Monday, June 30, 2008
USA Today-A Texas grand jury has cleared a 62-year-old retiree who shot and killed two men he suspected of burglarizing his neighbor's home last fall in the Houston suburb of Pasadena.
Civil rights activists organized protests, saying that the shootings were racially motivated and that Horn engaged in vigilante justice.
"The message we're trying to send today is the criminal justice system works," Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson said after the grand jury declined to indict Horn.
According to the Houston Chronicle, As the grand jury began hearing evidence in the case this month, Horn's attorney, Tom Lambright, said recently that Horn regrets his decision to confront the men.
"Was it a mistake from a legal standpoint? No. But a mistake in his life? Yes," Lambright said. "Because it's affected him terribly. And if he had it to do over again, he would stay inside.
"I don't think anybody can really appreciate the magnitude that something like this has on a person's personality."
Joe Horn’s a victim too, huh? Maybe it shows that cooler heads don’t really prevail in an intense situation like the one Joe Horn found himself in, even after the 911 operator skillfully and calmly warned and explained the danger to him. The public lacks training and judgment, but then, Harris County DA Kenneth Magidson would disagree.
After all, in the U.S., this kind of “criminal justice system works.”
Check out the 911 call and the death threat left on the DA's voicemail to Joe Horn
It really doesn’t have to be like this. “A Well Regulated Militia” is often ignored when arguing for gun laws or restrictions. Gun possession is fast becoming a liability free right.
According to the Freedom States Alliance, Gun Guys: There is no question that the Supreme Court violated its own standards by ignoring longstanding precedent in stripping DC of its handgun ban. And legal experts have rightfully chastised Justice Scalia's legal doctrine of "originalism" as a sham in light of his parsing of words and ignoring his own theory that Courts should not create laws and invent new legal interpretations, which is exactly what Justice Scalia did.
In a September 4th, 2006 BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW Professor Saul Cornell, author of "A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control In America" said this:
“The Founding Fathers were not opposed to the idea of regulation. In fact, their view of liberty was something that they would have described as “well-regulated liberty.” The idea of regulation, the idea of reasonable government regulation, was absolutely essential to the way they understood liberty.
Once technology changes, and the market revolution engulfs America, then cheap handguns become readily available. Handguns were not a big problem in the founding era. They were relatively expensive and not very reliable.
Once you get this new change with handguns, and once you get this problem of interpersonal violence, then the question becomes: Can we get rid of this problem? Can you regulate, and quite strenuously regulate, handguns? Can you even ban handguns? And of course, the conclusion I found, generally speaking, is yes. The state can do whatever it thinks appropriate with regard to handguns. The one thing they can’t do is pass laws which would, in effect, make it impossible for the militia to be armed.”
Thanks Dems, for your weak kneed support of the NRA. Maybe you really are hopeless?
I've included two opinions that also make the point. Maybe there's hope.
Think about the time that must be taken caring for a returning soldier who needs help 24/7. In Canada, they’re already seeing a mounting problem.
CBC News- People who care for Canada's disabled veterans often face overwhelming demands and financial pressures, according to a study titled Wounded Veterans, Wounded Families, prepared for Veterans Canada. The study indicates the families of Canadian soldiers between 25 and 65 released from active duty with severe disabilities suffer long-term financial burdens, as well as high rate of emotional stress and health issues.
Almost 40 per cent of spouses had been providing support to their disabled partners for between 10 and 19 years, while another 24 per cent had been providing support for more than 20 years, according to the study. Some 55 per cent of caregiver respondents reported spending five or more hours every day helping the veteran. More than 40 per cent reported they were earning less money and experiencing financial hardship, while several spouses spoke of the high toll of taking care of their loved one exacted on their own health, as well as the strain on their relationships with other family members.
The study quoted one respondent as saying. "It is more draining on emotions than the physical. The financial cost alone is tremendous. The non-financial cost, you can't count it.”
"These young veterans present a whole new phenomenon," said a co-author of the study. "Now we've got disabilities happening so much earlier in life. Families have to cope for 20 or more years."
The Canadian military takes good care of veterans, Keating said, but the system of having benefits flow through the disabled soldier often makes it difficult for the caregivers.The study recommends compensation and benefits flow directly to caregivers, that the focus be on the family's needs as well as those of the veteran, and that the department help with caregiving so a spouse can work outside the home.
As you can see, if you were to add the additional cost of supplemental medical bills, loss of income and personal health problems, the future might look pretty bleak for effected families in the U.S.
I’m getting the feeling that this story might not garner the same attention in U.S. as it has in Canada. If you really support the troops, instead of using the topic to win votes, pass this story along.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Voter identification:States may insist that registered voters show a current identification card before casting a ballot. The court rejected Democrats' claim that these laws were unconstitutional because they would deter some poor, elderly and minority voters from going to the polls. (Crawford vs. Marion County Election Board)
Lethal injection: States may use lethal injections to carry out the death penalty unless it can be shown there is a "significant risk" that an inmate will suffer excruciating pain. The court saw no such evidence in a test case from Kentucky. (Baze vs. Rees)
Exxon Valdez: Civil damages intended to punish a ship owner for reckless conduct are limited to actual economic losses. Applying that formula, the court reduced the punitive damages against Exxon Mobil for the 1989 oil spill in Alaska to $507 million, about one-tenth of what the jury awarded. (Exxon Shipping Co., et al, vs. Baker)
Campaign finance: Wealthy candidates who spend more than $350,000 to fund their campaigns cannot be penalized by freeing their opponents to accept larger donations. The court invoked the 1st Amendment to strike down the so-called millionaire's amendment in the McCain-Feingold Act. (Davis vs. Federal Election Commission)
Medical devices: Injured patients or their survivors may not sue the makers of allegedly defective medical devices if the devices were approved for sale by the Food and Drug Administration. The court said federal law trumps, or preempts, such claims.
Racial Diversity: The Court struck down voluntary school desegregation plans used in Seattle and Louisville. Now students likely to attend schools where everyone looks like they do.
Clean Water: In 2006, the Supreme Court cut the reach of Clean Water Act protections.
Fair Pay: Lilly Ledbetter worked just as hard as any man in her factory, but got paid less. She proved it in a court of law, but the company appealed, and the Supreme Court slammed the courthouse door in her face, declaring that Lilly had lost the right to sue because she hadn't complained about the discrimination soon enough. Never mind that the Court's ruling would have required her to sue before she knew about the unfair pay disparity.
Free Speech: With the help of Bush’s new Justices, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of school officials who punished a student for holding a banner at a school-sponsored event that expressed a message administrators didn’t agree with ("Bong hits 4 Jesus").
Separation of Church and State:The Bush administration has used its faith-based initiative to support its favored preachers. Bad enough, but how would you feel if the administration spent that money to hold a series of “Christian nation” rallies? Not much you could do, now that the Supreme Court with Bush’s new right-wing Justices has limited taxpayers' ability to challenge violations of the Establishment Clause.
Restores habeas corpus: But barely. In a 5-4 decision declared Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 unconstitutional. The Court struck down that section of the MCA because it purported to abolish the writ of habeas corpus -- the means by which a detainee challenges his detention in a court -- despite the fact that the Constitution permits suspension of that writ only "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion."
Overturns 96-year-old Anti-Trust Rule: The Supreme Court limited the ability of a retailer to offer goods for sale below a manufacturer's "suggested retail price." The court struck down the 96-year-old rule that resale price maintenance agreements were an automatic, or per se, violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Five justices said the new rule could, in some instances, lead to more competition and better service. The case pitted retailers (of which there are, relatively, many) against manufacturers (of which there are, relatively, few). The manufacturers won.
Reverses Self In Campaign Ad Case: In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Wisconsin Right to Life should have been able to run issue ads targeting Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) in the two months prior to the 2004 elections.
Just being a bit tongue and cheek, although I am aware that there are those who don't trust science (conservatives), and some of these scientific theories are disputable, but still-you've got to wonder just a little about the possibilties...right?
AP-The most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries, such as invisible matter or extra dimensions in space, after it is switched on in August. But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures: Will it spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump? Ridiculous, say scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials CERN. "Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.
David Francis, a physicist on the collider's huge ATLAS particle detector, smiled when asked whether he worried about black holes and hypothetical killer particles known as strangelets. "If I thought that this was going to happen, I would be well away from here," he said. The safety of the collider, which will generate energies seven times higher than its most powerful rival, at Fermilab near Chicago, has been debated for years. The physicist Martin Rees has estimated the chance of an accelerator producing a global catastrophe at one in 50 million - long odds, to be sure, but about the same as winning some lotteries.
By contrast, a CERN team this month issued a report concluding that there is "no conceivable danger" of a cataclysmic event. The report essentially confirmed the findings of a 2003 CERN safety report, and a panel of five prominent scientists not affiliated with CERN, including one Nobel laureate, endorsed its conclusions. Critics of the LHC filed a lawsuit in a Hawaiian court in March seeking to block its startup, alleging that there was "a significant risk that ... operation of the Collider may have unintended consequences which could ultimately result in the destruction of our planet."
One of the plaintiffs, Walter L. Wagner, a physicist and lawyer, said Wednesday CERN's safety report, released June 20, "has several major flaws," and his views on the risks of using the particle accelerator had not changed. Check out the rest of the story here, if you dare...
UPDATE: Sept. 10, 2008: I thought this clip might settle a lot of nerves...or maybe not.
A federal appeals court upheld the FCC’s authority to set rules meant to make it easier for new cable television competitors to gain local franchises.
Local governments across the country filed legal challenges to agency rules that the F.C.C. said would speed the approval process for new competitors, cap fees paid by new entrants to local governments and ease requirements that competitors build systems that reach every home. Some companies contended that local governments made unreasonable demands during negotiations and held up applications.”
Aww, are you poor guys getting picked on?
The first question is: unreasonable to whom? The citizens, through their elected representatives, want something the companies don’t want to provide. So instead of negotiating, big business runs to the…government for help…against government unfairness? What’s so free market about that?
It seems private business is getting big government to cap fees, disadvantaging local communities. Big government is also telling small government they can’t demand that all their constituents receive equally accessible service. How fair is that?
What protection does business have Constitutionally over the people negotiating through their representatives? Since when is government exempt from negotiating anything? It appears that government, the FCC, is also taking control of the free market and tilting the rules to favor business over local governments. It’s big government making decisions for “little” government.
Incredibly, “A three-judge panel ruled unanimously for the F.C.C., which it said provided evidence that the local franchising process was “unreasonably impeding competitive entry into the cable television market.”
Hold on. Wouldn’t it be up to the local community to decide if indeed they thought the cable company was being competitive? In this case, the cable companies don’t want to compete on price or availability. Negotiate someplace else then. Hit the road freeloaders.
The commission’s chairman, Kevin J. Martin, said the court ruling vindicated
theagency’s action and would help consumers. “I think it’s critical that we find
away to give consumers some additional choice and some more competition to
helpcontrol soaring cable prices."
What this simply means is that instead of one or two cable companies making a profit, any number of them will split the wealth, increasing fees to match their competitor initially, then increasing prices to make up for any upfront losses. Come on, we’ve seen this happen in the energy industry and insurance/medical community.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers were studying the opinion and there was no immediate word onwhether they would appeal. They could ask for review by the full appeals court or go to the Supreme Court.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
With the Olympics about to start, I thought this story might add a little perspective on what atheles might be doing to prepare. From AP:
Athletes looking for a performance boost are increasingly turning to a little blue pill more usually taken for its off-the-field benefits: Viagra. It isn't clear how many might be taking it in hopes of improving athletic performance, but stashes of the drug have reportedly been found among some professional athletes. The World Anti-Doping Agency is currently studying Viagra's effects on athletes, but hasn't yet banned it. Whether Viagra makes athletes faster, higher or stronger is uncertain. Still, some preliminary studies have shown that cyclists taking Viagra improved their performances by up to 40 per cent. Viagra does not work directly on muscles, so will not make athletes physically stronger.
From the Canadian readers perspective, they had a few interesting takes on this new performance drug. I've listed some of the comments following the CBC article. As you can imagine, they had a few one liners:
It couldn't be good for swimmers in the Iron-Man event …Their rudder would drag in the weeds … Hands off my baton! ... Athletes talking viagra are literally getting a head start on the compeition … I can see runners taking Viagra to shave a few inches off their time ... Give's the pole valt a whole new meaning … Hey that;s not your javelin! … I hardly think that two men luge teams will be trying this one .... It will be great to see athletes RISE to the occasion.
Friday, June 27, 2008
It doesn’t really seem possible, but the media appears to have a conservative bias, one that bans liberal points of view. Out of the New York Post's Page Six:
The outdoor advertising arm of notoriously conservative Clear Channel has banned signs for "Songs of the Bushmen" because the cover depicts the president with a bone through his nose. "Their tone turned from genial salesperson to angry schoolmarm - 'This is unacceptable,' " Shearer, the voice of Mr. Burns and Flanders on "The Simpsons," told Page Six. "And it's not like this is a dangerous time to criticize George Bush."
The Huffington Post reports that “last October, Clear Channel's Palm Beach arm refused to air an ad for VoteVets during Rush Limbaugh's show because the ad ‘would conflict with the listeners who have chosen to listen to Rush Limbaugh."
Here's Harry Shearer, from Songs of the Bushmen, and his video-935 Lies
I just got an email from Smart Green USA asking for money. Who is Smart Green USA, and why wouldn’t they tell me who they were before I gave them money? Surprise, they have nothing to do with the green movement. As “green” as they might appear, it’s a nut job right wing extremist group of anti-government zealots (I really tried to get every cliché negative description in this sentence, and succeeded). Here's how they describe themselves:
In February of 2003, the socialist wannabe's at MoveOn.org led a coalition of 32 radical left-wing organizations -- including Feminist Majority, Greenpeace, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Organization for Women (NOW), and Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition -- in what they called the "Virtual March on Washington". Their agenda: to oppose President Bush, the liberation of Iraq, and the War on Terror. Their efforts were widely reported to be demoralizing to our troops in the field. RightMarch.com was born out of the frustration when (we) saw the attacks from the left on President Bush…!
Our goal is to counter the well-financed antics of radical left-wing groupslike
MoveOn.org, by appealing to the grassroots "silent majority" to take action
--and holding the Left accountable for their anti-American antics.
“Silent majority” actually means “small group of suckers still defending their idol, George W. Bush.” Feeling sorry for them, I thought I would post their doctored picture of Lady Liberty (traitorous?), a reaction to the Obama presidential seal “controversy."
Their still looking for members.
In a stunning display of sticking it to the public, "Republicans blocked Democrats from requiring oil and gas companies to drill on the millions of acres of government land and water on which they already own federal leases."-AP
How do the Republicans get away with such blatant kowtowing to the oil industry at the expense of the public interest? Where’s the public outrage over these do nothing conservatives?
Democratic leaders maintained the industry should first go after oil and natural gas in areas where they hold leases. "We believe in use it or lose it," declared Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.
The White House said President Bush would veto the use-it-or-lose-it legislation if it came to his desk, calling "absurd" the claim that, with today's oil prices, companies are not pursuing all the oil that they can recover economically.
Oh, I get it now. If they can’t recover oil “economically,” then why go after it at all? Small profit margins are so obscene.
Democrats maintained the existing leases owned by oil companies could produce 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas a day. But the Interior Department, which manages the federal oil and gas leasing programs, said it could not confirm those numbers.
Well then that’s OK, if you can’t confirm the numbers, then why do anything at all about it.
Are we talking about children here or lazy, corrupt, politically motivated government cronies?
That's an easy one.
UPDATE: July 20, 2008: House Republicans blocked a Democratic effort to pressure energy companies into drilling for oil on lands they already leased from the federal government, calling the legislation a sham.
Opponents said the legislation could diminish domestic exploration since it would bar oil companies from obtaining new leases if they were not actively exploring current holdings. “Drill on the leases you have or let somebody else do it,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader.
Under fire from Republicans for not opening up coastal areas to new drilling, Democrats offered the legislation to show that they favored increased domestic oil and gas production, but want it to take place where drilling is already allowed. They said oil could be produced more quickly from those areas rather than in new locales.
In a headline that should rank right up there with the shot heard round the world, Epic Systems Corporation, a medical records company, “Won’t deal with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce backers.”-Wisconsin State Journal.
Epic Systems is threatening to pull its business from local vendors who support the state's largest business lobby over a political disagreement with the group… the company cited concern over Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's spending this year on behalf of state Supreme Court candidate Michael Gableman, estimated at $1.8 million, as a reason for working only with vendors whose officials oppose WMC's agenda.
A statement attributed to the Epic Management Team:
Epic wants to remove political influence from law. It’s a position that would keep their own political bias out of the administration of law, and should be an example for other U.S. corporation to follow. Unless of course, they would want to influence our judicial system by putting ideological zealots in neutral positions, thereby destroying the public confidence in the one thing that protects us all.
"We believe that what we tolerate is what we stand for, and as corporate citizens, we stand for the preservation of the foundation of the judicial system … After careful consideration, we made a decision to try to work only with vendors that do not support WMC with its current management. This was not a decision we made lightly, but believe it is the right thing to do."
Epic has never belonged to WMC, and the company is politically neutral… Epic believes judicial elections "should be of the highest integrity" and that various media reported the campaign "was a travesty of ethics and many analyses pointed to WMC as a responsible party."
Epic's officials then consulted with a politically diverse group of industry leaders around Dane County to assess the accuracy of the reports before deciding to work only with vendors that don't support WMC.
But corporations have a free speech rights, even if it is morally and ethically vacuous to try and slant the law to ones favor.
Howard Schweber, a professor of law and political science at UW-Madison, said he's never heard of another situation in which a business threatens not to work with another company based on an election campaign…"If people have the power to coerce others to remain silent or change their views, that's a threat to personal liberty."
Nice try professor, but companies don’t have personal liberties. They are a collection of individuals who make business decisions based on profit. I’m not sure anyone has found the Constitutional passage that gave corporations the same individual rights as citizens. And what of the companies that disagree with WMC’s positions but are forced to go along with them as a member of their organization? What about their personal liberty?
WMC is the state's largest business lobby… purchasing unregulated political ads in the weeks leading up to elections. Here’s the prevailing cliché pushed by the conservative organization: “WMC's ads on behalf of Gableman touted him as a tough-on-crime judge and prosecutor, and criticized Justice Butler as supporting decisions benefiting criminal defendants.”
Oh, you mean giving defendants the benefits of the doubt until proven innocent or guilty, according to the Constitutional guarantees afforded all of us? We wouldn’t want that. And since this was a Supreme Court position, being tough on crime has little to do with issues before them. Basically, it was a straw man argument to begin with.
Another company, J.P. Construction left WMC for the same reasons listed above. Check it out at Waxingamerica.com. From the Isthmus' The Daily Page, how it began.
Congratulations again to Epic Systems, for showing corporate leadership and a respect for law.
UPDATE: A few Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reader comments:
Jackson Clubb: My my my. The wind has shifted and WMC are on the slide. Bigotry and election tampering are bad for business. That leaves 2999 business to take the pledge for clean government and resign from WMC. Next?
Lindsey Lee: Think many of my friends in the business community are quickly coming to the realization that U.S. businesses have to do a better job being forward looking in order to be competitive in the new economy. Those states and communities that are prepared for the new economy will prosper. WMC is the epitome of retrograde business practices that, if they get their way, will not have Wisconsin businesses positioned to be players in the new economy. Thank you EPIC for sticking your neck out and not allowing dinosaurs like the WMC leadership lead Wisconsin business into "extinction"!
gbsparks: Wow, a company that has made a business decision based on consensus and in support of ethical principles. How rare is that? Kudos to Epic and shame on WMC for continuing to pursue its draconian agenda.
In a striking finding, the survey said although those without insurance were more likely to report going without care, those with insurance had a greater percentage increase in unmet medical needs. "It's not a pretty picture, especially for insured people, who are increasingly finding that the access to care once guaranteed by insurance is
declining," said Peter Cunningham, co-author of the study.
Cost was the biggest obstacle to care for both the insured and the uninsured, the study said. For the insured, individuals
said they were unable to get their health insurer to pay for treatment, or that a doctor or hospital would not accept their insurance.
Surprised? You shouldn't be since this is well know in the industry and by patients who have suffered through this cruel inhumane system.
Here are the other important life threatening facts everyone should know:
About 20 percent of the U.S. population delayed or were unable to get access to medical care when they needed it in 2007, up from 14 percent four years earlier.
About 9.5 million more people went without medical care in 2007, compared with 2003, the nationally representative survey released by a nonpartisan policy group
At the same time, medical costs - driven by drugs, hospital and doctor fees -- have risen at least twice the rate of inflation for several years, making it more expensive for those with insurance to afford care.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
AP-House Republicans reviewing their recent election defeats have concluded
their customary campaign themes failed to sway the voters and their candidates
could not overcome negative perception of the national party. An internal review
says GOP candidates must show deep empathy towards the voters in November. The report was ordered by party leaders in the wake of losses of formerly safe seats in Illinois, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Sen. Gordon Smith has jumped on board the Obama coat tails. NY Times Columnist John Harwood explains the Republican reality.
The Supreme Court ruled Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense in their homes. Try and find that in the Constitution. This activist court took on this case because of it's conservative agenda, making this the first major pronouncement on gun rights in U.S. history since its ratification in 1791.
The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's 32-year-old ban on handguns as incompatible with gun rights under the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority that an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted. The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. " Again, help me find that in the one line amendment.
In one of the dumbest unsettling statements to ever pass the lips of any Supreme Court Justice, Scalia noted that the handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."
Knuckle dragger Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association said, "I consider this the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of providing relief for law-abiding Americans everywhere that have been deprived of this freedom," said.
NOTE: This is the second ruling in a week the strict constructionist conservative Justices used something other than the actual written wording of the Constitution. Funny how that happens.
Scalia seems to think the prevailing societal “narrative” before and after the Second Amendment was written should lend meaning to its interpretation. Again, he said an individual right to bear arms is supported by "the historical narrative" both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.
In regards to the death penalty as a punishment for the rape of a child, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional; Justice Alito blatantly considered “changes in our society’s thinking.” A far cry from what the founding fathers wrote meant at the time.
Justice Alito said, “The fact that six states in modern times have nonetheless enacted such laws, might represent the beginning of a new evolutionary line that would not be out of step with changes in our society’s thinking."
They have their conservative agenda, they are ruling from the bench, and no one seems to give a damn or call them on it.
How loony is this guy: According to the Wisconsin State Journal, “He advocated raising the speed limit on Wisconsin's Interstates and even floated the idea of a privately owned Autobahn after he was ticketed for speeding. He once sent out a Christmas card with him and wife portraying Joseph and Mary.”
In what Reynolds calls, Clean Sweep Wisconsin, he's recruiting conservative candidates to challenge Milwaukee-area Democrats, as Democrats in their party's primary this fall, to blur the line between what is real and what is phony. “Clean Sweep Wisconsin” should be called “Clean Sweep Democracy,” once other Republicans realize the benefit of infecting other state elections with this killer virus.
Reckless Reynolds authoritarian plan starts with a written pledge to his platform, (to) “agree to be held accountable to the campaign promises they make while running for office, with a promise to resign if they go back on their pledge and vote contrary to the platform they signed onto.
It’s at this point we descend into the maelstrom of discredited Republican, and now “Democratic,” talking points.
HEALTH CARE: Reestablishing consumerism in health care by expanding the use of high deductible policies with matching health savings accounts.
K-12 EDUCATION: Putting parents back in control of education by implementing an educational tax credit for parents to use at either public or private schools.
COLLEGE EDUCATION: Capping tuition increases, streamlining courses and credit transfers between technical, 2yr. and 4yr. colleges, creating a tax credit on income used to repay college loans.
TAXES, FEES & REGULATIONS: Halting all increases of taxes and fees, begin a moratorium on new laws interfering in the lives of Wisconsin citizens and Wisconsin businesses.
IMMIGRATION: No more free welfare for illegal aliens.
"Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, provided the State Journal with the message from Reynolds, which she said he left on her cell phone after she inquired about Clean Sweep through its Web site using a false name. 'They're pretty much trying to pull a fraud on the voters,' she said, by running as Democrats but supporting an agenda often espoused by Republicans."
"Phil Landowski, a primary challenger, acknowledged he has talked to the former West Allis senator about his campaign. His Web site includes positions similar to Clean Sweep."
Barry Burden, a UW-Madison political science professor, said he had not heard of a strategy like Reynolds' before. He said it likely wouldn't work because primary voters are typically the most loyal to their parties and would know which candidates have party support.
Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee, said the area's lawmakers plan to meet later this week or early next week to discuss how to address Clean Sweep's activities. "It could be a real issue for us and we're trying to strategize how to go against it
Because Republicans don't believe in their own government, and blame governement for getting in the way of their freedom, is it any surprise at how low their criminality will go?
I was heartened when I read in the NY Times, “The death penalty is unconstitutional as a punishment for the rape of a child, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled, leaving the states the option of life without parole.”
It was a sign that we have entered a new age. That was until I saw Senator Obama say, “I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime, and if a state makes a decision under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances, that the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution…but it basically had a blanket prohibition, and I disagree with the decision.”
It was like a punch in the gut. A betrayal of “change.” All the other civilized industrial countries have done away with the death penalty, calling it barbaric. The great hope other countries might have felt about a black presidential candidate in the U.S. faded a little, with the message, “more of the same.”
Obama made about as much sense as Justice Alito. “The fact that six states in modern times have nonetheless enacted such laws, Justice Alito said, “might represent the beginning of a new evolutionary line” that “would not be out of step with changes in our society’s thinking."
An amazing comment from a Justice that believes the Constitutions meaning hasn't changed since it was first written, and that it is not a living document to reflect "changes in society's thinking." This twisted conservative logic mixed “new” with “evolutionary” to describe a giant leap back to a more primitive time.
At a time when the country needs a dramatic change of policy, we're promised baby steps. I will vote for Obama, but the energy has been drained from this shattered Democrat. But he wasn't finished yet.
Obama then backed over my limp body with his nonchalant decision to sign onto the FISA bill giving the telecoms a pass for possible illegal spying on Americans.
What the hell....watch in horror.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
If you enter or leave the United States carrying a laptop, flash drive or cell phone, the government can collect and store data without first obtaining a warrant. A survey of business travelers found that 7 percent had their laptops or other electronic device seized by the government Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) defended the administration’s random, suspicionless searches of laptop computers. It took him just over a minute during his opening remarks to play the 9/11 card. Check out Raw Story: Feingold: Bush admin secrecy can’t outweigh travelers’ privacy
“Health reform proposals across the spectrum have included changes in how the U.S. health system is financed. This paper examines the implications of different options for financing the health system. Specifically, it describes recently proposed policies including continuing current financing and redirecting health spending to more effective uses, rolling back high-income tax cuts, modifying the current tax exclusion for health benefits, a play-or-pay model, and a value-added tax.”
Republicans are making this way to easy. I thought I would have to dissect obscure stories missed by the mainstream media and spend endless paragraphs explaining their devious intentions. Instead, government inspector generals are stealing my thunder, my blogs uniqueness and my only reason for living. Hey, why don’t you guys just start your own blog, huh!
Justice Department officials over the last six years illegally used “political or ideological” factors to hire new lawyers into an elite recruitment program, tapping law school graduates with conservative credentials over those with liberal-sounding resumes.
The blistering report by the Justice Department’s inspector general…appeared to confirm for the first time in an official examination many of the allegations from critics who charged that the Justice Department had become overly politicized during the Bush administration. “Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found.
AG John Ashcroft restructured the honors program in response to what some officials saw as a liberal tilt in recruiting young lawyers from elite law schools like Harvard and Yale…rejecting candidates with liberal or Democratic affiliations “at a significantly higher rate” than those with Republican or conservative credentials… Applications that contained what were seen as “leftist commentary” or “buzz words” like environmental and social justice were often grounds for rejecting applicants, according to e-mails reviewed by the inspector general’s office.
Membership in liberal organizations like the American Constitution Society, Greenpeace, or the Poverty and Race Research Action Council were also seen as negative marks. Affiliation with the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative group, was viewed positively.
Seems Republicans have an authoritarian tendency they find hard to restrain.
Watch out, conservatives... The Bush Legacy Bus is on the road!
The Bush Legacy Bus is a 45-foot, 28-ton high-tech and interactive museum on wheels, dedicated to holding President Bush and his conservative allies accountable for their disastrous policies from the past eight years.
Check out its new website to learn more about the Bush Legacy Bus and Tour:
Visitors to the Bush Legacy Bus will see how President Bush misled the American people into Iraq, stood idly by while Gulf Coast residents lost everything during Katrina, and allowed trickle-down economics to help the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And that's only the beginning.
What's even more important, though, is that President Bush didn't "accomplish" this record on his own -- it took dozens and dozens of members in Congress to rubber-stamp his conservative agenda.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, by stating that the court was engaging in "lawmaking.” "The new law made by the court should have been left to Congress," wrote Ginsburg. Justice Stephen Breyer made a similar point, opposing a rigid 1 to 1 ratio of punitive damages to victim compensation.
Then we saw the raw vengeful emotions of the conservative Justices lash out at the majority ruling, calling for the death penalty.
Ruling by force and threat, "the author of the Louisiana law, former Republican state Rep. Pete Schneider, said even opponents of the death penalty told him they would kill anyone who raped their children. "When are you going to have the courage to stand up for what's right for all of the people - but especially the children under 12 that have been brutally raped by monsters?" Schneider said, directing his comments to the justices in majority.-AP
Where will we want to expand the death penalty next?
Republicans hate public education. They hate union involvement, regardless of the business, and they detest the concept of an “intellectual elite,” an educated public. Conservatives instead prefer to leave education up to “the parents” and private school curriculum, to simply save themselves a few tax dollars and promote a more compliant, easily manipulated undereducated public.
How else can you explain the contradictions listed below? On one hand, Republicans want accountability, on the other, no accountability. No Child Left Behind was meant to test student performance, make schools better and to prevent wasted taxpayer dollars, while at the same time, advocating taxpayer funded private schools with no testing or government interference.
According to USA Today, the Center on Education Policy concluded in its report “that math and reading test scores were up in most states since the No Child Left Behind law took effect in 2002, but also said it was impossible to know how much credit the law deserves. The law's contributions are hard to measure because a number of states already were taking steps to boost reading and math and there is no group of students to use for comparison."
Now let’s look at the real Republican agenda, their vision of an educated electorate. Remember, we already have a flawed system of testing public education. Is testing really the point, or a stealth way to fail the public schools, vilify them, and divert money into an emerging for profit educational industry? Clue: It’s not testing. Take a look at this refreshingly honest admission from the Texas Republican Party's 2008 Platform:
Taxpayer dollars would subsidize private and religious school through
vouchers and tax deductions and would not require private and religious schools meet the same oversight and education standards that public schools must meet.
In other countries, universal voucher systems include public and private schools with the same curriculum and testing, providing a level educational field for everyone and quality control to encourage competition.
A reasonable solution ignored by conservatives because it again involves government oversight. And no matter how you look at it, government (or we the people) is bad.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Just because I believe in a single payer health care system, green energy, separation between church and state, gay marriage, an independent judiciary, nanny state laws like seat belt protection, public schools and higher education... you get the idea, some people worry that I might be a danger to our Christian nation and an intellectual elitist.
So as you might have guessed, I was appalled at the following public service announcement that played during the Colbert Report, trying to make me look like a subversive element in our mostly conservative nation.
God bless America, my friends.
According to Mikecheck.org, “The Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to rein in Michael Chertoff and his decision to waive 30 federal laws while constructing the giant fence between the United States and Mexico.”
The irony is that Russ Knock, a spokesman for the Homeland Security Department, said, "The American people expect this department to enforce the rule of law at the border.
That’s funny, waving federal laws while insisting the American people expect Homeland security to enforce the rule of law.
For Republicans, choosing the laws you want to enforce is part of their God given freedoms.
One of the big issues for Republicans is to pass laws that can’t be challenged in court, bypassing the Constitution.
“In 2005, the Republican-led Congress gave Michael Chertoff the power to
ignore any law he felt stood in his way in building the border fence. To make
matters that much worse, Congress also took away the power of the Courts to
overturn any of Chertoff’s decisions. The Congressional Research Service said
this delegation of power was unprecedented.”
And because you get more freedom with money, the “Texas Observer showed the government is forcing low-income Americans to let them build giant steel fences through their properties, but is bypassing property owned by the Very Rich or Very Politically Connected.”
How Extreme Is the Texas Republican Party's 2008 Platform? The religious right is reeling from electoral and other setbacks across the nation over the past two years. Yet you wouldn’t know that by reading the 2008 platform of the Republican Party of Texas.
1. Calling separation of church and state a “myth,” the party platform would sweep away a key protection that has allowed faith to thrive in this country and permit government to promote favored religious practices over all others.
2. Courts would be stripped of their authority to uphold the First Amendment’s prohibition against government officials promoting and endorsing religion.
3. Government would become a powerful weapon in renewed attacks on sound science and medical research. Public schools would be required to teach religious doctrine, such as “intelligent design”/creationism, in science classes. Medical research involving embryonic stem cells would be criminalized.
4. Public schools would be forbidden from teaching medically accurate information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Instruction on only “abstinence until heterosexual marriage” would be required.
5. Content in public school textbooks would be based on the personal beliefs of whatever majority controlled the heavily politicized State Board of Education. By removing prudent limits on the board’s authority, the state would reopen the door to censorship.
6. The public treasury would be raided to subsidize private and religious schools through vouchers and tax deductions. Even worse, government would be forbidden from requiring that private and religious schools getting taxpayer dollars meet the same oversight and education standards that public schools must meet.
7. Government would strip women of their right to make decisions regarding their reproductive health. Abortion services, with no exceptions, would be criminalized. Even access to various forms of contraception would be barred or restricted. In addition, the government would make it harder for women to divorce and escape abusive relationships.
8. Legalized discrimination against gay and lesbian Texans would escalate. Government would be empowered to imprison and/or fine adults who engage in even private, consensual sexual intimacy with other adults of the same gender. Moreover, the government would not just bar adoption by gay and lesbian parents. It would also strip them of any right to custody of their own children and would restrict visitation rights.
Jesus Christ, please grant Texas their freedom..
When we see something cool on four wheels, it'll end up here. Read on from Popular Mechanics: ALSO SEE POST ON WATER POWERED CARS HERE
Air-Powered Car Coming to U.S. in 2009 to 2010 at Sub-$18,000, Could Hit 1000-Mile Range
Zero Pollution Motors (ZPM) confirmed to PopularMechanics.com that it expects to produce the world’s first air-powered car for the United States by late 2009 or early 2010. As the U.S. licensee for Luxembourg-based MDI, which developed the Air Car as a compression-based alternative to the internal combustion engine, ZPM has attained rights to build the first of several modular plants, which are likely to begin manufacturing in the Northeast and grow for regional production around the country, at a clip of up to 10,000 Air Cars per year.
Company officials want to make the first air-powered car to hit U.S. roads a $17,800, 75-hp equivalent, six-seat modified version of MDI’s CityCAT (pictured above) that, thanks to an even more radical engine, is said to travel as far as 1000 miles at up to 96 mph with each tiny fill-up.
We’ll believe that when we drive it, but MDI’s new dual-energy engine—currently being installed in models at MDI facilities overseas—is still pretty damn cool in concept. After using compressed air fed from the same Airbus-built tanks in earlier models to run its pistons, the next-gen Air Car has a supplemental energy source to kick in north of 35 mph, ZPM says. A custom heating chamber heats the air in a process officials refused to elaborate upon, though they insisted it would increase volume and thus the car’s range and speed.
“I want to stress that these are estimates, and that we’ll know soon more precisely from our engineers,” ZPM spokesman Kevin Haydon told PM, “but a vehicle with one tank of air and, say, 8 gal. of either conventional petrol, ethanol or biofuel could hit between 800 and 1000 miles.”
But with the family-size, four-door CityCAT undergoing standard safety tests in Europe, then side-impact tests once it arrives in the States, could it be the first 100-mpg, nonelectric car you can actually buy?
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel- Sen. John McCain proposed the “Clean Car Challenge,” giving a $300 million prize to the inventor of the next big thing in electric car batteries. The $300 million represents “one dollar for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency.
Right now, “the Japanese firm Panasonic EV Energy is the market leader in
hybrid-electric batteries. It’s clear that the Asian players have a lead over
U.S. battery market competitors, (and) the U.S. auto industry hasn’t seen the
research and development funding from the federal government that has been
provided to companies in Asia.”
Monday, June 23, 2008
Just thought I would point out the obvious.
Because public perception, not reality, has been the only reason Republicans have gained and maintained control for so long, the fruits of their ideology have soured the public’s misplaced confidence. That doesn’t mean they won’t try repeating the negative myths they have framed around the Democratic Party for years.
The one problem is, this time around, the Democrats are the ones making sense. Which brings me to the next story.
From Raw Story, Diane Sweet writes: Michigan Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter took to the House floor this week and gave a speech entitled 'Speaking Democrat: A Primer' complete with charts and ruler. He had himself video taped during the 'presentation,' and uploaded it to YouTube.
It has been instructive. Anyone want to meet these guys in the middle over important legislation? Impossible. The frame is complete. Pure propaganda. Packaged fantasy. Factually vacuous. A traitorous party of appeasers. It’s a wonder liberals aren’t rounded up and imprisoned forever under the new Scalia Detention System (SDS).
We're going to learn how to speak Democrat today.
Often we hear the word progressive, which translates into regressive, as used in a sentence, democrats are progressive. Democrats are regressive…Democrats will bring you change. Translation, Democrats will bring you the 1970's…Government means socialism. Democrats support proactive government. Translation, Democrats support proactive socialism.
Democrats will enhance revenues. Translation, Democrats will raise taxes…Democrats will only tax the rich. Translation, Democrats will only tax you. Ouch…Democrats will invest your money. Translation, Democrats will waste your money…Energy means lethargy. Democrats have an energy policy. Translation, Democrats have a lethargy policy…Green collar jobs translates into unemployment. Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with green collar jobs translates into Democrats will replace your blue collar jobs with unemployment…Engage means appease. Democrats will engage America’s enemies. Translates, Democrats will appease America’s enemies…Importantly, end means lose. Democrats will end the Iraq war. Translation, Democrats will lose the Iraq war…And finally, as a regressive party, the Democrats will bring you the 1970's by using socialism to raise taxes from you to waste in the production of lethargy and unemployment and by using magic to appease America’s enemies and lose the Iraq war.
I hope this exercise has been instructive. ..."
The only advice I can give; don’t turn your back.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
We're not getting a full gallon of gas. With warmer temperatures we get warmer gasoline, and the fuel pumps measure the expanded liquid and charge us, even though we didn't actually get the full gallon. We're getting short changed.
Canada has equipped 90 percent of it's station pumps with the technology to take into account the temperature difference. But not here in the U.S., because convenience store owners say it'll cost to much. It's costly us all a lot of money.
Anyone see similarities between Fox News' presentation and the Onion's? Uncanny.
In the article, “Think-Tank Provides Answers to Oklahoma's Health Care Woes,”the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) released a health care reform study focusing in on needed changes to the health care system in Oklahoma.
The proposal from the OCPA free market thinkers is called “Oklahoma's Comprehensive Health Independence Plan or O-CHIP. It’s more like “Zero”-CHIP," because it actually does less than the current system in place. The think tank points out “our health care system works best when everyone has health insurance or other non-government means to pay for care.” That’s simple, just give everyone health insurance, and get government assistance out. It’s cutting into private health care profits.
Let's see if the next item is an actual concern you had about health care: “dramatically deregulating the health insurance market.” That’s right, insurance companies didn’t have enough freedom to raise rates and decline care to protect their bottom line and share holders payouts.
“O-CHIP seeks to place control and responsibility back onto the entity that best exercises it: the consumers,” says OCPA.” Thank god insurance companies don’t limit us to their own doctors and hospitals or approve or reject certain drugs or health care treatments. That never happens.
Not only does OPCA advocate deregulation, but a little "stick and carrot" social engineering is encouraged: “strengthen families and encourage their stability; reward initiative; deregulate insurance markets; make health insurance affordable; reward Oklahomans who acquire health insurance, penalize those who don't.” Again, simply deregulate insurance markets and wave a magic wand making health care affordable.
Penalty is big with these authoritarian conservatives. “O-CHIP (states that) those without health insurance will pay higher taxes, find it more difficult to borrow money, and lose the right to play the lottery." They are actually serious.
Leaving one to wonder what other draconian incentives they might have in mind when they “Encourage family stability and work: Stop encouraging young women to abandon the fathers of their children and reward the hard working poor who take initiative to better themselves,” is it any wonder people have lost faith in the conservative movement.
I know one thing, there are a lot of people out there just waiting to get sick so they can spend my hard earned money. Thanks to free market think tanks like OPCA, we’re on to these lousy freeloaders.
Here’s just a small sampling of “down the rabbit hole” politics:
Typical conservative: short term solutions like more drilling, than letting that run out before creating another fuel that can’t be curtailed. This is disaster management. Spend money only on emergencies as they occur, never planning ahead. Public transportation is voluntary, just another option, or right that citizens have to choose what’s best for them. How hard it that to figure out?
Recent evidence that automobile use is declining in America and that some Americans are making significant -and in some cases not readily reversible -changes in their lives because of escalating gas prices should be worrisome signs for those who love liberty. No device is more in keeping with the American spirit than the automobile. Privately owned cars and trucks allow us to go where we want, when we want. They are freedom machines.
Still, some liberals would like to use government to force Americans out of their cars. They believe in socialized transportation, not free-market transportation.
In a free-market transportation system, a person purchases his own vehicle with his own money, buys his own gas with his own money and can drive his vehicle anywhere there is a road…In a socialist transportation system, the government takes the taxpayers' money and purchases vehicles --often buses or trains…In a free-market transportation system, a person travels solely in the company of people with whom he has freely chosen to travel.
In a socialist transportation system, a person may be compelled to travel in the company of people he does not know and who could even be a danger to him.
I have no doubt that most Americans…have recognized efforts by various levels of government to induce them to stop, or limit, their driving and…submit to the socialist transportation system...placing constraints on parking availability..certain lanes of the highway...to carpool or ride a bus.
We should drill our own oil -- now. And, when the supply naturally diminishes to where prices drive the market elsewhere, American entrepreneurs must create another fuel whose production the government cannot readily curtail, and that keeps Americans driving where they want to, when they want to, in privately owned cars.
I’ve included this valid reader Comment:
Either we subsidize transit or we make car drivers pay 100% of road costs, starting with fitting each car with a transponder that records how many miles you drove, which roads you used and assessed a fee to base on your driving record to defray road costs. Something tells me most people won’t go for that solution.
The transponder idea is being considered in a number of states. I’m not sure how far the idea will ever get, but it’s out there.
Think I’m kidding? Dan Abrams was pointing out how John McCain had said on a few occasions that he had not been proud of his country, and getting no criticism for his comments, while Michelle Obama was lashed unmercifully for something she didn’t say.
From there, guest Reed Dickens, former Asst. White House Press Secretary tossed in the rediculous "people say" he’s an elitist, and talk show host Heidi Harris declares total allegiance to an infallible Republican candidate and Obama’s white grandmother. Incredibly, on the later issue, Harris never gets Abram's point.
Republican talk show hosts give radio a really bad name.
I started Democurmudgeon with the intent to explain just how the conservative ideology failed, and will continue to do so, due to its inherent contradictions, idol worship, authoritarianism and impossible economic outcomes. I’m not just saying it failed, I’m saying can’t be repaired or adjusted without becoming something decidedly different.
In this clip, John Cusack’s words add to the chorus of voices defining a Party devoid of rehabilitation.
Cusack: This is such a corrupt ideology and it’s been such a disaster, I really think this idea that government really…the job of government is to preside over a corporate feeding frenzy..
Brad Blog posted this:
Smith's opening statement, described the hearing as "the Judiciary Committees first book of the month club meeting" before proceeding to plug Ann Coulter's book. It was something to behold, and demonstrated (yet again) just how far these guys are willing to go to protect the Administration (versus offering oversight, as required by the Constitution) when they need to.
Thanks Brad, it truly is astonishing.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Boulton argued:..But the Supreme Court just ruled against what you were doing.
Bush: Distict court didn't, and the appelate court didn't.
Boulton: But he Supreme Court is supreme isn't it?
Bush: It is, and I accept their decision. I don't agree...it's not what I was doing down there. This was a law passed by our U.S. Congress...
Boulton: It looked like an attempt to by pass the Constitution to some extent...
Bush: This is a law passed, Adam, we passed a law...We went to the Congress and got a peice of legislation passed.
Boulton: Which is now being struck down.
It seems Bush is blissfully unaware that laws must be Constitutional, not just "passed."
There's more too.
Sky News Political Editor Adam Boulton in London: