Souter to retire

 Posted by at 21:19  Politics
Apr 302009

It appears that President Obama will be appointing at least one Supreme Court Justice if this report from NPR proves correct…

Supreme Court Justice Souter To Retire

David Souter
David Souter

NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the court’s current term.

The court has completed hearing oral arguments for the year and will be issuing rulings and opinions until the end of June.

Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.

At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court, but he has made clear to friends for some time now that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and to return to his native New Hampshire.

Now, according to reliable sources he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.

Justice Souter’s retirement would not change the ideological makeup of the court, since he generally votes with the more liberal members even though he was appointed by George H. W. Bush.

Just for the sake of interest, here are the ages of the other eight justices: John Roberts, 54; John Paul Stevens, 89; Antonin Scalia, 73; Anthony Kennedy, 72; Clarence Thomas, 60; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 76; Stephen Breyer, 70; and Samuel Alito, 59.

UPDATE: NBC News is now running with the story, also.

Confined spaces

 Posted by at 17:23  Politics
Apr 302009

Vice President Joe Biden appeared on NBC’s Today Show this morning and made a statement that was immediately attacked by the right wing noise machine.

This is from the Washington Post report of the “incident…”

In a “Today” show interview this morning, host Matt Lauer asked Biden what advice he would give a family member who wanted to jump on a commercial airliner to Mexico, ground zero of the swine flu outbreak.

“I would tell members of my family — and I have — I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” said Biden, adding that it’s not so much the destination as the means of getting there that concerns him.

“You’re in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation, suggesting they ride the subway,” Biden continued. “So from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation.

“If you’re out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that’s one thing. If you’re in a closed aircraft or a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, it’s a different thing.”

Here’s video:

I wish somebody (preferably from the medical community) would explain to me how what the Vice President said does not make sense. If we are on the verge of a worldwide pandemic (and most reports seem to indicate that we are), how is it not common sense to avoid crowded and closed spaces? And while you’re at it, perhaps you can explain why we are closing schools and not offices and businesses. Are children of school age more susceptible to the H1N1 flu virus than are adults?

Think about this the next time you are sitting in a crowded airplane, subway car or office and the person sitting next to you lets go with a big old sneeze. Then come back and tell me all about how what the vice president said this morning was such a big old gaffe. Do that for me, won’t you? Thanks.

Apr 302009

Representative Virginia Foxx, Republican from North Carolina’s 5th District, claims “we know” that the murder of Matthew Shepard was a hoax…

This type of ignorance and outright stupidity is probably one of the reasons so few people (and fewer every day) are willing to associate themselves with the reactionary fringe group that is today’s Republican party.

The thing about this that truly sickens is the fact that Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, was sitting in the House gallery and listening to this.

How long will it be before Representative Foxx apologizes?

UPDATE: A couple of more videos worth your time (h/t John Aravosis):


Press Conference 04-29-08

 Posted by at 21:00  Politics
Apr 292009

President Obama held his third prime time new conference this evening. It also marked his one hundredth day in office. Here is video of the event. A full transcript follows the break.

(Of note: The FOX Television Network was the only major broadcast network that did not carry the press conference. Appropriately, the President did not call on the FOX News representative at the press conference to ask a question.)

Continue reading »

Welcoming Senator Specter

 Posted by at 18:23  Politics
Apr 292009

President Obama and Vice President Biden welcomed Senator Arlen Biden to the Democratic caucus this morning. The President also spent some time addressing the swine flu situation…

So, Senators Collins and Snowe, when do we welcome you?

Apr 292009

President Obama needs to forget about this whole bipartisanship thing. It isn’t going to happen. He needs to stop wasting time trying to include the Republicans and just let them go pout in their corner as they seem determined to do.

The President’s budget passed the House of Representatives today. Anybody care to guess how many Republicans voted for it?

House approves $3.44 trillion budget resolution

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The House of Representatives passed a $3.44 trillion budget resolution for fiscal year 2010 Wednesday, approving most of President Obama’s key spending priorities and setting the federal government in a new direction with major increases for energy, education and health care programs.

The resolution, which was approved by a vote of 233 to 193, passed in a virtual party-line vote. All but 17 House Democrats supported it, and no House Republicans voted in favor.

That’s right. None. Not a single House Republican supported our President’s budget. Remember how many House Republicans voted in favor of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (popularly known as “The Stimulus Bill”)? That’s right. None. We could go right on down the list and the answer would remain the same. None.

I say let them sulk and stew in their own sour juices. But, that’s me. Our President is a much bigger man than I. He’ll continue to try to include them and work with them, though I am afraid it will be to no avail.

Don’t forget… The President will be holding his third prime time press conference this evening. It begins at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central) and will be carried by every major broadcast network except FOX.

Gotta love our Republicans.


UPDATE: “Senate Joins House in Approving Obama’s Budget Outline.”

Apr 282009

Do you hear that popping sound? That’s the sound of conservative heads popping all over the United States. Arlen Specter has seen the light. The President’s party is now one step closer to a filibuster-proof majority in the United States Senate.

Specter To Switch Parties

Arlen Specter
Arlen Specter
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

Specter’s decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next senator from Minnesota. (Former senator Norm Coleman is appealing Franken’s victory in the state Supreme Court.)

“I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary,” said Specter in a statement. “I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election.”

He added: “Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans.”

President Obama was informed of Specter’s decision at around 10:25 a.m., according to White House officials, and reached out to the senator minutes later to tell him “you have my full support,” and we are “thrilled to have you.”

The right wing smear machine is shifting into high gear. Hear the screeching and squealing?

UPDATE: This is icing on the cake:

The news shocked Senate Republicans, who had been hanging on to their ability to block legislation by a thread. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, called an emergency meeting of party leaders who had no forewarning of Mr. Specter’s plans.

UPDATE #2: This is even more fun… “Steele: Specter ‘flipped the bird’ at GOP.”



UPDATE #4: Statement from Senator Arlen Specter after the break…

Continue reading »

The flyover

 Posted by at 22:06  Politics
Apr 272009

When an airplane flying over the most populous city in the United States sends its citizens running into the streets in panic it can only mean one thing: the terrorists have won. Especially when that airplane is the back-up for Air Force One and it is accompanied by two Air Force fighter jets. (Update: After the initial panic had subsided a bit, it was revealed that there was but one fighter jet accompanying the 747.)

Jet Flyover Frightens New Yorkers

It was supposed to be a photo opportunity, a showcase of Air Force One alongside the sweep of New York City skyline. [Ed. note: The last official publicity photos of Air Force One were of it flying over Mount Rushmore. See below.]

But as the low-flying Boeing 747 speeded in the shadows of skyscrapers, trailed by two fighter jets, the sight instead awakened barely dormant fears of a terrorist attack, causing a momentary panic that sent workers pouring out of buildings on both sides of the Hudson River.

“I thought there was some kind of an attack,” said Paul Nadler, who sprinted down more than 20 flights of stairs after watching the plane from his office in Jersey City shortly after 10 a.m. “We ran like hell.”

In fact, the blue and white plane with “The United States of America” emblazoned on its side was one of two regularly used by the president. It was soaring above Lower Manhattan, Staten Island and Jersey City so government photographers could take pictures near the Statue of Liberty for publicity purposes.

Aides to President Obama, who was not on board, said he was incensed when he learned of the event Monday afternoon. The White House later issued a formal apology.

Witnesses described the engine roar as the planes swooped by office towers close enough to rattle the windows and prompt evacuations at scores of buildings. Some sobbed as they made their way to the street.

On top of the terrorists having won, the mayor of the most populous city in the United States made an absolute fool of himself today. He declared outrage at not having been notified of the flyover by the federal government when it turns out that an official in his office was notified and failed to pass the information on up the chain of command. If New Yorkers are to be angry at anybody over today’s events they should be angry with their own mayor. He seems to be utterly incapable of managing his own office. (I trust His Honor has issued the appropriate apology to the federal officials he so quickly and maliciously maligned.)



Swine flu

 Posted by at 17:55  General
Apr 262009

Twenty cases of the swine flu have thus far been reported in the United States. The United States government has deemed that sufficient to declare a public health emergency. They say, however, that it is not yet time to panic. (More information is available at the CDC website.)

A special briefing was held in the White House earlier this afternoon. Present were Secretary Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security; Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security; and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Here is video of that briefing:

A full transcript is available after the break.

(Whatever became of the bird flu, by the way?)

Continue reading »

Guns, guns, guns

 Posted by at 20:40  Politics
Apr 252009

There is a bill now making its way through the Texas legislature that will make it legal for students on the campuses of Texas universities to carry concealed firearms. Rick Perry will sign it.

Your assigned reading for this Saturday evening/Sunday morning is Bob Herbert’s column in today’s New York Times

A Culture Soaked in Blood

Philip Markoff, a medical student, supposedly carried his semiautomatic in a hollowed-out volume of “Gray’s Anatomy.” Police believe he used it in a hotel room in Boston last week to murder Julissa Brisman, a 26-year-old woman who had advertised her services as a masseuse on Craigslist.

In Palm Harbor, Fla., a 12-year-old boy named Jacob Larson came across a gun in the family home that, according to police, his parents had forgotten they had. Jacob shot himself in the head and is in a coma, police said. Authorities believe the shooting was accidental.

There is no way to overstate the horror of gun violence in America. Roughly 16,000 to 17,000 Americans are murdered every year, and more than 12,000 of them, on average, are shot to death. This is an insanely violent society, and the worst of that violence is made insanely easy by the widespread availability of guns.

Click on the headline to continue reading.


Related: “Dems put assault weapons ban on back burner.”