Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Last Call For Florida Man Strikes Again

I'm pretty sure at this point that red states are just going to try to ban abortions until they can force a Supreme Court ruling that bans abortions. At least, that seems to be the plan in Florida.

Florida lawmakers are moving forward with a near-total ban on abortions in the state plus a second bill placing new requirements on doctors who perform abortions. 
By an 8-3 vote Monday afternoon, a House criminal justice panel voted to advance the more sweeping piece of legislation (HB 865), which would make performing an abortion or operating an abortion clinic a first-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Just hours earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court reiterated its long-standing ruling affirming women's right to the procedure.

“The bill recognizes that both the mother and the baby are citizens of the state of Florida... and we are therefore compelled to protect their lives,” said Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, the bill's sponsor. 
He has put forward similar legislation for seven years, but it had never before been considered by a committee, the first step required to pass a bill into law, until Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, agreed to consider it Monday. Trujillo, the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, did not discuss the bill during debate and left the committee room without commenting. 
“The Legislature finds that all human life comes from the Creator, has an inherent value that cannot be quantified by man, and begins at the earliest biological development of a fertilized human egg,” the bill says. 
It goes on to say that “personal liberty is not a license to kill or otherwise destroy any form of human life,” and that the state has an interest in stopping abortions, unless the safety of the mother is in question. 
It’s likely that Van Zant’s proposal, if passed by the Legislature, would lead to lawsuits citing the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling inRoe vs. Wade. That became even more likely Monday morning after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an abortion ban in North Dakota.

Florida Republicans have a veto-proof supermajority in the House and nearly one in the Senate, so they could pass the House bill and the Senate would take it up.  One possibility is that it could die there, the argument being that the state would lose millions in taxpayer funds defending a bill that will be overturned by the Supreme Court, but there's no reason to let this out of committee unless the plan is to try to pass it (hence the seven years of not getting out of committee.)

However the other and much more likely possibility is that this bill is meant to sell Ohio-style TRAP laws in the state as a "compromise" bait-and-switch tactic.

Last week, a House panel gave the first nod of approval to tougher licensing requirements (HB 233) for abortion clinics that would hold them to the same or higher standards as surgical centers. 
The third proposal (HB 1411) also passed its first House committee Monday afternoon, by a 7-6 vote. The wide-ranging bill blocks state funding for facilities that perform elective abortions, sets new requirements for inspections by the Agency for Health Care Administration, and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges and agreements to transfer patients to a hospital located within 30 minutes of the facility where an abortion is performed. 
“I believe that the bill protects the health and wellbeing of mothers in Florida, those who make the choice to have an abortion,” said bill sponsor Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article56473868.html#storylink=cpy

In other words, things just got very real in the Sunshine State, and abortion just became a major issue in the largest 2016 swing state.  This nasty little trick will almost certainly close several Florida clinics if it gets through, while all the outrage and coverage is on the unconstitutional ban bill.

Neat trick, huh?

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article56473868.html#storylink=cpy

Here We Go Again, Day 24

Time to check in with the Bundy seditionists in Oregon and their armed little insurrection, and Think Progress reporter Casey Quinlan has a good rundown of what's been going on at the wildlife refuge as we enter our fourth week with these bozos still not magically being arrested.

An armed group that has taken over a national wildlife refuge to protest federal land use policies continues to escalate the situation by introducing a common law grand jury, which has no actual legal standing. They have chosen Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, St. Augustine Tea Party government accountability chairman and a longtime proponent of convening secret citizens’ panels to indict government officials to be their common law judge and at a recent event held at the refuge a New Mexico rancher, Adrian Sewell of Grant County, New Mexico, renounced his federal grazing contract from the U.S. Forest Service. 
Oregon officials want the militia to leave, saying it’s been far past time for the occupation to end. But it doesn’t look like the leader of the militia, Ammon Bundy, is ready to end the stand-off. 
Bundy walked out of a private meeting with a federal agent on Friday after the agent refused to speak in the presence of media, according to the Associated Press. Bundy also questioned the FBI authority, telling an agent, “If you haven’t got sanction from the sheriff, there’s no reason to be talking to you.” 
On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the occupation was costly to taxpayers and sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch telling them to end the occupation of federal land “as safely and as quickly as possible.”
Earlier this month, Oregon Sheriff Dave Ward met Ammon Bundy in a near the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and Ward encouraged Bundy to leave town and told Bundy he would offer “safe escort out.” Bundy and the group of armed men he leads have threatened to kill law enforcement if they try to intervene, so this offer, while intended to spare human lives, is fairly extraordinary when compared to other protests. 
Yet, Bundy lectured the sheriff on the constitution and said the armed men would stay there indefinitely. According to OregonLive, Bundy told the sheriff, “Until we can see that there is a great momentum and the people can get doing that themselves, then we will remain … That could be a week, that could be a year.” After their discussion, the group bulldozed a fence that divided private ranchlands from public land and damaged Native American archeological sites. Last week, two members of the militia were arrested after driving two federal vehicles to a local Safeway.

So a couple dozen armed yahoos have decided that the Federal government has no jurisdiction and are going to stick around against the wishes of pretty much everyone involved.  I understand that these clowns very much want to martyr themselves, commit suicide by federal cop, and be the "heroes" that spark some sort of national Second American Revolution or something stupid like that, but eventually these guys have to go to Federal prison for this.

At some point, law enforcement has to, you know, enforce laws.  It's not "non-violent protest" when you're armed and calling for the overthrow of government.  It's sedition.

Not A Single Solitary Reason

President Obama took to the Washington Post this week to write an op-ed explaining his executive order Monday ending the practice of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal correctional facilities.

The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance. Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children. 
As president, my most important job is to keep the American people safe. And since I took office, overall crime rates have decreased by more than 15 percent. In our criminal justice system, the punishment should fit the crime — and those who have served their time should leave prison ready to become productive members of society. How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people? It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity. 
That’s why last summer, I directed Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and the Justice Department to review the overuse of solitary confinement across U.S. prisons. They found that there are circumstances when solitary is a necessary tool, such as when certain prisoners must be isolated for their own protection or in order to protect staff and other inmates. In those cases, the practice should be limited, applied with constraints and used only as a measure of last resort. They have identified common-sense principles that should guide the use of solitary confinement in our criminal justice system. 
The Justice Department has completed its review, and I am adopting its recommendations to reform the federal prison system. These include banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to low-level infractions, expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells. These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems. And I will direct all relevant federal agencies to review these principles and report back to me with a plan to address their use of solitary confinement. 

It's a good start, and countless issues with our broken mass incarceration system and mental health treatment system remain and will remain until we demand something is done.

But it's a start.


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