Monday, October 31, 2005

and right on cue

Scalito's the nominee, to appease the christotheocrats. They'll let you worship how you want but when it comes to anything in life that's not consistent with their orthodox religious views, those who aren't rich or well-connected will be SOL. This will be the big test for the Democratic party and real Republicans (you know, the ones that want to ensure fiscal responsibility, government small & limit invasion into the personal lives of citizens instead of legislating personal issues.

Let's be honest the so-called judicial philosophy of "strict & literal interpretation of the constitution" the repubevangelicals & Preznit claim they want is shown to be pure bunk by the nomination of Sam Alito. As Pam notes, Alito approves of unauthorized strip searches which completely disregards the 4th amendment
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
the reason authorization is necessary prior to a search is to verify that it is not an unreasonable search (tell me what was reasonable in strip searching a woman and her 10-year old daughter when the warrant authorized a search of a man and his home - does the constitution state that females are chattle owned by men and their presence in a man's home makes them his property searchable under such a warrant?

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The best short-list for SCotUS nominees around

Lost in the fray of the analyses of the first Fitzmas and which christotheocrat activist judge Bush will nominate to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's spot in the Supremes (my guess is Scalito) was the best short-list of judges for the position I've come across. This list was submitted by one of Dan Abrams' viewers. I saw the first name coming a mile away (as did John G) but the last name on the list was not only a complete shocker, it was dead brilliant:

Bernie Flem (ph) in Yonkers, New York has his own list. “Here‘s my short list. Number one, Judge Judy. He says Jewish American female. Number two, Judge Milian, “People‘s Court”. He says Hispanic American female. Number three, Judge Hatchett, African American female. And number four, Judge Reinhold.
As funny as the Judge Reinhold suggestion was, Abrams' admission that he initially tried to figure out what court Reinhold was on made the suggestion even funnier
It did take me a minute to get that one. I‘m asking people around here—I‘m like who‘s Judge Reinhold? Where is he a judge? All these other judges I know from TV. Judge Reinhold -- and I‘m like Judge Reinhold. I get it!
Even my parents know who Judge Reinhold is (something I confirmed when I took them to dinner to celebrate my dad's 74th birthday).

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

The old I forgot to take my ginko defense

It looks like Scooter will be defending himself by saying he didn't intentionally lie or try to impair Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation, he was just so busy doing really important things he plumb forgot how the Valerie Plame outing actually went down. No siree, the #1 guy to America's #2 didn't consistently and intentionally lie to investigators he was just so distracted by "the hectic rush of issues and events at a busy time for our government" that when he reached down into his long-term memory banks he was pretty sure he only engaged in a little innocent gossip mongering with a bunch of reporters.

I, for one, am reassured to know that administration officials like Scooter (and Turdblossom, who's admitted to at least confirming he'd heard the juicy Plame-Wilson tidbit too) seem to
think it's OK to dish classified dirt during routine coffee klatches with reporters because reporters know how and when to keep a secret. For the life of me I can't understand why Fitz and the grand jury didn't buy Libby's Hedda Hopper routine, I wonder if a jury will believe Joe Tate's "Scooter was so busy he even forgot to take his Ginko" song & dance.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Boy, this is [not] a shocker

The AP is reporting that Harriet Miers has just withdrawn herself as a Supreme Court nominee. For the life of me, I can't imagine why, but the Preznit has "reluctantly" accepted her request for withdrawal. So who's the next nominee? Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown, "Scalito" or Harriet's ex-bf Nathan Hecht?

UPDATE 9:30 - the pundits are talking about Ted Olson or Michael McConnell

UPDATE 9:40 - I just heard Arlen Specter's very telling statement in which he said he'd spoken to Miers this morning and she was planning to continue with the process. Hmmmm just re-heard ot. . .she hoped to "move forward". I gather this means in her current role at the WH.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

7 minutes in heaven can get you 15 months in jail?

Kansas state AG Phil Kline's proposed revisions to the state's child-abuse reporting requirements will finally be reviewed by a federal district court in December. Under Kline's suggested guidelines, healthcare providers who are made aware of any sexual activity involving anyone under the age of sixteen must report it to state authorities - even when both parties are consenting minors and/or the healthcare provider is supplied with that information second hand (i.e., a parent asking for advise on how to speak to a teenager who is sexually active). The kicker? Kissing is considered reportable illegal sexual activity under the law (I shit you not)!

While the state has not criminalized sexual activity between consenting children when both are younger than 16, under the the state's “Romeo and Juliet” law, consensual sexual activity between two teens is a crime if the younger teenager is 14 to 16 years old, if the older teenager is under 19, if the age difference is less than four years, & if there are no third parties involved, and if the two teenagers “are members of the opposite sex.” This means that technically, in Phil Kline's Kansas, it's actually illegal for a 17-year old to make out with a 16-year old.

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ice cream indictment man!

psyche! In a move reminiscent of Eddie Murphy's "ice cream man", sources are saying special prosecuter Patrick Fitzgerald won't be making any announcements today but will wait until the grand jury's term expires (this Friday) to do so. According to CNN, some experts have said the extra time may allow for the grand jury to consider other indictments later this week. In the meantime, Raw Story has a developing story indicating that Fitzgerald has asked for indictments against both Karl Rove & Scooter Libby. I feel like a girl anticipating a romantic week-end excursion with her boyfriend wondering if she'll come back with a ring on her finger.

UPDATE 26Oct05 13:37: Raw Story's now reporting that Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury to indict Scooter Libby on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice as he focuses on Cheney's office. Sources also say the prosecutor offered a deal to Dubya's favorite turdblossom to plead guilty to perjury to avoid being charged with obstruction of justice. They indicate that when Libby informed Rove about Valerie Plame's position at the CIA, he neglected to mention that she was a NOC. As I've noted ad nauseaum, the SF-312 Rove signed requires him to confirm that information is not classified prior to disclosing/confirming it - which means he would have claim that Libby told him point blank that the information about Plame was not classified and that he plans to fight charges that he intentionally lied to mislead investigators in furtherance of a cover-up by the administration. Raw Story also notes that 2 officials not employed by the WH may face indictments as well - there's no reference to any possible conspriacy charges.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Twas the night before Fitzmas

'Twas the night before Fitzmas, when at the White House
The President was steaming, and starting to grouse;
Chiefs of staff were bent over, asses in the air,
In fear some indictments soon would be there;

McClellan kept dodging the rumors that spread,
While fears of convictions filled him with dread;
Kay was on TV spewing some crap,
Wondering why Judy wouldn't take the rap.

When down in the District there arose such a clatter,
Bush just kept screaming, mad as a hatter.
Frist called his trustees to ensure he had cash,
by selling his stock before it could crash.

Tension was mounting and starting to grow
as to the grand jury, Fitzgerald did go.
Bush would keep quiet afraid to appear
of being involved with charges so queer.

With lots of integrity, so thorough & quick
there was speculation they may indict Dick.
In spinning that started before the charges that came,
Rove kept repeating he didn't say her name.

"No Hammer! No Cheney! No Harriet, that Vixen!
Promote Condi to VP before they get Bush like Nixon!
The Republican Party must get on the ball,
and accuse Patrick Fitzgerald of having some gall!

DeLay posed for pictures wearing a smile and a tie
after he did laundry then got caught in a lie
but said he had power to make the Democrats cry.
We must not stop asking what the President knew,
just in case we must consider his impeachment too.

Amidst speculation, the prosecutor stayed aloof
though evidence revealed that someone did goof,
and Fitz can lay charges now that he has the proof.
The Democrats were hoping they could turn the country around,
before Dubya & the wingnuts run this nation aground.

Wow, I had no idea how long Twas the Night before Xmas is when I started this! This is the best I could do and I think there were still 5 stanzas left.

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Both Shakes and NARAL have revisted the issue of the Pharmacist's Conscience Unconscionable Clause in the form of a Tuscon sexual assault victim's frantic search to locate a pharmacy that stocked emergency contraction only to find the one area pharmacy that admitted to stocking Plan B was staffed with a pharmacist who refused to fill the prescription on "moral grounds". I've addressed the issue of the Right to Life Impose Religion movement's expansion of their anti-abortion protests to contraception by intentionally mislabeling hormonal contraception including, but not limited to emergency contraception (EC), as an abortifacient. As I've noted, in cases where EC has been (or is allowed to be) denied, pharmacists refusing to fill the prescription for EC that is in stock at their pharmacy and, indeed, those leading a battle to prevent access to EC have the proverbial blood on their hands for all of the post-fertilization/post-implantation abortions they caused women to have by imposing conception on those women. When a patient presents to fill a prescription for EC post sexual assault, anyone that intentionally interferes in the victim's quest to prevent conception by using EC to delay ovulation is part of a co-conspiracy with the rapist by actively adding to the traumatization of the victim by facilitating her impregnation by the rapist.

Healthcare workers are required to put the health of the patient first, if they can not do that for all patients they may serve they need to either avoid working in places where the possibility of being involved in the care in cases they can not participate in or ensure there is always someone else working on their team at the same time to fulfill those tasks they can not. A nurse who is a Jehova's witness can not force someone to find another facility or come back at another time if they need a transfusion of blood products (even if the need for transfusion is not emergent), to do so would be refusing to follow the doctor's orders and interfering with the physician prescribed action plan (nurses who are Jehovah's witnesses have another person on staff who is working at the same time do the transfusion). The same goes for a pharmacist, to refuse to fill a valid and legal medical prescription when the medication is in stock (or lie to say it is not in stock) is interefering with the medical care of a patient. A pharmacist who is a Scientologist is not allowed to refuse filling legal and valid prescriptions to patients because use of particular types of medications are proscribed by Scientology as that would be an imposition of Scientologist's personal views on a non-adherent. Similarly, there is no legitimate reason to allow adherents of any other religion to allow their personal views to interfere with the medical treatment of a patient by an appropriately licensed healthcare practitioner.

Pharmacists who have moral issues with certain medications have multiple legitimate alternatives to prevent them from interfering in medical care while continue to work as a pharmacist including: working at a pharmacy that makes it clear they do not stock or fill prescriptions for [insert type or class of medication here]; working at a mail order/internet pharmacy wherehouse with an agreement they will not be involved in filling prescriptions for medications they find offensive/immoral (while not interfering with those medications or the dispensation of them by another), or ensuring there is always another person on staff with them at the same time who will fill and dispense those prescriptions. If the pharmacist feels that compliance with the latter two alternatives and/or referring the patient to another pharmacy after ensuring that pharmacy has someone on duty to fill the offending prescription in a timely fashion when his/her pharmacy really is out of stock would make him/her a party to the sin of using the offending medication, the pharmacist should refrain from working at a pharmacy that stocks those medications (s)he finds morally objectionable.

We do not force people into professions that may require them to perform tasks they find morally objectionable by way of legislation. For all intents and purposes, those who enter the profession of pharmacist choose their course of study and how to utilize their education of their own volition. The only reason a pharmacist would work in a setting in which (s)he may be the only person on duty permitted to fill a prescription their pharmacy stocks is to intentionally set him/herself up in a position by which (s)he can become a barrier to filling those presciptions. This isn't about rape, sex or abortion, this is about the intentional interferance with medical treatment in an effort to impose one's religion on others, and is a direct violation of the first amendment.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

And I won't feel bad at all

The VP is exposed when
His crimes are brought to the light of day
Won't be feeling sorry, sorry, sorry
On Fitzmas Day

Wasn't it Bush who said
There'll be a price to pay

And I won't feel bad at all
When the VP takes a fall
When the VP takes a fall
(Cheney takes a fall) oh no

Your mother told you stories
You substitute with Rove who tell you more
Suddenly you sight a fancy chance
Since war is at your door

We're seeing through you now
I saw it all before

And I won't feel bad at all
When the VP takes a fall
When Darth Cheney takes a fall
(Cheney takes a fall) oh no

Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh

Obstruction is your main tool
For you truth is the one fatal flaw
Sitting on your throne and drinking
Thinking the Bushies win it all

Every story's got an ending
Look out, here it comes, here it comes

And I won't feel bad at all
When the VP takes a fall
When Darth Cheney takes a fall
(Cheney takes a fall) oh no

Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh

(with apologies to the Bangles)

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Dr. Frist's opthamalogical misdiagnosis

While it seems to occur all the time in the land of soap operas, it's not too common for someone who's completed a fellowship in Cardiothoracic surgery to also have completed adequate training to also be considered an expert in neurology (Terri Schiavo) and opthamology (insider trading). Bill Frist, however, appears to be the exception - he's not only an expert in all three fields, as well as infectious disease (remember his HIV is transmitted through sweat and tears statement that he never quite disavowed?) and the Senate Majority Leader. He's also a very rich man thanks to the family business (HCA/Columbia), especially since his immediate family was complete divested from the company just before the stock tanked.

As I've noted since the story broke, Frist has claimed there was nothing unethical about his retaining HCA stock while making major policy decisions that affected not only the healthcare industry but the family business as well, he's also maintained there was nothing illegal or unethical about the sale of the stock. The reasons he's used to maintain his inetgrity & innocence is that the trust making determinations about his holdings was completely blind
and he'd obtained approval for the stock sale months prior to the actual divestment on the grounds that he wanted to avoid the appearance of the conflict of interest he'd been claiming did not exist for the past decade should he pursue a bid for the nomination to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2008. Today's WaPo has even more detail to add to my previous comments and the comments I made yesterday [emphasis mine]

In January 2003, after winning election as majority leader, Frist was asked on CNBC whether his HCA holdings made it difficult for him to push for changes in Medicare, a federal health program for seniors that added to the hospital company's revenue.

"I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust," Frist replied. "So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock." He added that the trust was "totally blind. I have no control."

Two weeks before that interview, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., a Frist trustee, informed the senator in writing that one of his trusts had received HCA stock valued at between $15,000 and $50,000.

"He [Frist] could have been more exact in his comments," said Bob Stevenson, spokesman for Frist. Stevenson added that Frist might better have said he did not know to what extent he owned HCA shares.

Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, said she was surprised that Frist had ever claimed before this summer's liquidation that he might have owned no HCA stock. "Did he say that? What was he thinking of?" she asked. "How did he know to tell the trustee to sell it [his HCA stake] if he didn't know that he had it in the first place?"

Disclosures by the trustees to the Senate and to Frist indicate that Frist and his family probably owned a great deal of HCA stock at the time. When Frist's federal trusts were created in late 2000, the trustees disclosed that one trust alone contained between $5 million and $25 million in HCA shares and that each of seven other trusts held more than $1 million of the stock.

Frist was notified in November 2002 that 14,781 HCA shares had been sold from one of his trusts. But he was not told that all of his HCA shares had been disposed of until this summer -- after he had directed his trustees to sell them all, the documents show. [WaPo]

It appears as though the [not so] Honorable Senator Frist intentionally misdiagnosed himself (vis a vis the trust) as blind, as he seems to have been fully aware of at least his HCA stock holdings. Frist's latest defense strategy is based on the claim that he'd been contemplating divesting from HCA when elected to the role of Senate Majority Leader back in 2002 but was completely unaware he was permitted to do so until this spring at which time he took action to do so [under SEC rules, if one can show the decision to sell stock was in place and not affected by the insider information, the sale is not necessarily illegal]. This begs a few questions:

  1. Why didn't Frist inquire as to whether he could sell his HCA stock when he first contemplated it 3 years ago?
  2. Why did he consistently describe his access to information about his stock holdings as completely blind when a blind trust was not mandated by senate rules?
  3. Why wasn't the stock sold immediately upon confirmation he was allowed to divest - more importantly, was was Frist himself able to direct the timing of the sale?
If I understand senate rules accurately, the trusts they require allow for knowledge of holdings but do not allow the holder to direct transactions - buy & sell orders are to be completed at the discretion of the trust managers. Even under SEC rules that allows legal sale of stock in the presence of insider information, the fact that Frist himself placed the call to trustees ordering the sale in June - well after he'd obtained approval to sell, undermines any assertion that insider information played no role in the sale of the stock. The good senator's own words and actions have busted him big time.

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Good Christian morals don't guarantee ethical behavior

The message the Republican party has pushed since the Christian Right gained some power during the Reagan era is that they are the party of good morals. The religious right has increasingly fostered the notion that Christianity is under attack which means that, since Christian scripture is the source of all that is right and wrong, without good "Judeo-Christian" morals (one only needs to pay attention to Republican media demi-gods Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly around Christmas time to know the "Judeo" part is provide a false appearance of tolerance) this country will go to hell in a handbasket. The corollary message is that if one is a "capital C" Christian one, obviously, is the epitome of good morality and while everyone is a sinner, the sins of the devout Christian are (in general) relatively minor transgressions repented and rectified to make G-d happy. When egregious sin occurs, it's blamed on infiltration of liberal tolerance mongers (a la Catholic church child molestation scandal) and/or blown out of proportion by G-d hatin', religious bigots (aka liberals). When a Republican is accused of bad/inappropriate/immoral actions, there is always some legitimate reason for the questionable act(s), for example:
  • Bill Frist's blind but psychic trust: he notified the proper authorities of his intention to finally divest from HCA in April to avoid future appearance of impropriety after being dogged for years by claims of conflict of interest and fortuitously placed the call to unload the stock just prior to a bad quarterly report that caused it to sink. Frist and his comrades claim he hadn't violated SEC rules because no advanced knowledge of information in the decision to sell back in April, and just happened to be extremely lucky in the actual timing of the sale (though if the trust was blind, why was Frist the one who placed a call to sell - shouldn't the trustees just make the transactions without Frist's knowledge of timing?).
  • Tom DeLay and friends were just doing some laundry, they interpretted statues literally and didn't violate any actual laws. As a matter of fact, any criminal charges are due to the fact that the prosecuter and members of the grand jury that indicted him are Democrats and any conviction would not be due to actual guilt, but due to an activist judge registered to the Democratic party that we all know is out to get him. [Anything with ties to Jack Abramoff can be explained by the fact that while Republican, Abramoff is destined for Hell for the murder of Jesus]
In the course of American neo-Puritanism where women are the gatekeepers of morality, one would expect Harriet Meirs' conversion to Evangelical Christian, card-carrying Republican and president of the George W. Bush fan club to obliterate any ethical concerns about her actions over the past 25 years or so since she was, with the assistance of occasional boyfriend Nathan Hecht, born again. Dubya assures us, he trusts her (of course, he has to) and that she is "a woman of principle and deep conviction." Maybe it's telling he says he knows her character but didn't describe her as a woman of great character since this would imply impeccable ethics.

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.

The payment came after a judge, who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm, appointed a professional associate of Miers and an outspoken property-rights activist to the three-member panel that determined how much the state should pay.

The resulting six-figure payout to the Miers family in 2000 came despite the state's objections to the "excessive" amount and to the process used to set the price. The panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for land that was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot.

Mediation in 2003 reduced the award from $106,915 to $80,915, but Miers, who controls the family's interest in the land, has not reimbursed the state for the $26,000 difference, even after Bush nominated her for the Supreme Court. [Inky]

Harriet Meirs is a woman who has learned much at the foot of her hero, including that if one is to be among the power elite of the Republican party, personal gain trumps ethics every time - even when the actions necessary run counter to those mandated by the scripture she holds so dear.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Recovery is an ongoing process

Robert Shapiro, most widely known as part of OJ's dream team, endured what is probably the most difficult experience when his son Brent died early last week. Brent was a 24-year old recovering drug addict who'd been a clean & sober for 18 months. After he stopped using drugs, the younger Shapiro had been making dean's list, gotten engaged and planned to go to law school. All of that changed last Saturday night when Brent went to a party and fell of the proverbial wagon by drinking 2 shots of Jagermeister & downing half a tablet of MDMA (more commonly known as ecstasy). The acute effects of MDMA are seen within 30 minutes and peak effect occurs about 90 minutes post dosing.
As I know the story, he took a half of ecstasy tablet at about 11:30 at a party that he started to get violently ill about one o'clock or 1:30, projectile vomiting, that there was somebody there that claimed to be a medic that said his vital signs are fine. He probably just had too much to drink, which he hadn't.


He had two shots of something called Jagermeister. But what happens with an addict, Larry, is anything lights the fuse and once that drink of alcohol was in his system that fuse for the disease was triggered and that made him vulnerable.

He got sick. They didn't recognize how sick he was. He started to vomit. He was told if they just took him home and he got sleep, he'd be fine. Seven o'clock in the morning he was turning blue. [Robert Shapiro on Larry King Live]
Brent's fiancee called his father to tell him Brent wasn't breathing the next morning (he was already cyanotic, so he'd been severely hypoxic/anoxic for some time). Brent was brain-dead by the time the paramedics got him to the hospital.

Robert Shapiro has long been a proponent of advanced directives; ironically, his son didn't have a living will. The Shapiro family had to make decisions about withdraw of life support and organ donation while while they were still reeling from the shock of a situation they hadn't anticipated in 18 months. In memory of Brent Shapiro, Legal Zoom is offering living wills at no cost through-out the week-end.

For some people even casual experimentation can lead to addiction, for some people their very first experiment with drugs can be the last thing they do, and some people struggle with sobriety for the rest of their lives. There are no socioeconomic barriers to drug addiction or the financial, physical or emotional damage they can cause (both to the addict and the addict's family). Recovering addicts will tell you that you're never cured, they will always be a recovering addict. It's common for people to fall off the wagon multiple times during the recovery process; there are two ways for the next fall to be the last. Unfortunately for the Shapiro family, Brent's fall had the undesirable outcome. The Brent Shapiro Foundation for Drug Awareness was set up so other people don't have to know the Shapiro family's pain first-hand.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Moral disapproval not a legitimate state interest

Kansas state Inquisitor General Phil Kline and the fundagelicals must be in a pissy mood today. In a sign that some people in Kansas do have common sense, the state's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state can not apply harsher punishment for consensual sexual activity with a minor when the participants are gay than they do for heterosexual offenses.

The ruling came from an appeal to the 17-year sentence imposed on then 18-year old Matthew Limon for performing oral sex on a consenting 14-year old boy, when the maximum sentence dictated by the state's "Romeo & Juliet" law would have only been 15 months for heterosexual activity. Limon has been in jail since the year 2000.

The court said Limon should be resentenced within 30 days as if the law treated illegal gay sex and illegal straight sex the same, and it struck language from the law that resulted in the different treatment. [AP]

A lower court had allowed harsher punishment for same-sex partners because the state could justify its actions as "protecting children's traditional development, fighting disease or strengthening traditional values." I'm heartened to see the supreme court ruling refuting the notion that offending one's moral sensibilities warrants the imposition of stiffer goevrnmental penalities
"Moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate state interest," said Justice Marla Luckert, writing for the high court.

"The statute inflicts immediate, continuing and real injuries that outrun and belie any legitimate justification that may be claimed for it," Luckert wrote. [AP]

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

One step away

Karl Martino via Philly Future has put out the call to help break the cycle of homelessness by supporting Project H.O.M.E. Despite his unease at discussing his own experience of growing up in poverty, he continues to share his painful history in order to paint an accurate picture of the many faces of poverty and homelessness. Compared to Karl and many others I've been fortunate, but I'm all too familiar with the once rare but now all to common fear of losing our home.

While my brother and I were in school (early- mid 80s, when we had such a great economy) my dad went through a bankruptcy after his business went under. As a man in his 50s with only a HS diploma, he could not find a decent job to save his life. The family lived on my mother's pittance of a salary and what my father could bring in from whatever job he could get. I was just old enough to be aware of what was going on and that one more setback could have destroyed my family's very tenous grasp on our facade of a lower middle class existence. We were the working poor, living from hand to mouth without frills like health insurance (major medical was all we could afford and my parents company's were so small no benefits were offered).

My brother and I both worked part time jobs after school to pay for things we wanted, clothes and save for college; we also both worked our way through college. My brother was able to attend a small private college through scholarship. I went to what was one of the least expensive [public] universities in the country at the time with a year long break in the middle during which I worked two jobs to save money so I could work only part-time while I completed my last two years. I'm not sure I can adequately describe how this has affected my personal life as an adult. Suffice it to say, I was unable to really commit to any relationship until I was in my late 20s/early 30s and was absolutely certain I could support myself without any assistance. Actual consideration of the possibility of raising a child was delayed until I was absolutely sure I would be able to single-handedly be able to support a family of 4 should I end up in a position similar to my mother's and/or support children as a single parent (through death or divorce) if necessary because I can not forget the hard lessons of my childhood.

Poverty and homelessness has many causes and are not necessarily the fault of those affected. Common sense dictates that men and women alike need to be empowered and educated to in order to avoid these experiences and recover from potentially devastating setbacks. Those who demand we return to a traditional family as defined by their interpretation of scriptural law are blissfully ignorant that, even back in what they considered the "good ol' days", many women did have to work to support/help support their family afford basic neccessities; they willfully disregard that the regimes they support have destroyed the dreams of job security & affordable healthcare for all who need it. That sort of fundamentalism is neither empowering nor supporting of those who need assistance through no fault of their own - it is overwhelmingingly punitive, judgmental, degrading and, when mandated, dangerous.

My family was fortunate that we never slipped into the abyss. Karl had the tools that enabled him to help himself, countless others do not. It's high time we take a look at the vast array of those in need followed by a long, hard look in the mirror.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Did the FCC just endorse Christianity?

Five years after applying to increase it's wattage from 10 to 250, WAVM has received it's response from the FCC. The government organization has decided to reallocate radio frequency from Maynard High School which has operated the station at 91.7 on the FM dial for 35 years to a Christian Broadcasting network. The reason provided for the frequency's reassignment is because the FCC has determined that the commercial promotion of Christianity is a "better use" of the public airwaves than a public high school radio/communications program.
According to [faculty advisor Joe] Magno, that ``opens the floodgates for any other station to challenge the station's license and take its frequency.''
Using a point scale that considers such factors as audience size, the FCC ruled the Christian broadcasting network the better applicant. WAVM is given 30 days to appeal, and has done so.

If the FCC refuses to overturn its decision, WAVM will fall silent.
``The little guy does not stand much of a chance. Legally, we don't have a leg to stand on,'' Magno said.

No word on when Agape Press will submit a plan to control the school's newspaper.

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Not as good as winning the powerball

and it's only a formality, but I still feel like I won a prize.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What happens when an evangelical Christian breaks that pesky commandment about lying?

I'm guessing, in the case of Harriet Miers, the discovery that there is documentation she very much supported a proposed 1989 amendment to ban all abortions except those that put a mother's life in imminent risk of death, it will mean that the Repubevangelical senators and fundamentalist christotheocrats will suddenly find Miers to be eminently qualified to join the Supremes. This information just adds to the White House's wink & nudge fun with fundies game. Mind you, the most telling part about the discovery of these documents is the fact that just the other day, the devout Ms. Miers lied to Chuck Schumer when discussing the subject of abortion
"No, nobody knows my views on Roe v. Wade. No one can speak for me on Roe v. Wade."
This may be another misunderstanding between Miers and a senator in the discussion of constitutional law. She's been granted some latitude because she was not a constitutional lawyer and is far from the constitutional law expert one would expect of a Supreme Court Justice. Mind you, one has to wonder why she would have requested not to be considered as a possible replacement for O'Connor back in July but suddenly felt qualified and accepted a nomination after Rehnquist died? How much did she and Dubya discuss the possibility of her appointment to the Supreme Court prior to him nominating her and what additional experience in constitutional law did she gain in the interim?

The Preznit is pushing for her confirmation in time to hear Ayotte v PP of Northern New England - a proposed parental notification law the bill sponsor intentionally drafted without any health exception language
“We didn’t mistakenly forget to put in a health exception. We purposely crafted a bill without an exception,” said Fran Wendelboe, R-New Hampton.

She said a health exception would be an “open door.”

“It would pretty much mean you would have no parental notice at all. Because who makes the decision about what is a health exception? The abortionist, who is already 100 percent gung-ho to do an abortion,” she said. [Nashua Telegraph]
Yes, because the inaccurately named "pro-lifers" would much rather see women suffer the potentially life threatening or permanently disabling consequences of delaying anything that would terminate a pregnancy while physicians are frantically trying to reach parents to get permission to treat their daughters. We can't afford to give them that opportunity and need to ensure that a justice's personal religious beliefs and preferences regarding what they consider moral does not affect their rulings since they're not ruling on religious doctrine, they're ruling on secular law.

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coincidence #14?

By now we all know the drill: more bad news for BushCo & friends means another terror alert was announced today. This time it's a threat to the I-95 corridor which has caused a complete closure of the Harbor Tunnel and partial shut-down of the Fort McHenry. Anyone who's traversed the mid-Atlantic region, especially between the DC Metro area and NY knows how critical that section of 95 is and heavy the traffic along that stretch of road is. If the threat is credible, there were a lot of lives at stake - but that's a big "if".

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington is reporting that several individuals are in custody and are being interviewed by the Maryland/Delaware Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The Department of Homeland Security, however, has some doubts about the source's credibility. The FBI, meanwhile, is trying to locate several individuals mentioned by the informant. [ABC]

The tunnels have been re-opened and the traffic nightmare will continue, no doubt, for hours to come but the bigger question about coincidences will linger on.

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Griswold: more than abortion at stake

Arlen Specter (whose wife Joan makes quite tastey desserts - as wimmen should - despite committing the grievous sin of getting edumacated to work as a lawyer and holding public office herself) has caused a little uproar among conservative Christians and the WH. It seems as though the usually meticulous Specter had a discussion with constitutional law neophyte and Dubya supreme nominee Harriet Miers in which the two discussed the Supreme Court's Griswold v Connecticut ruling. According to initial statements by Specter, Miers said that she felt the 1965 case was rightly decided. The White House pitched a hissy and Miers called Specter to tell him that he must have misunderstood her because she had yet to take any position on Griswold or the right to privacy.

It seems odd to me that anyone with any knowledge of constitutional law would not have formulated an opinion on Griswold, especially someone who was and adult at the time of the decisions and/or went to law school during or after the case was under review. But then again, Harriet Miers is no student of the constitition and, according to the Preznit, her astute understanding of and adherence to fundamentalist scripture was a deciding factor in her nomination, not her grasp of constitutional law.

While the right to privacy was clearly established by the ruling, it was based on various amendments to the constitution and bolstered by the Ninth Amendment language stating [emphasis mine]
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
This ruling is not only the legal underpining for the ruling in Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion (with limitations, despite what the religious right would have you believe) and establishes the right to access contraception to utilize birth control methods not approved by the Vatican, it also establishes the right of [consenting] adults to determine with whom they are willing to engage in sexual activity, what that activity will entail and with whom they care to share that information (or not). Estelle Griswold sued the state of Connecticut because the state had enacted laws that prevented even married couples from legally obtaining accurate information about contraception or possessing (and ostensibly using) any method of contraception except withdrawal and "Natural Family Planning".

Despite the focus on sex, birth control and abortion that invariably become the focus of any discussion of the case, the right to privacy goes well beyond sexual politics and delves into other medical and personal issues. There is no way to obtain informed consent if the government proscribes providing factual information that could have any impact on actions.

The dissenting opinion of Griswold by Justices Potter and Black was based on what they claimed was a fear of diverging from the actual text of the constitution, but is really far from a literal take on the verbiage. Based on their interpretation, 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, would depend on what the government considers "unreasonable". If laws are passed to ban contraception and/or abortion - it could be considered reasonable to search/examine someone believed to be engaging in sexual activity without getting pregnant to determine if they are practicing birth control; women who miscarry could endure police investigations to ensure they have not really induced an abortion - we could go to any degree of Ceacescuan bodily invasion because it's now reasonable to do so to enforce laws regarding procreation (and there is probable cause when a sexually active female not practicing birth control does not get pregnant or has what someone deems to be a "suspicious" miscarriage). The fourth amendment allows us not only to be secure within the privacy of our houses, but the text literally gives us a security (privacy) in our persons.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
To be even more of a literalist, the ninth amendment specifically references that not all rights are specifically delineated in the constitutional language itself and the delegation of those rights. As written, it must be taken into consideration along with the 4th amendment. The literal reading of the language contained therein states that the fact that some rights are specifically delineated in the constitution does not deny the existence of other rights of the people. The dissenting opinion states
The Ninth Amendment ... [was intended] to make clear that the adoption of the Bill of Rights did not alter the plan that the Federal Government was to be a government of express and limited powers, and that all rights and powers not delegated to it were retained by the people and the individual States.
In the last 4 words of the statement Black and Potter deviate from the actual text of the amendment by adding their own. If we are to stick to a literal reading of the constitution the ninth amendment clearly states those rights are retained by the people they are not deferred from federal government to the states. In other words, the constitution most certainly does protect an individual's right to privacy and Griswold was rightly decided.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Fundie freaks on overload

Our frothing fundie friends at American Family Association are foaming up all over the place this month. It seems as though in addition to inundating & threatening to boycott the evil lesbian supporting, abortion mandating American Girl doll company, they're warning the sheeple about the hidden evils that lurk in television programming? Are they telling good Christians to avoid Desperate Housewives (a favorite among red state conservatives) due to the promotion of divorce, pre-marital sex, cuckholding, sex with minors, murder and *shudder* women seeking personal fulfillment by working outside the home (made worse by a man degrading himself by being a house-husband)? Noooooooooooo, they're all a twitter over those denizens of immorality at HGTV and Animal Planet because, if you pay really close attention while watching those channels you may find evidence of homosexuality [emphasis mine]
From the October 11 broadcast of American Family Radio's Today's Issues:

CALLER: I just wanted to make a comment that you really, really, really have to watch what you are watching on TV. I have come upon evidence of homosexuality and lesbian people on programs like HGTV and Animal Planet, where you really don't expect this to be an issue.

[AFA founder Donald] WILDMON: Right. You're very perceptive, [caller], because that does happen, even in the most innocent of places. You have to watch out for children's programs today as well because they'll slip it in there as well. [Media Matters]

I wonder what they'll do when they realize they slip some accurate science into the Discovery Channel.

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Charles Rocket RIP

Thanks to the fact he was fired from SNL at the end of one season (he dropped the f-bomb on air) and they don't seem to show re-runs from his year on the cast (they don't even include any transcripts of his stuff), most people have no idea how friggen hysterical Charles Rocket was. My brother and I were lucky, our parents were crazy enough to let us watch SNL pretty much from the beginning and we loved to stay up on Saturday nights just to catch it. Most people try to blank out that 80-81 season, the first year after all the original Not Ready For Prime Time players left, because it pretty much sucked. The were occasional bursts of brilliance from Joe Piscopo, Eddie Murphy and, mostly, Charles Rocket. Rocket deftly took over Week-end update and, in a year that marked the release of John Lennon's first release after a self-imposed exile (and, sadly, his murder shortly thereafter) did such an outrageously funny "interview" with John & Yoko, that Lennon remarked about it in his last interview (with Playboy magazine). The season was also sprinkled with Rocket Reports that made tuning in to a show filled mostly with painful skits due to pitiful writing worthwhile (granted I was 14 so my tolerance for crap was much higher than it is now).

Due to being fired from (and the fact shows featuring him are not re-run), Rocket never made quite the splash he should have. He did eventually resurface in TV (Moonlighting) and some movies but, unfortunately, few people will know the comedic genius that flared that one season of SNL. Sadly, Charles Rocket committed suicide October 7, maybe now SNL will give him his due.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Republican love affair with Hitler continues

This time it's Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore
A commercial featuring death penalty proponent Stanley Rosenbluth has him looking into the camera and saying: "Tim Kaine says Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty. This was one of the worst mass murderers in modern times." [CNN]
Rosenbluth, whose son and daughter-in-law were murdered by Mark Sheppard in 1993 during a drug deal gone awry, was more than a willing participant in one of the two ads Kilgore plans to blanket the state with criticizing Tim Kaine's personal and religious views against the death penalty because Kaine was second chair in Sheppard's appeal after his law firm was appointed by the court to represent the murderer's appeal. The other ad featured the widow of a slain police officer stating "When Tim Kaine calls the death penalty murder, I find it offensive."

During a conference call Kilgore staged with Rosenbluth, Kilgore stated
"Everyone is entitled to [legal] representation, but not every activist defense attorney is entitled to be governor of Virginia." [Richmond Times Dispatch]
Kaine has been involved in the representation of 3 murderers in capital cases all, according to Kaine and his staff, by court appointment. The Kaine team has already issued response ads in which the Democratic candidate and current lieutenant governor of the state states that despite his religious convictions against the death penalty, he will follow state law which permits executions and will exercise the right of granting clemency sparingly.

The Kilgore camp defends their use of the Hitler reference because Rosenbluth was "speaking from his heart" and because Kaine had previously been asked about his views during an interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch in which he was questioned specifically about Hitler, Stalin and Idi Amin
Your conviction is so deep that you cannot name one person in history, who because of his malefactions and criminal behavior, deserved the death penalty?

KAINE: No, I -- again, the way I answered your question is -- they may deserve -- yeah. They may deserve it. Of course they may, for doing something heinous. They don't deserve to live in civilized society. They deserve the death penalty. I just -- you know, I look at the world. Most nations have decided not to have a death penalty. And -- and many are very safe. I don't think -- I don't think it's needed to be safe. [Richmond Times Dispatch]

As someone who is not against the death penalty (I believe it, sadly, has it's place it certain cases - especially since a sentence of life without parole, does not really mean no chance of parole), I can't help but notice that the ad featuring the Hitler reference is the one starring Rosenbluth. Call me cynical but I have a feeling Kilgore's cronies thought they were safe from Jewish criticism for using Hitler for their own political purposes, well, Rosenbluth is the one who uttered the reference. I also think it rather ironic that someone from a party that demands the imposition of conservative Christian views on secular law would use ads to attack the religious views of another candidate. Kaine, for his part, has stated his committment to uphold state law even though the law is inconsistent with Catholic doctrine. Lord knows the Freepers would be jumping all over Kaine were he to suggest that he think it appropriate for elected officials who are Catholic should follow the dictates of the Vatican (Republicans only support that for the issue of abortion and imposition of "Christian morals" & symbols in public schools and government grounds - and they limit the latter to those that just happen to be consistent with fundamentalist Christianity).

Kaine has served office in the way envisioned by our founding fathers: living in accordance with his own religious beliefs without imposing them on others. This is government service that is consistent with our constitution. It's truly a pity that Republicans are so averse to upholding the constitution they feel the need to attack someone obviously committed to its advancement.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Indiana judge doesn't like parents, nullifies adoption

The state of Indiana is proving yet again that it has made the mistake of empowering the most ignorant of people who feel they have a right to impose their personal moral views and beliefs to the detriment of children and families. The latest salvo comes from a judge in the Morgan Juvenile Court which nullified the adoption of a little girl by the couple who'd been raising her since 2004, when the state asked them to provide a home for the 2-day old abandoned infant and to consider adopting her. The couple are licensed by the state as pre-adoptive foster parents and have successfully served as foster children in the state over the years but when the judge supervising the child's foster care placement found out the foster parents planning to adopt her were lesbians, she ordered the State child welfare agency to find the child a home with a married heterosexual couple instead. A heterosexual couple was not located to foster/adopt the child for several months and in the time it took to locate a new heterosexual family, Becki Hamilton & Kim Brennan were granted an adoption of the little girl by the Marion Superior Court. Despite Repubevangelical state senator Patricia Miller's defunct attempt to capitalize on public outrage over a surrogacy case & legally declare that single people are unfit parents by virtue of the fact they are not married, Indiana law does not prohibit homosexuals from acting as foster parents or adopting children. This case is further proof that the religious right is actually the biggest threat to American families as they continue to prove that their primary goal is imposing their religion regardless of the damage they are doing to children and the continuous undermining of the sanctity of marriage by trivializing the institution and non-fundamentalist families.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

WH administration illegally abrogate responsibilities for handling classified information

As the specter as indictments loom over various WHIGsters, I'm starting to hear yet another emphasis on whether Turdblossom, Scooter, Darth Cheney, et al knowingly transmitted classified information to those without the right and clearance to access such information. If peons like you or me had provided classified information (or confirmed the accuracy of classified information obtained from another source), whether we had known that the information was classified would be germane to legality of our actions. The folks in BushCo have an additional component to their legal obligations in the handling of classified information. People at federal agencies, including WH administration officials, have obligations delineated under Executive Order 12598 (and Bush's 2003 amendment to this order) that considers any knowing, willful or negligent dissemination of classified information to be a violation of that order. As I noted back in July, training on what is an impermissible disclosure is mandated and is verified as part of the "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement" (SF-312) signed by all administration officials. Section 3 of the Nondisclosure Agreement states [emphasis mine]:
I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation. I hereby agree that I will never divulge classified information to anyone unless: (a) I have officially verified that the recipient has been properly authorized by the United States Government to receive it; or (b) I have been given prior written notice of authorization from the United States Government Department or Agency (hereinafter Department or Agency) responsible for the classification of the information or last granting me a security clearance that such disclosure is permitted. I understand that if I am uncertain about the classification status of information, I am required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before I may disclose it, except to a person as provided in (a) or (b), above. I further understand that I am obligated to comply with laws and regulations that prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
Included as part of that training is a notice that
confirming the accuracy of classified information, or calling attention to classified information that has appeared publicly, is considered just as much a violation as an unauthorized leak. Persons with access to classified information need to be informed of this obligation.
In other words, anyone in the administration was required to confirm whether information regarding Plame's status at the CIA was classified to ensure it was not classified prior to so much as acknowledging her status even if it had already appeared in the public domain.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Is U2 supporting Santorum fundraiser or does CNN owe them an apology?

I've never been much of a U2 fan, to be honest I've always thought that Bono was way to full of himself and a niggling sensation that many of his good deeds were as much about self-promotion as they were for charity. Today, a story was passed on via CNN that U2 will be performing a fundraiser for Repubevangelical senatorial candidate Rick Santorum. The story at NewsMax is a little different

On Sunday, October 16, a unique political event will take place.

At a concert of the legendary rock group U2, Senator Rick Santorum will hold a fund-raising event for one night only.

The thousand-dollar-a-seat fund-raiser has been put together by Sean and Ana Wolfington, and it will take place at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia in support of Santorum's reelection. []

It goes without saying that the members of U2, all proclaimed as born again Christians, may share the bulk of Rick Santorum's views but that doesn't mean they're willing to alienate many of their fans by being public about it. In response to the news stories, the band has posted a statement regarding political fundraising activity on their web-site [emphasis mine]
Political Fundraisers (Not) DATA have posted a statement reacting to 'inaccurate media statements on U2 shows as political fundraisers.'

We're posting the statement here because we've had a number of emails expressing concern about certain media stories people have read.

Jamie Drummond, Executive Director of DATA (debt AIDS trade Africa), the Africa Advocacy group co-founded by Bono said this earlier today:

'Throughout the U2 tour, politicians from both sides have been organizing fundraisers at the venues or around specific shows. Neither DATA or Bono are involved in these and they cannot be controlled. The U2 concerts are categorically not fundraisers for any politician - they are rock concerts for U2 fans.'

Don't believe everything you read! []
The NewsMax piece makes it clear that the Santorum fundraiser is an event scheduled at the concert not the concert being used as a fundraiser, but the folks on CNN's Situation room (I thought it was Jack Cafferty, but didn't see who was speaking) included a quote from Bono that implied that he was supporting Santorum's run and that this was a fundraising effort that Bono was involved in based on shared religious views (I've asked Media Matters to do some research on this and provide a transcript for clarification).

If the statement is inaccurate or originally made in a context other than the fundraiser, shouldn't CNN be quick to include a retraction and apology on it's web-site?

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