June 08, 2012

Red Tape

Back in The Day, the government's official papers were bound by red twill tape...giving us the phrase "cutting through the red tape".

Today, you can own actual government red tape.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 03, 2009

*Flyover Country--UPDATED with deets

Suck it, Hollywood.

UPDATE: Some people seem to expect the Iowa State Legislature or Governor Culver to step in and void the Iowa State Supreme Court's unanimous (!) decision to allow gay marriage.

It doesn't work that way.

Because marriage is a state issue rather than a federal issue, there is no appeal process beyond the State Supreme Court.

The only way for the gay marriage ruling to be "overturned" is through Constitutional Amendment. In Iowa, this requires the approval of two consecutive State Legislative sessions and ultimately general vote by the people of Iowa. Legislative sessions last two years in Iowa, and this is year one of the current session. The next general vote where it would be possible to vote on an Amendment is 2012.

Until then, Iowa is the third state to allow gay marriage. I for one think that is terrific. The pure joy that erupted following the decision made me more determined to do my part to keep equality alive and well in Iowa.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 04, 2008


President Obama. Holy crap, I guess we're not as racist as the rest of the world would have you believe.

McCain's concession speech was extremely classy. I hope my fellow Democrats can be as gracious in victory as Senator McCain is in defeat.

The enormity of the moment brought tears to my eyes...a black President of the United States. Amazing.

Posted by Jennifer at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Iowa polls closed at 9pm local time...Fox News called Iowa for Obama before the polls closed, and before they reported any vote data.

I'm flipping between CNN and Fox News, and Fox is quicker on the projections than CNN. Defeatism? Reliance on exit polls? What's the dilly?

Posted by Jennifer at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Election Day 2008

I voted. No problems whatsoever. Offered coffee and doughnuts. Declined coffee and doughnuts.

Now we wait.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:07 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 14, 2008

Trust Your Government

To always do what is correct. To protect your rights. Because that is what the United States government has always done...by the people, for the people, and so on.

Oh, wait.

Well, at least when it gets messed up, there are usually chances to fix it again later.

Happy 210th anniversary, Alien and Sedition Acts.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 09, 2005

The Beauty of the Federal Government


I realize this is from a few decades ago, but I'm pretty confident in my assertion that the government can afford to cut some Fibbies from the payroll.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:46 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 04, 2005

August 4, 1735

Freedom of the press was established in the United States by the court system decades before the Bill of Rights, when John Peter Zenger was acquitted against libel charges. The charges were an attempt by Royal Governor William Crosby to censor Zenger’s criticisms of the Crown.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

July 12, 1984

On this date, feminists rejoiced. Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to make it onto a major party presidential ticket, when presidential candidate Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate.

On November 6, feminists did not rejoice. The Mondale-Ferraro ticket was defeated in the biggest Republican landslide ever.

We've yet to see another woman on a major party presidential ticket.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

June 14, 1954

After much debate, President Eisenhower signed a bill adding "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)

June 07, 2005

*June 7, 1965

On this date, the Supreme Court handed down their decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, eliminating restrictions on the prescription and sale of the birth control pill.

Posted by Jennifer at 09:15 AM | Comments (2)

May 31, 2005

*May 31, 1759

Following pressure from religious groups, Pennsylvania enacts a law forbidding the performance of plays. Wayward thespians are subjected to a 500-pound fine. (Pound of the English currency type.)

Posted by Jennifer at 09:00 AM

January 13, 2005

Presidential Fun Fact: Placing the Treasury Building

President Andrew Jackson picked the spot for the Treasury Building--east of the White House, obstructing the view of the Capitol Building.

Supposedly on purpose.

Jackson didn't get along much with Congress.

Posted by Jennifer at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2004

*I Know Where They Can Get the Money

Salinas, California is being forced to close its libraries due to budget shortfalls. They need $3.2 million to run the libraries for a year.

Too bad no one has that kind of money just lying around, being useless.

Posted by Jennifer at 11:32 PM | Comments (2)

November 01, 2004

*Electoral College

Confused about the Electoral College? This article breaks it down for you.

Posted by Jennifer at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

Free Advice for Politicians

It's not enough to make people want to vote against your opponent.

You have to make people want to vote for you.

This means you, John Kerry.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

August 21, 2004

At Least It's For a Good Cause*

Campaign spending tops $1 billion.

Spending by presidential and congressional candidates and the national party committees that support them already tops $1 billion for the 2004 election cycle, with more than two months of campaigning to go.

I'm sure y'all have seen that bumper sticker that says something to the effect of, "It'll be a perfect world when schools have all the money they need and the military needs to hold a bake sale to buy a new jet."

It'll be a better world when military personnel in war zones have all the body armor they need and politicians can only annoy me with their commercials once a week rather than every fifteen minutes.

* Sarcasm in that title.

Posted by Jennifer at 05:37 AM | Comments (6)

August 05, 2004


When I was a teenager, I worked at a nearby amusement park for a few months. I signed up for the rides department, which I figured would be more fun than food service. I was assigned to the river ride, which has big inner tube boats that seat 8 people.

My job was to step onto boats as they came along the belt and make sure people were strapped in properly. When they got off the ride, I made sure they got off safely without falling to the belt below. To do this, I had to stand with one foot on the boat and one foot on the walkway they jumped to. My body was basically a wall to keep them from slipping.

Often the ride operator wasn't paying close attention and I'd end up going for a little ride on the boats while I strapped a child in. I'd get off the boat at the next stop on the belt and go back to my post. I almost actually made it to the river launch once, but managed to get off just in time.

One day the operator set the boats in motion while I was actually making the step from the boat to the walkway. I fell about 6 feet to the belt below and had to climb back out with a sprained ankle. I wasn't seriously injured, but I was pissed off that she wasn't paying any attention.

Shortly after that, I left the boat ride. I'd had enough little injuries to decide it wasn't safe with that particular operator in charge. I got a job somewhere else, but returned to the amusement park one summer after I turned 18. I poured beer that year.

I'm 29 now, so this was 14 years ago. I spent about 3 months at that boat ride. I almost forget that I did that--it was so long ago and such a short time.

I'd probably forget it altogether if the falling down to the belt part wasn't a mildly interesting anecdote when you're standing in line with someone, waiting for a boat ride. It certainly doesn't define who I am today, and I don't put it on my resume.

Now, I don't want to equate working in an amusement park to being in a war zone, but John Kerry and his handlers need to focus on more recent events if they want to win in November. We ALL know you served in Vietnam. If that's the only thing you have on your resume that is worth comparing to Bush, I have a newsflash for you:

Al Gore served in Vietnam.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:38 PM | Comments (4)

February 12, 2004

Teapot Dome

Since this is a History and Stuff site I figured I'd do my bit...

The Teapot Dome Scandal
In 1921 the Department of the Interior took over control of two naval oil reserves from the Navy Department. The first was in Teapot Dome, Wyoming and the second Elk Hills, California. Warren G. Harding's Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, leased the fields to Harry Sinclair and Edward Doheny respectively. This was done without opening the lease to competitive bidding. In 1922-3 Senate hearings on the leasing it came to light that both Sinclair and Doheny had given Fall large interest free loans. Doheny gave $100,000 in '21 and Sinclair gave after Fall retired in '23. Fall was convicted of accepting bribes and fined $100,000 as well as a year in prison. Both Doheny and Sinclair were acquitted of bribery charges. The two oil fields were restored to government control in 1927 by Supreme Court decision.
Of course those are just the dry facts.
The story was broken by the Wall Street Journal on April 14, 1922. Senator John Kendrick (D, Wyoming) introduced a resolution to look into the matter the next day. When Senator Robert La Follete (R, Wisconsin) arranged for the Committee on Public Lands to look into the situation, he had his office ransacked. The hearings were lead by Senator Thomas Walsh (D, Montana) and his successful investigation pushed him into the national limelight. One of the larger judicial precedents to come out of the case was McGrain v. Daugherty. This establishes Congress' right to force testimony like a regular court by presuming legislative purpose in the request, even if the express purpose to show wrongdoing.

Hope you enjoyed this little foray into American history. Stay tuned for next time when we discuss the Whiskey Ring scandal.

Posted by at 03:50 AM | Comments (3)

December 23, 2003

Switch the Speed Limit Signs For Fun

Today marks a very important date in history...in 1975, Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation that was destined to forever change the lives of every American.

That's right, they passed the Metric Conversion Act of 1975, or Public Law 94-168. The United States Metric Board was established to plan, coordinate, and implement our switch to the metric system.

Here it is 28 years later and the switch was a rousing success. You can not find an American educated after 1975 who still thinks in terms of inches, feet, yards, or miles. Not a one. Good on ya, Metric Board!

(end sarcasm)

From that link above:

The efforts of the Metric Board were largely ignored by the American public, and, in 1981, the Board reported to Congress that it lacked the clear Congressional mandate necessary to bring about national conversion. Due to this apparent ineffectiveness, and in an effort to reduce Federal spending, the Metric Board was disestablished in the fall of 1982.
(emphasis mine)

Of course, metric conversion is still (slowly) going on here in the States. But it might be easier just to continue taking take over the world.

(end Brain voice)

Posted by Jennifer at 05:06 AM | Comments (3)

December 09, 2003

Senator Simon Dies

One-time presidential candidate and former Illinois Senator Paul Simon has passed away.

I lived in Illinois for most of my childhood (and most of my life), and Senator Simon ran for president when I was in eighth grade. That election helped elevate my interest in politics and history.

Simon was a bespectacled, slightly rumpled man with a strong reputation for honesty, a politician who began disclosing his personal finances in the 1950s. He had the sober, straight-laced bearing of a Sunday school teacher and wrote 13 books.

Simon blended fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. Raised during the Depression, the son of a Lutheran minister, he saw the great needs facing the country and how government responded through New Deal programs.

"Government is not the enemy," he said in 1988. "Government is simply a tool that can be used wisely or unwisely. We can do better, my friends."

He always seemed like a very nice man. Not sure how many other politicians I can say that about.

Posted by Jennifer at 03:53 PM | Comments (3)

November 12, 2003

Imagine if this happened today

Reader Pete asked how many Senators had become President...which made me think of another question: How many Senators drew a gun on another Senator on the floor of the Senate?

(Because, of course, that is the next logical leap. I digress.)

Just one that I've heard of, which occurred during debates on the Compromise of 1850:

Senators Henry S. Foote of Mississippi and Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri detested each other. The personal attacks upon one another had become so bad that Benton took the floor and forbade Foote from mentioning his name in Congress again.

After Benton's declaration he took his seat and Foote rose to launch an attack upon his colleague. As soon as Foote spoke Benton's name, Benton started for him. Foote moved to the aisle of the Senate where he drew his pistol, cocked it, and pointed it at Benton.

Two other Senators tried to stop Benton, but he kept walking towards Foote, who backed up to the Vice President's seat. Finally Benton stopped, opened his shirt, and yelled, "Let him fire! Stand out of the way! I have no pistol! I disdain to carry arms! Stand out of the way, and let the assassin fire!"

Foote was disarmed and later claimed he thought Benton was armed too. A committee investigated the incident, criticized both men, but recommended no action against the pair.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003

1974 Trivia: Boston Schools

In Boston, federal troops were called in to quell violence after the local school committee rejected a court-ordered bus plan for desegregation.

For more information, try this link.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:51 AM

September 19, 2003

1974 Trivia: Clean Water

After cancer-causing chemicals were found in drinking water throughout the United States, the Safe Drinking Water Act set water pollution standards.

Posted by Jennifer at 12:03 AM | Comments (4)

September 15, 2003

1974 Trivia: Portugal's Coup

In Portugal, the army overthrew the president and ended the dictatorial rule that had marked the government for 25 years.

For more information on Portugal, you can go here.

Posted by Jennifer at 01:49 AM

September 12, 2003

Fun With Unrelated Statistics

The short but bloody period of the French Revolution that saw more than 17,000 people executed was called the Reign of Terror. It began in January, 1793 and lasted until July 29, 1794.

To put it in perspective...France averaged 895 deaths per month.

This August, approximately 11,400 to 15,000 people died in France's heat wave. In one month.

The guy who led the Reign of Terror was beheaded, by the way.


Posted by Jennifer at 03:23 AM