Traffic Tickets vs Life

A Police Officer in Paden, OK pulled over an ambulance with a patient inside to issue a traffic citation (Huffington Post).

WTF?

Despite being told that the woman in the ambulance needed to get to the hospital, the trooper insisted that one of the paramedics be detained in his car. When he tried to handcuff a paramedic, a fight ensued, which was filmed by the husband of the patient.

What happened to priorities?

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The Problem With Calling Abortion Murder

Let’s say I said administrators at a school were routinely picking out high school students teachers didn’t like, and killing them.  Let’s say in addition, they had the full complicity of our legal system.  Would you be in the streets protesting?  Would you be writing articles or blog posts?  Or would you be in that school trying to rescue the kids, and shooting the administrators?

The problem with lying and calling abortion murder is that it leads directly to shit like this: An abortion provider was shot to death in Kansas.

Make no mistake about it, calling abortion murder is a lie.  One that anti-choice activists do not believe:
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Opposing Gay Marriage in a Recession

One of the best arguments against Gay Marriage I’ve heard from Rob Thomas (emphasis mine):

Still, I’m amazed at the audacity of a small, misdirected group of the ultra-conservative Christian right wing, to spend millions of dollars, in a recession, on advertisements to stop two men or women who love each other from being able to be married, but when you present any opposition to them, they accuse you of attacking their religion.

I had not thought of that angle.  What does it say about those pouring money into opposing gay marriage, during a recession, that they’d rather prevent people from enjoying equal rights than reach out to the poor and the meek and help those in need?

As an added bonus, he adds:

Isn’t it funny that the people who are the quickest to take someone’s basic rights to happiness are always the loudest to scream when someone attacks their right to do so?

Amen.

One of thehttp://melinda.toomojo.com/

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Why Sotomayor is the Perfect Obama Nominee

In an excellent post one 10 Things You Should Know (about Sotomayor), number 7 is quite revealing (Huffington Post):

Sotomayor’s record on two key hot button cultural issues is thin. But, quite notably, her sole opinion regarding abortion was in line with the anti-abortion movement’s position.

That said, pro-choice groups hailed her nomination, with Planned Parenthood declaring that she “understands the importance of ensuring that our Supreme Court justices respect precedent while also protecting our civil liberties.”

What?  Her one ruling is anti-choice, and pro-choicers are supporting her?

Sotomayor has also not ruled on any cases involving gay civil rights, but gay legal activists described her positively

Does this remind anyone of the early supporters of Obama?  Who said he was amazing yet avoided specifics?

Sonia Sotomayor does have a plus, she has an incredibly impressive about of judicial experience.  But the broad bipartisan support she has enjoyed thus far, along with her relative silence in a long career on key social issues, leaves me wondering whether Obama is simply going to replace retiring justices with centrists.  I wonder why Democrats are excited by Sotomayor when I read something like this:

Additionally, the White House points out, “Known as a moderate on the court, Sotomayor often forges consensus and agreeing with her more conservative nominees far more frequently than she disagrees with them. In cases where Sotomayor and at least one judge appointed by a Republican president were on the three-judge panel, Sotomayor and the Republican appointee(s) agreed on the outcome 95% of the time.”

That’s staggering!  With “centrists” like that on a court staffed with die hard conservatives appointed by Bush, what impact will that have on laws in this country for years to come?

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Mitt Romney Doesn’t Understand the Courts

Mitt Romney’s weak attack on Sotomayer shows a startling failure to understand her statement or our judicial system.  And this guy wanted to be President?!

Romney said (via CNN):

“The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is troubling. Her public statements make it clear she has an expansive view of the role of the judiciary. Historically, the Court is where judges interpret the Constitution and apply the law. It should never be the place “where policy is made,” as Judge Sotomayor has said. Like any nominee, she deserves a fair and thorough hearing. What the American public deserves is a judge who will put the law above her own personal political philosophy.”

Her comment in full context (emphasis mine):

“All of the legal defense funds out there, they are looking for people with court of appeals experience because the court of appeals is where policy is made,” she said, laughing a bit through the next part: “And I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law. I know. Okay, I know. I’m not promoting it. I’m not advocating it. I know.”

The thing is, she’s right (Huffington Post):

“She’s not wrong,” said Jeffrey Segal, a professor of law at Stony Brook University. “Of course they make policy… You can, on one hand, say Congress makes the law and the court interprets it. But on the other hand the law is not always clear. And in clarifying those laws, the courts make policy.”

As Segal noted, one of the most recent cases heard by the Supreme Court — itself a court of appeals — involves the strip search of a 13-year-old who school officials believed was carrying ibuprofen. “There is no clear knowing statement whether officials can be sued for that sort of behavior,” he noted. “So when justices come up with a decision on that, they would be making policy.”

What Sotomayor was doing was acknowledging a reality of our current legal system.  She wasn’t advocating for it.  That’s a pretty important distinction Mitt Romney failed to grasp.

Obama’s GM Gaffe

Obama’s strong words on GM may come back to bite him (BBC):

“Our auto industry is the foundation for economies all across the Midwest,” Mr Obama said.

“Had we allowed GM or Chrysler simply to liquidate that would have been a huge anti-stimulus on the economy as a whole, and could have dragged us even deeper into recession or even depression.”

Now its looking like GM will go bankrupt after all (Huffington Post).

Both GM and Chrysler are in danger of liquidation.  Their loss will be terrible, and it will hurt the economies of the midwest, surely.  But a depression?  That’s on par with Biden’s stay off planes and trains gaffe.  Since the so called invisible hand of the market seems to be driven largely by fear or greed, Obama’s heightened rhetorical flourish may come at an unfortunate cost:  the realization that economic prophecies are self-fulfilling.  Let’s hope not.

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Traveling Food

The past two weeks were spent in Davis CA, San Francisco CA, and Chicago CA.  On my journeys I tried out my new camera phone whenever I ate someplace delicious.  So I have a few random shots to share!

So here comes some food blogging:

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Andrew Sullivan: Shutting Down Discourse

If there is one thing I hate more than watching journalists cook up weak or phony examples of left wing wrong doing to “balance” their stories, its when those journalists use that nonsense to attempt to shut down discourse. Andrew Sullivan is a choice exemplar. He gives his Moore award to Sara Robinson for her insightful post about possible reactions to the prop8 ruling.  Sullivan was attempting to dismiss this particular section (emphasis mine):

In the worst case, this decision could become the catalyst for a new round of large-scale domestic terrorism from the right. As I’ve noted, everything I’m seeing points to a subculture that is gearing up for this kind of heroic last stand in defense of a lost cause. And this time, it’s not going to be just a few white supremacist/militia/patriot/anti-choice wackos. The new crop of right wing militants is better connected, better trained, better armed, and absolutely determined to go down fighting. And, as the SPLC keeps telling us, there may considerably more people motivated to support them than there have been in the past. It’s not unthinkable that between 15 and 20% of the country could be inclined to start — or at least support — a civil war over this,

As Sara sharply notes, Andrew had trouble understanding those first 4 words.  Sara explains them for him gently.

What I take issue with is not Andrew Sullivan’s base need to “tsk tsk” a leftwing blogger.  Its that the effect is to de-legitimize extremely useful analysis and criticism.  Prop8 was upheld, but we have every reason to believe it will be crushed when Californian’s return to the polls.  Voters will be resentful of being a hate state, mindful of the dollars a gay-unfriendly public stance could cost them, and angrily aware of massive amounts of out of state financial and religious influence directed their state laws and rights.  Homophobes and theocrats are going down come 2010.

Which is why Mr Sullivan ought to be paying attention to Sara Robinson’s advice:

Most of yesterday’s piece focused on some very specific, well-supported reasons that I think the gay community should question their complacency. It also included a most-likely scenario (assuming the court rules against Prop 8, which is in itself not a most-likely scenario), which is that a few far-right whack jobs around the country would use the event as an excuse for a fresh round of gay-bashing. We might see another Matthew Shepherd, or another Knoxville. Or two or three. And wise people should at least prepare themselves for that possibility.
There’s nothing particularly outrageous or over-the-top about this claim: this stuff happens fairly regularly in America, as I think even Sully would agree. There’s always been that 2-3% of the population who are implacably and militantly on the political extremes, who aren’t burdened by the same social braking systems the rest of us came equipped with, and who are prepared to act out violently if provoked.  I simply pointed out that overturning Prop 8 is the most perfect imaginable example of the kind of event that might provoke them.

Homophobia is on the way out, and some among the pathetic, the ignorant, the fearful and the violent may lash out.  It is essential that we allow ourselves to be aware of this, and develop strategies for stopping potential violence.  We need to make clear in no uncertain terms that whatever heaven the crazies think they are protecting, when they stoop to violence they are only inviting hell.  We need to reach out to religious communities – who in no way would want to be associated with that violence – and ask them to take active steps to ensure their worshippers understand the difference between peaceful and violent opposition.  That starts with taking the potential for violence seriously and not downplaying the people who are skilled and intelligent enough to see the warning signs and sound a wake up call.

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An End to FreeCreditReport.com Fraud?

It looks like the rip off artists behind FreeCreditReport.com (which isn’t free at all) will need to start being honest in their advertising. Hurray for consumers!

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California’s Prop8 Upheld

Reports are coming in from Twitter that Prop8 has been upheld (with an exception for existing marriages).  This should be overturned by votes in 2010 (Orcinus):

Fortunately, the polls suggest that if it went back to the ballot next year, there’s a good chance a reversal would probably pass. A lot of Californians who stood on the sidelines are feeling embarrassed into action; and the African-American community in particular is realizing that if the voters can strip away gay civil rights with a wave of a ballot marker, they can strip away racial equality rights in exactly the same way — and that’s a situation that ought to make them very nervous. And then there are simply those who resent the idea that the Mormons and Catholics are imposing their values on the state, and using money raised from all over the country to do it.

This is a huge dissapointment, but one which will serve as a rallying cry.  Equal Rights will win out over bigotry, fear and ignorance.
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