Tuesday, March 22, 2005

News for March 22nd: Damn Activist Judges Edition

First of all, my apologies for my heated rhetoric yesterday; I had just heard Drudge’s audio files of Terri and was horrified. How on earth could anyone hear the pained moaning that she was making and want her to stay alive? She sounded like a lost soul drowning in a world of pain, and it made the DeLays of the world look like evil monsters who wanted to profit off her misery…well, okay, I still believe that, but I got a bit carried away. At least there’s some good news today…the federal judge (that DAMN ACTIVIST JUDGE) smacked them down in court, as he should have. Of course, they can still blame “KKKlinton” for this, since he appointed the judge. Damn liberals! Damn activist judges!

Now let’s just hope it doesn’t go back to Congress again and have them shit all over the Constitution one more time. Heh.

Judge won't order feeding tube reinsertion
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge on Tuesday refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, denying an emergency request from the brain-damaged woman's parents.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Whittemore comes after feverish action by President Bush and Congress on legislation allowing her contentious case to be reviewed by federal courts.

The judge said the 41-year-old woman's parents had not established a "substantial likelihood of success" at trial on the merits of their arguments.

The tube was disconnected Friday on the orders of a state judge, prompting an extraordinary weekend effort by congressional Republicans to push through unprecedented emergency legislation early Monday aimed at keeping her alive.

Schiavo did not have a living will. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has fought in courts for years to have the tube removed because he said she would not want to be kept alive artificially and she has no hope for recovery. Her parents contend she responds to them and her condition could improve.

From the AP.

Oh, and in case anyone missed it yesterday, here’s the case of the kid who was removed from the feeding tube against his mother’s wishes, courtesy of then-governor George W. Bush, who signed the law into practice.

Baby born with fatal defect dies after removal from life support
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

The baby wore a cute blue outfit with a teddy bear covering his bottom. The 17-pound, 6-month-old boy wiggled with eyes open and smacked his lips, according to his mother.

Then at 2 p.m. today, a medical staffer at Texas Children's Hospital gently removed the breathing tube that had kept Sun Hudson alive since his Sept. 25 birth. Cradled by his mother, he took a few breaths, and died.

"I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. Inside of me, my son is still alive," Wanda Hudson told reporters afterward. "This hospital was considered a miracle hospital. When it came to my son, they gave up in six months .... They made a terrible mistake."

Sun's death marks the first time a hospital has been allowed by a U.S. judge to discontinue an infant's life-sustaining care [size=10]against a parent's wishes,[/size] according to bioethical experts. A similar case involving a 68-year-old man in a chronic vegetative state at another Houston hospital is before a court now.

"This isn't murder. It's mercy and it's appropriate to be merciful in that way. It's not killing, it's stopping pointless treatment," said William Winslade, a bioethicist and lawyer who is a professor at the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "It's sad this (Sun Hudson case) dragged on for so long. It's always sad when an infant dies. We all feel it's unfair, that a child doesn't have a chance to develop and thrive."

The hospital's description of Sun — that he was motionless and sedated for comfort — has differed sharply from the mother's. Since February, the hospital has blocked the media from accepting Hudson's invitation to see the baby in the neonatal intensive care unit, citing patient privacy concerns.

"I wanted y'all to see my son for yourself," Hudson told reporters. "So you could see he was actually moving around. He was conscious."

On Feb. 16, Harris County Probate Court Judge William C. McCulloch made the landmark decision to lift restrictions preventing Texas Children's from discontinuing care. However, an emergency appeal by Hudson's attorney, Mario Caballero, and a procedural error on McCulloch's part prevented the hospital from acting for four more weeks.

Texas law allows hospitals can discontinue life sustaining care, even if patient family members disagree. A doctor's recommendation must be approved by a hospital's ethics committee, and the family must be given 10 days from written notice of the decision to try and locate another facility for the patient.

More at the Houston Chronicle.

Now, switching gears, I had a nice conversation with my father about Dick Cheney last night, and I realized that he really is not responsible for what he does. No, really. Hear me out. He can’t help what he does; the real Dick Cheney died years ago and was replaced by a robot who was built to lie. It’s not that he wants to lie; he can’t help it, he HAS to lie, you see. That’s why he’s so perfect to push the social security plan.

I’ll let you write your own punch line to that one.

Cheney Joins the Social Security Campaign
Vice President, Rep. Thomas Tout Personal Accounts as Safe Way to Bolster System

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif., March 21 -- Two of Washington's most powerful politicians -- Vice President Cheney and House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) -- teamed up Monday to pitch personal Social Security accounts as a safe and smart way to shore up the 70-year-old retirement program.

The two men, who came to Congress together 27 years ago and now play major roles in shaping policy, said critics are misleading the public about the risks associated with allowing Americans born after 1950 to voluntarily divert about one-third of their payroll taxes into private accounts.

"The one thing people should not be concerned about is that in creating personal accounts you are going to exercise any significant risk," Thomas said at a town hall meeting at California State University at Bakersfield. "It will be structured in a way that you can get the benefit without a serious risk of losing money."

Cheney said the performance of stocks and bonds over the course of history proves those younger than 55 should "bet on America" and fully expect to win. "In effect, what we are saying is we are going to tie your future as you retire to the overall health and function of the American economy," he said.

As part of a stepped-up White House public relations blitz for President Bush's plan to restructure Social Security, Cheney and Thomas went after AARP and other critics who charge that Americans will be gambling with their retirement if they are allowed to invest any portion of the Social Security tax in the market. Although many Democrats agree that, historically speaking, stocks and bonds have been a wise investment for many Americans, they still oppose converting a system that guarantees a set benefit into one that relies, in part, on unpredictable market forces. AARP is running ads that say Bush's plan is tantamount to Las Vegas-style betting.

More at the Washington Post.

Well, while we’re here, why don’t we cover the latest act by the Travesties of Justice Department? That’s right, it’s time for the Gonzales Watch.

So the basic story, in script form:

FBI: “Hey, these detentions and tortures? …probably not such a good idea.”
Bush: “But they hate our freedom.”
FBI: “Yeah, but I mean…c’mon. You have one guy who admits to being the Pope. You think that’s useful intelligence?”
Gonzales: “We’re working with the Vatican to have him returned him unharmed.”
FBI: “Oh, yeah, sure, you’ve captured the Pope.”
Gonzales: “…”
FBI: “Anyway, we don’t think it’s a good policy.”
Gonzales: “Tough.”
FBI: “Hey, Haynes, help please.”
William J. Haynes II: “Hay guys. What’s up?”
FBI: “They’re shackling detainees to the floor for periods exceeding 24 hours, without food and water, draping detainees in an Israeli flag, and using growling dogs to scare detainees.”
Haynes II: “Cool.”


Human Rights Folks: “Tell us what the government had to say.”
FOIA: “All right.”
Gonzales: “Oh, no, you don’t. Yoink.”
Human Rights Folks: “What the hell? Carl Levin, please help.”
Levin: “Yo.”
Human Rights Folks: “Cool.”
Bush: “Curses, foiled again.” *twirls mustache*

Seriously, they’re controlling the flow of information that should rightly be going to citizens yet again, but lord I’m tired of complaining about it. Can someone else pick this one up for me?

Justice Redacted Memo on Detainees
FBI Criticism Of Interrogations Was Deleted

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A03

U.S. law enforcement agents working at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, concluded that controversial interrogation practices used there by the Defense Department produced intelligence information that was "suspect at best," an FBI agent told a superior in a memo in May last year.

But the Justice Department, which reviewed the memo for national security secrets before releasing it to a civil liberties group in December, redacted the FBI agent's conclusion.

The department, acting after the Defense Department expressed its own views on which portions of the letter should be redacted, also blacked out a separate assertion in the memo that military interrogation practices could undermine future military trials for terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay.

It also withheld a statement by the memo's author that Justice Department criminal division officials were so concerned about the military interrogation practices that they took their complaints to the office of the Pentagon's chief attorney, William J. Haynes II, whom President Bush has nominated to become a federal appellate judge.

The revelations in the memo, released yesterday by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) , generally amplify previously disclosed FBI concerns that military interrogators at the island prison were using coercive interrogation methods that could compromise any evidence of terrorist activities they obtained.

FBI agents and officials had complained about the shackling of detainees to the floor for periods exceeding 24 hours, without food and water; the draping of a detainee in an Israeli flag; and the use of growling dogs to scare detainees.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who as White House counsel participated in detailed discussions about the legality of aggressive military interrogation techniques, has twice publicly expressed skepticism about the reliability of these FBI accounts.
More at the Washington Post.

Well, looks like ol’ Wolfowitz got them Duke boys out of a whole mess of trouble. All he had to do was take his book learnin’ out on the road and kiss some ass and the Europeans cozied right up.

Ah, well, the Neocon empire continues to expand. I suppose it’s only a matter of time until they control the world. Well, beyond their own minds, I mean.

Wolfowitz Closing In On Bank Post
Germany Softens Stance As Nominee Woos Others

By Paul Blustein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page E01

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz closed in on the presidency of the World Bank yesterday when Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Germany would not try to block Wolfowitz's candidacy.

Schroeder said on German television that President Bush phoned him to discuss the nomination, "and I told him Germany would not stand in his way," according to news service reports. "I even think that people will be positively surprised" by Wolfowitz's leadership at the bank.

The statement virtually extinguished the already-fading chances of a rebellion by other World Bank member nations against Wolfowitz, whose nomination by Bush last week became the focus of controversy because of his role in promoting the invasion of Iraq.
With France, the other major European opponent of the Iraq war, Germany posed a potential threat to Wolfowitz's candidacy, which must be approved by the board of the 184-nation institution. The United States traditionally chooses the World Bank president as part of an informal agreement in which the European Union gets to name the head of the International Monetary Fund. But the boards of the two institutions operate by consensus -- indeed, a German candidate for IMF chief was forced to withdraw five years ago for lack of support from Washington and other capitals.

Schroeder's comments made it clear that a European-led challenge to Wolfowitz is not in the offing. Although there is still a chance that developing countries could put forward an alternative candidate around whom Wolfowitz's critics could rally, sources at the bank said that board members from developing nations have shown no desire to take such a step.

From the Washington Post.

And here’s something I haven’t covered in awhile: Horse Race 2005. Jerry “Ned Flanders” Kilgore hit the road yesterday to start his campaign (I was invited. WHY was I invited??) and right-wing fundies across the state swooned at the size of his…execution list. Seriously, what the hell is up with this guy? He talks like Ned Flanders and he looks like he’s about 12 years old. A psychotic 12-year old Flanders? The mind reels.

Going Back to Roots, Kilgore Gets Started
Va. Base Cheers Gubernatorial Platform

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page B02

GATE CITY, Va., March 21 -- Former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore began his quest to reclaim Virginia's executive mansion for Republicans on Monday, pledging to slow the upward spiral of real estate taxes for homeowners while improving the transportation network and education system.

Kilgore, 43, returned to his childhood home to launch his bid in front of an enthusiastic crowd of about 800 at Gate City High School in southwest Virginia. In an evening speech, he promised that, if elected, he will seek a constitutional amendment that would limit increases in home assessments to no more than 5 percent a year.

If local governments want more money, he said, their leaders should be forced to openly increase tax rates, not rely on rising assessments to fuel what he called "backdoor" tax increases.

"No Virginian should be forced out of his or her home because of runaway property assessments," Kilgore said. "My plan is an honest plan that attacks the real problem: skyrocketing property tax assessments that result in higher real estate taxes paid by you."

Kilgore also proposed a constitutional amendment that would require public referendums for any tax increase unless a public emergency were declared.

With Kilgore's announcement, all the major candidates are now in the field for an election that will be closely watched by politicians across the country as they test theories and watch for trends.

Kilgore's likely Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, last week proposed creating a "homestead exemption" that would allow local governments to designate up to 20 percent of a home's value tax free. The competing plans suggest an election-year clash over tax cuts similar to the debate on James S. Gilmore III's "no car tax" promise in his successful campaign for governor in 1997.

More at the Washington Post.

And that’s all, folks. I might take up something on the Minnesota shooting tomorrow. I want the sociological aspects (OMG DOOM) to die down before I look at how they’re going to screw over our childrens’ freedoms yet again.

Posted by crimnos @ 8:56 AM