Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24



A Fetus is a Person Unless the Church's Wallet is Involved

When sued for malpractice, a Catholic hospital group decides that fetuses don't have any rights if that would cost them money: (via)

But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health's lawyerseffectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect "unborn persons," and Catholic Health's lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

This is a sad case where a woman pregnant with twins died suddenly, and no emergency c-section was performed to attempt to save the twins. Apparently unborn persons are only persons if they're being treated in a non-Catholic hospital


This is ugly:

Reid has embraced a carrot-and-stick strategy on the filibuster reform. The "carrot" is the deal he's offering McConnell. Its major provisions include eliminating filibusters on the motion to proceed and speeding the process of breaking filibusters against most presidential nominations.
The Senate's reformers are crestfallen. This is not, in their view, filibuster reform. Forget breaking the Senate's 60-vote requirement. This doesn't even make senators stand up and talk, as would be the case under the proposal Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) were pushing.

And this would be great, but it's unlikely:

The last, best hope for filibuster reformers is that McConnell won't take Reid's deal. In that case, Reid is preparing a backup plan that includes both of the items in the Reid-McConnell talks and one more: An innovative reform that changes who bears the burden for cloture votes.
Right now, the majority needs to supply the 60 votes to break a filibuster. The minority only needs one vote on the floor. Under Reid's backup plan, the burden would be reversed: The minority would have to supply the 41 votes required to keep a filibuster going, while the majority wouldn't have to do much of anything. That means that if the minority only had 38 votes present in the room, the filibuster would end. It also means the minority could be forced to muster all their people to vote at times of the majority leader's choosing: say, 3 a.m. on a Saturday. It would make filibustering a much more unpleasant experience.

Whatever you want to say about McConnell, he's a smooth operator and he doesn't generally cut off his nose to spite his face, so counting on him to take the worse deal is a bad bet. The Senate is full of a bunch of elderly rule fetishizing prima donnas, and none of them really want to give up their power to throw sand in the gears, so I expect a quiet sigh of relief on the part of Democrats like DiFi, Baucus, Levin and others when McConnell takes Reid's deal.


Paul Constant:

Look, we've established that I'm not a sports guy. But with the second sports scandal this month culminating in a shame-faced tell-all interview, I have to ask: Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events? Were Te'o's games really more magical because you thought he had a dead girlfriend? Do you enjoy the Olympics more when you find out that the gymnast's mom had cancer, or that the figure skater's whole family was wiped out in a tragic car accident?

It all started with the Olympics, which to me have almost become unwatchable because of the overlay of sappy melodramatic backstory, but now it infects all sports coverage.


You have tampered with the primal forces of nature...and you will atone


How Republicans Plan To Rig The Next Presidential Election, In Six Pictures


Gawker brings us the second-most horrifying story of the morning — the other one is also from Gawker, about "Cannibal Cop," so yeah — about mentally disabled people, with average mental ages of 10, being kept in a Philadelphia dungeon so a cabal of really fine people could steal their disability checks and also make them be prostitution whores.

Alleged ringleader Linda Weston [who was joined in the scheme by her daughter, among others] found the victims in different ways; one was her niece and another was taken from a street corner near a mental health facility. All of the victims were malnourished and some had been trapped in the basement for as long as 11 years; the two deaths were the result of starvation and bacterial meningitis. Several of the victims, who Memeger said had the mental capacity of an average 10-year-old child, were also forced into prostitution. All told, the scam netted the alleged abductors $212,000 over ten years.

How is it that the easiest way to make an illegitimate 20 grand a year is to IMPRISON PEOPLE IN BASEMENTS? Like, have they ever even seen "Breaking Bad"? Maybe they just enjoyed imprisoning people, and the SSI was just icing on the very sick cake? Maybe most of their real income came from selling "Bless This Torture Den" needlepoint on Etsy? READ MORE »


The corrupt privatization of our public schools

by David Atkins

For all the progressivism of President Obama's 2nd Inaugural speech, there were still a number of elements of "New Democrat" dreck. Among them was this:

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.
Sounds great in theory, right? Well, here's what that "school reform"looks like in practice, courtesy of some fantastic investigative reporting by Greg Hinz who does the sort of real journalism the Villagers long since stopped doing:

Here's a story only a Chicagoan could really appreciate, a story about how one chain of privately operated charter schools recently almost got a whopping $35 million grant — as much as Chicago Public Schools were to get for the entire city — thanks to a well-placed pol or two.

I love Springfield.

I first heard about the story from Parents United for Responsible Education, a hard-scrabble civic group that ordinarily targets Chicago Public Schools management and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In this case, though, the group was squawking about money destined for schools operated by the United Neighborhood Organization.

The group, generally known as UNO, is one of the better-connected groups in town. With deep roots in Chicago's growing Latino community, it was tight as could be with former Mayor Richard M. Daley and has maintained warm ties with his successor.

Anyhow, UNO a few years ago got what amounted to a $98 million earmark out of Springfield to build news schools for its operation. And then PURE found out that UNO was pushing to get another $35 million in a measure that was pending in the General Assembly's veto session early in January.

PURE was right. Click here, and you'll see a proposed amendment to Senate Bill 24 that was introduced on Jan. 2 by North Side state Sen. Heather Steans.

And then go all the way to page 52 of the 89-page amendment, to Sec. 110, and you'll see a proposed appropriation "of $35,200,000, or so much thereof . . . to the United Neighborhood Organization" for capital work on one or more green-certified "facilities."

That's a lot of money anytime — particularly at a time when Chicago Public Schools is warning of a $1 billion deficit, and in a week when Gov. Pat Quinn said the state might soon have to cut state school aid by $400 million. So I called Ms. Steans, whose district is entirely in the city, to ask what was up.

Ms. Steans says she found out about the amendment she was introducing "that day, from staff." In other words, she was handling it at the request of somebody upstairs.
There's much more via the link. I encourage you to read the whole thing.

The charter school privatization game is a racket no different from the social security privatization game. The big money boys aren't content with having just 90% of the money. They want it all, and they're happy to ravage what little is left of the commons to get it.


We have our next contestant for who will unsuccessfully try to nullify federal law.

At a rally in front of the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, newly-elected state Rep. Brian Greene drew cheers when, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, he announced that "he would unveil legislation next week giving local sheriffs the power to arrest any federal agent attempting to seize firearms from Utah residents." [...]

"This is all about control," Greene said. "I saw the president in his press conference the other day with all the children around him and he made this comment — and I want to correct him.He said if this can save just one life we have a duty to do it. No, Mr. President, you have a duty to uphold the Constitution."

Greene's bill is known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Reached by TPM on Tuesday, Greene said the bill was still being drafted, and public copies were not yet available.

Again — you can't claim that your aim is to "uphold the Constitution" while conveniently ignoring the Supremacy Clause which states that federal law is "the supreme law of the land."

The good news for Brian Greene is that no one is actually planning to confiscate firearms so he may never have the opportunity to be laughed out of a federal court room.


Straight from the Glenn Beck School of Wizardry, here's libertarian boy-wonder Rand Paul asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for details on a secret CIA operation that doesn't exist during a nationally-televised, public hearing.

via ThinkProgress

"It's been in news reports that ships have been leaving from Libya and that they may have weapons and what I'd like to know is the annex that was close by, were they involved with procuring, buying, selling, obtaining weapons and were any of these weapons being transferred to other countries, any countries, Turkey included?"

Clinton is visibly perplexed, as she should be.

Rand Paul's conspiracy mongering, which he refers to as "news reports" but was actually ripped right from the pages of Alex Jones' Infowars (which I refuse to link to, but the story was published there this morning before Paul's rant), is ridiculous and irresponsible.

We have enemies abroad who will not make the distinction that Paul is a yokel from Kentucky whose daily diet of reading material is comprised almost entirely of the Funny Pages, and they may very well quote him in the near future.

Rand Paul can also be quoted for saying today that 'if he were president,' he would have fired Clinton. And I may never recover from that.


The Constitution I uphold and defend is the one I carry in my pocket all the time, the U.S. Constitution. I don't know what Constitution that other members of Congress uphold, but it's not this one. I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one. He has no concept of this one, though he claimed to be a constitutional lawyer. -Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA)

The Soviet constitution which has not existed since the Soviet Union dissolved.

Perhaps Paul Broun is unaware that the Soviet Union dissolved. It wouldn't surprise me. It seems pretty clear now that an alarming number of Republican congressman are no more informed or educated than your average nutball off the street.

I know it's appealing to some people to elect representatives who are just as dumb as you are — "He's just like us! I want to have a beer with him!" — but we can do better than this. We really can.

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