Thursday, October 20, 2011

Last Call

Turns out yesterday's bizarre escaped animal incident in Zanesville, Ohio (east of Columbus) where dozens of exotic animals were put down after they were released into the Ohio countryside before their owner apparently committed suicide?  Yeah, you can hang that one on Gov. John Kasich's neck too.

The tragedy exposes the dangers of wildlife trafficking, in which private collectors actively trade in exotic animals all over the states “in a vibrant and poorly regulated market.” According to the Humane Society, Ohio has long been “the center of the exotic-auction industry.” Ohio’s former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) attempted to “crack down” on the market by issuing an executive order that banned new private ownership of exotic animals. Issued on Jan. 6, 2011, it was one of his last acts as governor and lasted 90 days. His replacement, GOP Gov. John Kasich let it expire. Only now, after the bloodbath, does Kasich see it as “a problem.”

Kasich's team called the measure "unenforceable."  Only one problem:  parts of that executive order were very much enforceable, including the provision that could have prevented this awful event.

If Kasich had extended the emergency ban, “the state would have had the authority to remove [the owner's] animals” as the owner, 62-year old Tommy Thompson, had been convicted of animal cruelty. Thompson shot himself after releasing the animals yesterday.

So yeah, way to go, Republicans.  You could have done the right thing, you could have stopped this mess, instead Kasich said "NO BIGGIE LOL" and let the order and the power the state had that could have prevented this from happening expire.  If he wasn't the most hated Governor in the land, this one pretty much seals it.


Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

David Fitzsimmons of the Arizona (Tuscon) Daily Star:

It would be funnier if it wasn't so true.

Blame Game Remains The Same, Part 2

Lots of sturm und drang over the latest Gallup/USA Today poll apportioning blame for the economy to former President Bush and President Obama.  It's true that for the first time more than 50% (some 53%) now say President Obama deserves a moderate or great deal of the blame, but 69% say the same about President Bush.  The real story is in the crosstabs:

Blame for U.S. Economic Problems, by Party ID, September 2011 

The real difference here is that half of Republicans blame Bush for the economy.  That hasn't changed much.  Independents still blame the former President but there's increasing blame for the current one.  Considering most of the GOP is running on Bush's economic plan of tax cuts, deregulation, and adding cuts to Social Security and Medicare, if the question is which economic plan they dislike more, the GOP is not winning hearts and minds here.

Still a lot can change in a year before the election, however.

Elementary Lesson

I recently wrote about this in a fiction piece, so I was surprised to find it so clearly portrayed in a real situation.  We teach our kids about stranger danger (I hope!) so that they temper their childlike innocent and tendency to trust with a little skepticism and understanding that some people are not nice.  What we often fail to teach kids is that danger can come from the Trusted Adults that we tell them are okay.  In this case, it was a teacher.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WUSA) -- A stunning abuse trial is underway in Montgomery County, Maryland, involving a teacher allegedly punching, kicking and choking her first grade students.

Susan Lee Burke faces two counts of second degree child abuse and 10 counts of second degree assault. She was a first grade teacher at Greencastle Elementary School in Silver Spring until her arrest.

Here's how it happened: the parents of a 7-year-old boy allegedly witnessed their happy child become so anxious, he bit his nails until they bled and started wetting his bed. They repeatedly asked if he was bullied. All he did share, according to prosecutors, was that he wanted to switch to a different class. He finally confided in a school counselor and an administrator that he'd been physically assaulted by Burke.
The defense is saying the stories from students are inconsistent, which makes sense because they are little kids.  Seven-year-olds are not known for being consistent, and process events through a filter that only a child expert can examine.  Kids who made it up would probably not think it through enough to say "I need to bite my nails so I can make this look good," so I tend to give them some credibility.  There is also the fact that those who abuse children tend to work in child-related fields such as teaching.  However, the article does not include and defense material for the teacher, including an explanation that would bring this into a coherent and regrettable misunderstanding.

In honor of this, I'll be talking to the young'uns and reminding them that danger lurks everywhere, even from sources you believe you can trust.  It's so easy to think of a strange fellow in a raincoat that we forget the danger right in front of us.

Equal Opportunity Violence

When Topeka enraged thousands by decrminalizing domestic violence, one of our readers pointed out (rightfully) that female-on-male violence is on the rise.  In honor of that comment, we have the following:

EVERETT, Wash. — A woman has appeared in court accused of cutting her sleeping husband's neck and shoulder with a power saw.

Officers who arrived at the home in Everett, Wash., say they could hear the victim shouting: "You tried to cut my head off. You're going to jail."

The Daily Herald reported the 43-year-old woman appeared in court Monday on a charge of domestic violence assault and a judge kept her bail at $250,000. The newspaper did not identify her.

Police say the woman told officers she grabbed the saw Friday night because an intruder escaped out her daughter's window.

Police say there is no evidence of an intruder, and how that translates into cutting her husband with a saw. Methinks there is more to the story, but that is all we have so far.

Taking Your Right To Vote: The Return Of Jim Crow

I've been banging this drum for months now folks, and I'm not giving up on it.  GOP voter suppression efforts at the state level are the largest single threat we face to our democracy today, and the effort to sugarcoat these foul efforts as "Voter ID laws" has to be called what it is:  the new Jim Crow.  Take South Carolina, for instance.  The AP runs the numbers on the GOP effort in the state to limit traditionally Democratic voters, and finds out that's exactly what the law does.

The analysis shows that among the state’s 2,134 precincts there are 10 precincts where nearly all of the law’s affect falls on nonwhite voters who don’t have a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, a total of 1,977 voters.

The same holds true for white voters in a number of precincts, but the overall effect is much more spread out and involves fewer total voters: There are 44 precincts where only white voters are affected, or 1,831 people in all.

The precinct that votes at Benedict College’s campus center has 2,790 voters, including nine white voters. In that precinct, 1,343 of the precinct’s nonwhite voters lack state identification but only five white voters. They account for 48 percent of the precinct’s voters.

Benedict is not alone.

A precinct at South Carolina State University has 2,305 active voters, including 33 white voters. There, 800 nonwhite voters and 17 white voters there lack state IDs. More than third of the voters in the precinct lack state photo identification.

Mission accomplished, I'd say.  Once again, a major political party in the United States is running on a platform of making it more difficult for people to vote, specifically for the poor, the elderly, minority voters, and college students.  Once again, the kind of "voter fraud" that these laws supposedly stop, a "national crisis" has never been documented.  These laws exist for one reason: to tilt the electorate in favor of the Republican party.  Period.

No matter what you think about the Democrats, they're not the ones trying to take the right to vote away from people in order to try to maintain political power.

Breaking: Libyan NTC Official Reports Qaddafi Dead


Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi died of wounds suffered in his capture near his hometown of Sirte on Thursday, a senior NTC military official said.

National Transitional Council official Abdel Majid Mlegta told Reuters earlier that Gaddafi was captured and wounded in both legs at dawn on Thursday as he tried to flee in a convoy which NATO warplanes attacked.

"He was also hit in his head," the official said. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."

There was no independent confirmation of his remarks.

Again, unconfirmed at this hour, Al Jazeera reporting that Qaddafi may have been captured instead, a lot going on.  More on this later today.

[UPDATE 1:30 PM]  Multiple sources confirm that Qaddafi was indeed killed trying to escape from Sirte and Libya is cheering.

Take Two On The Jobs Bill

Harry Reid may hold a test vote as early as Friday on legislation that would authorize arguably the most widely approved part of the American Jobs Act:  putting firefighters and teachers laid off across the country by cash-strapped schools and local governments back to work.

"We are going to make sure there is a vote on our bill this week," Reid told a crowd of fire fighters and teachers at a rally on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

The $35 billion legislation would be paid for with a 0.5 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year -- a tiny new marginal bump that Republicans unanimously oppose. Some analyses suggest the legislation would save or create 400,000 jobs.

"The Republicans who work in the Senate suit up every day and come down and play their game in the Senate by following the lead of their leader -- and that is, whatever they do, to make sure they do everything they can to make Barack Obama [lose]," Reid said.

That's the good news.  The bad news?  It might get even fewer votes than the entire bill did as not only will Republicans unanimously oppose it, but more Blue Dogs in the Senate will turn and bite the President's hand once again and pull Reid's pants down.

[Reid will] face some resistance from his own caucus as well. Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) bucked Reid last week and opposed debate on Obama's entire jobs bill and have signaled they'll do the same this time around. They may be joined by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) who took to Twitter during Reid's speech to oppose the legislation.

"Spending on new programs will add to the amount of money the Special Cmte. on debt cuts has to find," Lieberman tweeted. They already have a very hard job."

Yeah, see, this is a problem, guys.  You're supposed to be backing the President on this.  Does Blanche Lincoln ring a bell with you morons or not?


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