October 14th, 2005

If She Wasn't Lavender Already. . .

The nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court gets stranger by the minute. I take it for granted that the Bush Administration is incapable of acting in good faith. But when right-wing activists are making that call with the vigor of contributors to The Nation, my mind does a triple lutz and falls on its ass:
Every White House effort to cool conservative opposition to Miers seems to backfire, including Bush's explanation of why the White House is stressing Miers' evangelical Christianity.

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Bush said Wednesday. "They want to know Harriet Miers' background ... And part of Harriet Miers' life is her religion."

On Thursday, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, called the administration's efforts to woo religious conservatives by stressing Miers' religion "out of bounds."

"We are the last people on Earth to object to the news that she is a committed Christian," Perkins said in a statement. "By the same token, this fact is not grounds for certifying her to us or to the public. ... Inferences drawn from an individual's religious affiliation have no place in decisions to nominate or confirm a judicial appointee."

Jan LaRue, chief counsel of the conservative Concerned Women for America, issued an extensive position statement Monday, saying, "We find it patronizing and hypocritical to focus on her faith in order to gain support for Miss Miers."

LaRue also presented a list of 17 questions that may offer a preview of the questioning Miers will undergo -- from Republicans -- in her confirmation hearings, which have not yet been scheduled.

"Was Miss Miers' corporate practice primarily transactions (contract writing and negotiations), or was it primarily litigation? How many of her cases involved constitutional issues? What were the issues? Did Miss Miers do most of the research and writing herself? Has she argued constitutional issues before a court? How many times? In what courts? In how many did she prevail? Are there any published opinions?"

White House efforts to sell Miers to conservatives by emphasizing her religion and her loyalty to Bush only provide ammunition to Democrats when they choose to use it, Miranda warned.

"So let's say they want to attack," he asked. "Who will defend her?"
It's enough to make the hardiest soul undergo a metamorphosis. Of course, if Miers is already of non-normative persuasion -- and the vitriol being directed at her from the Right suggests to me that someone knows something that hasn't yet gone public -- that conversion would turn her into the ideal mate for the President. Not that he's interested in mating or anything. Remind me to tell you that story about former California Governor Pete Wilson the next time we're together in meatspace. . .

L.A.-L.A. Land

Despite being an inveterate hater of the formerly-Anaheim Angels, I will be braving the vastness that is L.A. this weekend to see museums, friends, and Bob Mould at the El Rey. I'm going to do some writing done amid the madness too. Here's hoping that the hills don't catch on fire.

"So what's great about that?"

A new study suggests that marijuana may actually promote the growth of neurons in the brain:
Researchers at the University of Calgary said they've found evidence that the brain contains so-called CB2 cannabinoid receptors, previously seen in immune tissue but thought not to exist in brain tissue. The discovery, they added, could lead to new drugs to treat nausea associated with cancer or AIDS.

Most so-called drugs of abuse -- such as alcohol or cocaine -- inhibit the growth of new neurons, according to Xia Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Saskatchewan.

"Only marijuana promotes neurogenesis," Dr. Zhang said.

The finding -- reported in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation -- does not involve smoked or ingested marijuana, but rather a synthetic compound dubbed HU-210, which Dr. Zhang said is 100 times as powerful as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the highs experienced by recreational users.

Dr. Zhang and colleagues showed that administration of HU-210 in high but not low doses, not acutely but over a period of several weeks, promotes new neurons in the hippocampus of rats by causing neuronal progenitor cells to proliferate.

The new neurons were associated with a reduction in behaviour typical of anxiety and depression, such as unwillingness to eat in a novel situation.
I know that whenever I find myself in a Henry James story my appetite floats right down the canal. But I've never tried reading him in the care of an agent of neurogenesis. Personally, though, I'd rather head over to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. I get all the Henry James I can eat during the NCAA basketball tourney.