(Descending into) March Madness – Week One Gnus

Let’s start with some bad news, hopefully I’ll come up with some good news later.

First, to get it out of the way, the first Manafort sentence – WTF was the judge in the VA Manafort trial thinking, 47 MONTHS? “…an otherwise blameless life…”? This is the guy whose lobbying firm partners were Roger “Nixon Tattoo” Stone and Lee “Evil Incarnate” Atwater, the slimiest trio of political operatives in several decades. Not to mention all of his foreign entanglements with vicious dictators. “Blameless?!” And poor, poor Manafort, so “humiliated and shamed” during the court proceedings. Not “humbled and ashamed”, of course. No, he was “humiliated and shamed” because he had to be seen, even if just in court drawings, in jumpsuit and chains with graying hair, instead of his usual natty expensive suits and jet-black coif. Oh, and there’s the gout, can’t forget the gout- that’s what the wheelchair is for, to remind everyone. Funny how that gout hit him once he was jailed, because in all of the videos we see of Manafort going into and out of courtrooms, he seemed to be walking just fine.

That nominal sentence is a goddamn outrage. A slap on the wrist for an unremorseful lifelong thug, and (another) slap in the face to justice in these United States. I’d go on a good rant, but I’m concerned about my blood pressure. And sanity. 😦

Moving on…

For some reason which I don’t currently remember, I’ve been getting these ‘breaking news’ emails from “Christian Headlines”. Regardless…I got one this afternoon and the title of the article is pretty frightening: “Judge Lets Father Represent Aborted Baby in Wrongful-Death Suit.” Yeah, here we go down an extremely slippery slope, deliberately greased by religious fanatics and misogynistic politicians. This “personhood” nonsense is unconstitutional and dangerous.

According to the article by Michael Foust:

“An Alabama judge has let a wrongful death lawsuit proceed in which a father is suing an abortion clinic on behalf of his aborted unborn child…The lawsuit references a constitutional amendment passed by Alabama voters last year stating “it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children.”

“The case in Alabama is chilling because it represents the real-life consequences of anti-choice ‘personhood’ policies, which, by design, seek to demote the fundamental rights of women, and are a stepping stone in the anti-choice movement’s ultimate goal of criminalizing abortion and punishing women,” Kimmell [Adrienne Kimmell, V.P of NARAL Pro-Choice America] said. “To see it playing out in this case in Alabama should serve as a grave warning sign.”

(But the good news from Christian Headlines is that you can have “free devotions from Dr. Charles Stanley sent right to your door!” Okay, I was a Roman Catholic, so I have no idea what that means.)

Next…

We all remember what a mendacious git Judge Andrew Napolitano has been in the past. So he continues to surprise me in his appearances on Fox by his relative frankness regarding trump’s myriad legal troubles and appearance of guilt. I wish that Napolitano would apprise his Fox viewers of his opinion as published in yesterday’s Washington Times. Yes, sorry it’s the WT, but it’s actually worth the read. And while I take issue with a few things, i.e., his reference to trump’s “tormenters”; and his interpretation of the Republican-destroyed rule that “politics ends where the water’s edge begins” (that doesn’t mean that the House can’t hold hearings while trump is out “negotiating” with a murderous dictator), Napolitano did clarify some things about which I, at least, had been curious. Just one excerpt:

“Can a lawyer testify against his own client? What has become of the attorney-client privilege? These are sound questions that were not asked last week because of something called the crime-fraud exception. Normally, all communications between a client and his lawyer are privileged from revelation. The exception comes when the lawyer can demonstrate that he and the client were together engaged in criminal or fraudulent acts.”

You’ll have to read the rest, for some reason I can’t copy-and-paste from the Washington Times article.

Let’s get to some cheerier stuff…

Like the penguins in this snippet on Twitter – play it with the sound on, and watch all the way ’til the end. Enjoy!

Also, too…

April the Giraffe is due to give birth any moment, and you can watch her here.** April may have calved by the time I post this, but in that case the morning might bring us a little cutie like this:

UPDATE:  March 13th, 12:26am ET, still no baby giraffe.  I’ve heard that April was more than a month late with her last calf, so…watch this space!

**UPDATE!:  Baby BOY giraffe born approximately 12:42pm ET on Saturday, March 16th.  5′-11″ (taller than our own Zookeeper!) and 139 lbs.  Baby to be named in some sort of contest in the near future.  In the meantime, you can watch mom April and the little guy (with dad Oliver in the far pen) live, almost 24/7, here (The link is a new one, the one above has been taken down for archiving.)

Lastly…

Doesn’t everyone need a hug?

This is our Open Thread – batten down the hatches, ’cause we’re in for some rough political weather!

Havin’ my Baby, Paul Ryan version.

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
Jamiol’s World

Perhaps it’s time to re-write an old Paul Anka song:

R: Having my baby,
What a lovely way of saying how much you love me,
Having my baby,
What a lovely way of saying what you’re thinking of me
I can see it, face is glowing,
I can see in your eyes, I’m happy you know it
That you’re having my baby,
Your the woman I love, and I love what it’s doing to ya,
Having my baby,
You’re a woman in pain and I love what’s going through ya,
The need inside you, I see it showing,
Oh the seed inside you,
Baby do you feel it growing,
Are you happy you know it?
That your having my baby,

V: I’m a woman in pain, and I hate what’s going through me,
But I have to keep it, Gov’ment put me through it,

R: You would of swept it from your life,
But you couldn’t do it, no you couldn’t do it.
And your having my baby,

V: I’m a woman in pain, and I hate what’s going through me,
Having your baby,
I’m a woman in pain, and I hate what’s going through me,
Having your baby,

R: Having my baby,
What a lovely way of saying how much you love me,

V: Having your baby,
I’m a woman in pain, and I hate what’s going through me.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 26th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 1

The Republican’s war on women’s rights is being waged so quickly that it’s been hard to keep up with every skirmish. I began writing about it in my columns in the Pawling Press several weeks ago. The following is the first of these columns, as published in the Pawling Press on Friday, February 24th, 2012:

“Personhood vs Women’s Rights”

On both the Federal and the State levels, Republican legislators have been attempting to limit women’s reproductive rights and personal freedoms. Since January of 2011, twenty-eight pieces of legislation have been introduced, considered, or passed in either the House or the Senate, aiming to chip away at the currently legal access to abortion and family-planning services. In the last few years, fourteen states either have tried to pass, or are about to pass, “Personhood” legislation declaring that human life begins at the moment of conception.

On February 16th, the Oklahoma State Senate passed SB-1433, which in part states:

“1. The life of each human being begins at conception;”
“2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being;
“C. The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
“E. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”

Oklahoma State Medical Association spokesman Wes Glinsmann, describing the Association’s opposition to the bill, stated, “As broad and vaguely worded as it was, we are concerned about some of the unintended consequences regarding contraception, in vitro fertilization, ectopic pregnancies, things of that nature.”

According to the Tulsa News, State Senator Brian Crain, the author of the Oklahoma bill, “…said the measure will not outlaw abortion because the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, is still on the books.” However, after reading SB-1433 (and there is little more to it than what I have quoted), I do not see how Senator Crain can honestly say that the measure would not outlaw abortion. I also do not see how, since Sections ‘2’ and ‘C’ above seem to be contradicted by Section ‘E’, this law would be enforceable. If it is unenforceable, then what exactly is the point of the legislation in the first place?

Similarly-worded “personhood” legislation is pending in Virginia (SB-484.) This bill includes an “informed consent” requirement, which, in plain English, “Requires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging…”

Any woman who has undergone ultrasound imaging for other gynecological reasons knows that it is an invasive, often painful and humiliating procedure, involving a large cold probe and lengthy poking around in one’s internal private parts. Although the excuse for mandating this procedure is to “determine gestation age”, it is a completely unnecessary requirement for a woman about to have an abortion, unless one makes the ridiculous assumption that no woman has any idea when she got pregnant.

It seems that the sole purpose of these measures is to intimidate women seeking legal abortions by placing as many hurdles as possible in their way. It is remarkable that the same people who are vehemently opposed to the Affordable Care Act (spuriously referred to as “Obamacare”) as “big government” and “putting Federal bureaucracy between a doctor and a patient” are more than willing to have the State do exactly the same thing that they decry.

Looking at the Republican Presidential candidates’ field, it now seems that Rick Santorum, who opposes even contraception due to his religious beliefs, is the front-runner. This should frighten every woman of child-bearing age who does not want her reproductive rights diminished.

I was pleased to find that a group exists called Republican Majority for Choice, whose principles seem to be more in keeping with traditional moderate Republican values. From their website:

“The Republican Majority for Choice is an organization of Republican men and women… who believe in our Party’s traditional principles of individual liberty, strong national security and sound economic reason. We endorse the ‘big tent’ philosophy of inclusion and tolerance on social issues.”
“We support the protection of reproductive rights, including the full range of reproductive options. We believe that personal and medical decisions are best made between a woman, her doctor and her family and out of the hands of government. We are deeply concerned with direction of our Party if it continues to endorse a social agenda that is both intrusive and alienating. Our Party is naively discounting its mainstream members for those who represent the extreme right and believe it is their way or no way.”

This is what Republicans USED to stand for; why have so many of them strayed so far to the extreme right? For a party which touts itself as the party of personal freedom and small government, this interference in women’s lives and basic privacy should be against everything they supposedly believe.

Parts 2 and 3 to be posted shortly…

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Republicans Who Hate Women

Today on Meet The Press, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum tried, once again, to prove he’s the furthest one out on the right when it comes to abortion. Ignoring both constitutional precedent as well as common sense logic, Santorum made the claim that human life begins at conception and that any doctor who performs an abortion should face criminal charges. He stated that the woman involved should face no charges, but offered no explanation for this contradiction. And it is a contradiction because no doctor can perform an abortion without a woman being involved. (Unless we’re talking about test tube babies, but that would complicate things beyond the ability of people like Santorum to understand.)

Santorum has a history of getting facts wrong in support of his ill-conceived position on abortion. In a debate with Sen. Bob Casey during his last run for his Senate seat in 2006 (Casey won), Santorum said using the so-called “morning-after pill” is the exact same thing as abortion if it is taken “after the egg has been fertilized.” This is wrong because conception actually takes several days and the morning-after pill won’t work if the woman is already pregnant.

Santorum is also forgetting Justice Clarence Thomas’ famous confirmation hearings in which Sen. Patrick Leahy asked the nominee, “Does a fetus have rights under the Constitution.” After giving it a few seconds’ thought, Thomas correctly answered, “No.” The Constitution applies to persons who are actually born, and no amount of stretching what it says can lead one to believe it applies to people who haven’t been born yet. (For example, of what nation would a person who hasn’t been born yet be a citizen?)

One also has to question how someone can call themselves “pro-life” and still support the use of capital punishment. There is no consistency in this line of thinking, so their constant assault on a woman’s right to choose can only be construed as anti-women.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.

38 years after Roe v. Wade

 

 

Thirty-eight years ago today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a woman’s right to make decisions and choices regarding her own body, health, and family.  Since then, anti-choicers have bombarded us with their various and sundry objections.

Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, has a piece on Huffington Post regarding the current attacks on Roe v. Wade.  I’m highlighting one particular section here.

[A] bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) would strip Planned Parenthood of all Title X family planning funding, which has provided family planning and other preventive services to millions of low-income women since 1970. If that happens, millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood for their primary and preventive health care — including annual exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, contraception visits, and testing and treatment for STDs — would lose access to their main source of basic preventive health care and their connection to a high-quality health care provider.

That’s right folks, Mike Pence would literally like to throw the baby out with the bath water, in order to prevent any access to abortion services.  Not only would the affected women — mainly poor women — no longer have access to abortions, they would no longer have access to birth control and necessary OB/GYN health screenings by professional health care providers.

But hey, none of that matters, as long as we can assure that there are more and more unwanted babies brought into the world, so Pence and his ilk can then ignore their needs, and FSM knows we’ve been missing the abortion wards.  For profit medicine must be totally psyched about that inevitability.

The best way to insure fewer abortions, Mike Pence et al, is to TRUST WOMEN.  Trust us with our own bodies, with our ability to make decisions regarding birth control and family size, with our need to obtain quality health care services, even if we’re poor, because believe it or not, we don’t want to die early of breast or cervical cancer and leave our children to be cared for by the likes of you.

Basically, we’re not asking you to trust women, we’re demanding that you do so, and while you’re at it, just mind your own damned business.

Sunday Roast: Fetus trumps woman?

In 1973, abortion was made legal in this country, via the Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court.  Reproductive rights were now the law of the land, and women could now legally use birth control and get a legal and safe abortion, if she decided it was necessary.  Surely equal rights for women — across the board — were just around the corner…

We’ve come a long way, baby, but not in the direction we’d hoped.  Abortion is still legal in the U.S., as well as birth control of many varieties, but being legal and having access are two very different things.  There’s a fairly new trend out there, called a “conscience clause,” and it’s being used by medical personnel and pharmacists to deny their services to women who want birth control and/or abortion services.  Why anyone would go into such fields if they won’t actually do their job for everyone is beyond me, but that’s a topic for another day.

There’s a place called Guanajuato, Mexico.  This place is the anti-choice crowd’s wet dream come true — and a living nightmare for the women who live there.  Cecile Richards has an article on Huffington Post about what’s going on in Mexico these days…

Consider the case of a bleeding young woman’s reception at the Guanajuato hospital:

Before doctors would care for her, the authorities were summoned to interrogate her about her sexual history. Immediately after surgery she was forced to make a statement, and she is still being investigated for possible criminal action.

Yes, this woman’s life was literally draining out of her, but never mind that, the authorities need to find out if she was having a ‘legitimate’ health problem.

Across Mexico, women are being investigated, accused and jailed, even for the suspicion of terminating a pregnancy. Moreover, pregnant women with bleeding or other symptoms are now terrified to go to hospitals, lest they be accused of attempted “murder.”

Indeed, Guanajuato is the ultimate Utopian paradise for 2010 mid-term election anti-choice candidates such as Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller, and Rand Paul.   These five Republican candidates for the United States Congress oppose abortion for any reason — even rape or incest.  That’s right folks, if Angle et al get their way, a victim of rape/incest who finds herself pregnant better just buck up and start making lemonade out of that truckload of lemons that were dumped on her, cuz God’s got a plan. Continue reading

Oklahoma abortion law will expose women to danger

The Raw Story

A new Oklahoma law that forces women who have had abortions to post details of the procedure online is being sharply criticized

by women’s rights groups, and is now being challenged in court by two Oklahoma women.

As of November 1, doctors in Oklahoma will be compelled — under penalty of criminal prosecution — to post the details of each abortion they perform online. Among the details to be posted for every abortion is the patient’s age, marital status and race; her financial condition; her education; and the total number of her previous pregnancies.

In all, 37 personal questions will have to be asked and answered, and posted publicly for the world to see, under the new law.

“A friend said it best: It’s like undressing women in public, exposing their most personal issues on the Internet,” Lora Joyce Davis, one of the plaintiffs suing to prevent the law from coming into effect, told ABC News.

Hey, if protesting on a street corner against a legal medical procedure doesn’t stop enough abortions, then pull out the big guns and pass laws that will terrorize women into giving birth.  Yeah, that’s the ticket!

The law has come under extreme criticism from social activists. The Feminists for Choice blog declares the law invalid under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

“A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being,” blogger Reyna writes. “This law does quite the opposite. Instead of protecting patients, this law puts these [women] in danger.”

But since they had dirty, dirty sex and then tried to cover it up by having an abortion, danger is what they deserve, right?

It’s all about the blastocyst with these people.  Living, breathing women are second class citizens to “potential life.”  Incubators, if you will.

“Why don’t we just tattoo a Scarlett “A” on their foreheads?” blogger Mike the Mad Biologist asks at ScienceBlogs.

Don’t give ’em any ideas, Mike…

McCain Loses Again – Focused On “Joe The Plumber”

Here is a small segment of Katie Couric talking with Joe the Plumber after the debates to get his reactions. He said he wasn’t swayed by the debate.

Joan Walsh took issue with McCain’s harping on Joe the Plumber. She has a good point bringing this up in her op-ed. I know I’m sick of hearing about him already. If you can’t be successful in Ohio making 250k+ something is seriously wrong. We have a low cost of living here, housing is very affordable, and grocery prices are always within reason. So either Joe the Plumber, is bad with his money or he has always been a diehard Republican that is trying to get attention from the media. Here are Joan Walsh’s noteworthy points about the debate.

John McCain promised to kick Barack Obama’s “you know what” on Wednesday night. He hinted that he’d bring up former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers and worse. Instead McCain bludgeoned Obama with Joe the Plumber, and the effect was more farce than fierce.

McCain mentioned the now-famous plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher, an apparently wealthy Toledo businessman who complained he’d pay more taxes under Obama’s plan, more than he talked about Sarah Palin or Osama bin Laden, by far. Midway through the 90-minute conversation, Obama was addressing Joe the Plumber, too. And it was clear by then that McCain had lost three straight debates.

Continue reading