(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!

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?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 8th, 2012: Angry or Mellow?

Mellow Sunlight--photo by Jane E. Schneider Mellow Sunlight – Photo by Jane E. Schneider

I had a choice between writing an angry post about Rand Paul’s “Personhood” petition (which was sent out by Newsmax.com–BTW, I love the tease for one of their stories, “Gillespie to Newsmax: Conservatives Eventually Will Embrace Romney”), or putting up a nice, mellow, golden-sunlit photo. I’m too tired to write an angry post, so here’s my more mellow offering for today.

This is our daily open thread — so, what’s on your mind?

News Flash – Zygote Files Lawsuit Against In Vitro Fertilization Clinic

Seeking to do in the courts what the Pro-Lifers failed to accomplish in the ballot box, Attorney C. Michael Hunt filed a lawsuit on behalf of Zygote John and/or Jane Doe against the In Vitro Fertilization Clinic in Bethlehem, PA.

According to the Lawsuit, the Zygote has been imprisoned in a testube ever since its egg was fertilized in 1994. Since the Zygote is still a minor, not having existed 18 years, the lawsuit was brought through his and/or her Guardian Ad Litem. The Zygote is seeking damages for false imprisonment, an intentional tort under Pennsylvania law, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of its right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, guaranteed under the Declaration of Independence.

“This person is approaching the legal voting age” Hunt said in a prepared statement. “Yet he, or she, has never had the opportunity to go to school, to make friends, to run and play in the grass, or go to church and worship the God who gave him, or her, life.”

John and/or Jane Doe is seeking in excess of $10 million, and a court order granting him, or her, full and complete access to and use of a womb for a period not to exceed nine months.