Friday, July 31, 2009

News Flash: If You Use a Taser on a 72-Year-Old Woman, You're a Coward


Jonathan Turley:

I do not see how the police could view this as a proper use of a taser. Bieze threatens to taser her again if she does not put her hands behind her back. He then tasers her again. He then charges her with resisting arrest.

The video is a textbook example of how tasers have served to escalate the level of force in such encounters. While Bieze might have called for back up or physically restrained Winkfein, he moves almost immediately to the use of the taser. The fact that Constable McCain would watch this video and find (here) that Bieze acted properly raises serious questions of his own judgment.

This is all because she refused to sign a speeding ticket.


The Bitch is Back

Not a great YouTube - are there any great YouTube videos, quality-wise? - but a great song and performance circa 1974 of the song that popped into my head when I woke up this morning:

And holy shit, look at this. 1975, Los Angeles, with very recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Billie Jean King dancing on stage. (Warning: horrible quality.)


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Uncle Rapes 15-year-old - She's Forced to Complete Pregnancy

One more time: the anti-abortion movement is not about abortion. It is about the desire of a religious group to gain governing power in society, and to fulfill their perverted desire for power over women.

Case in point:

Nicaragua's total ban on abortion is a violation of human rights and is killing a growing number of women and children, Amnesty International said Monday in launching a campaign to have the measure repealed.

In a report released in Mexico City, the international human rights organization said Nicaragua's law, which went into effect in late 2006, puts the Central American country among the 3% of the world's nations that do not allow abortion under any circumstance.

Citing statistics from the Nicaraguan Health Ministry, the report says 33 women and girls died from pregnancy complications in the first 19 weeks of this year, compared with 20 in the same period last year. It also says the real numbers are probably much higher.

Nicaragua has one of Latin America's highest rates of sexual violence, with the abuse often perpetrated by fathers, uncles or other relatives.

At least 50% of reported rapes are of girls under the age of 18, and most of those who get pregnant are under 15, the report says.

Women and girls who have been impregnated by rapists or whose lives or health is at risk are not allowed to abort.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

$1 Trillion For Unnecessary War Good; For Health Care Bad

How often does it hit you in the gut that George Bush and Dick Cheney started an unnecessary war, and that more than 1 million men, women, and children died horribly violent and painful deaths - that didn't have to happen? Most of them would be alive today if that unnecessary war wasn't started. I mean just think of that.

Kicks me in the gut nearly every day.

* And stories like this kick you again. This did not have to happen.


Boston Cop Calls Henry Louis Gates "Jungle Monkey" in E-mail

Can we call that stupid? Or just racist?

And Sgt. James Crowley lied on his police report, according to the woman who made the 911 call. She did not have the conversation with him that he described in his report. She did not, she says, tell him there were "two black males with backpacks."

Have we as a culture simply accepted that cops lie? Is that why this isn't a major component of this story?

More here.


A Common and Inane Argument Against National Health Care

A supposedly smart and informed person says this (h/t) :

Basically, for me, it all boils down to public choice theory. Once we've got a comprehensive national health care plan, what are the government's incentives? I think they're bad, for the same reason the TSA is bad. I'm afraid that instead of Security Theater, we'll get Health Care Theater, where the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we're getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.

The heart of what she's saying: We shouldn't have national health care because it might have flaws.

You know what, Megan McArdle - I'm guessing the millions of families with no health insurance will take the not perfect health care provided by the government and be pretty much alright with the fact that it's not perfect. Same as they take the not perfect police force, fire departments, post office, national park service, Medicare, Congress, and other government funded services.

What she's also saying is that we shouldn't have national health care because it won't drive innovation - like you get with private, greed-driven health care. Unbelievable. When your insurance company denies you an expensive cancer treatment - thank Megan McArdle and the super awesome innovative thinkers in Big Pharma and Big Insurance. They're what make this country neato.

And can anyone say "NASA"? Have they ever been, like, I don't know - innovative? And we do still have a National Institute of Health, don't we? What's their mission?

Its mission is science in pursuit of fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to extend healthy life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.

Maybe we could get them some more funding?

And again, how does your imaginings of lost innovation matter to people who don't have any insurance and any way to provide proper health care for themselves and their kids? McArdle's answer:

At this juncture in the conversation, someone almost always breaks in and says, "Why don't you tell that to an uninsured person?" I have. Specifically, I told it to me. I was uninsured for more than two years after grad school, with an autoimmune disease and asthma. I was, if anything, even more militant than I am now about government takeover of insurance.

"I told it to me."

Kill me. Just kill me.

After grad school you had no insurance for two years? But apparently have had it since? And had it all the years before that, I'll assume through your parents? And you're now able to get your conditions treated on a regular basis without going into debt? Or getting sicker and dying? Am I right? And this speaks to people who cannot afford health care how?

Good god. I can't go on.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"

Republicans want you to be as brain dead, idiotic, stupid, dumb, assholeish, Limbaughesque, goddamned imbecilic and ignorant as this piece of work:

At a recent town-hall meeting in suburban Simpsonville, a man stood up and told Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.) to "keep your government hands off my Medicare."

"I had to politely explain that, 'Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,' " Inglis recalled. "But he wasn't having any of it."

Someone film that idiot while it's explained real slow to him what Medicare is. Please. What an ass. This is what the good people working toward a good, sane, sensible, and responsible plan on health care are up against. In and out of congress.

P.S. I'd bet you my cats that guy watches Fox News.


North Korean Communist Beer



We Don't Need Health Care *Reform* - We Need Health Care

Atrios asks "What's it all about then?"

I have a hard time writing about the health care situation because, as John says, I'm not even sure what it's about anymore. What's the Obama administration pushing for? What do they want? What's the bumper sticker you can take to the country, other than "health care reform."

Right now it seems to be "maybe, kinda, sorta, better than what exists now. Somehow."

How about - "America doesn't have health care, and it's time we got it"?

If you have millions of people who can't afford health insurance, and therefore can't afford regular health care for themselves and their children, including regular trips to the dentist, and if emergencies drive people into deep and dangerous debt - even people who do have health insurance plans - then you don't have health care. You have an expensive, greed-driven, let the unwealthy get sick and die - after you've sucked all their money away - system.

It's shameful that we are behind by decades every industrialized country on the planet. Absolutely shameful.

This personal story needs telling a hundred times. This is about me and my spouse:

My spouse is from Australia. Her sister still lives there. They both recently had similar, quite invasive (use your imagination) diagnostic medical procedures performed on their lovely selves, my spouse here in the U.S., using my work-based insurance, and sis in Australia, using their national, single payer system. Cost to spouse (and me) and sis', out of pocket:

Spouse: Roughly $3,000

Sister: $95.

My wife's sister doesn't have private insurance. She's just Australian. That means she's covered. Me and the wife - we have insurance. And it still cost us $3,000 out of pocket. That's a lot of freaking money! We took ages to pay it off. For a lot of people in this country who need tests like that - they simply couldn't get them at all.

Absolutely shameful.


Oh Lord: William Shatner Read's Sarah Palin's Farewell Speech

To music:


Monday, July 27, 2009

Officer Crowley's Police Report Questioned

Updated here.

In the ongoing Gates-gate drama we now hear from the woman who made the 911 call. She says she never mentioned race in the call, and:

Attorney Wendy Murphy also categorically rejected part of the police report that said her client, Lucia Whalen, talked with Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer, at the scene.

"Let me be clear: She never had a conversation with Sgt. Crowley at the scene," Murphy said. "And she never said to any police officer or to anybody 'two black men.' She never used the word 'black.' Period."

Here's what Crowley wrote in his police report:

I turned and looked in the direction of the voice and observed a white female, later identified as Lucia Whalen... She went on to tell me that she observed what appeared to be two black males with backpacks on the porch of [blacked out] Ware Street. She told me that her suspicions were aroused when she observed one of the men wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.

The 911 call:


"Delicate, tiny, very talented celebrity starlets"

Tiny? Starlets?

Someone has issues.


Why Can't I Carry My Handgun Into the Capitol Building?

E. J. Dionne Jr. takes the garrote to Senator John Thune.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dr. Tiller

Dr. George R. Tiller was murdered by a Christian fanatic in the fanatic anti-abortion movement on May 31 of this year. In his church.

Don't forget.

Jacki G., 29, went to Dr. Tiller for an abortion in 1996 after she was raped. She can still remember her trepidation when she and her mother pulled up to the clinic a few weeks into her pregnancy.

In middle school in Wichita, she said, children chanted “Tiller, Tiller, the baby killer.” She recalled the gory Truth Trucks driving around town and the 1991 “Summer of Mercy” protests, when hundreds were arrested for blockading Dr. Tiller’s clinic.

“It makes an impression,” she said.

Not only did she fear the protesters, she also worried about whether Dr. Tiller would be gruff and cold, “only in it for the money,” as his critics alleged. It was almost a shock, she said, to instead meet a slightly nerdy doctor who gently explained every step and kept asking, “Are you doing O.K.?


The Bush Admin. Classified Photos of Sea Ice

What could possibly justify classifying images of retreating sea ice?

The pictures, kept secret by Washington during the presidency of George W Bush, were declassified by the White House last week. President Barack Obama is currently trying to galvanise Congress and the American public to take action to halt catastrophic climate change caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

One particularly striking set of images - selected from the 1,000 photographs released - includes views of the Alaskan port of Barrow. One, taken in July 2006, shows sea ice still nestling close to the shore. A second image shows that by the following July the coastal waters were entirely ice-free.

The photographs demonstrate starkly how global warming is changing the Arctic. More than a million square kilometres of sea ice - a record loss - were missing in the summer of 2007 compared with the previous year.

Trying to hide these photos from the American people - we freaking paid to have them taken - is pretty stark evidence that the Bush administration believed that global warming was a real problem, and that they were willing to lie to keep us from doing anything about it.

The photos are available at the Global Fiducials Library at the USGS Web site.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

"There are no Americans who don't have health care." [updtd]

The equivalent of saying, "There are no Americans who don't have food. There's food all over the place!"

Horrible, uncaring, heartless assholes.

Update: More than 2,000 people have attended the free Remote Area Medical (RAM) health clinic (h/t) at the Wise County Fairgrounds in Wise, Virginia this weekend. They're treated in barns, in animal stalls:

For many residents of this Appalachian area, the RAM clinic serves as the only medical care they may receive each year.


Professor Gates Insulted Officer Crowley's Mother

The funniest thing - maybe the only funny thing, actually - about the Gates arrest incident is that so many Right Wing pundits, including Juan Williams on NPR this morning, are saying, with shocked outrage, that Gates insulted Officer Crowley's mother. What are they talking about? When Crowley asked Gates to come talk to him outside, Gates said, "I'll talk to yo' mama outside." [Gates says he said no such thing.]

Using the "Yo' mama" thing equals "insulting Crowley's mother." I mean that's just funny.

P.S. Crowley wrote in the police report, "While I was led to believe that Gates was lawfully in the residence, I was surprised and confused with the behavior he exhibited toward me."

Crowley seems like a thoughtful and nice individual, but why was he confused with Gates' anger? He supposedly teaches other cops about racial profiling. He knew Gates was not a burglar, that the 911 call was a mistake - and he was surprised that Gates was angry about being questioned by cops about being in his own home? He didn't break into a window. He didn't have a hammer in his hand. (Only a cane.) He didn't have a mask on. He was just a 59-year-old black guy trying to get his front door open..who got the cops called on him. What the hell does Crowley teach other cops about racial profiling? That it makes black people happy?

And that excerpt from the police report is from before asking for ID. Why did Crowley ask for ID if he believed that Gates was in his own house? Wouldn't the thoughtful, deescalating thing to do at that point be to leave?

Harumph. I'm glad they're going to get together for a beer.


Neil Young at the Finjan Folk Cafe, Montreal, 1970

"The Loner" and "Cinammon Girl."


Very Wealthy People With Great Health Insurance Arguing Against Universal Health Care

Makes me want to kill things.


What Modern Republicans Want With America

Pre-marital sex is illegal in Saudi Arabia. And you can be arrested for talking about it on TV.

This has been another episode of What Modern Republicans Want With America.


Friday, July 24, 2009

What's Wrong With American Media, in a Nutshell

Someone can say, on a popular television news program, that that the Taliban should just go ahead and execute an American soldier, and have no fear of not being invited back.

Once upon a time such a person could never make it to TV in the first place. Today it's seemingly a core principle of Fox News, and the other cable news networks too often (not to mention talk radio), to search for and regularly feature people like that.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Single 40-Year-Old Women Need Permission to Terminate Pregnancy

Please take this story as a reminder: The anti-abortion movement is not about abortion. It is about the desire of a religious group to gain governing power in our society, and to attain their perverted desire for power over women.

Not unlike the Taliban:

In the case where the father isn't known, House Bill 252 would compel the woman to provide a list of names of people who may be the father in an effort to determine paternity. The bill also would make it a crime for women to lie about who the father is, and make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions without the father's consent.

This bill would make all women, even a single 40-year-old woman, who wanted an abortion provide - to the government (how "small government" is that?) - a list of men that she'd had sex with.

Think about that.


Dan Rather's Revenge

Snapback's a bitch.


Aussie TV Show Confronts John Yoo at Berkeley

How funny is this:

A performer from The Chaser's War on Everything interrupted a lecture by John Yoo -- the former Department of Justice lawyer who wrote many of the legal memos justifying the Bush administration's torture program -- by standing up on a desk dressed in "Abu Ghraib" fashion -- a dark cloak and a black, pointed hood.

"Professor, I've got one question," the comedian asked. "How long am I required to stand here until it counts as torture?"

When students suggested that the comedian leave, he replied: "I'd love to move but every time I do my balls get buzzed."



How to Not Help a Cop Accused of Being a Racist

If you're a newspaper, don't do the equivalent of saying "Some of his best friends are black!"

The Cambridge cop prominent Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. claims is a racist gave a dying Reggie Lewis mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a desperate bid to save the Celtics superstar’s life 16 years ago Monday.

And he wasn't grossed out or nothin!

Very, very weird.

My only question right now: Why did the cop follow Gates inside the house?

P.S. The officer seems like a reasonable guy. But saying "I won't apologize for arresting a 59-year-old man walking with a cane inside his own house - because he yelled at me and hurt my feelings," is beyond freaking weak. Getting your pride hurt and overreacting - that's human. Defending it? Nope.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Same Day Emergency Eye Surgery in France: $172

John Aravosis tells the story of what he went through in Paris this afternoon:

This afternoon I went to the emergency room of the Centre Hospitalier National d'Ophtalmologie des Quinze-Vingts in Paris, France. It's a hospital that specializes in eye problems. I had to have emergency eye surgery on the spot. With the national debate on health care raging in Washington, it seemed timely to share my story.

It's a great read. And say this to yourself several times: Emergency eye surgery - no wait, no "rationing" - for a total cost of $172. That's in a country that has terribly scary, universal, primarily government-funded health care. Just guess at what a similar thing would cost here - even if you had insurance, in many cases. The emergency room visit alone would likely be twice as much. The surgery? Maybe ten times as much?

Insurance companies and their stooges in Congress - and on the radio and Fox news - are trying to trick you out of something that could profoundly change the life of you and everyone around you for the better. Don't let them.


I Want the Government to Interfere With the Insurance Industry

Much the way I want them to interfere with murderers, rapists, restaurant workers who pee in food, crooked cops, quack doctors, contractors who build unsafe schools, con artists, makers of child pornagraphy, dog torturers, human torturers, sadistic dentists, people who rob old people...

I could go on. But you get the drift, I think.

P.S. I think I'll go down to the socialist post office down by the socialist police station today and mail a letter to New Zealand for 98 cents.

Mmmmmmm, taste the socialism.


Health Care Boogie Men

You know all that scary stuff they're saying about Obama's (and anyone else's for decades now) health care proposal? They said that about Medicare. Here's Ronald Reagan being more wrong than one would think humanly possible:

From the link:

According to Reagan, Medicare would lead federal officials to dictate where physicians could practice medicine, and open the door to government control over where Americans were allowed to live. In fact, Reagan warned that if Medicare became law, there was a real possibility that the federal government would control where Americans go and what they do for a living.

He said that about Medicare. Freaking Medicare. Show that video to someone you know who's on Medicare right now, and ask them what they think.

Next time you hear someone spouting the health care boogie man bullshit, ask them, "Why do you want to be as stupid as Ronald Reagan?" When they sputter, walk away.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Republican Blogosphere's Id

Erick Erickson at premiere Right Wing blog Redstate, on Obama's first pitch at last night's All Star game:

Yes, yes, Presidents get to throw out first pitches even when they throw slow girlish balls like Obama instead of the steady, fast pitches of men like George Bush.

I have nothing to add.


Deep Thought

Charges of ethics violations against public officials can indeed be frivolous, but should the person being charged be the one to make that call?


Where's Obama's Birth Certificate?????

Um, I'm guessing the next place this guy will be searching is in in an Army prison cell. Dumbass.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Boy, 15, killed with nunchucks at Halloween party"

Posted for future reference.


Sarah Palin's Washington Post Op-Ed

Sarah Palin and somone who can reasonably complete a sentence (William Kristol?) have an an Op-Ed in the Washington Post today about cap-and-trade.

Here's a good point by point response. The second:

Palin's point #2: "Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges."

Response: Yes the media is over-focused on political gossip such as the Levi Johnston stories. But it is funny that Palin believes she can better focus on these "challenges" as a columnist for the Washington Post than as governor of an oil-rich state.


And: Shouldn't a piece on cap-and-trade at least mention greenhouse gases? Or at least pollution?


Monday, July 13, 2009

Deep Thought

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama is Sarah Palin with more practice.


Secret CIA Program: Kidnapping Family Members?

In the post below I said that I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the secret CIA program recently shut down was something as gruesome as kidnapping family members of suspected terrorists. It was simply something that occurred to me, based I think on vague memories of hearing charges of such activities.

Now I've found this:

Jul. 14, 2006 | Congress has demanded that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hand over a raft of documents to Congress that could substantiate allegations that U.S. forces have tried to break terror suspects by kidnapping and mistreating their family members. Rumsfeld has until 5 p.m. Friday to comply.

It now appears that kidnapping, scarcely covered by the media, and absent in the major military investigations of detainee abuse, may have been systematically employed by U.S. troops. Salon has obtained Army documents that show several cases where U.S. forces abducted terror suspects’ families. After he was thrown in prison, Cpl. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader at Abu Ghraib, told investigators the military routinely kidnapped family members to force suspects to turn themselves in.


In a hearing before Shays' Government Reform subcommittee last February, [Army Spc. Samuel] Provance testified that the Army had retaliated against him. Provance also made the disturbing allegation that interrogators broke an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, by imprisoning and abusing his frail 16-year-old son. Waxman was shocked. "Do you think this practice was repeated with other children?" he asked Provance. "I don't see why it would not have been, sir," Provance replied.


Cheney's Secret CIA Program: The Cover Story

The story we've been hearing since yesterday is that the secret and possibly illegal CIA program recently killed by chief Leon Panetta has to do with assassinations attempts on Al Qaeda leaders.

A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative terminated by Director Leon Panetta was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter.

Bull. Shit. Or, at least, there is much, much more to this story. But we'll hear this "assassinating Al Qaeda operatives" aspect of it shouted from Right Wing mountain tops, along with choruses of "They're terrorists! We're supposed to kill them! Dems are soft on terror!" in order to distract from the programs alleged illegality, and whatever else it involved.

I wouldn't be surprised, given that “the whole committee was stunned, even Republicans," to find out that the program involved something as gruesome as kidnapping and threatening family members of suspected terrorists.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Deep Thought

There are no such things as war crimes anymore.


Man Gored to Death By Bull In Pamplona

Hundreds of people surround and taunt this bull for minutes, and it's obviously confused. Hemingway can kiss my ass. This is, or has become, an awful ritual.


He's Not Looking at Her Ass

Drudge and probably by now the mass of the Right Wing blogosphere is all over this photo:

But Drudge is too dense to notice that one of the stories he links to says this:

Video evidence has thrown doubt on the fact that Barack Obama was checking her out. But it now doesn't look good for President Sarkozy...

Here's the video.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

We're So Sorry Our Son Banged Your Wife: Here's $96,000

But please don't think of it as $96,000. Think of it as $12,000 from each of Senator John Ensign's parents to the woman Ensign had an affair with, her husband, and each of their two kids. That's $48,000 from mom and dad each.

And don't think of it as a tax burden, because $12,000 is the legal limit that someone can give to another person without that person incurring taxes.

And don't think of it as hush money! It's just the kind of people we are. We care about people like you. And we regularly give checks for $12,000 to the families of people like you. Especially when our (married) son (who's a senator) bangs them inappropriately.

I shit you not.