Armed and dangerous

 Posted by at 17:27  Politics
May 312009

The big news today seems to be the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas…

Doctor who performed abortions shot to death

Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas women’s clinic was the epicenter of the state’s battles over abortion for nearly two decades, was shot and killed at his church Sunday morning, his family said.

Tiller, 67, was fatally shot shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday at Reformation Lutheran Church, Wichita police said.

Sunday afternoon, authorities took a man into custody near Kansas City after stopping a car that matched a description of the killer’s getaway vehicle, according to sheriff’s deputies in Johnson County, Kansas. No charges had been filed and a motive for the killing was not immediately known.

Witnesses provided a license number for a powder-blue Ford Taurus they said the killer used to speed away from the church, police spokesman Gordon Bassham said.

Tiller was one of the few U.S. physicians who still performed late-term abortions. In 1993, he was shot and wounded through both arms outside his Wichita clinic. Shelley Shannon, an ardent foe of abortion, was convicted of attempted murder in the shooting and is currently serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison.

Tiller “dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence,” his family said in a written statement.

“We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere,” the family said.

In a statement issued through Tiller’s lawyers, his family — a wife, four children and 10 grandchildren — said their loss “is also a loss for the city of Wichita and women across America.”

Warning: America’s right is angry, armed and dangerous.

Abortion is a hot button topic for the right wingers in America. It, along with gay marriage and gun control, is one of their favorite wedge issues. They get rather worked up about it.

I’ve never felt particularly strongly about abortion one way or the other. It has never really been an issue in my family or among my friends. I guess if I were pressed, I would come down on the side that says a woman should have control over her own body. I find it kind of ironic that those who oppose government sponsored health care on the grounds that government bureaucrats would then determine the kind of health care one receives (what exactly do they think the big for-profit insurance companies are doing right now?) are the very people who say that government should restrict the kind of health care available to women in this country.

At any rate, I hope Dr. Tiller’s assassin is caught and justice dealt swiftly. This business of killing people in this country because you disagree with them politically is getting entirely out of hand.

Weekly Address 05-30-09

 Posted by at 10:33  Politics
May 302009

From the White House blog:

The President discusses the breadth and depth of experience held by his nominee for the Supreme Court. In the course of a life that began in a housing project in the South Bronx and brought her to the pinnacle of her profession, Judge Sonia Sotomayor accumulated more experience on the federal bench than any incoming Supreme Court Justice in the past 100 years, touching nearly every aspect of our legal system.

Watch the video of the President’s address below or read the full text, as prepared for delivery, after the break.

Click below to listen to the audio only:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Continue reading »

Loco en la cabeza

 Posted by at 22:16  Politics, Republicans
May 292009

It is amazing to me how low the right wing of today’s Republican party is sinking. Okay, to be honest, I do not know if most of our Republicans agree with people like Rush Limbaugh and Tom Tancredo. From what I read and hear lately, I kind of think they do. I do know one thing for certain, though. Both Rush Limbaugh and Tom Tancredo are loco en la cabeza. (For you gringos, that means they are street bat crazy (to borrow a phrase from Mr. Jack in the Box).)

What say you Republicans out there? Do you think the Obama administration hates white people? Do you agree that La Raza is the equivalent of the KKK? These guys are out there speaking for you. Are you in agreement with them?

May 292009

Click on them to make them bigger or to start a manually controlled slide slow…

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As always, our thanks go to the talented and observant cartoonists who, each week, help us smile through the pain.

Obama and the internets

 Posted by at 12:54  Politics
May 292009

That screams from the right are already starting: “Obama wants to take over the internets!” I do not believe (seriously, folks) that that is what this is all about. However, I don’t know that I would have a lot of objections if it were. (Are you surprised?)

Obama Setting Up Better Security for Computers

America has for too long failed to adequately protect the security of its computer networks, President Barack Obama said Friday, announcing he will name a new cyber czar to take on the job.

Surrounded by a host of government officials, aides and corporate executives, Obama said this is a “transformational moment” for the country, where computer networks are probed and attacked millions of times a day.

“We’re not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country,” he said, calling cyber threats one of the most serious economic and military dangers the nation faces.

He said he will soon pick the person he wants to head up a new White House office of cyber security, and that person will report to the National Security Council as well as to the National Economic Council, in a nod to the importance of computers to the economy.

The full text of the President’s remarks is available after the break.

Also see: “Securing Our Digital Future” on the White House blog.

Continue reading »

Empathy and racism

 Posted by at 20:23  Politics, Republicans
May 272009

The Republicans have decided upon their line of attack against President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. They have decided that she is a racist. They have determined that she will let her identity as a Hispanic female influence her decisions on the court. She displays, they say, too much empathy.

Apparently it is only okay to be empathetic or to identify with your background and your upbringing if you are a white, Republican male…

Also relevant… this from today’s Ed Schultz show…

There is no doubt that Judge Sotomayor is going to be the next Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. The Republicans simply do not have power to stop her confirmation. The only question is how foolish they are going to make themselves look as they fight against it. It has only been one day since her nomination and so far they’re doing a bang up job.

May 262009

Civil rights took a hit in (of all places) California today. In a ruling not entirely unexpected, that state’s Supreme Court let stand a proposition defining homosexuals as second class citizens not worthy of the same rights and legal protections enjoyed by heterosexuals. The justices were benevolent enough to let those married during the brief time that equal rights did reign in the state remain married. (Though I am sure that activist extreme conservatives will continue to challenge even that small concession.)

Court upholds Prop. 8 but lets marriages stand

California voters legally outlawed same-sex marriage when they approved Proposition 8 in November, but the constitutional amendment did not dissolve the unions of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before the measure took effect, the state Supreme Court ruled today.

The 6-1 decision was issued by the same court that declared a year ago that a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman violated the right to choose one’s spouse and discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.

Prop. 8 undid that ruling. The author of last year’s 4-3 decision, Chief Justice Ronald George, said today that the voters were within their rights to approve a constitutional amendment redefining marriage to include only male-female couples.

Justice Carlos Moreno, in a lone dissent, said a majority should not be allowed to deprive a minority of fundamental rights by passing an initiative.

The justices ruled unanimously that Prop. 8 was not retroactive and that gay and lesbian couples who relied on the court’s May 2008 ruling to get married before the Nov. 4 election will remain legally wed.


Sotomayor for Supreme

 Posted by at 09:38  Politics
May 262009

In what had to be the worst kept secret of the twenty-first century, President Obama announced this morning that he is nominating Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. Judge Sotomayor is 54 years old. She will be the first Hispanic to serve on the high court. She is currently serving as an appeals judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which covers New York, Vermont and Connecticut. It will be interesting to see what kind of obstacles the Republicans place in her path to confirmation.

Sonia Sotomayor
Sonia Sotomayor

Let’s go to the tape:

P.S. As much as it pained me, I visited one of those extremist conservative blogs this morning (actually one of the more mild ones) and checked the comments that were left following the announcement of Judge Sotomayor’s nomination. Here’s a good representation of what I encountered:

Of course. She’s female and Hispanic. Seeing as all that matters to liberals are quotas, she’s a perfect selection. It covers multiple special interest bases. Plus, she’s an activist who shows “compassion”. You know, rather than ruling based on the laws created by Congress.

Further, Obama just failed his first justice test. People expected, maybe wanted, him to pick a centrist, moderate replacement to fill in Souter’s shoes.

He went far to the left. People are not going to be happy. He’s shown his hand, a big failure on his part.

Really? We waited all this time to find out it’s just more identity politics from the Democrats? YAWN.

I wonder if they will conduct her Senate confirmation hearings in Spanish?

Anyone taking bets on whether she gets to wear a Che robe, or at least a red one rather than black?


She’s been tagged as not very bright and arrogant. We’ll see if that comes through during questioning. It should be pretty obvious if the right questions are asked. Hopefully she’ll embarrass Obama.

She’ll sail through. Female Hispanic = untouchable in the media.

Yes, she’s an intellectual lightweight, but she’s an arrogant intellectual lightweight – the worst kind. She will deem herself a bold leader on the Court and write opinions with no shame in her misguided activism and flawed thinking whatsoever. If she had some sense of her lightweightness, she would meekly sit back and let the intellectual giants on the Court do their job. In fact, she wouldn’t even accept the nomination if she had some sense of how unsuited she is.

She is the most activist of the activists they’ve been babbling about since Souter announced his retirement. God help us all.

I was hoping for a militant gay, transgendered, mulatto ex-hooker with glasses, a peg leg and a bad overbite; someone who grew up poor, is a former gang member and once worked as a fieldhand picking strawberries.

I may have missed a few of the important criteria for leftist victim status, my apologies.

And it just went on and on and on. I skipped over the more “colorful” ones. Let’s just say the bitterness and the hatred were palpable. If the Republican leaders in the Senate bow to their rabid right wing base, as they are wont to do, this should be a very interesting summer.

Memorial Day 2009

 Posted by at 14:33  Democrats, Iraq, Politics
May 252009


Memorial Amphitheater
Arlington National Cemetery

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Thank you, Admiral Mullen, for that generous introduction and for your sterling service to our country. To members of our armed forces, to our veterans, to honored guests, and families of the fallen — I am deeply honored to be with you on Memorial Day.

Thank you to the superintendent, John Metzler, Jr., who cares for these grounds just as his father did before him; to the Third Infantry Regiment who, regardless of weather or hour, guard the sanctity of this hallowed ground with the reverence it deserves — we are grateful to you; to service members from every branch of the military who, each Memorial Day, place an American flag before every single stone in this cemetery — we thank you as well. We are indebted — we are indebted to all who tend to this sacred place.

Here lie Presidents and privates; Supreme Court justices and slaves; generals familiar to history, and unknown soldiers known only to God.

A few moments ago, I laid a wreath at their tomb to pay tribute to all who have given their lives for this country. As a nation, we have gathered here to repeat this ritual in moments of peace, when we pay our respects to the fallen and give thanks for their sacrifice. And we’ve gathered here in moments of war, when the somber notes of Taps echo through the trees, and fresh grief lingers in the air.

Today is one of those moments, where we pay tribute to those who forged our history, but hold closely the memory of those so recently lost. And even as we gather here this morning, all across America, people are pausing to remember, to mourn, and to pray.

Old soldiers are pulling themselves a little straighter to salute brothers lost a long time ago. Children are running their fingers over colorful ribbons that they know signify something of great consequence, even if they don’t know exactly why. Mothers are re-reading final letters home and clutching photos of smiling sons or daughters, as youthful and vibrant as they always will be.

They, and we, are the legacies of an unbroken chain of proud men and women who served their country with honor; who waged war so that we might know peace; who braved hardship so that we might know opportunity; who paid the ultimate price so we might know freedom.

Those who rest in these fields fought in every American war. They overthrew an empire and gave birth to revolution. They strained to hold a young union together. They rolled back the creeping tide of tyranny, and stood post through a long twilight struggle. And they took on the terror and extremism that threatens our world’s stability.

Their stories are the American story. More than seven generations of them are chronicled here at Arlington. They’re etched into stone, recounted by family and friends, and silently observed by the mighty oaks that have stood over burial after burial.

To walk these grounds then is to walk through that history. Not far from here, appropriately just across a bridge connecting Lincoln to Lee, Union and Confederate soldiers share the same land in perpetuity.

Just down the sweeping hill behind me rest those we lost in World War II, fresh-faced GIs who rose to the moment by unleashing a fury that saved the world. Next week, I’ll visit Normandy, the place where our fate hung on an operation unlike any ever attempted, where it will be my tremendous honor to address some of the brave men who stormed those beaches 65 years ago.

And tucked in a quiet corner to our north are thousands of those we lost in Vietnam. We know for many the casualties of that war endure — right now, there are veterans suffering and families tracing their fingers over black granite not two miles from here. They are why we pledge anew to remember their service and revere their sacrifice, and honor them as they deserve.

This cemetery is in and of itself a testament to the price our nation has paid for freedom. A quarter of a million marble headstones dot these rolling hills in perfect military order, worthy of the dignity of those who rest here. It can seem overwhelming. But for the families of the fallen, just one stone stands out — one stone that requires no map to find.

Today, some of those stones are found at the bottom of this hill in Section 60, where the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan rest. The wounds of war are fresh in Section 60. A steady stream of visitors leaves reminders of life: photos, teddy bears, favorite magazines. Friends place small stones as a sign they stopped by. Combat units leave bottles of beer or stamp cigarettes into the ground as a salute to those they rode in battle with. Perfect strangers visit in their free time, compelled to tend to these heroes, to leave flowers, to read poetry — to make sure they don’t get lonely.

If the fallen could speak to us, what would they say? Would they console us? Perhaps they might say that while they could not know they’d be called upon to storm a beach through a hail of gunfire, they were willing to give up everything for the defense of our freedom; that while they could not know they’d be called upon to jump into the mountains of Afghanistan and seek an elusive enemy, they were willing to sacrifice all for their country; that while they couldn’t possibly know they would be called to leave this world for another, they were willing to take that chance to save the lives of their brothers and sisters in arms.

What is thing, this sense of duty? What tugs at a person until he or she says “Send me”? Why, in an age when so many have acted only in pursuit of the narrowest self-interest, have the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines of this generation volunteered all that they have on behalf of others? Why have they been willing to bear the heaviest burden?

Whatever it is, they felt some tug; they answered a call; they said “I’ll go.” That is why they are the best of America, and that is what separates them from those of us who have not served in uniform — their extraordinary willingness to risk their lives for people they never met.

My grandfather served in Patton’s Army in World War II. But I cannot know what it is like to walk into battle. I’m the father of two young girls — but I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a child. These are things I cannot know. But I do know this: I am humbled to be the Commander-in-Chief of the finest fighting force in the history of the world.

I know that there is nothing I will not do to keep our country safe, even as I face no harder decision than sending our men and women to war — and no moment more difficult than writing a letter to the families of the fallen. And that’s why as long as I am President, I will only send our troops into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary, and I will always provide them with the equipment and support they need to get the job done.

I know that military families sacrifice more than we can understand, and feel an absence greater than we can comprehend. And that’s why Michelle and I are committed to easing their burden.

And I know what a grateful nation owes to those who serve under its proud flag. And that’s why I promise all our servicemen and women that when the guns fall silent, and you do return home, it will be to an America that is forever here for you, just as you’ve been there for us.

With each death, we are heartbroken. With each death, we grow more determined. This bustling graveyard can be a restless place for the living, where solace sometimes comes only from meeting others who know similar grief. But it reminds us all the meaning of valor; it reminds us all of our own obligations to one another; it recounts that most precious aspect of our history, and tells us that we will only rise or fall together.

So on this day of silent remembrance and solemn prayer I ask all Americans, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, whatever you’re doing, to pause in national unity at 3:00 this afternoon. I ask you to ring a bell, or offer a prayer, say a silent “thank you.” And commit to give something back to this nation — something lasting — in their memory; to affirm in our own lives and advance around the world those enduring ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity for which they and so many generations of Americans have given that last full measure of devotion.

God bless you, God bless the fallen, and God bless the United States of America.


May 242009

President Obama has not even announced who his nominee to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme court will be and already the Republicans are threatening to filibuster that nominee…

GOP senator threatens filibuster over court pick

Jon Kyl
Jon Kyl

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate’s No. 2 Republican on Sunday refused to rule out a filibuster if President Barack Obama seeks a Supreme Court justice who decides cases based on “emotions or feelings or preconceived ideas.”

Sen. Jon Kyl made clear he would use the procedural delay if Obama follows through on his pledge to nominate someone who takes into account human suffering and employs empathy from the bench. The Arizona Republican acknowledged that his party likely does not have enough votes to sustain a filibuster, but he said nonetheless he would try to delay or derail the nomination if Obama ventures outside what Kyl called the mainstream.

“We will distinguish between a liberal judge on one side and one who doesn’t decide cases on the merits but, rather, on the basis of his or her preconceived ideas,” Kyl said.

If Senator Kyl wants to talk about judges who decide cases on the basis of their preconceived ideas, we should probably talk about John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. But that isn’t why you called.

The point of this post is Mr. Kyl’s blatant (and typically right wing) hypocrisy. Here is what he had to say way back on April 25, 2005:

For 214 years it has been the tradition of the Senate to approve judicial nominees by a majority vote. Many of our judges and, for example, Clarence Thomas, people might recall, was approved by either fifty-one or fifty-two votes as I recall. It has never been the rule that a candidate for judgeship that had majority support was denied the ability to be confirmed once before the Senate. It has never happened before.

Isn’t it amazing how one presidential election can change a person?

P.S. While it is true that President Obama said that empathy is one of the qualities he seeks in a Supreme Court nominee, he also listed several other qualities that he finds desirable. See this interview. Here is part of what he actually said (for the rest, see the interview):

Well, there are some benchmarks that you have to make sure that you hit. Obviously, you want somebody who is highly qualified, who knows the law. I want somebody who, obviously, has a clear sense of our constitution and its history and is committed to fidelity to the law.

Is going to make their decisions based on the law that’s in front of them, but as I’ve said before, I think it’s also important that this is somebody who has common sense and somebody who has a sense of how American society works and how the American people live.

And you know, I said earlier, that I thought empathy was an important quality and I continue to believe that. You have to have not only the intellect to be able to effectively apply the law to cases before you.

But you have to be able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes and get a sense of how the law might work or not work in practical day-to-day living.