Monday, July 23, 2007

Oh, Lord, Protect Us From.. Cleavage?

Well, it sure seems to be what both the Washington Post and Ann Althouse want to save us from. But I actually agree with her (sort of), which is kinda sad, as she doesn't want to be taken seriously, anyways.

In a copyrighted article on Friday, the WaPo makes noises about Sen Clinton's cleavage. I kid you not. The opening paragraph was:
There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The WaPo writer seems to think that it's some sort of Major Story if a female politician reveals evidence of having boobies. I mean, really -- is this something that deserves column space in a Real Newspaper?

And Althouse is no better -- in the comments section of her own post:Ann Althouse said...
Breasts that are conspicuous in the political sphere warrant commentary. A woman speaking in front of the Senate or at a political lunch with an ex-President, unless she is utterly incompetent, has thought about how she wants her breasts to appear. Visible cleavage doesn't just happen. Nor does a clingy sweater. Every woman who is competent enough to play a significant political role knows how to change to a top with a higher neckline or put a jacket over a sweater. So how she has chosen to appear means something and it is a fair subject for political commentary. I will not be pushed back from this subject.
You know, for once I agree with Althouse.

Women in the public sphere (the workforce as well as politics) *do* need to be aware of how any implied sexuality is viewed.

However, where I differ from Althouse is that I don't see it as an issue that the *women* should be modifying their behavior for, but the men (and other observers) -- if someone is so fixated on tits or a rear end that they can't pay attention to "bidness," *they* need to address their own issues.

Thanks to Amanda at Pandagon, where I saw their coverage of this.

The picture at the left up top shows the image on C-SPAN that has the Washington Post and Althouse clutching their pearls over. The image on the right is one of Althouse I cadged from Google Images. *That* pic shows that Althouse is plainly wearing a top with a less-than Victorian neckline, so she is forcing all the menfolk to use their imagination about what might be revealed beyond the image cutoff, and that is worse than outright cleavage, eh? So obviously, Althouse doesn't want anybody to take her seriously on any issues.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Reassignment Surgery Deductability Headed for IRS Tax Court

Rhiannon O'Donnabhain, who underwent reassignment surgery in 2001, and listed the $25K as a medical deduction, had the deductability disallowed by the IRS in 2003.

The IRS is claiming that the surgery, which O'Donnabhain underwent only after 5 years of therapy, was "cosmetic," and not medically required. (I'm not going to even try to firgure out that logic)

The Tax Court has not ruled on this issue yet, but there has been at least one case where the IRS ruled against the deductability of the procedure, while in another case the IRS allowed the travel expense for a man who drove his college-age son to a clinic for reassignment surgery.

One of the peculiarities of the IRS and the Tax Court are that they do not need to follow strict precedent when considering cases, unless a situation is clearly codified by law, rather than practice.

It would appear, from my viewpoint, that the deductability of the procedure is valid in these circumstances. However, the rules the IRS are operating under may have been influenced by the prevailing political climate in Washington DC from 2001 to the present.

The AP writeup for the story can be found here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hang 'em High

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK - caught on C-SPAN filling out a crossword puzzle during the hearings for confirmation of Justice Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court'
I guess some of our legislators think that if anyone is running from the cops they must be guilty, and deadly force is A-OK.

Sen Tom Coburn (R-OK) (see left) stated, or at least left the impression, that there should have been no repercussions when two U.S. Border Patrol agents shot and killed a fleeing suspect who turned out to be drug trafficker, but who had neither fired at nor threatened the agents or any bystanders.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Border Patrol agents should be allowed to shoot at fleeing drug traffickers, a Republican senator suggested Tuesday.

Johnny Sutton, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, testifies about Border Control agents.

The patrol's deadly force rules were questioned at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the conviction of two agents who shot a fleeing, unarmed drug trafficker and covered it up.

"Why is it wrong to shoot the [trafficker] after he's been told to stop?" asked Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma.

Johnny Sutton, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said the Supreme Court has ruled that using deadly force in that way is illegal. Agents also may not know if the fleeing person is a trafficker, he said.

Agents can return fire to defend themselves, their partners or other people, Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar said.

Some of you remember that Coburn is in favor of the border fence between the US and Mexico, and against the guest worker programs.

He also raised a few eyebrows in 2005 and 2006 when he was caught, live, on C-SPAN, filling out crossword puzzles during the confirmation hearings for both the Roberts and Alito appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. (the photo above shows his rigorous concentration during the Alito hearings)