Thursday, April 07, 2011

Thursday Mashup (4/7/11)

  • Looks like Congressman Peter King, fresh off his SCARY MUSLIM! hearings on Capitol Hill, has found a new gratuitous way to generate headlines (here)…
    On Monday, as Attorney General Eric Holder stood at the podium at the Justice Department headquarters in Washington to announce that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists would be tried by military commissions at Guantanamo, he still insisted that he'd much prefer to try them in civilian courts.

    The guy just doesn't get it -- and because he doesn't, he should resign forthwith.
    In response, I give you the following from here…
    On Wednesday (December 15, 2010), a federal judge in Brooklyn sent a terrorist to prison for the rest of his life. Abdul Kadir, a former politician from the South American country of Guyana, was convicted in August of conspiring to blow up huge fuel tanks at JFK airport. The New York Times covered Kadir's sentencing, but I'll forgive you for missing it: it was on page A29 of the print edition, above a story about the Korean community in Palisades Park, New Jersey.

    This type of media treatment is a big problem for supporters of civilian trials for terrorist suspects. Kadir was involved in an actual terrorist plot—one he hoped would "dwarf 9/11." He isn't an American, he wasn't arrested in America, and he is allegedly connected to a militant Muslim group that has been characterized as one of "Al Qaeda's Inroads in the Caribbean." In other words, he has a lot in common with the Gitmo detainees that civil libertarians so desperately want tried in civilian court. (The difference, of course, is that since he was captured by law enforcement in 2007, he was never subjected to "enhanced interrogation.")

    But because Kadir was tried, convicted, and sentenced in the civilian system, the resolution of his case has received little media attention—and the federal justice system gets almost no credit for its success in dealing with him. If advocates of civilian trials for Gitmo detainees like Ahmed Ghailani want to win the argument, they're going to have to be more aggressive about drawing attention to every single example of the civilian system's success in dealing with terrorism cases. This is one of those successes.
    And as noted here…
    Over parts of three decades, from his days as an aspiring politician in Long Island through his early years in Congress, King was one of the nation's most outspoken supporters of the Irish Republican Army and a prolific fundraiser for the Irish Northern Aid Committee (NorAid), allegedly the IRA's American fundraising arm. The IRA waged a paramilitary campaign against the British presence in Northern Ireland for decades before peace accords were signed in 1998. Part of that effort included bombings and shootings that resulted in civilian deaths in England and Northern Ireland. During the period of King's involvement, the US government accused both NorAid and the IRA of links to terrorism.
    So then, because of his support of a terrorist organization, I suppose King is the one who should “resign forthwith” instead (rest assured that I’m not holding my breath).

  • Next, I came across something from Cal Thomas at here that was actually somewhat interesting (I’ll explain presently)…
    HOUSTON -- On the day of the NCAA men's basketball final, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that is likely to produce champions for generations to come.

    By a 5-4 vote, the majority upheld an Arizona tax-credit program that, writes David Savage of the L.A. Times, gives taxpayers a "dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $500 per person or $1,000 for a couple, for those who donate to organizations that in turn pay tuition for students attending private and parochial schools." The minority contends this violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, maintains that since such donations are with pre-tax dollars, the government never has the money, and thus, "there is no such connection between dissenting taxpayer and alleged establishment."

    With this in mind, I give you the following (from here, in the Repugs’ war against the dreaded “lady parts”)…
    Another step towards smaller, less intrusive government, courtesy of the libertarian-minded teabagger-dominated House majority: Internal Revenue Service agents will be required to determine whether your abortion was paid for with tax dollars. Even more horrifying, income tax return filing forms may need to ask if you’d had an abortion and how you paid for it.

    Speaker John Boehner has declared this bill to be a top priority of the new GOP Congress. Can you find the jobs agenda in this bill, except possibly the need to hire more IRS auditors to review women’s tax returns and inquire about how their abortion was paid for? Or whether parents paid for a daughter’s abortion with pre-tax health savings accounts?

    That’s right — you can’t even use your own health savings account, set aside from pre-tax earnings, to fund an abortion under the bill...
    Sooo…as far as the Repugs are concerned (at least on the High Court of Hangin’ Judge J.R.), pre-tax dough is safe because “the government never has the money,” at least when it comes to throwing it at parents who want to send their kids to private or parochial schools. However, as far as “Orange Man” Boehner and his pals are concerned, pre-tax dollars aren’t safe to use to fund an abortion even if they’re coming from a private savings account?

    Yes, I’m being tongue-in-cheek here, in case you hadn’t noticed. One of my points is that, if the Repugs are going to disallow pre-tax dollars from being used for abortions, even when subscribers pay for coverage aside from a plan in a government exchange (when the exchanges finally get here), then they should be equally draconian and try to deny anyone using those funds from a health savings account (Chris Smith is nuts, but at least he was consistently nuts in trying to do so in a recent bill). Of course, in response, I should note that, in accordance with a House amendment named after a now-deceased serial philanderer, it’s impossible to use government money to fund abortions anyway.

    Such inconsistency (pre-tax dollars are safe for “vouchers,” but not safe for icky stuff having to do with women’s health) is typical for an alleged political party, by the way, that is also guilty of this.

  • In addition (and staying with the topic of sex-ed), kudos to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for introducing the “Freedom Condom” here in an effort to stem “spikes in gonorrhea and infectious syphilis, and a 40 percent rise in new HIV diagnoses over three years in teens and young adults” in the City of Brotherly Love.

    This tells us more about the effective use of condoms, and this provides some Q&A on condom use and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (as with all things, education is preferable to ignorance on this vital public health issue).

  • And in conclusion, I suppose it’s weirdly appropriate to transition from that topic to J.D. Mullane’s editorial butchery here today on the pages of the Bucks County Courier Times – his column has to do with President Obama’s visit yesterday to the Gamesa wind turbine plant in Falls Township, PA (here).

    Through a combination of innuendo, cherry-picking of quotes from Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a thoroughly non-humorous reference to unicorns mixed in with some smatterings of actual fact, Mullane, ever the climate change denier, sought to portray Obama as hopelessly out of touch on energy issues.

    In response, here is a rather thorough rebuttal from Media Matters on accusations from Mullane and his fellow wingnuts aimed at Number 44 on the issue of energy. Also, under Obama’s predecessor, gas reached $4.55 a gallon (noted here), and this tells us of the many ways that our prior ruling cabal contributed to what was, up to that point, “the highest gas prices in 20 years.”

    Besides, I’m not going to worry about Obama on the issue of the oil we receive from our “dear friends” the Saudis unless I see him in a photo similar to this one.
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