Thursday, April 1, 2010

Last Call

Abortion provider murderer Scott Roeder gets 50 years to life.
Scott Roeder, 52, faced a mandatory life prison term for gunning down Dr. George Tiller in the back of Tiller's Wichita church last May. Tiller was one of the few U.S. doctors who performed late-term abortions.

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert could have made the Roeder eligible for parole after 25 or 50 years, but gave him the harsher sentence because he said the evidence showed Roeder stalked Tiller before killing him.

Wilbert also sentenced Roeder to serve an additional year in prison on each of two counts of aggravated assault for threatening two church ushers in the melee. That means -- allowing for possible time off those sentences for good behavior -- Roeder won't be eligible for parole for 51 years and eight months. 
Maximum penalty under the law, and I'm glad he got every second of it.  I don't care how you feel about abortion personally, there's no justification for what Roeder did.  None.  You want to work to change the law of the land?  Your choice to do so.  This is America, you get to do that.  You want to kill a doctor for this?  You go to prison for a very, very long time.

But it's a sacrifice Scott Roeder believed he had to make.  There are more Scott Roeders in America than George Tillers, so a one-to-one attrition rate like that clearly favors the Scott Roeders in the long run.

There's a cheery thought.

Been There, Done That, Got The T-Shirt

The Official Joe Biden Big Effin Deal T-Shirt, that is.

Organizing for America, the grassroots arm of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), are selling the shirts for $25 a piece in an effort to fundraise off Biden's slip that healthcare's passage was a "Big F****** Deal."

So far, so good, writes spokesperson Brandi Hoffine. The Democrats have sold out a significantly sized first shipment of the shirts.

"We started selling them yesterday and sold out of our initial order overnight," Hoffine wrote in an e-mail. "They are selling faster than ipads will this weekend."
Now that's just cute.  Plus it's driving the GOP insane with anger (not like that's hard.)  Hey, if you know you have Joe Biden, and you know he's going to stay stupid crap on a regular basis, you need to have a process for marketing it.  It's a natural resource.  Exploit it.  GOP raised money off of "You Lie!"  Dems raise money off of "This is a big f'ckin deal."

Well played, DNC.  Well played.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

American Prospect's Adam Serwer tweets:
How can GOP see Census as invasion of privacy but be fine with warrantless wiretapping?

Answer:  Wingers don't hate the government, they are just absolutely and fanatically opposed to any government function that could theoretically benefit poor and/or minority people.

Warrantless wiretapping?  Might lead to groups of minorities getting arrested and permanently detained.  GOP checklist says this is a vital government function.

Census?  Might lead to groups of minorities getting federal tax dollars and representation in Congress.  GOP checklist says this is intolerable tyranny that must be opposed.

Spending trillions on war in Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing the crap out of civvies?  Big ol' green check mark!  Lowering the deficits with health care reform that would expand health care coverage to minorities and the poor? RED X, dripping with the Blood Of Tyrants!

Ask yourself if the policy the GOP opposes might benefit the poor or minorities (or the policy they approve of might hurt them badly) and you'll have a surprising number of answers right there.

Epic A Little Too Early For April Fools, Carl Fail

Not all the idiots in Congress have (R) after their name.  This is called "perspective".
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) is afraid that the U.S. Territory of Guam is going to "tip over and capsize" due to overpopulation.

Johnson expressed his worries during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget Thursday.

Addressing Adm. Robert Willard, who commands the Navy's Pacific Fleet, Johnson made a tippy motion with his hands and said sternly, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize."

Willard paused and said: "We don't anticipate that."
Nice, measured response.  I suppose not even an Admiral is going to tell a member of the House Armed Services Committee "Are you f'ckin' high, or just stupid?"

Sigh.  Why couldn't this hearing have been today instead?


Committing Patrick-cide

Having grown up in western NC, it alternately enrages and depresses me to see my hometown represented by a complete dipstick like The Odious Patrick McHenry.  April Fool's jokes aside, today I've almost developed a third emotion towards this individual, and that's pity.

Why pity?  Because the man feels the need to take to The Hill today to dispel the irresponsible rhetoric his own party has laid out on that prickly tool of government invasion, the dreaded Census.
Few things make will make Nancy Pelosi happier than large numbers of conservatives failing to respond to the census. If we do not respond, we will not be counted and if we are not counted, then we effectively will not exist. That would reduce conservatives’ power in elections, allow Democrats to draw more favorable congressional boundaries and help put more tax-hiking politicians in office.

Boycotting the census also offends me as an American patriot. Our society spends too much time talking about what government owes us; and not enough on the duties of citizenship and the hard work required to keep our freedom. Filling out the census is one of the few things our Constitution specifically asks of U.S. citizens and it is our duty as Americans to take that responsibility seriously.

Anyone who tells you that this year’s census is unconstitutional and that you are not required to fill out the form completely is flat out wrong. They argue that because this year’s census asks for more than a simple count of how many people live in your home, it is unconstitutional and therefore should not be completely filled out. That argument doesn’t stand up to either history or the Constitution’s text.
He's right, for once.  (Stopped grandfather clock being right twice a day and what not.)  But the truly pathetic part is that McHenry lacks the courage, the will, or the intelligence to ask "Hey, why DO conservatives dislike the Census so much?  Why do they not like the federal government?"

The answer to that is the right-wing propaganda that any government not led by Republicans is inherently evil and corrupt, and then turning around and proving any government actually led by Republicans is inherently evil and corrupt.

The fact that McHenry lack the simple self-awareness to see who to blame for this mess (hint: it's not Obama telling people not to fill out the Census) probably explains why he's drawn not one, but two teabagger primary challengers who don't think McHenry is conservative enough, and here, conservative enough means he didn't stop Obama from passing legislation.

But McHenry's walking down a dangerous road here.  If he starts examining too closely where this notion that conservatives should reject the Census came from, he's going to find himself Hoffmanned right out of NC-10's GOP primary in June.  Unemployment is bad back home, well above the national average, and not everyone thinks it's Obama's fault.  In this case, the bum to be thrown out is one Patrick McHenry.

The real problem of course is that Patrick McHenry belongs to a Republican party where many of the rank and file believe filling out the Census will steal their souls and give them to Obama, and all McHenry can do is get on his little soapbox and shout into the whirlwind he is currently in the process of reaping.

Like I said, I almost...almost...feel pity here, if it weren't for the fact that McHenry will most likely be replaced with someone far worse come November.  Then again, the winner may be so crazy, a Democrat could actually win here.


Lost Her Carte Blanche

Nothing but dismal news for everyone's favorite Wallyworld Dem, Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
All of the Republicans running for the Arkansas seat held by Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln are ahead of her by double-digits and four of the five are garnering 51 percent of the vote against her, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted March 30.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is challenging Lincoln for the Democratic nomination, fares somewhat better, but he still trails all but one of the GOP candidates by eight points or more. Rasmussen also notes that the number of undecideds is higher in the match-ups with Halter.

Sixty-one percent of voters see Lincoln unfavorably, with 43 percent in the "very" unfavorable category. Nearly a third of Democrats see her unfavorably. Lincoln has also had to contend with the fact that she was a key vote for passage of the health care reform plan in a state where 60 percent of the voters say its passage will be bad for the country.
Meanwhile, Dems are pouring in Lincoln's primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.
Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has raised more than $2 million in the first month of his bid to unseat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the May 18 Democratic primary, his campaign said Wednesday.

Halter campaign manager Carol Butler did not have a final figure on how much cash the campaign has on hand because it was still collecting contributions before the midnight deadline for the first quarter report. Butler said the campaign's fundraising had exceed expectations.

"It's phenomenal to have $2 million in 31 days," Butler said Wednesday night.
More and more Dems are realizing Lincoln's a lost cause and that the only way to keep this seat blue is risking going with Halter.  Halter's got 2 million reasons to try to win this primary now.  Lincoln tried to be a Republican-lite clone in a Southern state, and now she's losing to pretty much anyone the GOP runs against her.

Goes to show you, if you're going to be a Democrat, be a Democrat.

Guest Starring Yours Truly

Helping filling in for Steve M. for the rest of this week over at No More Mister Nice Blog.  Steve's been around for a long time, so it's somewhat (OK, incredibly) humbling to be asked to post over there.  If you're not reading NMMNB, you need to be:  Steve and aimai are some of the best out there and there's a reason I link them fairly often.

Much love, jah.

April First On The Internet Is A Glorious Day

Because everyone needs a stuffed talking bacon toy.

The Maine Event

President Obama goes to Maine today to sell Obamacare, and he has his work cut out for him.
During a speech Thursday in Portland, Maine — the second stop in a series of appearances to sell the reforms — Obama was to focus on the plan's short- and long-term impacts on small businesses, many of which have suffered during the economic downturn.

Under the plan, businesses with 25 or fewer employees with average annual wages of less than $50,000 will receive tax credits this year if they provide health care coverage to their workers. Those credits are expected to increase by 2014, with 4 million small businesses benefiting, according to the White House.

Businesses that may be eligible for the tax credits with receive letters from the government in the coming weeks, another step in the administration's efforts to tout the benefits of the overhaul.

Also starting in 2014, companies with up to 100 employees will be able to buy insurance through new state-based purchasing pools, or exchanges, with the goal of giving small businesses the same kind of purchasing power as employees at larger companies. Twenty-two million self-employed Americans will also be able to purchase insurance through the exchanges.
That's the kind of thing independent-minded Mainers want to hear.  The problem is Obama has a really, really tough sell if this Gallup poll is accurate.
Registered voters now say they prefer the Republican to the Democratic candidate in their district by 47% to 44% in the midterm congressional elections, the first time the GOP has led in 2010 election preferences since Gallup began weekly tracking of these in March.

The March 22-28 results were obtained after the U.S. House's passage of landmark healthcare reform legislation on March 21. The shift toward Republicans raises the possibility that the healthcare bill had a slightly negative impact on the Democrats' political fortunes in the short run.

A separate USA Today/Gallup poll conducted March 26-28 showed a similar result, with Republicans ahead by 46% to 45%.

These results suggest the Republicans would have a strong showing if the midterm elections were held today. Since Republicans usually vote at higher rates than Democrats, the Republicans' edge in voter preferences would likely exceed what the registered voter results indicate.

A Republican advantage among all registered voters in midterm elections has been rare in Gallup's 60-year history of tracking congressional voting preferences, happening only a few times each in the 1950, 1994, and 2002 election cycles -- all years in which Republicans had strong Election Day showings.
That's putting it mildly.  All three of those years were disasters for the Dems.  And 44% in the generic ballot is a bad, bad place for the Dems to's worse than in 1994.  Obama needs to accomplish a lot more and fast, and he needs to waste less time placating Republicans who will never vote for his policies and more time delivering benefits to his base to close that "enthusiasm gap."

Starting out with "more offshore drilling" for example is not the way to go.

What Compromise On Health Care Got Us

Obama's compromising got us $250 million federal dollars spent on abstinence-only sex education programs that don't work.
Organizations promoting evidence-based sex education say it's troubling that this $250 million will go to state programs that have not been shown to work.

"Just the fact that we continue to pour money into programs that have no evidence of effectiveness at all just doesn't seem to us to be good evidence-based health policy," said Heather Boonstra, senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive and sexual health research firm.

There have been numerous studies suggesting that it's not so easy for people to practice abstinence consistently. A congressionally mandated study in 2007 found that none of four abstinence programs showed a significant positive effect on sexual behavior among youth. A January 2009 study in Pediatrics found that religious teens who take virginity pledges are less likely to use condoms or birth control when they become sexually active, and just as likely to have sex before marriage as their peers who didn't take pledges.

Medical professional organizations also criticize abstinence education on ethical grounds, for leaving out potentially lifesaving information. Abstinence-only programs "are inherently coercive by withholding information needed to make informed choices," the American Public Health Association said in a statement.

Phelps' program doesn't teach that sex before marriage is wrong, but that waiting will enable teens to eliminate the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Students are taught that contraception, a "limited part of our conversation," reduces risk, but does not avoid it altogether, he said.

The law sets up a separate funding stream of $75 million for "personal responsibility education," which includes teaching about both abstinence and contraception. It sets aside an additional $25 million for untested but innovative programs.

Having separate funding for abstinence-focused and comprehensive programs "is a method that provides real choice for states and for communities, and we would like to see that model used across the board," said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association.

But Huber's group is not happy that abstinence-focused programs get less funding per year than the other approaches. "We would like to see equitable funding," she said.
Yes, let's spend even more billions on abstinence programs, none of which show "a significant positive effect on sexual behavior among youth."  Gosh, I know that the only way to make abstinence work is to throw more money at itSexually transmitted diseases are getting more and more drug resistant, and pretending like teenagers will never, ever have sex because they promise not to isn't the way towards stopping these new bugs.

Hard facts and real education on stopping the spread of these diseases is.  Hell if anything, we need more sex education for people out of high school and beyond.  I grew up getting sex ed in the era of "HIV will 100% kill your ass if you don't use protection".  Now it's "Don't have sex, it's bad."  That'll stop them!  Teenagers always listen when you tell them no.

In all seriousness, what did we get for our compromise on funding abstinence-only for another 5 years?  I'm betting the health costs down the road will be more than $250 million.

President Odubya Gets Slapped Down

A federal judge has indeed found the Bush warrantless wiretapping program, continued under President Obama, as patently illegal.
In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages.

The ruling delivered a blow to the Bush administration’s claims that its surveillance program, which Mr. Bush secretly authorized shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was lawful. Under the program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans’ international e-mail messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required warrants.

The Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision and had made no decision about whether to appeal.

The ruling by Judge Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, rejected the Justice Department’s claim — first asserted by the Bush administration and continued under President Obama — that the charity’s lawsuit should be dismissed without a ruling on the merits because allowing it to go forward could reveal state secrets.

The judge characterized that expansive use of the so-called state-secrets privilege as amounting to “unfettered executive-branch discretion” that had “obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching.”

That position, he said, would enable government officials to flout the warrant law, even though Congress had enacted it “specifically to rein in and create a judicial check for executive-branch abuses of surveillance authority.”
I've said time and time again that this program needed to end immediately.  It was patently illegal when Bush ran it, it was patently illegal when Obama continued to run it, and it was the worse abuse of Presidential power in decades.  It's also the one thing I agreed with both the Jane Hamshers and Teabaggers on:  it is a massive violation of the rights of American citizens.

Having said that, it's far past the time this program needs to be utterly dismantled, and immediately.  Both people on the left and the right should be overjoyed at this ruling:  the Left because it's a clear violation of civil liberties, and the Right because a Democratic President has control over the apparatus now.  They should be thrilled to see a blow struck against Obama's "tyranny", yes?

So no, the Eric Holder DoJ should not choose to appeal this, and they should as a result make a detailed effort to take this dark machine apart for good.


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