Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stupid, briefly-suspended felony-convict lawyer screws it up on Bill O'Reilly

So this morning, Bill O'Reilly showed a rather astonishing bit of intellectual honesty. He challenged some family law attorney, a Donald P. Schweitzer, to come up with a non-religious reason to oppose gay marriage. And the guy bombed.

But the best part is, above and beyond the fact he doesn't answer the question (the "it's different, just like summer and winter are different" is teh awesome), is the fact that the best attorney Fox could dig up is a guy who has a felony conviction for beating up his ex-wife's boyfriend!

Anyway, I wrote to him. A bit bitchy, but what the hell. And his record of suspension comes afterwards. Onwards:

Hey Don,

Good job on the Bill O'Reilly show. "It's different" sure is a compelling argument for restricting same sex marriage, isn't it? Or course, convicted felons are different, too, which seems to me to be a compelling reason to keep you from voting or getting married.

Oh yeah, and what part of constitutional law didn't you pay attention to? There's no federal question in the opinion, at all. Did you read the opinion? None if it is based on federal law, at all. But then, spouting out nonsense legal mumbo-jumbo is a lot easier than reading a dense opinion and actually understanding such lofty issues as constitutional law and questions of state versus federal law.

And the justices didn't insert "gay marriage" into the California Constitution. They ruled that gay people are entitled to equal protection under the constitution. Maybe down in the 4th tier they don't teach that little distinction, but the justices expressly didn't find a right to same sex marriage, only that gay people are entitled to the same rights as straight people to marry. A subtle difference, but hey, isn't that what our profession is all about?

And also, "same sex marriages are a suspect class"? No, that wasn't the decision either. A "thing" can't be a suspect class, but rather a specific, recognizable characteristic, like, oh, say, gender, and race. But same sex marriages?

It sort of amuses me that you have a family law practice and can't even get that one right. (Oh and that you beat your wife's boyfriend.)

And the people have determined they don't want it? Um, how about the legislature--which represents the people--more recently passing gay marriage.

Anyway, you did our profession a lot of credibility with your utter inability to even make a credible argument other than "it's just different." And to have Bill O'Reilly actually tell you you have to have a "cogent reason," given Fox is pretty good at finding "cogent reasons" for the usual nonsense they spout.

But that aside, glad to see you're back allowed to practice law. Hopefully I'll run into you in court one day--or rather, hopefully for my clients. Because while the religious set usually can handle "it's just different," I suspect as a legal argument that just isn't going to cut it.


Dean P

January 10, 2003

DONALD PHILIP SCHWEITZER [#166412], 43, of Pasadena was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on 36 months of probation with a 60-day actual suspension and was ordered to take the MPRE within one year. Credit toward the actual suspension will be given for an interim suspension which began July 14, 2002. The order took effect Jan. 10, 2003.

Schweitzer pleaded guilty to felony assault, a charge later reduced to a misdemeanor. He had an ongoing custody battle with his estranged wife and one evening entered her apartment and beat her boyfriend. Schweitzer broke his hand in the assault and the victim suffered jaw pain and significant bleeding.

The criminal conduct did not involve moral turpitude.

In mitigation, he has no record of discipline in nine years, was having severe family problems at the time that affected his emotional state, and reports involvement in community activities. His actions cost him his job as an Orange County deputy district attorney.

June 14, 2002

DONALD PHILIP SCHWEITZER [#166412], 43, of Norwalk was placed on interim suspension June 14, 2002, following a conviction for. The suspension ended Sept. 12 and he returned to active status. He was ordered to comply with rule 955.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Today, the Supreme Court of California ruled on gay marriage--and said it is required. The opinion is wonderful, and as Greenwald says, anyone who criticizes it without reading it and the precedent behind it is clueless. Opinion here.

The opinion starts with a lot of throat clearing, and it's not till about the tenth page that it becomes clear what way the court is going. I was frantically skimming it, and I literally burst into tears when I finally saw this glorious phrase:

We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.
At the end, the Court summaries its points, and they are good ones:

Although the understanding of marriage as limited to a union of a man and a woman is undeniably the predominant one, if we have learned anything from the significant evolution in the prevailing societal views and official policies toward members of minority races and toward women over the past half-century, it is that even the most familiar and generally accepted of social practices and traditions often mask an unfairness and inequality that frequently is not recognized or appreciated by those not directly harmed by those practices or traditions. It is instructive to recall in this regard that the traditional, well-established legal rules and practices of our not-so-distant past (1) barred interracial marriage,[1] (2) upheld the routine exclusion of women from many occupations and official duties, and (3) considered the relegation of racial minorities to separate and assertedly equivalent public facilities and institutions as constitutionally equal treatment. As the United States Supreme Court observed in its decision in Lawrence v. Texas, supra, 539 U.S. 558, 579, the expansive and protective provisions of our constitutions, such as the due process clause, were drafted with the knowledge that "times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress." For this reason, the interest in retaining a tradition that excludes an historically disfavored minority group from a status that is extended to all others — even when the tradition is long-standing and widely shared — does not necessarily represent a compelling state interest for purposes of equal protection analysis.

After carefully evaluating the pertinent considerations in the present case, we conclude that the state interest in limiting the designation of marriage exclusively to opposite-sex couples, and in excluding same-sex couples from access to that designation, cannot properly be considered a compelling state interest for equal protection purposes. To begin with, the limitation clearly is not necessary to preserve the rights and benefits of marriage currently enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. Extending access to the designation of marriage to same-sex couples will not deprive any opposite-sex couple or their children of any of the rights and benefits conferred by the marriage statutes, but simply will make the benefit of the marriage designation available to same-sex couples and their children. As Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals succinctly observed in her dissenting opinion in Hernandez v. Robles, supra, 855 N.E.2d 1, 30 (dis. opn. of Kaye, C.J.): "There are enough marriage licenses to go around for everyone." Further, permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not alter the substantive nature of the legal institution of marriage; same-sex couples who choose to enter into the relationship with that designation will be subject to the same duties and obligations to each other, to their children, and to third parties that the law currently imposes upon opposite-sex couples who marry. Finally, affording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4.)[2]

While retention of the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples is not needed to preserve the rights and benefits of opposite-sex couples, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children. As discussed above, because of the long and celebrated history of the term "marriage" and the widespread understanding that this word describes a family relationship unreservedly sanctioned by the community, the statutory provisions that continue to limit access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples — while providing only a novel, alternative institution for same-sex couples — likely will be viewed as an official statement that the family relationship of same-sex couples is not of comparable stature or equal dignity to the family relationship of opposite-sex couples. Furthermore, because of the historic disparagement of gay persons, the retention of a distinction in nomenclature by which the term "marriage" is withheld only from the family relationship of same-sex couples is all the more likely to cause the new parallel institution that has been established for same-sex couples to be considered a mark of second-class citizenship. Finally, in addition to the potential harm flowing from the lesser stature that is likely to be afforded to the family relationships of same-sex couples by designating them domestic partnerships, there exists a substantial risk that a judicial decision upholding the differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be understood as validating a more general proposition that our state by now has repudiated: that it is permissible, under the law, for society to treat gay individuals and same-sex couples differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals and opposite-sex couples.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stupid people should not be allowed to vote

This woman has clearly not read the Bible or any sort of mainstream media, in her life. From Sullivan:

A reader writes:

I live in SD and I am a candidate for the State House. I was out walking my district last month and spoke to a woman about the primary. She has a statue of the Virgin Mary in her front yard and was wearing several crosses around her neck. Here is our conversation:

Woman: "I don't know about that Obama guy."

Me: "I'm an Obama supporter, do you mind if I ask what you're unsure about."

Woman: "He's a muslim and there is a biblical prophecy that a muslim will take over our country and destroy the world."

Me: "You're aware he is not a Muslim."

Woman: "He can say anything he wants."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Idiot polls, idiot answers

From the latest CPAC-Nanos poll on Canadian political leadership:

Question: As you may know, Stephane Dion is the leader of the federal Liberal Party, Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Jack Layton is the leader of the federal NDP, Gilles Duceppe is the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and Elizabeth May is the leader of the federal Green Party. Which of the federal leaders would you best describe as:

(The numbers in parenthesis denotes the change from the previous Nanos Research survey completed in February 2008 (90 day change).)

The most trustworthy leader

Stephen Harper 31 (+1)

Stephane Dion 14 (NC)

Jack Layton 14 (-7)

Elizabeth May 5 (-3)

Gilles Duceppe 4 (-2)

None of them/Undecided 32 (+12)

The most competent leader

Stephen Harper 39 (NC)

Stephane Dion 12 (-4)

Jack Layton 11 (-4)

Gilles Duceppe 5 (-1)

Elizabeth May 1 (-2)

None of them/Undecided 32 (+10)

The leader with the best vision for Canada's future
Stephen Harper 31 (-1)
Stephane Dion 14 (-3)
Jack Layton 14 (-4)

Elizabeth May 4 (-2)
Gilles Duceppe 3 (NC)
None of them/Undecided 35 (+11)

This illustrates why I hate polls. Three completely different questions have been asked about the leaders, and yet, the answers essentially breakdown the same way for each! On the question of trustworthiness, did the person answering the question really think about their answer? What is trustworthiness? Trust in what? That they tell the truth? Recent polls on the Cadman affair and In-N-Out scandal have shown that a majority of Canadians don't believe Harper's version of events. But he's the most trustworthy. On competence, the Prime Minister, regardless of party, usually scores highest. We've never seen Layton or Dion or Duceppe in a position to run the country. Gilles Duceppe should obviously score low for his vision of Canada's future. But Elizabeth May only has 1 point higher? Do the people being polled even know what her vision is? I'd say it is just as clear to the public's as is Harper's vision (or lack thereof). What is most striking is that there is little to no variation in the answers, regardless of the question. Aside from Dion's score, the numbers appear to track national party standings.

It would seem that all this poll is asking is which leader Canadians like most. It doesn't matter what the question is, its just a popularity contest. Stupid politically unsophisticated media-illiterate Canadians apparently aren't capable of separating their dislike of a candidate from performing an objective appraisal of each leader's qualities.

And yet, these polls come out, time and time again, their value dubious at most, except as fodder for lazy journalists to do hit-and-run jobs on various politicians.

Idiot polling, idiot answers. It is any wonder that Canadian politics now tends towards pandering to the lowest common denominator in a policy-free race to the bottom?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

SUCK IT, Charles de Gaulle

Sarko may have his issues, but at least "vive le Quebec libre" is being redeemed.

“You know we are very close to Quebec, but I'll tell you we also love Canada very much,” Mr. Sarkozy told Gov.-Gen. MichaĆ«lle Jean as they paid homage to fallen Canadian soldiers from the Second World War.

“Our friendships and our loyalties do not oppose one another. We bring them together so each can understand what we have in common. We will turn toward the future so the future of Canada and France will be the future of two countries that are not only allies, but two friends.”

. . .

Mr. Sarkozy thanked Canada and the country's soldiers for making the “supreme sacrifice.”

“And those who died here, no one asked them from which region [of Canada] they came,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

“We knew from which country they came. We didn't even ask them which language they spoke.”

Please die, Hillary

Hillary's latest campaign trick seems to be "the rules will be whatever I want them to be." I almost had to stop driving yesterday and scream while I listened to her and some spokesminion on NPR.

First, NPR replayed the classic Hillary line of "If we had the Republican system, I would be the nominee already." That's so stupid I don't think it even merits a response.

Second, she then said "We have to look at who's more electable."

Well, if that were the case, why bother having primaries at all? Why not just have a committee that runs focus groups and says, okay, this is the nominee?

Then came her minion, who kept going with all sorts of different ways to win the nomination. Like seating Michigan and Florida. (Terri Gross shot him down nicely with the "well, that won't make a difference with the popular vote count, will it?")

Basically, Hillary wants the rules to mean whatever works to get her elected.

We've had 7 years of a president who doesn't believe the rules apply to him. I don't want any more of that.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hey Jonathon

Why don't you ask the Iraqis if they're so happy about the "freedom" which they were "offered" by Dubya?

See his nonsensical rant here, wherein he compares Buddhists to Islamic terrorists (you need to look at this post to get the link), talks about how George Bush (personally) is the first to offer aid "and freedom" to people around the world (just ask the Sudanese), how Dubya's daughter is beautiful and "not a dyck (sic)" and how Dubya is a symbol of freedom and we should respect his wonderful family.

Res ipsa.

Yet another thoughtful

and intelligent comment from the cro-magnosphere.

I love this comment: Dubya is "the first to offer aid, whether to the Iraqi people and their freedom. . . ."

Oh yes, Jonathon, the junta in Myanmar is decidedly not muslim. Funny, not all brown-skinned people--or dictators--are.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Will someone please choke Dubya?

This morning on NPR (yes yes communist pinko lefty mouthpiece, because telling the truth is a sure sign of liberal bias), once again Dubya was at it. Talking about the recent cyclone in Burma, he offered U.S. aid, and then had to go off on some "but we know the Burmese people want to live in freedom."

Okay--before the right wing nut jobs blow a gasket, I acknowledge that a) giving aid is good, and b) yes, a country can condition aid on anything it likes.

But, let's see: The ruling junta of Burma (and no, I'm not calling it Myanmar. You have your freedom fries, I get my Burma) are notoriously paranoid about outside organizations coming into the country. George Bush is notoriously famous for meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. If Dubya really wanted to give aid, maybe he could just shut up about the "freedom freedom freedom" thing, for once.

Update--Laura's good at it too. From Dan Froomkin:

When a country run by a despotic and isolationist regime is laid low by a massive natural disaster, the diplomatic thing to do is to respond with a show of compassion. Not kick 'em when they're down.

More than 22,000 people have died in the staggering devastation caused by this weekend's cyclone in Burma. But when First Lady Laura Bush made her first-ever visit to the White House briefing room yesterday, to talk about what's going on in that country, it was not to deliver a message of goodwill.

Rather than announce the launch of a massive relief effort that could take advantage of a rare diplomatic opening, the first lady instead tossed insults at Burma's leaders, blamed them for the high death toll, and lashed out at their decision to move forward with a constitutional referendum scheduled for this Saturday.

Well done, Laura!

Friday, May 02, 2008


Finally, someone says it.

Just saying that something is theoretically possible doesn't mean that it's even remotely possible.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy Mission Accomplished Day

From Froomkin:

Much has happened in the five years since President Bush flew aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in "Top Gun" style, stood under a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" and proudly declared: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Five years ago, 139 American troops had died in Iraq. Now that number is 4,064. Five years ago, 542 American troops had been wounded in Iraq. Now that number is 29,395.

Five years ago, the national debt was $6.5 trillion. Now it's $9.3 trillion. Five years ago, your average gallon of gas cost $1.44. Now it costs $3.57. Five years ago, Bush's job-approval rating was at 70 percent. Now it's at 28.

Five years ago, Bush's appearance on the carrier was widely hailed as a brilliant PR move, imbuing the president with the aura of a conquering hero. Now, it's possibly the single most potent image of Bush's hubris.

One thing that's not so different: Five years ago, there were about 150,000 American troops in Iraq. Now there are slightly more.

Yes, Hillary, you really do understand the common people

but strangely working that convenience store coffee machine is pretty tough, isn't it?