some political hack? I don’t think so.

No constitutional protection for you!

I came across two curious quotes about Virginia’s proposed amendment designed to diminish the Bill of Rights.

“Nothing will change,” said Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), one of the amendment’s sponsors. “All this would do is prevent the gay rights crowd from gaining any perceived right to marry by going to the courts.”

If nothing will change, why go through the process of putting a hateful limitation in the Bill of Rights? Oh, right, activist judges who might find a “perceived” right. I keep forgetting that our rights are open to the subjective view of the not-really-a-majority majority. If enough people don’t like you for their own reasons, you’re out of luck. As a bonus, there’s no need to consider whether or not a judge would actually interpret Virginia’s Constitution so that gays “gain” the right to marry.

“Opponents are looking for every single nuance to say why we’ve put this on the ballot,” said Del. John A. Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), another sponsor of the amendment. “All the brouhaha about unintended consequences and any partisan motivations are just scare tactics.”

I’m an opponent, but I’m not looking for nuance here. The wording and hysteria makes it fairly obvious that bigotry explains this proposed amendment. But Del Cosgrove’s dismissal of the brouhaha about unintended consequences is an amusing insight into his understanding of government action, as well as his shameful agreement with exclusionary politics at the expense of justice and logic. He wants this amendments language to fight the potential for activist judges to read a right in the Virginia Constitution that he claims isn’t there. Okay, so a strict textual interpretation. So how would he decipher this, without needing an activist judge to decide that unmarried individuals actually means same-sex individuals?

“This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.”

Allow me to grant for a moment the notion that this language achieves the specific “interest” of the Commonwealth. This is still nothing more than a bigoted assault on the Bill of Rights. That’s shameful, whatever the excuse.

Sports Weekend Update

As great as last weekend was for sports, this weekend is (so far) almost its polar opposite.

Phillies: A good, if scary, win yesterday, but it didn’t matter. With the Dodgers and Padres both winning, the Phillies barely missed the playoffs, breaking my heart in the process. Again. Don’t fret, though. Like every spring before, I’ll be back next year, as gullible and full of optimism as ever when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater.

Virginia Tech: Having attended last week’s dogfight against Cincinnati, I knew we weren’t the 11th best team in college football. Running into a quality conference opponent scared me. And we lost. It was one of the more frustrating losses we’ve had in recent memory, for we were terrible in every aspect. But I can’t lie and say I was surprised. Until we start blocking for Sean Glennon, the other faults we discovered won’t matter. A one game deficit in the division standings is hardly insurmountable, so hope remains.

Redskins: The Redskins face Jacksonville this afternoon. Jacksonville is good. Their defense against our offense will likely result in a loss for the Redskins. I’ll watch the entire game, regardless, because I’m that way.