Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Stuff

Oh, by the way, remember that Patrick Murphy guy? Used to be a good congressman, right? Well, to help make him a good PA Attorney General also, click here (and here is more on Corbett’s most recent shameful embarrassment)…

...and as long as we're on the subject (here)...

...and I give you the latest in the Willard Mitt Romney chronicles here...

...and this has a bit of a sudden ending, but I still think it works for a Friday night.

Bill Donahue SNAPs Over Judge Mesle’s Mess

And as long as I’m addressing the mountain in my “In” box, allow me to comment on the following (from here)…
Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church and priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

The network and its allies say the legal action is part of a campaign by the church to cripple an organization that has been the most visible defender of victims, and a relentless adversary, for more than two decades. “If there is one group that the higher-ups, the bishops, would like to see silenced,” said Marci A. Hamilton, a law professor at Yeshiva University and an advocate for victims of clergy sex crimes, “it definitely would be SNAP. And that’s what they’re going after. They’re trying to find a way to silence SNAP.”

Lawyers for the church and priests say they cannot comment because of a judge’s order. But William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a church advocacy group in New York, said targeting the network was justified because “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic Church.”
Wait for it…
Mr. Donohue said leading bishops he knew had resolved to fight back more aggressively against the group: “The bishops have come together collectively. I can’t give you the names, but there’s a growing consensus on the part of the bishops that they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough. We don’t need altar boys.”
No, that’s not an optical illusion. In the matter of sexual abuse of children allegedly committed by members of Roman Catholic clergy and laity, Bill Donahue (the guy supposedly speaking for the Church of which I am a member, though he doesn’t serve in any such official capacity) invoked “altar boys” in an attempt to criticize the Church hierarchy for not doing more to fight the legal charges it currently faces.

Truly, words fail.

And the story continues as follows…
The first indication that the network would be caught up in legal proceedings came from Kansas City, where Bishop Robert W. Finn last year became the first American bishop ever to be criminally indicted for failure to report suspected child abuse.

Mr. Clohessy received a subpoena in October at his St. Louis home, where he works, regarding the case John Doe B.P. v. the Rev. Michael Tierney and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Four plaintiffs are accusing Father Tierney of sexually abusing them years ago. The cases would be outside the statute of limitations in Missouri, but the plaintiffs contend they recovered their memories of abuse only recently.

The subpoena asked that Mr. Clohessy turn over all documents in the last 23 years that mention repressed memory, any current or former priest in Kansas City, the diocese, Father Tierney, John Doe or Rebecca Randles, the attorney for the plaintiffs.

The church’s lawyers say they need to see SNAP’s records to investigate whether Ms. Randles violated a gag order by giving the group information about one of the Tierney cases before it was filed, which the group then included in a news release.

Ms. Randles said in an interview: “I certainly didn’t violate the gag order that is based on the ethics rules. And I did get an informal opinion from the Missouri bar ethics council indicating that it was acceptable to give an advance copy of the petition as long as my client had given me permission to do so.”

Ten victims’ advocacy groups filed a supporting brief arguing that the subpoena was unconstitutional. The Missouri Press Association also filed a supporting brief.

However, Judge Ann Mesle of Missouri Circuit Court in Jackson County ruled that Mr. Clohessy must release the files and be deposed because he “almost certainly has knowledge concerning issues relevant to this litigation.”
Here is more from the Kansas City Star on the utterly wrongheaded decision of Judge Mesle (pictured), which is no doubt intended to deflect attention in this scandal from recent developments such as this (and to contact SNAP, click here).

Update 4/6/12: And by the way, I apologize for not realizing earlier that, at our parish, we don't have altar boys anymore; we have altar servers (get with it, Donahue, you dinosaur...and that's one of the best things I can call you).

A “Tortured” Yoo Treatise And More “Blow ‘Em Up” Bolton Bombast

Yes, I’m in semi-retirement I know, but some things are too egregious to ignore – I give you the following from the New York Times last Saturday (don't count on this happening too often, me posting like this I mean)…
OUTER space has become the next frontier for American national security and business. From space, we follow terrorists and intercept their communications, detect foreign military deployments, and monitor a proliferation of unconventional weapons. Our Global Positioning System gives us targeting and tactical advantages, spacecraft create image-rich maps, and satellites beam data around the world.

But instead of advancing American primacy in this realm, the Obama administration has wrongly decided not only to follow a European Union draft “code of conduct” regulating outer space, but also to circumvent the Senate’s central constitutional role in making treaties.
It’s funny to hear John Yoo and John Bolton coming to the defense of the U.S. Senate over the whole “advise and consent” thing particularly over making treaties, when, as Slate’s Fred Kaplan tells us here, Yoo and Bolton did their best to keep the STSART Treaty from being ratified, saying the U.S. Senate "should heed the will of the voters" and reject or drastically amend the treaty (which is humorous in a particularly dark way when, as noted here, three-quarters of those polled said that the treaty should be ratified, which the Senate eventually did, as noted here).

And I also think it’s more than a little disingenuous for Bolton and Yoo to not mention that, as noted here, the Obama Administration said they would not sign off on the code as of 1/16 of this year, though, as noted here, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said we would work with other nations to comply, something actual grownups do, as we know, as opposed to the prior ruling Bush cabal of which Bolton and Yoo were an integral part.

Here’s more steaming crap from B-Y…
Europe aspires to prevent an “arms race” in the heavens, but in reality, its code would substantially impede advances in space technology because such innovations could also be labeled as military. While security activities receive an exception, it appears confined to self-defense, a term often defined narrowly to include only cross-border attacks. We should not take the unnecessary risk that our rivals will exploit such ambiguity to prevent legitimate American actions.

Since there is little our friends across the pond don’t want to regulate, it is no surprise that they are now reaching for space. Taken literally, the European Union code would interfere with our ability to develop antiballistic missile systems in space, test antisatellite weapons and gather intelligence.
I wonder if B-Y know that China and Russia are pursuing their own separate space deals also, making it necessary for us to do the same thing? And even if they did, I wonder if they would care?

And as noted here…
Bolton and Yoo see two main security threats in the new Obama initiative: the possibility that the U.S. will lose its edge in antimissile space technology and the risk that we’ll cede our lead in antisatellite warfare to, yes, China. So let’s take antimissile technology first.

Americans can be almost completely certain that we will never fall behind in this area because we’re not meaningfully ahead to begin with — and neither is anyone else. To the extent that such a technological advantage does exist, it’s roughly akin to being the global leader in practical nuclear-fusion technology — which basically means that your entirely unworkable fusion reactors are bigger and more expensive than everyone else’s. That’s not exactly the Lombardi trophy.

It was in March 1983 that President Reagan first announced the antimissile Strategic Defense Initiative — quickly dubbed Star Wars by anyone who wasn’t actually part of the Reagan Administration — and since then, the U.S. has spent a minimum of $120 billion on the project, according to a 2009 report by the Council on Foreign Relations, without ever showing that it could actually block a hostile missile. The most successful tests of the impractical system have involved firing our own defensive missile at one of our own incoming missiles, carefully calibrating them so they arrive at the same point in the sky at the same moment — and helping things along by equipping the target vehicle with a sort of homing beacon. This is not, you won’t be surprised to learn, the way an actual nuclear exchange would play out.

The danger of the Chinese skeet-shooting American satellites out of the sky is similarly overstated. It’s true that in 2007 China destroyed one of its own, defunct weather satellites with a kinetic kill vehicle. That landmark achievement, however, took place a cool 22 years after the U.S. first demonstrated the same ability. And just to show the world we still have our chops, we destroyed one of our own satellites much the same way just a year after China’s achievement. The difference between this kind of planned hunt and a hostile attack on America’s satellite fleet is a considerable one — but not to Yoo and Bolton.
Also, I simply had to address the following from Bolton and Yoo…
But the more far-reaching danger is that Mr. Obama is eroding American sovereignty on the sly. He knows that an arms-control treaty for space is unlikely. He barely managed to push the new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia — a bad deal — through the Senate. In addition, he is trying to enter the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea through the back door, by committing our Navy to follow its terms even though the Senate refuses to consider it.
Boy, did B-Y push one of my proverbial buttons on this one – as noted here…
The Law of the Sea has set international standards for fishing, deep sea mining, and navigation since the majority of the world's countries signed it in 1982. It provides coastal nations with exclusive rights to ocean resources within 200 nautical miles of their borders - areas known as "exclusive economic zones," or EEZs.

The agreement also oversees an international tribunal to settle fishing, pollution, and property rights disputes, as well as the International Seabed Authority, a body formed to assign mining rights beyond the EEZs.

If the United States approves the treaty, the agreement would include the country with the largest EEZ in the world, while also potentially clearing the way for U.S. oil companies to mine the Arctic Ocean.

U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush supported the treaty during their tenures, but conservative members of Congress repeatedly blocked its ratification due to concerns that it would limit commerce and allow international bodies to wield greater control over U.S. interests.
But wait, there’s more (from B-Y)…
Other presidents have tried to comply with international agreements without Senate approval. Bill Clinton bypassed the Senate when he signed the International Criminal Court Treaty and regarded the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as binding even after Senate rejection. Even Ronald Reagan adhered to the 1979 strategic arms limitation treaty with the Soviet Union, but not under the delusion that international law required it. And after seeing evidence of Soviet cheating, Reagan ceased American compliance in 1986.
More hagiography on The Sainted Ronnie R, I realize, but as noted here…
In 1986, both (Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev) pushed their recalcitrant colleagues toward a nuclear disarmament agreement. That January, Gorbachev proposed a program to eliminate all nuclear weapons around the world. To the dismay of US national security officials, Reagan welcomed Gorbachev’s proposal. On January 17, Shultz told the state department’s arms control group to get working "on what a world without nuclear weapons would mean to us" and how to obtain it. "I know that many of you and others around here oppose the objective of eliminating nuclear weapons," he said, "but the president of the United States doesn’t agree with you, and he has said so on several very public occasions." Furthermore, "it’s a political hot button."16

During the balance of the year, Gorbachev and Reagan swapped disarmament ideas and made plans for another United States-Soviet summit, at Reykjavik. Donald Reagan, the White House Chief of Staff, recalled that some of the President’s advisors were opposed to the meeting. But "the President had been speaking out vigorously on disarmament," he noted, "and to temporize ... could have incalculable consequences in terms of world opinion."17 Although the Reykjavik summit failed to produce a disarmament agreement, each side recognized its appeal. Encouraging Gorbachev, the President told him: "Our people would cheer if we got rid of the missiles." Gorbachev, in turn, dangled before Reagan the prospect that, with some compromises on his beloved Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), he might become "the peacemaker President."18

The break in the disarmament impasse occurred in late February 1987, when Gorbachev--in response to the advice of antinuclear activists--offered to separate negotiations on an INF treaty from the highly contentious issue of SDI. Notes taken at a Politburo meeting of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in late February 1987 reveal that Gorbachev told his colleagues that "we should make a statement about untying the package on the medium-range missiles. This will be our response to the state of public opinion around the world."19 Gorbachev’s action ended any possibility that the Reagan administration could retreat from its disarmament commitments. As Shultz recalled: "If the United States reversed its stand now on our willingness to eliminate INF missiles, after maintaining this position throughout the volatile predeployment period, such a reversal would be political dynamite!"20 Conversely, the Reagan administration realized that a nuclear disarmament agreement would give it a substantial political boost. So Gorbachev’s offer could not be refused, and the INF treaty was signed, with great fanfare, in December 1987.
And finally…
Constitutional principles seem to be mere inconveniences to Mr. Obama, however. In pursuing his long-term goal of blunting American power so it meets with approval in international organizations and foreign capitals, the Senate’s role is a nuisance at best. Instead, his administration is ordering our military and intelligence agencies to comply with international agreements without the “technicality” of Senate approval.
It's really funny to hear Bushies B-Y criticizing Obama for supposedly not honoring the Constitution when their former boss called it “just a goddamned piece of paper” here.

It is no doubt driving these guys nuts that they’re “on the outside looking in.” However, in the godawful event of an honest-to-goodness, actual Willard Mitt Romney presidency, they would no doubt be plying their dark arts once more and risking the most horrific of consequences as a result.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday Stuff

Remember all the wingnut caterwauling over how many pages that baaad “big gumint Obamacare” bill was? Well, I give you this over something of possibly greater importance concerning our beloved commonwealth (some more great “ROI” to ALEC from Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett...Will Bunch said awhile back how awful the PA DEP head Michael Krancer was – Nail. Hammer. Head.)...

...and I figure I’d better put up this video now before all places like it in PA are hopelessly polluted beyond repair as a result (and with probably with the same automaton-like apathy in this video by some of the people living there to go along with it).