Right Thinking From The Left Coast
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Stevens Free

Thanks to prosecutorial misconduct, Ted Stevens is going free:

Former Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska has been “cleared” by the Justice Department’s request to dismiss his federal corruption convictions and drop all charges against him, his lawyer said Wednesday.


[Judge] Sullivan, who is not related to Stevens’ lawyer, excoriated prosecutors during the trial and held the prosecution in contempt at one point. In December, two months after the guilty verdicts, the FBI whistle-blower accused prosecutors of withholding evidence from the defense and reported that someone with the government had had an inappropriate relationship with Bill Allen, an oil industry executive who was the government’s key witness.

In the motion it filed Wednesday, the Justice Department acknowledged that Stevens was not given access to notes taken by prosecutors during an April 2008 interview with Allen, the former chairman of an oilfield services company at the center of a corruption probe in Alaska. The notes show that responses by Allen, the prosecution’s star witness, were inconsistent with testimony he gave against Stevens, and that information from the interview could have benefited Stevens at trial, the motion says.

“In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial,” Holder said in a written statement.

I’m pretty sure that Steven is really corrupt, but in their eagerness to convict, the Feds completely blew the case.  And even sleazy Senators deserved due process.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/01/09 at 04:03 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Midterm Doldrums

While Obama may be benefiting from Republican incoherence and confusion now, Nate Silver warns that his party should be wary going into the midterms:

Many of the voters who went to the polls in 2008 did so because of Barack Obama; almost 90 percent of those voters also happened to vote Democratic for Congress. But many of those voters will not turn out next year without a presidential race to pique their interest. Some of the same Democratic representatives who most benefited from Obama’s coattails in 2008, then, are also the most vulnerable to an upset. Their fate may depend on how much this president can personalize that election — and, of course, how much he can mobilize his powerful voter-turnout operation for them — and how well liked he can remain. Obama’s popularity is the Democrats’ greatest asset heading into the midterm elections in 2010 — but it is also in some sense their greatest liability.

I think that if the economy recovers over the course of the next year and “Anger” over the stimulus wanes (see below), the Democrats’ chances of keeping their seats will be assured. Unless Obama does something incredibly stupid, 2010 will not be the Republicans’ year.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/01/09 at 01:54 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Suppose They Gave An Anti-Stimulus Revolt And Nobody Came?

Still hoping for a wave of anti-Obama sentiment to sweep the country? You might have to wait.

With President Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget hitting the House and Senate floors this week, groups for and against the spending plan have issued strong appeals for citizens to pick up their phones and let their voices be heard on Capitol Hill.

But, even in the offices of targeted Democrats whose budget votes may be up for grabs, the phones are not ringing off the hook.

“It’s kind of like crickets chirping,” said one Democratic leadership aide, who last week asked members, including Blue Dogs with targets on their backs, about the grassroots response to the budget plan.

Despite urgent pleas by interest groups over cable TV, radio, and the Web, congressional switchboard operators have not seen any noticeable spike in calls, according to the office of the Senate sergeant-at-arms. Over the past few days, the switchboard has handled about the same number of calls it typically experiences on a normal legislative day.

Aides to moderate Senate and House Democrats being targeted by ads and e-mail campaigns said their offices have fielded a relatively light volume of telephone calls, especially in comparison to the crushing response to debate on the economic stimulus package earlier this year.

While television ads from Democratic groups have been beamed into many Americans’ living rooms, fiercely worded opposition to Obama’s budget has streamed into their e-mail inboxes. Citizens Against Government Waste, Club for Growth, and Americans for Tax Reform are among the fiscally conservative groups taking the fight against the budget online in the form of “action alerts” to group members.

After public passions were aroused over Obama’s massive stimulus proposal and outrage over AIG bonus payments prompted late-night comedians to invoke images of torch-wielding peasants storming the Capitol, a new outpouring of grassroots energy around the budget proposal seemed likely. But the pitchforks appear to have been returned to the tool shed, for now.

Both budget supporters and opponents observed that the arcane legislative process makes the pending House and Senate resolutions unlikely lightning rods for public passion. Despite the eye-popping numbers associated with the budget, its nonbinding blueprint for federal spending does not carry the same clear-cut consequences as a spending or tax bill.

“ ‘Reconciliation’ doesn’t really lend itself to grassroots [action],” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste.

Anger is brewing about wasteful government spending among fiscal hawks, Schatz added, but grassroots activities—including the anti-tax “tea parties” being thrown by regular citizens in localities nationwide—are likely to accelerate in advance of Tax Day on April 15, long after this week’s scheduled budget votes.

Fatigue over spending battles also may be a factor in the tepid response so far. Lobbyists and activists agreed that the stimulus, omnibus FY09 spending bill, and financial bailout measures may be bleeding together in the minds of regular Americans.

“People are just being bombarded with so many bad pieces of legislation,” said Andy Roth, of the anti-spending group Club for Growth. The tangle of recent spending issues makes it hard to “zero in on the budget” as a single grassroots cause, he said.

I think in the long run it’s going to be difficult to maintain righteous anger at Democrats for doing what Democrats do. And the Republican opponents of the stimulus can’t exactly claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility. If the economy really is going into a recovery, as some conservative economists and pundits claim, then that will also take some of the wind out of the sails of the anti-Obama movement (which is what this is, since many of Obama’s critics were silent when the Republicans were the big spenders). What this really seems to be is anger from Republicans at the fact that they’re no longer in control of the purse strings, or the debate.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/01/09 at 01:41 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Fire Down Below

When does courage become recklessness?

A pregnant woman, her husband and their three-year-old son were killed in a house fire early yesterday as police who arrived before the fire brigade prevented neighbours from trying to save them. The woman screamed: “Please save my kids” from a bedroom window and neighbours tried to help but were beaten back by flames and were told by police not to attempt a rescue.

By the time firefighters got into the house in Doncaster, Michelle Colly, 25, her husband, Mark, 29, and son, Louis, 3, were dead. Their daughter, Sophie, 5, was taken to hospital and believed to be critically ill.

Davey Davis, 38, a friend of the family, said: “It was the most harrowing thing I have ever witnessed. Michelle was at the bedroom window yelling, ‘Please save my kids’ and we wanted to help but the police were pushing us back and not allowing us near. We were willing to risk our lives to save those kiddies but the police wouldn’t let us.

“Tempers were running very high, particularly with the women who were there, but the police were just saying we have to wait for the fire brigade because of health and safety.

“There were four or five police officers. They were here before the fire brigade. We heard the sirens and we came across to help but they wouldn’t let us.

“I thought the police were there to protect lives. At one time they would have have gone inside themselves to try and rescue them.

“When a family is burning to death in front of your eyes, rules should go out of the window – especially with kids. Everybody wanted to try and help.”

Now, when I first saw this story, my first instinct was to side with the angry neighbors. But the police also had a point-in a situation like that, more people might have died by trying to go in. The neighbors who tried to help couldn’t get in themselves, so how much more could the police have done? Bottom line seems to be, the cops had to make a judgement call and probably saved more lives in the end.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 04/01/09 at 12:43 AM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Patient Zero

Yet another reason I’m glad I don’t live in California:

A rising number of California parents are choosing to send their children to kindergarten without routine vaccinations, putting hundreds of elementary schools in the state at risk for outbreaks of childhood diseases eradicated in the U.S. years ago.

Exemptions from vaccines—which allow children to enroll in public and private schools without state-mandated shots—have more than doubled since 1997, according to a Times analysis of state data obtained last week.

The rise in unvaccinated children appears to be driven by affluent parents choosing not to immunize. Many do so because they fear the shots could trigger autism, a concern widely discredited in medical research.

But with autism rates rising, some parents find that fear more worrisome than the chance that their child could contract diseases that, while now very rare in this country, can still be deadly.

Last year, a 7-year-old boy triggered a measles outbreak in San Diego after he returned, infected, from a family trip to Switzerland. His parents had chosen not to vaccinate him or his siblings.

It would be bad enough if these affluent assholes were just endangering their own kids, but they’re not.  Kid with weak immune systems, young kids and even immunized kids are in danger.

Statewide, only 2% of kindergartners had exemptions. But The Times found they were enrolled in a relatively small number of schools. Parents who sign affidavits saying vaccines are “contrary to my beliefs” are most likely to send their children to schools in affluent areas—many of them public charter schools and non-Catholic private schools.

The Times found that 1 in 11 elementary schools statewide may be at risk of an outbreak of an infectious disease such as measles, mumps or whooping cough. It’s a risk some parents are willing to take.

“As a parent, I’d rather deal with my kid dealing with measles or mumps and sit with them in a hospital . . . than taking your chances on a shot and having irreversible effects,” said Kim Hart, a mother of two in San Clemente.

This may be one of the stupidest statements I’ve ever read.  This woman is saying she would rather have her kid get measles—which has a high rate of complications such as brain damage, eye damage and pneumonia and one in three hundred chance of death—than risk a mythical danger that arose from a falsified study and has been thoroughly disproven.  She’s also willing to risk serious damage to children in the womb if her kid starts spreading rubella around.  I can’t imagine what other pearls of wisdom emerge.  Maybe she’d rather have her kid drink paint than risk being abducted by aliens.

The risk to children is real, as the San Diego outbreak demonstrated.

In that case, a student at San Diego Cooperative Charter School contracted measles while traveling with his family in Switzerland, one of several European countries to see a resurgence of the disease. He then infected his two siblings and nine other children, including three infants too young to be fully vaccinated. Seventy other children were voluntarily quarantined for three weeks.

Public health officials said the virus spread quickly because an unusually large percentage of students at the boy’s school hadn’t been vaccinated. Nearly 10% of the 376 students at the campus had personal-belief exemptions for vaccines.

Last year the U.S. had at least 140 confirmed cases of measles, the highest number since 1996, 16 of them in California.

If vaccination rates drop to as low as 90-95%, the risk of an outbreak becomes real.

These luddites will be not be satisfied until they have a stack of dead kids to show for their hysteria.  The already killed one kid in Minnesota from Hib.  What will it take before they turn their back on a discredited bullshit study promoted by trial lawyers and promulgated by publicity-seeking shills like RFK, Jr.?  How many kids have to die before they wake up and smell reality?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/31/09 at 11:47 PM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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