Ruslan Tsarni, pictured above talking to reporters, is brother to Ansor Tsarnaev and uncle to Ansor’s sons Dzhokhor and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Another brother, Alvi Tsarni, lives fairly close to Ruslan. At some point Ruslan and Alvi had their surnames legally changed.
As you can see from the photo above, Ruslan Tsarni lives in a rather stately, expensive-looking home. He has been identified in news reports as “a corporate lawyer and oil company executive.”
I’ve been floating around Twitter, Google, and Facebook for the past few days, mainly trying to find out anything I can about the mysterious “Misha,” who supposedly influenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev beginning some time in 2010.
I don’t want to get into too much in the way of conspiracy theory, so I’m just going to lay out the facts that are being reported around the internet and let the chips fall where they may. I really don’t know what it all means–maybe nothing–but there are certainly some interesting connections coming out.
I’ll get to the “Misha” story a little later; first some background on Uncle Ruslan, who has some “spooky” connections (pun intended). Daniel Hopsicker, who is somewhat eccentric but IMHO an excellent researcher and writer, has dug up some very suggestive stuff about Ruslan Tsarni. I got some additional information from this post at Democratic Underground.
The uncle of the two men who set off bombs at the Boston Marathon, who struck the only grace note in an otherwise horrific week, worked as a “consultant” for the Agency for International Development (USAID) a U.S. Government Agency often used for cover by agents of the CIA, in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan during the “Wild West” days of the early 1990’s, when anything that wasn’t nailed down in that country was up for grabs.
“Uncle Ruslan” Tsarni of Montgomery Village Md., whose name was the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter last Friday for his plain-spoken condemnation of his two nephews, has had a checkered business career, that began well before he graduated (as Ruslan Z Tsarnaev) from Duke Law School in 1998.
Tsarni was also a Halliburton contractor:
Ruslan’s involvement with USAID, while suggestive, might still be irrelevant, were it not for the discovery of his decade-long involvement with companies in the orbit of the Sun God, Halliburton, which stands accused in numerous and increasingly-credible accounts as “lead dog” in an invading force of “non-state actors.”
All of this, mind, was in support of a noble cause. We were fighting communism. No, wait? We weren’t anymore.
Still, we must have been fighting something. Wait. It’ll come to me…Maybe it was a push to weaken Russia’s grip over former Soviet Republics. That sounds like an admirable goal. Alas, the means chosen to achieve it involved providing covert U.S. support, in Chechnya, to Islamic terrorists.
Haven’t we all already see that movie? No one with a functioning heart could be anxious to see it again. But, wait! Does Dick have a functioning heart?
Hopsicker has a pretty colorful writing style, and you can read all the details at his blog, but briefly, in 2005 Ruslan Tsarni went to work for Big Sky Energy (a Halliburton subsidiary) as Vice President, Business Development & Corporate Secretary. Before that Tsarni worked for two other Halliburton-connected companies, Nelson Resources and Golden Eagle Partners.
The Elephants of the Republican Party don’t seem to have very good memories. Diaper Dave Vitter, Ralph Reed, and even Mark Sanford seem to have continuing careers despite basic transgressions of civility and law. Words fail me on the convenient memories of the perpetrators of one of America’s greatest sins on its 10th anniversary.
The media and the Bush administration led a whole lot of people–never me–down a garden path filled with imaginary WMDs, mushroom clouds, and Al Quaida Terrorists to support its NeoCon Agenda which has cost this country precious lives and treasure. You’d have to ask the Iraqis if they feel ‘liberated’. Too bad we can’t poll all the dead innocents because I’m sure they’d have something to say about Rumsfeld and Cheney’s War of Ideological Convenience too. It’s hard to believe they even have the audacity to pop their heads up like some Neo Con Ground Hog Day Rodents let lone make statements like the one above. None of them can take vacations in Europe any more because most countries realize they belong in the justice system with the other War Criminals. There is nothing like the hubris of absolute gall.
There are so many things that are wrong with the lead-up and the shock-and-awe of the Iraq War that we should make yesterday a national holiday to remember the criminal enterprise that brought us the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and all the other murderous chicken hawks of the Republican Party. Voters should be made to remember that Jeb Bush was also a signatory to neocon documents that became policies of the of group of folks that were disgruntled that Poppy Bush didn’t take the initiative to get us into Iraq after the Kuwait Invasion. That’s another resurrection that shouldn’t happen. PNAC and all its signatories and enablers should go down in history as a list of War Criminals. Judith Miller and various other ‘journalists’ should be added to the list of enablers of war crimes too.
But, back to the absolute mistake and horror that became the Iraq invasion and occupation via Beltway Bob who mentions he got all caught up in the propaganda and complicity of the press at the time too. Even then he was showing signs of the gullibility trait that we like to kid him for around here. Hence, his nickname. He spoke to Ken Pollack who is one of those people that should shrink into permanent obscurity.
I supported Ken Pollack’s war, which led me to support George W. Bush’s war. Both were wrong. The assumptions required to make them right — Hussein had WMDs, Hussein was truly crazy, Hussein couldn’t be contained, American military planners and soldiers could competently destroy and then rebuild a complex, fractured society they didn’t understand — were implausible.
But saying, in retrospect, that I shouldn’t have supported the Iraq War is easy. The harder question is how to avoid a similarly catastrophic misjudgment in the future.
So here are some of my lessons. First, listen to the arguments of the people who will actually carry out a project, not the arguments of the people who just want to see the project carried out. Who manages a project can be as important as what the project is.
Second, don’t trust what “everybody knows.” There is, perhaps, nothing more dangerous than a fact that everyone thinks they know, because it shuts down critical thinking. In a retrospective for Foreign Policy, Stephen Hadley, Bush’s national security adviser, said, “It never occurred to me or anyone else I was working with, and no one from the intelligence community or anyplace else ever came in and said, ‘What if Saddam is doing all this deception because he actually got rid of the WMD and he doesn’t want the Iranians to know?’ Now, somebody should have asked that question. I should have asked that question. Nobody did. It turns out that was the most important question in terms of the intelligence failure that never got asked.”
People that were that gullible and wrong do not need to be interviewed. We need a day each year to point and laugh at them and spread national loathing in their general direction. However, I frankly believe that Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld knew there were no WMDS. They need a completely different sort’ve of treatment. The kind of treatment the court at The Hague dishes and serves cold. I’m not sure if the President knew because frankly, at that time, he appeared at his most clueless on a scale of almost infinite cluelessness. But, if you read the current writings of some of the men that should be standing in front of judges at The Hague, you would think that the now well-known absence of WMDS isn’t even historically relevant. By the way, many Republicans still believe the Iraqis had them so when I say “well-known’ I leave out the cult of cluelessness that is the core Republican base. Try this rationalization and excuse for size from HuffPo. Richard Perle says ‘Not A Reasonable Question’ To Ask Whether Iraq War Was Worth It.
NPR “Morning Edition” host Renee Montagne asked, “Ten years later, nearly 5,000 American troops dead, thousands more with wounds, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or wounded. When you think about this, was it worth it?”
“I’ve got to say, I think that is not a reasonable question. What we did at the time was done in the belief that it was necessary to protect this nation. You can’t, a decade later, go back and say, ‘Well, we shouldn’t have done that,’” Perle responded.
Perle’s refusal to evaluate the question seems to underscore just how little those who made decisions in the lead-up to the invasion want to go back and re-evaluate a choice that most Americans think was a mistake.
The war hawk made some spectacularly wrong predictions and proclamations prior to the Iraq war. Mother Jones reported that Perle claimed Saddam Hussein had ties to Bin Laden days after 9/11, suggested that war with Iraq would be easy (requiring only about 40,000 troops), and claimed that Hussein was “working feverishly” to acquire nuclear weapons. Perle also said that Iraqis could finance their own reconstruction.
Elsewhere in Wednesday’s interview, Monagne asked Perle if it ever crossed anyone’s minds that Iraq’s deception about its chemical weapons could have been directed towards, say, Iran — with which the country fought an eight-year war — rather than the United States.
“I’m sorry to say that I didn’t achieve that insight,” Perle replied.
Perle also cast the toppling of Hussein’s reign of nearly 24 years without any centralized authority as an opportunity. “You can say we left it broken. I think we left it open for opportunity. And then we closed our own opening by moving into an occupation,” he said.
If you really want to be appalled, go read John Yoo who justifies the war by saying “We shared the benefits with the Iraqis“. Why is UC Berkely paying this man to pollute young minds?
And isn’t that what we did in Iraq? We spent billions of dollars in Iraq as damages. We did so not because the war was wrong, but because it was right — and we shared the benefits of the war with the Iraqi people by transferring some of it in the form of reconstruction funds.
It’s at these times when I understand the appeal of an almighty deity that will firmly send such folks to eternal suffering for all their hubris, ignorance, and murderous acts. However, I’d just like to see a little justice done to them here on Earth while we can. It could start with never, ever letting them show up as experts on anything and absolute excoriation when they try to redefine their mistakes. I know it’s too much to think the Justice Department would deliver their arrogant asses to a court. But, I would like to think the court of opinion and the press could treat them with the contempt they deserve. It galls me to think that they’re moving around press circles trying to spread more lies and resurrect themselves. What they should be doing is Public Service for the rest of their lives to make living tolerable for Iraqi veterans, their families, and for Iraqis. None of them should live any kind of life of ease nor should any of us ever let them try to forget that they are Unrepentant War Criminals.
There’s a great big sloppy white mess outside my house this morning–something like 6 or 7 inches of heavy, wet snow. I’m not sure how I’ll get out of here; I may have to try to hire someone to dig me out. Anyway, I’m resigned to being stuck in the house for today at least.
Soooo… let’s see what happening in the news.
I’m going to start out with some news from the Supreme Court. Yesterday the court debated another voting rights case, and once again Sonya Sotomayor went toe-to-toe with right-wing judicial activist Antonin Scalia. This time it was a case from Arizona over whether a state can require proof of citizenship beyond what is required by federal voter registration forms. Here’s some background from Spencer Overton at HuffPo:
The latest case involves the simple question of whether Arizona can refuse to accept a federal voter registration form. But the stakes are much higher. A victory for Arizona could accelerate a nationwide trend of political operatives attempting to manipulate election rules for political gain, and could undermine the power of Congress to protect voting rights.
The National Voter Registration Act requires that all states “accept and use” a single, uniform voter registration form for federal elections. States can still use their own registration forms, but they must also accept and use the Federal Form. The purpose of the Federal Form is to increase participation by preventing states from erecting barriers to voter registration.
The Federal Form requires that prospective voters check a box and sign the form affirming they are U.S. citizens under penalty of perjury. Arizona, however, adopted a state law requiring “satisfactory proof” of U.S. citizenship to register, such as a birth certificate, U.S. passport, or state driver’s license that shows citizenship.
As a result, Arizona initially rejected over 31,000 voter registration applications — including citizens who registered using the Federal Form. Community-based registration drives were hit especially hard, because they rely on approaching individuals who may not be carrying a birth certificate or similar documentation (or unwilling to give a photocopy of these sensitive documents to a registration-drive volunteer). For example, community-based registration drives in Arizona’s largest county — Maricopa County — dropped 44%.
Obviously, if Arizona wins the case, other red states would pass similar laws that would trump federal voting regulations. Yesterday, Sotomayor and Scalia “clashed” over the Arizona law. Talking Points Memo:
Much as they did weeks ago during arguments over the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, the two justices on Monday each led the charge on opposite sides of the case — Scalia for less federal involvement in states’ ability to set their voting laws, and Sotomayor for broad national authority to protect citizens’ right to vote.
Sotomayor’s opening volley began immediately after Arizona Attorney General Thomas C. Horne stepped up to defend his state’s law. She fired off a series of questions, which she would continue asking in different flavors throughout his argument, about inconsistencies between Arizona’s Prop 200 and the NVRA.
“If I see the purpose of the NVRA to simplify registration, how are Arizona’s provisions consistent with that objective and purpose, given that … many people don’t have the documents that Arizona requires?” Sotomayor said. She asked Horne why he thinks Congress would have required states to accept a voter registration form if states can then turn around and require additional information like a passport or birth certificate.
“Why isn’t that just creating another form?” she demanded. Arizona, she said, may object to the fact that proof of citizenship isn’t required, but “that’s what Congress decided.”
As for Scalia:
The conservative jurist wasn’t convinced requiring people to attest under oath was sufficient.
“So it’s under oath — big deal,” Scalia said. “If you’re willing to violate the voting laws, I suppose you’re willing to violate the perjury laws.” He posited that only “a very low number” of voters would be harmed by a requirement to submit proof of citizenship.
Well that makes sense–not. Why bother having witnesses swear to tell the truth in court cases then?
Of course Anthony Kennedy was his usual waffling self. Again from TPM:
At one point, Kennedy wrestled with whether Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship requirement crosses a line. He asked the state’s attorney general, who was defending the law, whether states may also require proof of one’s address or date of birth when registering to vote. If so, he posited, then the federal requirement “is not worth very much.”
At another point, he launched a defense of Arizona’s actions in principle and took issue with some of the reasoning by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled against Arizona.
“The state has a very strong and vital interest in the integrity of its elections,” Kennedy said, “even when those, and perhaps especially when those are elections of federal officials. And it seems to me the Ninth Circuit’s new test did not give sufficient weight to that interest.”
Roberts is apparently “leaning slightly” toward Arizona’s point of view. It’s really frightening that voting rights are in the hands of this conservative court. Thank goodness for Sotomayor’s willingness to be vocal in her arguments. Here are couple more interesting tidbits:
“Let me give you this example,” Alito said. “A person rides up to a place to register on a bicycle and gets out and hands in the federal form. This boy looks like he is 13 years old and he is carrying school books, he is wearing a middle school t-shirt, but he has filled out the form properly. Are they required to register him?”
In the final moments, Scalia warned the Obama administration’s lawyer, who was arguing against Arizona, that if the constitutionality of the NVRA form is challenged in broader terms, “You’re going to be in bad shape — the government’s going to be.”
There was a little bit of good news from the Court yesterday, according to HuffPo: Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Goldman Sachs’ Appeal To Financial Crisis Lawsuit.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc suffered a defeat on Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision forcing it to defend against claims it misled investors about mortgage securities that lost value during the 2008 financial crisis.
Without comment, the court refused to consider Goldman’s appeal of a September 2012 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Goldman shares sank more than 2 percent.
That court let the NECA-IBEW Health & Welfare Fund, which owned some mortgage-backed certificates underwritten by Goldman, sue on behalf of investors in certificates it did not own, but which were backed by mortgages from the same lenders.
Goldman and other banks have faced thousands of lawsuits by investors seeking to recoup losses on mortgage securities.
The bank has said that letting the 2nd Circuit decision stand could cost Wall Street tens of billions of dollars.
David Frum posted a fascinating article at The Daily Beast late yesterday on the lead-up to the Iraq War. Frum was a speechwriter for George W. Bush at the time. You should read the whole thing, but I’ll just quote this one intriguing portion:
The first time I met Ahmed Chalabi was a year or two before the war, in Christopher Hitchens’s apartment. Chalabi was seated regally at one end of Hitchens’s living room. A crowd of nervous, shuffling Iraqis crowded together at the opposite end. One by one, they humbly stepped forward to ask him questions or favors in Arabic, then respectfully stepped backward again. After the Iraqis departed, Chalabi rose from his chair and joined an engaged, open discussion of Iraq’s future democratic possibilities.
The last time I saw Chalabi was in his London apartment, on the very eve of war. My little group arrived past midnight. Chalabi was listening to the evocative strains of Sufi music. He showed me a black-and-white photograph of seven men, wearing the clothes of the 1940s. They were the board of directors of a company his father had founded: a mixed group of Sunni, Shiite, and Christian, and even a Jew. Chalabi remarked that this picture was taken while Europe was tearing itself apart in genocidal violence. He didn’t add that it was taken shortly after British forces defeated a pro-Axis coup in Baghdad—but failed to prevent a murderous pogrom against Baghdad’s Jewish population.
I was less impressed by Chalabi than were some others in the Bush administration. However, since one of those “others” was Vice President Cheney, it didn’t matter what I thought. In 2002, Chalabi joined the annual summer retreat of the American Enterprise Institute near Vail, Colorado. He and Cheney spent long hours together, contemplating the possibilities of a Western-oriented Iraq: an additional source of oil, an alternative to U.S. dependency on an unstable-looking Saudi Arabia.
You might imagine that an administration preparing for a war of choice would be gripped by self-questioning and hot debate. There was certainly plenty to discuss: unlike the 1991 Gulf War, there was no immediate crisis demanding a rapid response; unlike Vietnam, the U.S. entered the war fully aware that it was commencing a major commitment.
Yet that discussion never really happened, not the way that most people would have imagined anyway. For a long time, war with Iraq was discussed inside the Bush administration as something that would be decided at some point in the future; then, somewhere along the way, war with Iraq was discussed as something that had already been decided long ago in the past.
I’m running out of space, so I’ll leave you with this follow-up to the Steubenville rape trial.
Reno Saccoccia is a local legend, in the way that 30-year coaches of football powerhouses in economically depressed Ohio Valley towns tend to be legends. He’s in the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame. He’s won three state titles. When Saccoccia won his 300th game last year, a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 people packed Harding Stadium—christened “Reno Field” in 2007—and chanted “Reno, Reno, Reno” as he left the field.
He breakfasts regularly with the sheriff. His sister-in-law works in the county’s juvenile court, where he is licensed as a mediator. He “molds young boys into men.” So how did Saccoccia react when he got word that two of his young boys were accused of raping a passed-out student?
On the night of the assault, a Steubenville student recorded this video joking about it. Off-camera, someone says “Trent and Ma’lik raped someone.” Among the text messages released at the trial of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, one sent by Mays indicated that Saccoccia had seen the video:
Deleate that off You-tube. Coach Sac knows about it. Seriously delete it.
Saccoccia would later claim he was unaware of the social media evidence, angrily telling a reporter that he didn’t “do the internet.” But a flurry of texts sent on August 13, the day after the incident, indicated that Saccoccia had heard what had happened.
Even as all of Steubenville gradually heard the rumors, even after a local blogger alerted the country to what had happened in Steubenville, those involved in posting and sharing the photos and videos continued to play. They were only suspended eight games into the season, more than two months after the assault and arrests.
Less than a month later, Saccoccia testified on behalf of Mays and Richmond in a hearing to determine whether they would be tried as adults.
As we all know, the “boys” were tried as juveniles and got off easy. Seriously, this asshole has to go!
I have some more stories to share, but I’ll put them in the comments . . . What are you reading and blogging about today? I’m stuck in the house, so I have all the time in the world to click on your links and read!
Mitt Romney is going to wrap up his gaffe-tastic European vacation today, but the gaffes may not be over yet. I read in JJ’s late night post last night that he’s going to make a speech in which he attacks Russia and Putin and criticize Obama for making efforts to cooperate with Russia on some issues like controlling nukes. Whatever happened to Romney’s promise that he wasn’t going to criticize current U.S. policies while overseas?
After all of Romney’s pandering during his visit to Israel, Ehud Barak spoke highly of President Obama in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer yesterday.
Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak said the Obama White House has been the most supportive administration throughout the two countries’ diplomatic relations on matters of Israeli security, in an interview to air Monday on “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Barak -also a former prime minister of Israel – said that though historically administrations from both political parties have supported the Jewish state President Obama’s support, security-wise, is unparalleled.
“I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, um, administrations of both sides of political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israeli and I believe that reflects a profound feeling among the American people,” said Barak. “But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Romney finds out about that.
As JJ also noted last night, NBC is not getting rave reviews on its delayed and edited coverage of the Olympic games. In just one of their #NBCfail updates the Independent reports that Bob Costas, whom I usually like, “made a series of jingoistic remarks, including a joke about Idi Amin when Uganda’s team appeared.” Of course the loudest complaints have been about NBC’s refusal to show any of the events live.
There was feverish anticipation for the debut of the USA men’s basketball “dream team”, who began their hugely hyped Olympic campaign yesterday afternoon. But you wouldn’t have known it by turning on a television in their home country.
While Kobe Bryant and other big names in US sport were completing a 98 to 71-point victory, viewers of American network NBC were forced to watch edited highlights of a women’s cycling race that had been completed several hours earlier.
It was the latest in a string of mistakes by the broadcaster, whose coverage is sparking ridicule from TV critics and outrage from the US public. For most of the weekend, the phrase “NBC Fail” was trending on Twitter.
Why would I bother to watch when the winners and losers have already been announce earlier in the day? I wouldn’t bother watching a delayed broadcast of a Red Sox game either, but sometimes I stay up till all hours watching them when they’re out on the West Coast.
In another update, The Independent reports that one of their reporters, Guy Adams, was suspended from Twitter after NBC complained of his many negative tweets about their coverage.
The NYT Media Decoder reports that another yuppie journalist has bitten the dust.
A publishing industry that is notoriously ill-equipped to root out fraud. A magazine whose famed fact-checking department is geared toward print, not the Web. And a lucrative lecture circuit that rewards snappy, semi-scientific pronouncements, smoothly delivered to a corporate audience.
All contributed to the rise of Jonah Lehrer, the 31-year-old author, speaker and staff writer for The New Yorker, who then executed one of the most bewildering recent journalistic frauds, one that on Monday cost him his prestigious post at the magazine and his status as one of the most promising, visible and well-paid writers in the business.
An article in Tablet magazine revealed that in his best-selling book, “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” Mr. Lehrer had fabricated quotes from Bob Dylan, one of the most closely studied musicians alive. Only last month, Mr. Lehrer had publicly apologized for taking some of his previous work from The Wall Street Journal, Wired and other publications and recycling it in blog posts for The New Yorker, acts of recycling that his editor called “a mistake.”
By Monday, when the Tablet article was published online, both The New Yorker and Mr. Lehrer’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, made it clear that they had lost patience with him.
The War on Women continues apace. In Arizona a judge (a Clinton appointee yet) has ruled that the state’s restrictive abortion law can take effect.
U.S. District Judge James Teilborg said the statute may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier. But he said the law is constitutional because it doesn’t prohibit any women from making the decision to end their pregnancies.
The judge also wrote that the state provided “substantial and well-documented” evidence that an unborn child has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April, making Arizona one of 10 states to enact types of 20-week bans.
Arizona’s ban, set to take effect Thursday, prohibits abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. That is a change from the state’s current ban at viability, which is the ability to survive outside the womb and which generally is considered to be about 24 weeks. A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and another group filed a notice that they would be appealing Teilborg’s decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The law will result in more babies being born even though they have no chance of survival.
Under a new Arizona abortion law that takes effect Thursday, more babies with fatal fetal defects are expected to be carried to term, even though they will die within minutes, hours or days. But more will also be done to help their families get through the trauma of losing a child.
House Bill 2036 forbids doctors from aborting most fetuses with a gestational age of 20 weeks or older, even in situations where the doctor discovers the fetus has a fatal defect. The law also defines gestational age as beginning on the first day of the woman’s last period, meaning abortions are actually banned starting at 18 weeks of pregnancy — typically about the same time a doctor would perform ultrasounds where most abnormalities are detected.
Eight other states also ban abortions after 20 weeks, but Arizona is the only one with a law that actually pushes the ban back to 18 weeks into the pregnancy.
At Salon Irin Carmon spells out the “insanity” that “prevails in Arizona.
The Clinton-appointed district court judge in Arizona just did something, well, unprecedented. He upheld Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks, claiming it didn’t actually “ban” abortions before viability, it just “regulates” them down to the most grueling emergencies.
Worse, Teilborg even regurgitated the suspect science of “fetal pain,” a first in the federal courts, though his decision was based on the contorted “regulation” versus “ban” finding. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the state can only ban abortions after viability, regardless of the rationale, but Teilborg found that Arizona’s H.B. 2036 “does not impose a substantial obstacle to previability abortions,” because a woman can still get an abortion after 20 weeks if she’s about to die or suffer major physical impairment.
“It’s such a game of semantics, to the point of Alice in Wonderland,” ACLU staff attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas told Salon. “When the Supreme Court said you cannot ban any abortions prior to viability, regardless of whether there are any exceptions to that ban, that’s exactly what they meant.”
And Virginia’s abortion clinics are still struggling to meet the ridiculous requirements they have been given by the state’s General Assembly.
Rosemary Codding has tried for months to scrape together enough to pay for a costly renovation to her Falls Church clinic, where women get checkups, Pap smears and abortions.
Codding is still short of the up to $1 million it would take to update the 50-year-old building — it needs wider hallways, new ventilation systems and additional patient rooms — after Virginia enacted some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on abortion clinics.
The General Assembly voted last year to require the guidelines, which were quickly adopted by the state’s Board of Health. In a surprise move, the panel later exempted the state’s existing clinics, including Codding’s on busy Lee Highway.
But Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) refused to sign off on the board’s decision, arguing that it lacked the legal authority to exclude the operating clinics.
Bill Clinton will play a “key role” at the Democratic Convention.
Former President Bill Clinton will have a marquee role in this summer’s Democratic National Convention, where he will make a forceful case for President Barack Obama’s re-election and his economic vision for the country, several Obama campaign and Democratic party officials said Sunday.
The move gives the Obama campaign an opportunity to take advantage of the former president’s immense popularity and remind voters that a Democrat was in the White House the last time the American economy was thriving.
Obama personally asked Clinton to speak at the convention and place Obama’s name in nomination, and Clinton enthusiastically accepted, officials said. Clinton speaks regularly to Obama and to campaign officials about strategy.
In contrast, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will not attend the Republican Convention. We still don’t know if Mitt the Twit will invite Sarah Palin.
Elizabeth Warren will also speak in prime time, but will not deliver the keynote speech.
Elizabeth Warren will not deliver the keynote speech at this year’s Democratic National Convention, but instead will speak immediately before former President Bill Clinton on what party officials hope will be an energetic penultimate night.
Warren and Clinton will speak in primetime on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and form a one-two punch aimed at crystallizing the choice between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in the general election, the Obama campaign said.
The Massachusetts Senate candidate will contrast the president’s economic plan with Romney’s, and outline the impact it will have on middle-class families across the country.
“At the president’s side, Elizabeth Warren helped level the playing field for all Americans and put in place safeguards to ensure that everyone, from Wall Street to Main Street, play by the same set of rules,” said Stephanie Cutter, a deputy Obama campaign manager.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
There’s nothing too exciting going on right now so I’m going to link to a few interesting things that showed up the last few days. I suppose every one’s focused on the Olympics and the last of their summer vacations.
Four reasons: An astonishing number of people work at low-wage jobs. Plus, many more households are headed now by a single parent, making it difficult for them to earn a living income from the jobs that are typically available. The near disappearance of cash assistance for low-income mothers and children — i.e., welfare — in much of the country plays a contributing role, too. And persistent issues of race and gender mean higher poverty among minorities and families headed by single mothers.
The first thing needed if we’re to get people out of poverty is more jobs that pay decent wages. There aren’t enough of these in our current economy. The need for good jobs extends far beyond the current crisis; we’ll need a full-employment policy and a bigger investment in 21st-century education and skill development strategies if we’re to have any hope of breaking out of the current economic malaise.
This isn’t a problem specific to the current moment. We’ve been drowning in a flood of low-wage jobs for the last 40 years. Most of the income of people in poverty comes from work. According to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau, 104 million people — a third of the population — have annual incomes below twice the poverty line, less than $38,000 for a family of three. They struggle to make ends meet every month.
Half the jobs in the nation pay less than $34,000 a year, according to the Economic Policy Institute. A quarter pay below the poverty line for a family of four, less than $23,000 annually. Families that can send another adult to work have done better, but single mothers (and fathers) don’t have that option. Poverty among families with children headed by single mothers exceeds 40 percent.
Wages for those who work on jobs in the bottom half have been stuck since 1973, increasing just 7 percent.
GOP strategists within and outside the Romney campaign insist that the former Massachusetts governor still has plenty of time to acquaint the American people with his softer side, and that, given all the problems the country faces, personality will not be the deciding factor this election year.
Those assumptions show in Romney’s advertising. The standard playbook for challengers is to launch their campaigns with a round of biographical ads. Romney’s first spots after securing the nomination focused on what he would do on “Day One” of his presidency.
“Personal qualities are taking a back seat,” Newhouse said. “What voters are asking us is, ‘What’s he going to do? How is he going to be different? How is he going to lead us out of this mess?’ ”
Sounding a bit like a sympathetic psychotherapist, a recent Republican National Committee ad acknowledged Americans’ affection for Obama and offered them permission to move on.
“He tried. You tried,” the announcer said. “It’s okay to make a change.”
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has tried to take advantage of a void that Romney has created by his failure thus far to fill in the picture of himself.
It has pounded him with ads that depict him as heartless, privileged and secretive. In an exercise of jujitsu, Obama’s attacks focus on the very aspect of Romney’s résumé that he has highlighted as his greatest strength: his business career.
“Who has owned the Mitt Romney biography? It’s been the Obama campaign that has defined Mitt Romney,” said Steve Schmidt, a veteran Republican strategist who helped run GOP nominee John McCain’s campaign in 2008. “A lot of criticism people make is that Mitt Romney hasn’t revealed a lot of himself in terms of who he is.”
Two Democratic lawmakers on Monday will announce new legislation to regulate the online and mail-order sale of ammunition.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.) said the new law would make the sale of ammunition “safer for law-abiding Americans who are sick and tired of the ease with which criminals can now anonymously stockpile for mass murder,” in a statement released Saturday.
The lawmakers cite the recent movie massacre in Aurora, Colo. for spurring their bill.
“The shooter who killed 12 and injured 58 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater this month had purchased over 6,000 rounds of ammunition anonymously on the Internet shortly before going on his killing spree, according to law enforcement officials,” the statement reads. “The shooter used a civilian version of the military’s M-16 rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, a shotgun and two .40-caliber semi-automatic handguns commonly used by police officers.”
Lautenberg and McCarthy, who will unveil their new proposal at New York’s City Hall say they intend to “make it harder for criminals to anonymously stockpile ammunition through the Internet.”
Lautenberg and McCarthy are two high profile advocates of gun control legislation, but they face an uphill struggle in Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last week that he does not intend to bring gun control legislation to the floor and President Obama has been reluctant to press lawmakers to act on the issue in an election year.
Democratic senators though have offered an amendment to the cybersecurity bill that would limit the purchase of high capacity magazines by some consumers. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) defended it last Thursday as a “reasonable” gun control measure.
A quick recap of the purge story thus far: The Florida secretary of state, who oversees elections and is appointed by the governor, initially drafted a list of some 180,000 potential illegal voters based on the state driver’s license database. Some legal immigrants can get driver’s licenses in the state, including those on student or work visas and those in the process of naturalization; the state sought to match those names with the names of voters.
The secretary’s office whittled that list down to about 2,600 names that it considered most suspect and sent those to the respective county supervisors to check. Right away, problems began to crop up. In Broward County, for example, one of the voters who got a letter telling him he’d have to prove his citizenship to continue voting was 91-year-old Bill Internicola, a Brooklyn-born World War II veteran living in a retirement community who’d been voting in Florida for 18 years. But the effort also did turn up more than 100 noncitizens who’d been illegally registered to vote.
The secretary of state’s office maintains that it always realized the driver’s license list was insufficient for the purpose of vetting voter registrations. Instead, it began asking the feds for access to a database — the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements system, known as SAVE — used to check the eligibility of applicants for federal benefits. When the Department of Justice sued Florida to stop the initial purge effort, Florida sued back to force the Department of Homeland Security to let it use the SAVE database.
Earlier this month, a resolution was reached when Homeland Security agreed to give the secretary of state’s office access to the SAVE database. At the moment, the secretary’s office is working with Homeland Security on the terms of the agreement, with hopes of signing a memorandum in the coming days, according to Chris Cate, the spokesman for Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
“We’re going to use the SAVE database to verify information we’ve received indicating someone is a noncitizen,” Cate said. “If we receive information that someone on the voter rolls is a noncitizen, we’ll use the SAVE database to validate whether or not that’s true, and then we’ll provide that information to the [county election] supervisors to complete the statutory removal process.”
Cate said a new list of potential noncitizen voters would be created from the most current information contained in the driver’s license database. The main problem with the initial driver’s license list, he said, was that it captured people who had become naturalized citizens since they last renewed their licenses. But running the names through the SAVE database, which is updated through the last 72 hours, will keep those people from being purged, he said.
For now, though, this process is still hypothetical, and the purge is in limbo.
Evidently the Big Dawg will play a big role at the DNC convention in September. I guess all is forgiven.
President Bill Clinton will play a prominent role at the Democratic National convention this summer, several Obama campaign and party officials say.
The former president will formally nominate President Barack Obama for re-election. And he will use a prime-time speech to argue that Obama has the strongest economic vision for the country’s future, the officials say.
Clinton will speak on Sept. 5. That means both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will speak on Sept. 6, the final night of the convention, before a crowd of about 70,000 people at an outdoor stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Interestingly enough, Dubya will be a no show at the RNC convention. Here’s some one I wish we could have arrested and hear less from. Dick Cheney calls Palin’s pick as VP a “mistake”. Ya think?
Cheney would not comment on what he told Romney and Myers, but he was harsh in his assessment of McCain’s decision to pick Palin.
“That one,” Cheney said, “I don’t think was well handled.”
“The test to get on that small list has to be, ‘Is this person capable of being president of the United States?’”
Cheney believes Sarah Palin failed that test.
“I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over. And I think that was a mistake.”
Okay, that’s about all the political news I can stomach for the day.
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