Posted by Brad @ 4:55 pm on January 22nd 2010

Meanwhile, Back in Kansas

The trial of George Tiller’s murderer has been turning over all sorts of stones, and brings back everybody’s favorite anti-abortion Attorney General, Phil Kline.

In a new ethics complaint that alleges large-scale abuse of office, the former attorney general of Kansas is accused of dispatching staff to record license plates of women entering George Tiller’s abortion clinic, getting records from a motel where patients stayed, and obtaining state medical files under false pretenses, then retaining them after his term as AG was over and repeatedly lying about it in court.

Kline’s defense?

Shortly after taking office, Kline met in April 2003 with top deputies to discuss how best to target Tiller and his clinic. A plan was laid out to access confidential medical files held by the state department of health and social services agency.

The AG’s office was purportedly investigating whether Tiller performed abortions on girls who were under 16 without filing a required “abuse of child” report with authorities. Such a requirement existed, according to the AG, because Kline himself had issued an opinion saying that any sex with a person under 16 was “abuse of a child.” Therefore pregnancy would require an abuse report.

Bonus: after being voted out of office, he took all the records with him.

Lots more here.

Posted by Brad @ 2:25 pm on January 22nd 2010

Music Video of the End of the Week

Allison Crowe – Let It Be

Posted by Adam @ 1:32 pm on January 22nd 2010

Faith-based bomb detection

A British-made bomb detector, the ADE-651, has been purchased by the Iraqi government to the tune of $85 million has been banned for export from the UK, the reason being that it cannot work.

The device is made by Jim McCormick and is based on tried and trusted science:

There are no batteries and it consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. Critics have likened it to a glorified dowsing rod.

Mr McCormick told the BBC in a previous interview that “the theory behind dowsing and the theory behind how we actually detect explosives is very similar”.

Of course, the humour in this is significantly lessened by the fact that they were being relied on at checkpoints to protect people from bombs; I suppose there might have been some sort of placebo effect acting as a deterrent on bombers but I imagine they worked out before too long that the damn things are useless.

Posted by Adam @ 11:33 am on January 22nd 2010

RPG Gamers for Haiti

Rpgnow, the major (but not only) vendor of roleplaying game pdfs, have got a bunch of their vendors to bundle a lot of products together in one package that will sell for $20, all of which will go to Haiti relief.

The list is here; it’s over a grand in retail value. Now, obviously, much of that a typical person wouldn’t otherwise buy and I know for a fact some of it’s been on sale for cheaper than retail at various times recently, but there’s some good stuff there. I’ll point out a few things:

Included, listing just the things I know about and either have or know to be cool, are:

The site’s customers have, though this and other donations, apparently sent 85 grand to Haiti relief already.

Posted by Brad @ 10:35 am on January 22nd 2010

Are There Enough Votes to Re-Confirm Bernanke?

There are a few holds on his nomination in the Senate so he needs 60 to get through (which is supposedly the way things should be in Congress). Apparently, Senate Dems aren’t sure they can get there.

Posted by Brad @ 10:28 am on January 22nd 2010

Rush Limbaugh: “Anti-Semite!”

So, Barack Hussein Obama is secretly waging a war against the Jews because he’s now interested in bank reform.

So sayeth Rush.

“There are a lot of people, when you say banker, people think Jewish. … People who have a little prejudice about them. … To some people, banker is a code word for Jewish; and guess who Obama is assaulting? He’s assaulting bankers. He’s assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there’s – if there’s starting to be some buyer’s remorse there.”

Posted by Brad @ 3:14 pm on January 21st 2010

President Obama: “Bank Reform!”

So Obama has gone ADD all of a sudden, and has decided to get out in front of financial industry reform, today holding a press conference in which he outlined some measures he intends to propose—a contrast to his strategy on health care, which was outlining a few “values” and leaving it to Congress to hack out.

Transcript and video here.

Rhetorically, kind of interesting.

This economic crisis began as a financial crisis, when banks and financial institutions took huge, reckless risks in pursuit of quick profits and massive bonuses. When the dust settled, and this binge of irresponsibility was over, several of the world’s oldest and largest financial institutions had collapsed, or were on the verge of doing so. Markets plummeted, credit dried up, and jobs were vanishing by the hundreds of thousands each month. We were on the precipice of a second Great Depression.

To avoid this calamity, the American people — who were already struggling in their own right — were forced to rescue financial firms facing crises largely of their own creation. And that rescue, undertaken by the previous administration, was deeply offensive but it was a necessary thing to do, and it succeeded in stabilizing the financial system and helping to avert that depression.

Since that time, over the past year, my administration has recovered most of what the federal government provided to banks. And last week, I proposed a fee to be paid by the largest financial firms in order to recover every last dime. But that’s not all we have to do. We have to enact common-sense reforms that will protect American taxpayers -– and the American economy -– from future crises as well.

Some interesting not-so-subtle-subtleties there. “Deeply offensive…thing to do”. “Undertaken by the previous administration”, etc.

Aside from a tax Obama proposed last week—a tax for the biggest banks that sunsets when it reaches a pre-determined level of revenue (probably however much was used to bail them out)—two things today.

1. Limit the Scope-The President and his economic team will work with Congress to ensure that no bank or financial institution that contains a bank will own, invest in or sponsor a hedge fund or a private equity fund, or proprietary trading operations unrelated to serving customers for its own profit. .

2. Limit the Size- The President also announced a new proposal to limit the consolidation of our financial sector. The President’s proposal will place broader limits on the excessive growth of the market share of liabilities at the largest financial firms, to supplement existing caps on the market share of deposits.

Posted by Brad @ 11:24 am on January 21st 2010

SCOTUS Finds For Citizens United: Corporations have the same rights as individuals as it concerns election speech

Background here. The court ruled 5 – 4 in favor of striking down a key provision of McCain-Feingold and, it looks like, previously settled precedent that there is a distinction between corporate and individual expenditures in American elections. Not so, says the majority decision. Stevens, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer dissenting. Opinion is here, and is the longest decision of the term so far, with a lot of “dissent in part, concur in part” opinions written by Thomas, Stevens, Breyer, and a few others.

In a stunning reversal of the nation’s federal campaign finance laws, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that as an exercise of free speech, corporations, labor unions and other groups can directly spend on political campaigns.

Siding with filmmakers of Hillary: The Movie, who were challenged by the Federal Election Commission, the court overturned a 20-year-old ruling that banned corporate and labor money The decision threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the main opinion, which reads in part that there is “no basis for allowing the government to limit corporate independent expenditures.”

“There is no basis for the proposition that, in the political speech context, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers,” he wrote. “The government may regulate corporate speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether.”

I can’t be arsed to read it, as I don’t work in politics, but I will pass along analysis as it comes. Obviously, SCOTUSblog is the place to be.

Posted by Brad @ 11:16 am on January 21st 2010

John “Baby Daddy” Edwards and Contender for the Most Meaningless Apology of the Year

So he finally publicly admits that Rielle Hunter’s baby is, indeed, his. Well, he didn’t personally admit it—he sent his spokesperson to the Today Show with a prepared statement. He’s sorry, but…well shit, doing it himself would suck. Leave me alone!

Bonus points: he acts remorseful about his previous denials.

“It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter and hopefully one day, when she understands, she will forgive me.”

Yes, forgive him, for spontaneously realizing the error of his ways. He is deeply apologetic. Why now, in late January? Well, the Lord works in mysterious ways, and gifted Edwards with seeing the light and realizing what a flawed human being he is here at the end of the week.

Left unmentioned? The aide whom Edwards had claim paternity of the kid has a book coming out February 2nd in which he recants and will appear on 20/20 early next week to recount how Edwards had him arrange a false paternity test.

But John really did, entirely coincidentally, come to contrition this week also! He’s sorry! Really! Understand!

What a scumbag.

Posted by Adam @ 9:53 am on January 21st 2010

West Palm Beach’s ABC affiliate: the vigilante’s handy helper

A piece of non-news yesterday was that Anna Kournikova’s mum was arrested (link from wpbf.com). She left her five-year old kid alone while she went out to do some stuff, then the kid jumped from a second-floor balcony, so she’s somewhat unsurprisingly up for Child Endangerment.

What bemuses me, however, is that the story has her street address — which is a matter of public record, I guess, although you don’t always see it in news stories — and a Bing map of the address in case you want to go around there and harass her or beat her up and are too lazy to search out a map yourself. There’s also a pic to make it easier to recognise her (she doesn’t look much like Anna Kournikova).

Posted by Adam @ 9:09 pm on January 20th 2010

Air France wars on fatties

So, apparently Air France will actually bar obese people from flying if there isn’t a spare seat for them to spill over into. They can avoid this by purchasing an extra seat at a 25% discount, and get refunded if the plane is not, in fact, full.

I wish they’d do this in the US, to be honest; I don’t have anything against obese people flying — their money is, after all, as good as anyone’s — but if someone ends up crushed over in the adjacent seat then that person isn’t getting what they paid for. Unless they’re into being crushed by a large person, at least, in which case they should perhaps pay extra. Hell, if they can weigh passengers and luggage, then I’m OK with that, too; I don’t see why small people should pay the same when they cost less jet fuel.

Posted by Brad @ 5:21 pm on January 20th 2010

What Kind of Senator Will Scott Brown Be?

A lot of takes, but I think the most salient one for us is the one from Hit & Run.

Posted by Adam @ 5:15 pm on January 20th 2010

21st Century Universe

Dylan Ratigan was just spluttering about the “21st Century Universe”.

Dude. Even the Young Earth Creationists know the Universe is older than that.

Posted by Brad @ 4:02 pm on January 20th 2010

In Other News Today – White Basketball!

A new league opens today.

Posted by Brad @ 3:54 pm on January 20th 2010

President Obama: “Eh, Screw it”

In light of comments from Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill that they thought Brown should be seated before doing anything on health care (and Senate leadership agreeing), the House, in whose court the ball is, began wavering mightily, with Barney Frank publicly (and even calling voters to reiterate) health care was done in this Congress, and a lot of House Democrats privately knocking their knees, it was going to take some strong leadership from Obama in his first public statements on the issue to right the ship of the Democratic state and maybe salvage a health care bill.

Survey sez…

“Here’s one thing I know and I just want to make sure that this is off the table. The Senate certainly shouldn’t try to jam anything through until Scott Brown is seated,” Obama said. “People in Massachusetts spoke. He’s got to be part of that process.”

Obama then went on to reiterate what he’s said throughout to absolutely no effect.

“It is very important to look at the substance of this package and for the American people to understand that a lot of the fear mongering around this bill isn’t true,” he said.

“I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on. We know that we need insurance reform, that the health insurance companies are taking advantage of people. We know that we have to have some form of cost containment … Those are the core, some of the core elements of, to this bill,” Obama said.

And then, Obama tried to ride on Scott Brown’s coattails.

“The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office,” he said. “People are angry, they are frustrated. Not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”

Yikes.

It is entirely and totally unclear to me what the Democratic play here is. I have absolutely no idea how the Obama administration intends to move things forward, and if anything, it looks like Democrats in Congress are scrambling over the railings on health care, which is curious, since it nets them both a solid year of being on record for a (now) unpopular health care package but without the upside of…a friggin’ health care package. I mean, what the hell do you run on in 2010 if you’re a congressional Dem?

It seems to me that health care is officially done. It seems equally clear that congressional Democrats are running away from it. It seems finally clear to me that if Obama thinks he’s going to manage a re-do that nets him a bipartisan deal, one year closer to midterms and now with 41 Republicans full of bloodlust after claiming their first scalp, he’s either an idiot, naive, wildly overestimates his own capacity to affect change, or wildly misunderstands the electoral pressures that be operating (he must think that Republicans will think that they can gain more politically from milquetoast centrist bipartisanship than simply double-down on automatic no-ing, which is, frankly, idiotic, and I have no idea how you could have watched Republican opposition to the first year of the Presidency from anything approaching planet earth and come to that conclusion).

This is why I can never be a Democrat.

Posted by Brad @ 12:41 pm on January 20th 2010

For the Record…

Special elections are notoriously hard to poll, but the polls did pretty good this time out, although by the end they started breaking too hard towards Brown (ironically, undecideds, in the end, broke for Coakley). The firm that really distinguished themselves? Public Policy Polling (PPP), which pegged the race correctly at +5 for Brown (at 51 to 46; actual result was 52 to 47). PPP was also the first polling firm to register a Brown lead, way back in the first week of January. PPP is generally considered a partisan (Democrat) firm.

Posted by Adam @ 9:43 am on January 20th 2010

And the winner is… Mitt Romney

Well, if he can somehow persuade people to forget his embarassing diversion to the Dark Side of Socon in 2008, where he was in any case received with the enthusiasm normally reserved for a burlesque troupe appearing in a nunnery.

Massachusetts voters, it turns out, are OK with the healthcare reform they got in-state, with which Romney was involved. As a result, they don’t want healthcare reform imposed from above in which they, as a relatively rich state, will end up subsidising other states’ healthcare from the one-size-fits-a-country model popular in DC. So, this works on the Federalist level but it works on the political level, too; states doing it themselves keeps DC out of their business and that hurts the people (on both sides) that wants centralisation and stronger government from DC.

Of course, other than the nutso socon embrace, Romney also committed lunacy like promising to bring the jobs back to Michigan with a touch of the Presidential magic wand. There’s no doubt in my mind that the biggest problem Romney ’12 has is Romney ’08. Which at least means his biggest problem isn’t being a Mormon, I guess.

But man, great hair.

Posted by Adam @ 10:23 pm on January 19th 2010

Coakley concedes

According to NBC. Awesome.

Posted by Adam @ 9:44 pm on January 19th 2010

Things either not so good for Brown or things good for Brown.

Rich Lowry notes a lessening in confidence from the Brown camp and tightening turnout margins. Jim Geraghty points to Brown winning some Obama 2008 towns and seems to be ready to call it for Brown already.

Meanwhile, Brown leads on votes in so far but it’s only about 400 000, so it doesn’t mean much.

Posted by Adam @ 9:16 pm on January 19th 2010

Ah, Keith

Olberman trying to get Howard Fineman to say that it’s a race thing, the Brown/GOP-lite resurgence in MA. Fineman not biting.

Posted by Adam @ 9:08 pm on January 19th 2010

Tea party ad buys

We get sent tea party mass emails — I blame Brad, from his Ron Paul days before he became an Obama-loving freedom-hating communist — and just got sent one about their ad buys.

The story is that as MA-local ad spots on cable got as expensive as national cable ad spots and started to dry up, they decided to keep on air by just buying the national ad spots instead. I am not sure that this is the rocket science they make it out to be, but it’s interesting to see how this stuff all works. Also, the tea party dudes seem to have a decent amount of money.

Posted by Adam @ 8:32 pm on January 19th 2010

The Ron Christie and Joan Walsh roadshow

I was just watching Ed Shultz’s show, which I normally avoid other than when I want to see a middle aged man daring the world to give him a rage-induced heart attack. Anyhow, Joan Walsh was there as the pinko and Ron Christie and the conservative meanie; what was amusing me was that a bunch of times Christie was talking, Walsh would animatedly interrupt and Christie would say “excuse me” and carry on and she’d shut up, point unmade.

I have no idea why she can’t hold her tongue and wait her turn, but why does she keep interrupting when he just has to say “excuse me” and she’s gagged anyhow? Christie’s pretty smooth, but Walsh isn’t doing herself any good.

Posted by Brad @ 7:33 pm on January 19th 2010

Marc Ambinder’s MA-Sen Cheat Sheet and Pre-Show

What to watch for, who is going to be updating with election results, etc.

Polls close at 8, no exit polling for this race.

Lay ’em on the table, boys. My prediction? Brown by 2, though I’d take the under on that before the over.

Posted by Adam @ 6:53 pm on January 19th 2010

Will there be a lawyer-fest?

Apparently Coakley’s raising concerns about the probity of the election. I don’t know entirely how this can play out, but Franken didn’t get certified in MN for ages and even if Coakley’s got no hope, it’d serve the Democrats in Congress if she could delay certification by weeks or months…

Posted by Adam @ 6:18 pm on January 19th 2010

Scott Ritter’s evil penis rules his head

Scott Ritter — former chief Iraq weapons inspector and prominent Bush critic — got in trouble years ago over a charge of soliciting sex from a minor (who turned out to be a police officer); the case was sealed in contemplation of dismissal. That should have remained sealed but was leaked, an action which was often considered to have been political and timed to discredit Ritter while he was criticising Bush over Iraq WMD intel.

I only saw it on CNN last week but, alas, he’s been arrested again for similar sorts of offences.

This doesn’t prove anything much, of course, nor impugn his professional expertise, but what the hell? Gets out of jail once then tries it again? Jesus.

Posted by Brad @ 5:45 pm on January 19th 2010

Apropos of Nothing

But I’ve been getting way into 30 Rock lately, via Netflix streaming on my PS3. I had seen maybe three or four episodes before, and it was too goofy for my taste, but now being mid-way through the second season, it’s a taste completely acquired. Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin are just peerless. Here’s Balwin on a tour de force.

Posted by Adam @ 4:54 pm on January 19th 2010

God hates Coakley

From a few hours ago, bad weather concentrated in Democrat strongholds.

I still think Coakley can do it, though. And, of course, Democrats don’t have to rely on God when they have the awesome powers of hope and change at their command.

Posted by Brad @ 4:40 pm on January 19th 2010

Rendell Watch

Not an Onion Headline: “Rendell Travels To Haiti To Bring Back Orphans”

Posted by Adam @ 2:14 pm on January 19th 2010

Norah O’Donnell’s apparently not very happy

I don’t know what Norah O’Donnell’s politics are, but her reporting from MA — in which MSNBC are pretending to have placed her in a bar, hilariously (I assume she’s supposed to be in Boston) — seems pretty slanted. When she’s talking about Brown, she also has the expression of a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

Posted by Brad @ 11:42 am on January 19th 2010

Music Video of the Week

Ahhh.

Mariee Sioux – Wizard Flurry Home

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