Monthly Archives: March 2009

Fine Legal Minds

After careful analysis, the Congressional Research Service has found that both HR 1586 and S 651 may violate Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution, according to Roger Russell, writing at WebCPA.

“The Congressional Research Service reached the conclusion that while certain aspects of the proposed taxing schemes may raise concerns under the Fifth Amendment and “ex post facto” clause, the strongest arguments against their constitutionality arise under the bill-of-attainder analysis.”

Excellent work by some fine legal minds, I’m sure. It took them only ten or so days to reach the same conclusion as this grandmother with a high school education who simply read the Constitution and applied some common sense.

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Filed under AIG, Bailouts

Oh, Noes! I’ve Been Twitter-Scammed!

I’ve been pulled over by the police only one time in my driving career, 16 or so years ago. I was in my Ford Aerostar; my youngest daughter was behind me in her car seat, screaming because she’d lost her toy. I was driving southbound on Interstate 405 in stop and go traffic between Bellevue and Renton, Washington, when I noticed flashing lights in my rear-view mirror.

I was mystified as to the reason I was being pulled over, but made my way to the shoulder and stopped. While the Trooper got out of his car. I twisted around to pick up my daughter’s toy and, in the process, came about halfway out of my seat. When I turned back around, I was confronted with a State Trooper standing at my window, gun drawn. Let me tell you, that’s an experience you never want to live through.

Of course, when the State Trooper saw me reaching around behind me, he had no way of knowing that I was picking up a toy; he had to assume I was reaching for a gun. For my part, it never occurred to me that reaching for a toy could be mistaken for reaching for a gun because, well, I would never draw a gun on a police officer.

I’m sure you wondering what this has to do with being Twitter-scammed, so I’ll get to the point.

Eleven days ago, I noticed a new follower on Twitter, InTheStimulus. It was an intriguing username so I clicked through to check out the profile. There were a handful of tweets there, and it looked as though the intention was to highlight examples of wasteful spending in the ARRA legislation. Looked interesting, so I tweeted:

“I recommend @InTheStimulus for all those who want to know where their hard-earned dollars are going to be spent.”

With that tweet, InTheStimulus faded from my memory until one of my Twitter friends DMd me yesterday to let me know that I’d been “featured” on the DailyKos. As it turns out, InTheStimulus was a dummy account for one of the “investigative reporters” frequenting the DailyKos and the tweets, rather than being actual examples from the ARRA legislation, were fabricated.

Of course with perfect hindsight, I can see that it was foolish to recommend InTheStimulus without investigating further than my casual once over but to be honest, just like my experience with the State Trooper, it never occurred to me that someone would deliberately post false information because, well, I would never deliberately post false information.

This is quite the story over at the DailyKos. They’re getting a real kick out of all the gullible conservatives who fell for their clever ruse. That’s not really my concern; I’ve raised 3 teenagers and I’m used to this sort of juvenile derision.

But InTheStimulus goes on to make an excellent point:

“…be careful of what you read and believe on Twitter. I think some of the leeway granted to InTheStimulus is based on the soundbite nature of the site; people can get away with no citations, which is less likely than with a conventional blog.”

So I’d actually like to congratulate InTheStimulus on an excellent social science experiment and thank him (her?) for an excellent reminder that, while my intentions may be honest, not everyone’s are.

(For those of you who may be wondering, I was pulled over for having expired license tabs; no citation resulted. I think the Trooper felt the drawn gun had been punishment enough.)

An Update from Bamos at Daily Kos:

Wow, I wasn’t expecting this to get noticed again. The InTheStimulus account doesn’t exist any more. After this diary, some conservatives noticed it and spread around the word that it was a hoax. This is a surprisingly level-headed response by one of my followers.

I did change the username, delete all the old posts, and start again with the same followers list with TheAngryRighty – personally, I’m amazed you can do something like that. I haven’t touched it in a couple weeks, though.

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Filed under DailyKos, Twitter

Setting a Dangerous Precedent

From Philip Elliott at the Associated Press reporting on President Barack Obama’s remarks regarding GM and Chrysler. (Full Article)

Obama said he is committed to the survival of an auto industry – on terms that will allow it to compete internationally.

“But we also cannot continue to excuse poor decisions,” he said. “And we cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of tax dollars.”

He also said some of the industry’s progress has scarcely been noticed. He mentioned that the North American car of the year in 2008 was produced by GM.

“Let me be clear: the United States government has no interest or intention of running GM,” he said.

But that was at the same time he was formally announcing the departure of Wagoner, whom administration officials forced into retirement on Sunday in preparation for the president’s remarks.

“This is not meant as a criticism of Mr. Wagoner, who has devoted his life to this company; rather it’s a recognition that it will take a new vision and new direction to create the GM of the future.”

Let me get this out of the way up front; President Obama does says two things here with which I agree completely, not only with the President’s words but with his apparent intent. The first is that US automakers are, for the most part, producing excellent cars, a fact which is often overlooked. Second, that we can’t continue to pump taxpayer dollars into the auto industry.

It’s downhill from there.

President Obama claims that the United States government has no interest in running the day to day operations of GM. Yet, just days earlier, he requested the resignation of GM’s CEO, Rick Wagoner, a decision that was apparently made without consulting GM’s Board of Directors or Congress. If President Obama feels it’s within his authority to summarily fire Wagoner, what’s next? Replacing the Board of Directors? Approving engine specs? Scheduling bathroom breaks?

The President goes on to say, “it will take a new vision and new direction to create the GM of the future,” but in the light of recent events, one has to wonder, whose vision will that be?

As President Obama said himself, we “cannot continue to excuse poor decisions.” Again, I agree. President Obama’s decision to personally intrude in the operations of GM is an extremely poor decision for which there is no excuse.

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Filed under Barack Obama, General Motors

Choices Have Consequences

Happy Birthday

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Filed under Abortion, Pro-Life

Pro-Choice?

I’m wondering how I came to be on NARAL’s e-mail list. I’m relatively certain I’ve never said anything that would lead anyone to believe I’m a proponent of abortion, much less that I would contribute to NARAL. Nevertheless, have a look at what showed up in my inbox this morning.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is considering legislation that would funnel thousands of dollars to so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” in his state through “Choose Life” license plates.  He could sign or veto the bill any day now.

“Crisis pregnancy centers” are deceptive fake clinics that mislead women, and promote extreme, anti-choice views to stop women from exercising their right to choose.

Contribute now to help keep state funds out of anti-choice hands and to protect choice at every level.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is mobilizing its nationwide support network and building on NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s work to put a stop to these efforts.

Gov. Kaine, who also serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, should uphold the strong pro-choice platform the Democratic Party adopted last August by stopping this anti-choice bill from becoming law. And we urgently need the resources to focus our staff on this and all the threats to choice nationwide — that’s why we’ve asked you to help us raise $50,000 by March 31.

Please donate today to help us reach our goal because this isn’t about just reaching a fundraising target…it’s about women’s lives.

This gem was signed by Nancy Keenan, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America.

I’m not sure exactly how revenue is generated by cause plates, but my assumption has been that purchasers are assessed an additional fee, which then goes to support the cause, in this case, crisis pregnancy centers.

The crisis pregnancy center of which I have the most knowledge (gleaned from years of reading their newsletters) is staffed by compassionate, trained volunteers who sincerely care about their clients. Many have experienced unplanned pregnancies. Many pray for their clients. They provide confidential, non-judgmental support at a difficult time. It doesn’t masquerade as a medical clinic, nor do they disseminate false information or lie to or mislead women in any way that I’m aware of.

They do provide accurate, detailed information on fetal development and abortion procedures and discuss options such as “choosing” to put a baby up for adoption or “choosing” to keep and raise the baby. Likewise, women can “choose” to visit such a center or “choose”  not to. Once inside, she can “choose” to stay or “choose” to leave at any time. After her visit, she’ll be well informed about all the options from which she can “choose.”

But leaving aside for a moment the relative merits of crisis pregnancy centers, it occurs to me that Virginia residents will be able to “choose” to purchase the “Choose Life” plates or “choose” not to purchase them. Women can “choose” to heed the message or “choose” to ignore it.

That seems like a lot of choices to me. You would think that an organization named “Pro-Choice” America could really get behind that.

The reality is quite different. Even though there’s nothing about a “Choose Life” license plate that’s going to stop even one woman who truly desires it from obtaining an abortion, NARAL has chosen to oppose this innocuous piece of legislation as being anti-choice. Even though no funding will be diverted; no new anti-abortion agencies created; no additional regulations or requirements enacted.

Why?

A few reasons come to mind, the first being that they hope for the knee-jerk response that the words “anti-choice” elicit in so many women. Next, they fear the plates have the potential to sway public opinion. And the last, “Pro-Choice” America isn’t really about all the choices, rather just about their choice.

If this is an issue that’s important to you, please contact Governor Tim Kaine’s office and let him know your views. Virginia residents, it is especially important that you do so today.

Update: On Monday, March 30, Governor Tim Kaine signed the “Choose Life” legislation. Please contact Governor Kaine at the link above to thank him.

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Filed under Abortion, Pro-Life

Open For Questions

I thought that President Obama’s plan to take questions in advance for his online town hall sounded pretty interesting, so I headed over to the White House web site to check it out.

Tons of questions had already been submitted in various categories: Education, Home Ownership, Health Care Reform, Veterans, Small Business, Auto Industry, Retirement Security, Green Jobs and Energy, Financial Stability, Jobs and Budget.

I selected Health Care Reform and started reviewing the questions with the objective of copying down the most “interesting” ones to discuss here. I unfortunately ran out of time and had to cut my little research project short, but I did find some questions that were worthy of review.

These questions were copied directly from the White House website and have not been edited, although most of the names have been removed.

Mr. President, is there a way to do both private health care for the rich and socialized medicine for the other 99.9% of us? Like legal dream teams to rich & court-appointed attorneys for those who deserve a “fair trial” but can’t afford an attorney?

(Right, because only 0.01% of the population currently has access to affordable health care. Uh-huh. Yeah.)

If we were to have free healthcare for everyone, would that raise taxes? Would there be any way to avoid that happening?

(Gosh, no! Why would it raise taxes…it’s free, right? Although this person does get points for having a vague idea that that might not work out.)

Other countries aren’t as scared of losing their jobs right now because their governments care for them in many ways, including insurance and health care. Could we expect the same in the near future?

(Good grief! This person should just move back in with their parents, then he/she could be “cared for in many ways.”)

why should one paying over $1400. a month to a insurance company have to wait 3 days for permission to get relief (cortisone) for two herniated disks.??? the insurance companies are controlling Doctors ability to treat

(Has this person ever waited in line at a Social Security office or gotten a driver’s license renewed lately? I rest my case.)

Obesity, particularly obesity in childhood has become epidemic in this country. Obese adults suffer from diabetes and heart disease and cost the health care system millions of dollars a year. Do you have a plan to reduce this epidemic?

(Yes, I believe the President has requested that Congress pass legislation establishing national healthy menus; Monday is tofu stir fry with brown rice…)

AS AN MD., I THINK THAT KEY ASPECTS OF IMPLEMENTING UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE ARE: A) TO OPTIMALLY MINIMIZE THE PROCESS OF DIRECT PATIENT CARE AND COMPENSATION FOR THE SERVICES PROVIDED. B) TO REDUCE THE COST OF MEDICAL EDUCATION AS TO AVOID A 200K DEBT

JORGEDUDE, HATILLO, PR

(I admit I don’t even understand this question. What I want to know is, how many of you would select a physician who would choose “JORGEDUDE” as their screen name?)

First off Mr. President, I would like to just like to thank you for giving us a chance to ask questions in a simple easy way. Change. That is what you promised the people. please I beg you keep your promise. Understand that we want marijuana!

(Only one of many questions on this topic. Apparently half the people in the United States are using marijuana for medicinal purposes. Sure they are.)

We need socialized healthcare, this keeps cooperations from profit, and keeps people healthy. What can you do to keep cooperations from profiting and provide health care for every citizen in the United States?

(I give this person credit for calling a socialized spade a spade but why all the vitriol directed at those evil cooperations?)

FYI, I did not pick and choose these questions. I merely copied the first eight questions I read. Just sayin’.

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Filed under Barack Obama

Hypocrisy on Display

This video says it all.

H/T to Little Green Footballs

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Filed under Hypocrisy