Wednesday, October 06, 2010

ANOTHER P R O U D N R A moment! Shame!!

 Ohio Mom Killed 2 Kids, Then Herself  6-year-old girl and 18-month-old boy

A woman shot and killed her two children in their beds before committing suicide Wednesday morning in their rural home, authorities said.
Carroll County Sheriff Dale Williams said the woman's father notified police at around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The man was in the house at the time but didn't witness the shootings, the sheriff said.
The shooting, which took place in a rural town about 20 miles southeast of Canton, left the 24-year-old woman and her two children a 6-year-old girl and an 18-month-old boy dead.
Investigators were checking a note found at the home, but no immediate motive was offered, Williams said. The bodies were taken for autopsies at the Stark County coroner's office, he said.
The children had different fathers, both of whom apparently lived outside the area, Williams said. Detailed information on the victims' identities was being withheld until the men and other family members are notified, he said.
Carrollton school Superintendent Palmer Fogler said the 6-year-old was a first-grader in the district.
Several people hugged and consoled one another in the driveway of the house, situated at the edge of a grassy hill and cordoned off by a paddock-style white fence.
Carrollton, seat of Carroll County in northeast Ohio, has a population of about 3,000.
The Associated Press

Could the partisan gridlock in Washington be solved by a pact to quit smoking?

At "Governing across the Divide" roundtable, solutions are elusive
CBS' Bob Schieffer thinks it's at least a start, and he's taking the idea straight to two smokers at the top -- President Obama and House Minority Leader John Boehner.
Schieffer raised the notion at a roundtable on civility in politics held at Washington National Cathedral Tuesday night, where he was playing the role of moderator to two guests from opposite sides of the political spectrum - former George W. Bush chief of staff Josh Bolten and White House senior adviser David Axelrod (who was filling in at the event for former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel following Emanuel's departure from the White House to run for Chicago mayor).
About halfway through grilling his guests on how to restore civility to politics in Washington, Schieffer -- a former smoker and cancer survivor -- proposed an idea of his own: why not get Obama and Boehner to join together and announce that they're quitting smoking?

"Wouldn't that be a good, bipartisan thing to do? To get together at the same place and say, 'You know, we both smoke and we're going to try to stop?'" Schieffer asked the 800 or so guests at the "Governing across the Divide" event, noting that several weeks earlier, he'd proposed the idea to Boehner on "Face the Nation," only to be met with a somewhat terse response.
Axelrod assured Schieffer that he'd run the idea by Obama -- although he cautioned that "the president has had a very good year in that regard, so he's got a long head start on this."

Schieffer's proposal was one of few innovative ideas brought up at the forum Tuesday night (although in Axelrod's and Bolten's defense, the event was held exactly four weeks out from the November midterms -- not exactly prime time for waxing philosophical about the civility of political discourse).
Schieffer kicked off the event by noting that the current rancor in the nation's capitol is the worst he's ever seen it. "I have been in Washington now for 41 years, and I presently believe that we have a meanness that has settled over our politics today that is worse and much deeper than I can recall in my time here in Washington," he said.

As Axelrod and Bolten gave their takes on the causes of that political acrimony, they ticked through a laundry list of familiar themes: A decennial reapportionment process that ensures that the vast majority of incumbents are running in safe districts; a 24-7 cable news cycle propelled by media organizations that are "now dividing up into ideological camps," as Axelrod put it; a "deep-seated disagreement," in Bolten's words, on certain hot-button-issues that leaves the minority party with no other option but obstructionism.

For all the talk of viewing politics from 35,000 feet, both Axelrod and Bolten (who now serves as a professor at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School) were very much in campaign mode. Axelrod in particular took aim at some familiar campaign-trail targets Tuesday night, including Fox News Channel and the influence of outside groups this cycle.

"Fox has basically become an outlet for one party and one point of view," Axelrod said at one point. He charged that the network "created a full media tempest" with its coverage of the Shirley Sherrod controversy, although he conceded that the administration also "reacted, I think, too quickly to it."

Bolten defended the cable giant. "We certainly inside the White House felt that Fox was relatively fair and balanced and that the entire rest of the media was biased against us," he said.
Later, Axelrod also suggested that some of the coverage - or those the networks are covering - has crossed the line into the uncivil.
"We shouldn't have disagreements over birth certificates," Axelrod said. "We shouldn't have disagreements over these wacky personal allegations."

On the issue of campaign spending, Axelrod took aim at a North Carolina-based group called the Committee for Truth in Politics, which he said has spent $1 million to defeat Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.
"Where's the million dollars coming from? No one will say," Axelrod said, echoing a similar argument from Obama's recent stump speeches.
While Bolten and Axelrod had plenty of ideas for who is to blame for the current state of discourse, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who addressed the crowd for about half an hour, had a perhaps more straightforward approach: elect more Republicans.
"I would suggest to you that divided government and a more evenly split Senate is much more conducive to bipartisanship than are the super-majorities and one-party control of the executive and legislature that are part of our current political landscape," Collins said.
Collins didn't accuse the president per se of extreme partisanship; rather, she argued that divided government could actually help Obama fight against the more extreme elements of his party.

"I would argue that it would've been a lot easier for President Obama to resist the hard left of his party if he could say that he has to pursue legislation acceptable to a Republican House or Senate, or better yet from my perspective, both," Collins said.

Collins called out - although not by name - those members of Congress who are "campaigning against incumbent senators in their own caucus by endorsing their primary opponents." She also singled out Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) (although again not by name) for taking part in "decidedly uncivil acts designed not to reveal truth but simply to give offense."
Ultimately, Collins said, Washington won't change unless voters make it change.

"It is not likely to change until those outside Washington demand it," she told the crowd.
At another point in the evening, Schieffer told a story of how he had dealt with incivility firsthand.

Recently, he said, a Democratic leader and Republican leader appeared on his show. A staffer for each one called up and asked if their boss could have a "private waiting room" since he didn't get along with the other party's leader.

Schieffer's response: "He's just going to have to suck it up."

Westboro Baptist Church Comes to the Supreme Court

Are Military Funeral Protesters Protected by First Amendment?

The attorney representing members of a Topeka, Kan. church argued before the U.S. Supreme Court today that carrying offensive signs and demonstrating outside of military funerals is protected speech under the First Amendment.
Margie J. Phelps, the lead counsel for the Westboro Baptist Church and the daughter of the church's pastor, Fred Phelps, told the justices that her group pickets funerals with "great circumspection and awareness of boundaries" when it carries signs with offensive messages such as "God Hates you" and "God Hates Fags." She said the group files permits with police before every protest and stays in restricted areas, often hundreds of yards from the proceedings.

The case, one of the most controversial on the court docket, was brought by Albert Snyder, who sued the church, after members picketed the funeral of his son, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq. Later, members posted an epic poem on the church Web site entitled, "The Burden of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder." It was addressed to his parents and said in part, "They taught him to support the largest pedophile machine in the history of the entire world, the Roman Catholic monstrosity."

Snyder won a judgment of $5 million, which was later thrown out by a federal appeals court which ruled the protest signs weren't aimed at Snyder specifically, and said the statements are protected by the Constitution because they contained "imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric" meant to spark debate.

On Wednesday, lawyers for Snyder argued that the justices should reinstate the monetary award. "We are talking about a funeral", Sean E. Summers argued, " If context was ever going to matter, it has to matter for a funeral."

The justices asked whether the signs referred to Snyder directly, and whether or not the funeral members, who were unable to actually witness the demonstrations because the demonstators were kept 1000 feet away, were even able to experience the protest.

Justice Antonin Scalia said at one point, "simply to say you can have a protest within a certain distance is not to say you can have a protest within a certain distance that defames the corpse."

Justice Samuel Alito posed a hypothetical regarding a mother who has raised a son who was killed in war, and while she's waiting to take a bus, she is confronted by a protester.

"And while she's at the bus stop, someone approaches and speaks to her in the most vile terms about her son. Is that protected by the First Amendment?" Alito asked.
Attorney Phelps dodged the question but then was pushed by Chief Justice John Roberts.

"What is your answer to Justice Alito's question? Do you think the First Amendment would bar that cause of action or not?" Roberts ask.

Phelps replied, "There would have to be a very narrow circumstance where it didn't, Mr. Chief Justice. That's my answer."

Justice Elena Kagan, asked Phelps, "Suppose your group or another group picks a wounded soldier and follows him around, demonstrates at his home, demonstrates at his workplace, demonstrates at his church. Does that person not have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress?"

Phelps replied that non-speech activity could indeed give rise to a potential claim, but said that her group received permits and stayed within the permitted boundaries when they protested.

At one point Justice Stephen Breyer, searching to draw a line regarding posting items on the Internet like the group's epic poem said, "I don't know what the rules ought to be. "

Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School said, "This case might not have huge constitutional dimensions, but it does raise this very important question, namely: how much protection do relatively private figures have against hurtful, outrageous, insulting, emotionally-aggravating speech?"
Nationwide Interest in Case Outcome

After the arguments, Albert Snyder appeared outside the court and, with emotion, read a statement, calling the day his son died, the "worst day of his life." His grief was compounded, he said, by being targeted by the church's demonstrations. "It is one thing no family should ever have to go through."

Margie Phelps spoke outside the court as well, and said, "There is no line that could be drawn here without shutting down speech." She told reporters, "You should all be thanking us for that heavy lifting we did in there."
At one point she broke into song with members of her congregation who stood behind her.

The case has attracted a flurry of friend-of-the-court briefs on both sides. Lawyers representing 40 states which have passed laws regulating protests at funerals, have weighed in on Snyder's behalf.

"The States should be accorded their traditionally recognized police powers to adopt and enforce reasonable time, place, and manner regulations on activities that may disrupt funerals, and to define civil tort liability for conduct that intentionally inflicts emotional distress and invades sacred privacy interests," said the brief, written by the Attorney General Steve Six of Kansas, who was joined by the other states.
The American Civil Liberties Union, however, has weighed in on behalf of the free speech concerns of the Phelps and their church. In court papers, lawyers for the ACLU wrote, the "First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion are designed to protect the right of speakers to voice their views on matters of public concern and to express their religious convictions."
© 2010 ABC

This was my first reaction "What a neat way to kill someone!" But .....?

David Michael Hartley Memorialized, Wife Tiffany Hartley Defends Herself Against Accusations
Woman Says She Would Never Hurt Her Husband

As she held a memorial service for her husband who was allegedly shot dead by pirates on the Mexican side of Texas' Falcon Lake, Tiffany Hartley addressed skeptics on both sides of the border who doubted her story.
"It's hard just to hear it," she told "Good Morning America." "But I can see it from their point of view. I can understand why they might think that, but it's not true. ... I would never even think about hurting my husband.

"I loved him," she said.
The case has gotten so much attention that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is asking Mexican President Filipe Calderon to call him, the Associated Press reported, with assurances that Mexican authorities are searching for David Michael Hartley's body.

Perry told the AP that He says he hopes "within the next 48 hours, that the body has been retrieved. If not, we're not looking hard enough."
Hundreds of mourners gathered in a south Texas church late Tuesday night to remember Hartley.

Mexican Authorities Question Wife's Story

Hartley said she and her husband came under attack from Mexican pirates as they rode their Jet Skis on the Mexican side of Falcon Lake, but Mexican authorities have said there is no evidence of a crime as described by Tiffany Hartley.

Hartley told police the pirates shot her husband in the head. The 30-year-old man's body has not been recovered.
U.S. officials said they're prohibited from entering Mexican waters to search for his body. David Hartley's mother, Pam Hartley, has issued a public plea to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking for aid in bringing her son's body home.

"He needs to come home and we're begging the Mexican government, the governor of Texas, President Obama," the man's mother, Pam Hartley, told "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

"To Hillary -- mother to mother -- help me bring my son home, please," she said, crying. "She's a mother, she would know."

Dennis Hartley has said Mexican police aren't doing enough to find his son's body. On Tuesday he told The Associated Press that he believed the Mexican authorities were being paid off by drug cartels.

Couple Disregarded Warnings About Danger

"I don't think anything right now is being done," he told the AP. "I don't think at this time Mexico is really doing anything."

David Hartley was a history buff. Tiffany Hartley, 29, said she and her husband dismissed warnings about crossing into the Mexican side of the lake so they could take pictures of a historic church. She said it had been some months since they had heard reports of pirates being on the lake.

While they were making their way back to the U.S. border, they were approached by three boats of fully armed pirates, she said.

"David and I were racing back to the U.S., and they started shooting," she told "Good Morning America." I looked back, and I saw that David had been shot, and I turned around to go get him."

Under Attacks, Woman Had to Leave Injured Husband Behind

Hartley said she tried as hard as she could to pull her husband onto her own Jet Ski to take him to safety, "but he's a lot bigger than me.

"You can't imagine how awful it was not being able to help him," she said.

Knowing her own life was in jeopardy, Hartley said she was forced to abandon her husband. She took her Jet Ski at top speed back to the U.S. shore and placed a panicked 911 call.
U.S. authorities have searched Falcon Lake on the American side, to no avail.

The state of Texas had warned boaters and fisherman as long ago as April to stay away from the Mexican side of the lake. Since then, the drug wars along the border have gotten more violent and there have been reports of more pirate encounters.

Lake Has Become Pirate's Haven

Falcon Lake, part of the Rio Grande situated directly on the Texas-Mexico border, has recently become a haven for the pirates, and there have been at least five reported run-ins with pirates on the lake so far this year, although this is the first reported case of a death.

"The one thing I dreaded on Falcon Lake has happened," Texas' Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said. "The lake is not secure, the border is not secure because the incident that I dreaded the most has, in fact, happened. We cannot go to Mexico, we cannot recover that body, we cannot conduct an investigation, we have to tell the family we can't do anything about it."
ABC News

ESKIMO BOY can hand it out BUT can't take it!

Todd Palin Confirms Angry Emails

Todd Palin confirms he sent angry emails about Tea Party favorite Joe Miller after the Republican senate candidate did not offer a full-throated endorsement of Sarah Palin’s presidential credentials in a TV interview. Miller’s surprising victory in the GOP primary against incumbent Lisa Murkowski was widely credited to Palin, who mentioned his name in tweets and speeches. Todd Palin sent an email to Miller, Palin’s attorney Thomas Van Flein, and SarahPAC Treasurer Tim Crawford saying, “Sarah put her ass on the line for Joe and yet he can’t answer a simple question ‘Is Sarah Palin qualified to be president.’ I DON’T KNOW IF SHE IS.” Miller reportedly responded on September 22, writing, “this is what we’re dealing with … Holy cow.” Palin says the emails resulted from a misunderstanding and criticized the press for publishing private messages.

The Weekly Standard

My Palin Problem by Meghan McCain

When Meghan McCain went on her book tour, Palin dominated the conversation. Then the former Alaska gov made it known through a third party she didn’t appreciate McCain’s tell-all.

As my book tour for Dirty Sexy Politics comes to an end, there are a few things that have surprised me about its publication. I expected some backlash from former campaign staffers (check) and a complicated conversation with my father (double check, he didn’t read it until two weeks before it hit stores).
What I didn’t expect, however, was that instead of the media concentrating on my admission of almost overdosing on Xanax the day before the election, or my goal for a new “big tent” direction for the Republican Party, or any of the other racier confessions in my book, they only focused on Sarah Palin. In every interview and review it was all Sarah all the time.

Sarah Palin (Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo) Now, I will give you that there is the obvious curiosity about my father’s running mate. And yes, I was there when she was picked, which is documented clearly in my book. But I was on the road for 18 months as opposed to Sarah Palin’s 60 days, which is why more than three quarters of my book is about the part of the campaign before she joined.
Only a small portion of the time dealt with Sarah Palin, mainly because I thought that story had already been told and what I added was the small portion of my perspective, which I had been asked about repeatedly over the past year. But none of this seemed to matter, and it surprised me because by all accounts the recent election was one of the most historic in recent memory.

Sarah Palin made it known to me, via an email to a third party, that she was not pleased with me or what I wrote in my book.

Palin started haunting my book tour from day one when on Good Morning America I interrupted my interview with George Stephanopoulos to tell him, “My book isn’t just about Sarah Palin.” It was a domino effect from there. Backstage at most shows, I would beg producers to keep the Sarah Palin questions to only a portion of the interview, instead of dominating the whole conversation.
I found myself fighting to convince people interviewing me that my book was about things other than Palin and interesting for many reasons. All authors have to convince the viewer of an interview that their book is worth reading—but I found myself more than anything just trying to separate myself and my story as far away from her as possible.

Everyone knows there is a media obsession with Sarah Palin, but I don’t know if everyone has quite realized that the obsession has become a fetishization. The further I got into my book tour last month, the more paranoia set in as I started questioning the idea that the only thing that made me interesting to some people was my association with Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin, not my father John McCain. And for that fact, it seems that the only thing that gets any kind of major media attention when it comes to women in politics is either Sarah Palin or her numerous impersonators. These are the people that are creating and dominating the political narrative for women in this country.
In the Nashville airport in the midst of my book tour, I picked up the recent “Mama Grizzlies” cover of Newsweek which asks this very question. Why are only women like Sarah Palin getting nominated for elected office and receiving all of the media attention? This is the question that has been plaguing me since the release of my book.

• Shushannah Walshe: Inside Palin’s Life in AlaskaAre women only interesting in today’s political discourse if they are Sarah Palin or Sarah Palin impersonators (no matter how bad or poorly knocked off the impersonation is)? Is this it? Is this it for my generation of women for all foreseeable election cycles in the upcoming years?
The media has become so obsessed with all things Sarah Palin-related—even dare I say, eclipsing the obsession with President Obama—that they seem more concerned with her versus anything or anyone else. Maybe this isn’t a surprise to everyone in the media, but for me on my book tour it was.

I thought two years after the election there would be something or someone more interesting. But there isn’t, and now the question remains will there ever be? Must we, as Republican women, clone ourselves in every way as Sarahbot’s to have a serious chance of running for office? And if so, what kind of dangerous message is this sending young women? It isn’t that there is anything wrong with Sarah Palin as a politician per se, it is that there apparently isn’t any room for anyone else in 2010 and beyond.
The majority of the questions I was asked from the people I met during my book signings were not about Sarah Palin. And this is important to note because it seems that the media’s obsession doesn’t necessarily correlate to what Americans want to know.

Then just as I reached the point where I woke up and elected to stop focusing on the media’s obsession with Sarah and to continue my own one woman revolution (if you will), Sarah Palin made it known to me via an email to a third party that she was not pleased with me or what I wrote in my book. I found it surprising but I had to see the humor and, of course, appreciate the obvious irony.
It seems the Sarah Palin media obsession goes both ways. They are both mutually obsessed with one another and the relationship is cyclical. It is the chicken or the egg conundrum. Every tweet of Sarah’s makes headlines and every network puts what she says on its newsfeed.

This is the era that we live in, and I’m just hoping both Sarah and the media will at some point make room for other opinions. In the meantime, I won’t hold my breath, but I also won’t quit speaking out for the women who aren’t just imitating her.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast.

That’s Where the Money Is BOB HERBERT NY Times

It’s beyond astonishing to me that John Boehner has a real chance to be speaker of the House of Representatives.

I’ve always thought of Mr. Boehner as one of the especially sleazy figures in a capital seething with sleaze. I remember writing about that day back in the mid-’90s when this slick, chain-smoking, quintessential influence-peddler decided to play Santa Claus by handing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to fellow Congressional sleazes right on the floor of the House.

It was incredible, even to some Republicans. The House was in session, and here was a congressman actually distributing money on the floor. Other, more serious, representatives were engaged in debates that day on such matters as financing for foreign operations and a proposed amendment to the Constitution to outlaw desecration of the flag. Mr. Boehner was busy desecrating the House itself by doing the bidding of big tobacco.

Embarrassed members of the G.O.P. tried to hush up the matter, but I got a tip and called Mr. Boehner’s office. His chief of staff, Barry Jackson, was hardly contrite. “They were contributions from tobacco P.A.C.’s,” he said.

When I asked why the congressman would hand the money out on the floor of the House, Mr. Jackson’s answer seemed an echo of Willie Sutton’s observation about banks. “The floor,” he said, “is where the members meet with each other.”

Mr. Boehner is the minority leader in the House and would most likely become speaker if the Republicans win control in next month’s elections. He has stopped funneling corporate money to his colleagues on the House floor. (It is now illegal.) But nothing else has changed, except that his already outsized influence-peddling has grown. The amount of democracy-destroying money that manages to make its way into the sleazy environs of what is now known as Boehner Land has increased to a staggering degree.

The Times’s Eric Lipton, in an article last month, noted that Mr. Boehner “maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.

“They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.”

The hack who once handed out checks on the House floor is now a coddled, gilded flunky of the nation’s big-time corporate elite.

When House Democrats were preparing for the first floor vote on financial regulatory reform, Mr. Boehner and other Republican leaders summoned more than 100 industry lobbyists and conservative activists to a private strategy session. One could be forgiven for thinking that behind those closed doors they may not have had the public’s best interests in mind. According to Mr. Lipton, Mr. Boehner told the gathering, “We need you to get out there and speak up against this.”

Both major parties have, with great enthusiasm, turned more and more of the government over to corporate and banking interests. But the G.O.P., with Mr. Boehner currently the point person, is fanatical about it, has barely tried to hide its willingness to offer up the government wholesale, no questions asked.

Just this past July, Mr. Boehner called for a moratorium on new federal regulations, saying it would be “a wonderful signal to the private sector that they’re going to have some breathing room.” Talk about an invitation to a nightmare. Try imagining how the public would be treated by banks, energy companies, food processors and myriad other powerful entities if the federal government were forced by law to ignore even more of their predations.

That’s Mr. Boehner, for you — always willing to stick his neck out for the elite. When it comes to policies of particular concern to ordinary individuals and families, however, his generosity of spirit and passionate willingness to help vanishes. He believes, for example, that Americans who are at least 20 years away from retirement should be unable to receive Social Security before they are 70, and that Social Security benefits should be means-tested.

Mr. Boehner and his pals also opposed the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection created by the Wall Street financial overhaul. Protect the public? You must be kidding.

The U.S. is in terrible shape right now because far too much influence has been ceded to the financial and corporate elites who have used that influence to game the system and reap rewards that are almost unimaginable. Ordinary working Americans have been left far behind, gasping and on their knees.

John Boehner has been one of the leaders of the army of enablers responsible for this abominable state of affairs.