Friday, September 18, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Folks
HOUSTON — The highest criminal court in Texas ruled Wednesday that a man facing the death penalty for murder could not have a new trial despite a love affair between the prosecutor and the judge who tried his case.

In a 6-to-3 decision, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said the convicted man, Charles D. Hood, should have raised in earlier appeals the argument that the love affair had tainted his trial.

The affair had been rumored for years in Collin County, just north of Dallas, but was confirmed only a year ago when Mr. Hood’s lawyers compelled the judge, Verla Sue Holland, and the prosecutor, Thomas S. O’Connell Jr., to give depositions under oath. Both officials had since retired.

Let me get this straight. Hood should have raised an unconfirmed rumor that the judge and the prosecutor were having an affair, a rumor that wasn't confirmed till 2008, in an appeal way the hell back in 1990? Do I have this right?

It's like Bill Crider always says: once again, Texas leads the way....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From Your Friendly Health Insurance Company

Getting Beaten By Your Husband Is A Pre-Existing Condition:
It turns out that in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, getting beaten up by your spouse is a pre-existing condition.

Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.


n 1994, then-Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), now a member of Senate leadership, had his staff survey 16 insurance companies. He found that eight would not write health, life or disability policies for women who have been abused. In 1995, the Boston Globe found that Nationwide, Allstate, State Farm, Aetna, Metropolitan Life, The Equitable Companies, First Colony Life, The Prudential and the Principal Financial Group had all either canceled or denied coverage to women who'd been beaten.


In 2006, Democrats tried to end the practice. An amendment introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), now a member of leadership, split the Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee 10-10. The tie meant that the measure failed.

All ten no votes were Republicans...

Imagine my surprise.

Still think we don't need health insurance reform?


Ain't It Cool News:
Universal has set July 1, 2011, for the release of "Battleship," confirming Peter Berg as helmer of the live-action pic based on Hasbro's naval combat board game.
Berg called the pic "a contemporary story of an international five-ship fleet engaged in a very dynamic, violent and intense battle" -- but he would not disclose any details about the enemy force.
The film will be the next directorial assignment for Berg, who last helmed "Hancock."

Okay, it made at least some sense to make a movie out of "Clue," because after all, it was a mystery. But "Battleship"? What's next? "Yahtzee?" "Sorry?" "Chutes and Ladders?"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Small People, A Silly People

Latest Newspaper Column:
If there was any doubt that the modern American right has gotten too silly to be taken seriously and that the movement that once boasted intellectual heavyweights like William F. Buckley and Milton Freidman has now turned into a combination insane asylum and Klown Kollege, it's the recent outbreak of outrage over President Obama's speech to America's schoolchildren.

The very idea that this president would have the unmitigated gall to do exactly what his predecessors, like Saint Ronald Reagan, Bush the Elder and Bush the Lesser have done -- that is, actually speak to the children of America -- was enough to send these people into such a paroxysm of frothing outrage, you'd have thought he was a representative of the North American Man-Boy Love Association, not the duly elected leader of the executive branch.

Vowing that their little ones were never going to risk exposure to the "Socialist Agenda" of the Scary Dark Man, some even swore they would keep their children home from school.

Apparently, they feared that every word spoken by the president was going to worm its way into the ears of their delicate offspring like one of those bugs the bad guys used in "The Wrath of Khan," with the result that pretty soon, their kids would rise up, chanting slogans from the Little Red Book of Chairman Mao, murder their parents in their beds, then establish a Thousand Year Democratic Reich, despite not actually being old enough to vote.

Or maybe the parents were afraid the kids would start nagging them like they do for toys or breakfast cereals advertised on TV until the parents finally break down and accept universal health care.

I didn't say it made any sense.

The profound silliness of the right-wing agenda was revealed in full when the White House released the actual text of the speech before its delivery. The speech, as it runs out, was actually pretty standard stuff: Stay in school. Work hard. Take responsibility. It was something you might hear from Mr. Rogers.

I expect that the majority of kids who were actually allowed to hear the speech quickly tuned out and began texting their friends across the room or playing with their PSPs or whatever it is they do nowadays.

So then the wingnuts, as is their habit, began moving the goalposts. It wasn't the speech they were objecting to, they claimed (even though that's exactly what they'd been doing the day before). The problem was now the "lesson plan" sent out by the Department of Education, which was apparently full of hidden socialist mind control voodoo.

One fellow named Michael Knowles, a self-described leader of the San Antonio "Tea Party" movement, insisted in an interview on MSNBC that the lesson plans were actually illegal under federal law because they encouraged students "to reveal personal information about themselves" during discussions and to "reveal information about their goals."

Yep, that's right. Remember grade school, when some teachers would ask you to "tell us a little something about yourself"? Bet you never knew you were a victim of a federal crime. I sure didn't. And neither did MSNBC's Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

"You must be kidding me," Snyderman said. "Do you not want kids to be talking about what they want to be when they grow up?"

Yes, Dr. Nancy, they really are that crazy.

I'm sure you'll be shocked to know that I was never a big fan of George W. Bush. But you know what? If he'd given a televised speech to the nation's schoolchildren, I wouldn't have kept my kids home from school that day for fear he'd pollute their brains with his scary "legislative agenda."

I know full well that if I had even suggested doing such a thing, the wingnuts would be all up in arms about how "hateful liberals" couldn't even give the president a respectful hearing.

But apparently, under the Wingnut Code, the president is entitled to a respectful hearing, even on the most innocuous issues, only if he's Republican.

And white.