Tonight's Rescue Rangers are ItsJessMe, vcmvo2, mem from somerville, jlms qkw, Got a Grip, jennyjem and grog.
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In 2008, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the execution of Charles Hood. Curiously, they didn't do so because it came to light that the prosecutor and judge were having an affair. It was because of a jury instruction.
In September, the Texas Court of Appeals ruled Hood had waited to long to raise the issue of the affair. The Texecution again loomed.
Today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the death sentence, ordering a new sentencing hearing (but not a new trial.) Once again, no mention of the affair.
[T]he decision from the State Court of Criminal Appeals did not mention the affair, focusing instead on whether jurors had been blocked from getting information that might have helped them deliver a less severe sentence.
...The new opinion, on a separate writ, focused on whether the jurors should have been able to fully consider issues like Mr. Hood’s learning disabilities, and the fact that he had been gravely injured at 3 years old when a truck backed over him, crushing his legs.
A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court asking to address the conflict issue raised by the affair is pending. Last week, 21 former judges and prosecutors filed a brief supporting him-- as did 30 experts in legal ethics.
Hood's lawyers and other legal experts say today's ruling is only a partial victory:
The legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, Kent S. Scheidegger, said he expected the case to lose momentum now that the death penalty was, at least temporarily, off the table.
“That will probably cause it to drop on the radar screen of newsworthiness,” Mr. Scheidegger said, and he suggested that the Supreme Court might now disregard the petitions before it on the bias issue.
If there was a conflict of that magnitude, Hood should get a new trial on guilt -- not just a new sentencing hearing.
Yesterday, The Independent took a long look at the case. The headline says it all: "The death row prisoner, the judge who sentenced him, and the prosecutor who was having sex with her."
It is the stuff if not of a television soap, then certainly a bad romance novel. Both were married and both kept their affair a secret before, during and for many years after the trial.
There is keen interest also because it is Texas that once more finds itself under scrutiny for the alleged mishandling of a capital case. It risks becoming as infamous as the "sleeping lawyer" trial of Calvin Burdine whose death penalty was overturned 10 years ago because of the failure of his court-appointed lawyer to stay awake during the proceedings. But here "sleeping lawyer" has a different connotation.
Sean Hannity aired clips of Democratic leaders he falsely claimed were criticizing GOP use of the reconciliation process, and accused them of "hypocrisy" for currently supporting the use of reconciliation to pass healthcare reform. In fact, those Democrats were criticizing a 2005 Republican proposal to change Senate rules that was unrelated to reconciliation, which is a procedure that is part of the Senate rules.
From the February 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: All right, we're just one day away from the so-called bipartisan summit, and in the spirit of bipartisanship, Prince Harry Reid has issued a message to his friends across the aisle.
REID [2010 clip]: Realistically, they should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before.
HANNITY: Now oddly, Senator Reid felt differently about the issue when Republicans wanted to use reconciliation to stop Democratic filibusters.
REID [2005 video clip]: A government in which one party has control over all the decisions is bad for America and bad for all our people. Our country works better when we cooperate and work towards compromises that benefit the greatest good and not one group over another.
HANNITY: Now, Reid was not the only one who viewed reconciliation dimly way back when. There was a certain Illinois Senator named Barack Obama who fought bitterly against it as well.
OBAMA [2005 video clip]: What I worry about would be that you essentially have still two chambers, the House and the Senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side. And that's just not what the founders intended.
HANNITY: Wow. I wonder when the mainstream media is going to ask the anointed one about that. Now, they may also want to ask a few questions of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because she was another fierce opponent of the nuclear option back when he served as a senator from New York, and here is what she said back in 2005.
CLINTON [2005 video clip]: So this president has come to the majority here in the Senate and basically said, "Change the rules. Do it the way I want it done." And I guess there just weren't very many voices on the other side of the aisle that acted the way that previous generations of senators have acted, and said, "Mr. President, we're with you, we support you. But that's a bridge too far, we can't go there. You have to restrain yourself, Mr. President."
"Nuclear option" was coined by GOP to describe a process to change Senate filibuster rules. The term "nuclear option" was coined by former Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), one of the leading advocates of a 2005 proposal to change the Senate rules on filibusters for judicial nominations. After Republican strategists deemed the term a political liability, Republican senators began to attribute it to Democrats. As Media Matters for America noted, at the time, many in the news media followed suit, repeating the Republicans' false attribution of the term to the Democrats.
Reconciliation process is part of congressional budget process, has been repeatedly used by Republican-controlled Senates. The budget reconciliation process is defined by the U.S. House Committee on Rules as "part of the congressional budget process ... utilized when Congress issues directives to legislate policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws) to achieve the goals in spending and revenue contemplated by the budget resolution."
Conservatives falsely label reconciliation as "nuclear option." Media Matters for America has highlighted how conservative media and politicians, as well as Fox News hosts and guests, have pushed the falsehood that "the nuclear option" refers to the budget reconciliation process in order to accuse Democrats of hypocrisy for previously criticizing the nuclear option and now considering using reconciliation to pass health care reform.
Clips of Democratic senators -- who weren't discussing reconciliation -- lifted from Breitbart.tv. The clips of Reid, Obama, and Clinton that Hannity aired were first compiled in a video created by the conservative website Naked Emperor News and promoted on Breitbart.tv -- where "NEN videos premiere" -- and Fox Nation. As Media Matters for America noted, they were expressing opposition to the 2005 Republican proposal to change the Senate rules to eliminate use of the filibuster for judicial nominations -- not to the use of reconciliation, as Hannity claimed.
HANNITY: All right, so you hear Barack Obama, you hear Harry Reid now, you hear Harry Reid then, you hear Senator Clinton. We could have added Joe Biden to the list. What do you make of the hypocrisy?
NEWT GINGRICH: Well, I think that what you're seeing is a Chicago machine politics approach that basically says, if we can run over you and mug you, then we're gonna get away with it, and I think what they don't understand is that this is not Chicago, that the United States is not gonna tolerate a group of people trying to apply kind of a Hugo Chavez majoritarian rule in the Senate. I don't think it'll happen. If it did happen, I don't think the House would pass whatever came out of the Senate. I think the country would be so enraged.
On Hannity, Gingrich lauds Clinton-era process that led to welfare reform and a tax cut -- both of which were passed through reconciliation. During his Hannity interview, discussing what Hannity called his proposal that Republicans should "demand equal time" during the health care summit, former House Speaker and current Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich stated: "I feel about this very deeply because it's the base for the kind of responsible bipartisanship we had to exercise with Bill Clinton, when we did get welfare reform signed, we did get a tax cut signed." The full title of the "welfare reform" bill to which Gingrich referred is the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (emphasis added), passed through the reconciliation process with Gingrich's support. Gingrich also voted for the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, which was also passed through reconciliation.
Gingrich also supported Balanced Budget Acts of 1995 and 1997, which were passed through reconciliation. Gingrich voted for the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which was passed under reconciliation and created the State Children's Health Insurance Program. He also voted for the Balanced Budget Act of 1995, which was passed through reconciliation but vetoed by Clinton.
Andrew Sandquist, a Media Matters intern, also contributed to this item.
No time to get to anything else today (posted over here though), which in a way is just as well, because I don't want anything to detract from this "Special Comment" by Keith Olbermann (I haven't seen any passion like this from our side since John Edwards ran in the primary - no reminders please - but it's high time, and thank God K.O. delivers it)...
It is an all-out poll-u-copia today, and not just of the Rasmussen variety. In other words, hunker down for what is a pretty busy Wednesday night for your reading pleasure here at the Wrap...
FL-Sen: Meek Way Behind GOP Candidates, According to Ras
The Rasmussen poll this week showing Charlie Crist badly trailing Marco Rubio in the GOP Senate primary in the Sunshine State has been widely publicized. Getting less ink has been the general election numbers, which were less than positive for Democratic frontrunner Kendrick Meek. Meek gets pounded in the general election no matter whether Crist (48-32) or Rubio (51-31) winds up as the Republican nominee.
GA-Sen: Is Johnny Isakson Potentially Imperiled? Ras Says Maybe
A couple of days after Rasmussen showed Democrat Roy Barnes within striking distance in red-leaning Georgia's high-profile Governor's race, they follow up with a bit of a shock in the low-profile Senate race. They have Johnny Isakson, seen by virtually everyone as safe as could be, only leading a "generic Democrat" by thirteen points (49-36). Of course, "generic Democrat" is not an actual candidate, and there haven't been many whispers of legit Dem candidates eyeing this race.
OH-Sen: New Q-Poll Gives Portman Slight Lead Over Dems
Quinnipiac returns to the Buckeye State, and finds that former GOP Congressman Rob Portman has a modest lead over either Democratic frontrunner. When paired with Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, Portman leads by three points (40-37). Against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, the lead stretches out to five points (40-35). The Q poll also takes a look at the Democratic primary, but "undecided" would be the big winner there, as Fisher sits on a nine-point edge (29-20) over Jennifer Brunner.
NY-Sen: Is Former Bush Advisor Eyeing the Senate Race?
Here is a potentially curious twist to what has already been a campaign cycle full of them in New York: the latest GOP name to surface in regard to Kirsten Gillibrand's seat in the U.S. Senate (which she will be defending this Fall) is Dan Senor. If that name rings a slight bell, you might know it for two reasons. One, he was a fairly high-profile advisor to former President George W. Bush. Two, in media circles, he might be better known as the hubby of CNN anchor Campbell Brown. Remember that it was just last week that NY Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman was also flirting with making this race. It seems that we can take this as a sign that the GOP is not in love with Bruce Blakeman as their standard-bearer.
PA-Sen: Specter Leads Primary, Trails General, In Strange F&M Poll
Franklin and Marshall releases some new nums in the state of Pennsylvania, and the very hot Senate race found in the Keystone State. In the Democratic Primary, the incumbent (Senator Arlen Specter) leads Congressman Joe Sestak, but remains well below 50% support (33-16). In the general election, the numbers get very curious. Among registered voters, the margins were very close, with Specter beating presumptive GOP nominee Pat Toomey by four points (33-29) while Sestak trailed by just three points (25-22). Among the people F&M considered likely voters, however, Toomey has a double-digit lead over both Specter (44-34) and Sestak (38-20). Now, there is usually some gap between registered voters and likely voters, but this strikes me as more than a little absurd.
KS-01: Potential Mod/Con Clash in Open Seat, According to SUSA Poll
SurveyUSA, which is normally an incredibly prolific pollster but has been curiously silent this campaign season (save for a couple of polls contracted for FDL), is back with a primary poll in a fairly low-profile open-seat race in Kansas. There is no question that the winner in West Kansas' 1st district (which went 69% for John McCain in '08) will be a Republican. Therefore, as is often the case in Kansas (see Thomas Frank's book on the subject), the question is what type of Republican wins the nod. According to the poll, the "moderate" Republican has the edge. State senator Jim Barnett has 23% of the vote, leading the CfG/Ron Paul candidate, Tim Huelskamp, who trails slightly with 16% of the vote. The rest of the field is in single digits.
CA-Gov: Poll Confirms Whitman Blowout in GOP Primary
Despite the solemn promises from GOP state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner that he is going to "spend it all" in an effort to win the GOP gubernatorial primary, it is looking exceedingly likely that it won't help. Meg Whitman has a commanding lead in a new poll conducted for the Small Business Action Committee. According to the poll, Whitman leads Poizner 60-12. Whitman, it must be said, has been at a saturation level of advertising throughout the coverage of the Winter Olympics, with ads (tragically, the same ad) running several times a day for the past two weeks.
FL-Gov: Sink Continues To Trail By Double-Digits, Says Rasmussen
Rasmussen is the latest pollster to chronicle a race that appears, at least on the surface, to be slipping away from the Dems. Rasmussen has GOP Attorney General Bill McCollum leading Democratic state CFO Alex Sink by thirteen points (48-35). This is in line with other recent polling: the last poll to put Sink within single digits was released in November.
NM-Gov: Denish Holds A Modest Lead in Gov's Race, Says PPP
Democrat Diane Denish is the early frontrunner in the state's open-seat gubernatorial election, according to new numbers out today from PPP. Denish leads the best-known Republican contender in the field, Pete Domenici Jr., by a five-point margin (45-40). Against the rest of the Republican hopefuls, Denish holds double-digit leads. One liability for her potentially is her predecessor. Bill Richardson's number in-state are atrocious: his job approval is a paltry 28%.
OH-Gov: Improving Poll Numbers for a Dem Incumbent (No...Really!)
It's been quite a while since we've been able to cobble that particular headline together, but incumbent Democratic Governor Ted Strickland actually looks to have recovered from a spate of bad polling. The Q poll has Strickland up five points on presumptive GOP nominee John Kasich (44-39). The previous Q poll had the race tied, and other recent polls gave Kasich an edge. One note to defend against "lib-biased poll" accusations: the same poll gave President Obama his weakest approval numbers to date in the Q poll (44/52).
RI-Gov: Brown U. Says Indie Chafee The Early Leader
Brown University, which polls the home state of Rhode Island intermittently, hit the state earlier this month to look at the potentially interesting three-way gubernatorial race in Rhode Island. Against either Dem prospect, Republican-turned-Independent Lincoln Chafee leads, with the Dem in second, and Republican John Robataille running third. State treasurer Frank Caprio comes a bit closer (34-28-12) than state Attorney General Patrick Lynch (32-17-13). In the Democratic primary, undecided is the big winner, with Caprio leading Lynch 30-21.
PA-Gov: Undecided Big Winners In Primary Battles
In addition to their Senate polling (covered a little earlier), Franklin and Marshall also looked at the upcoming (May 18) primaries for Governor in the Keystone State. In both cases, a ridiculously small number of voters cited a preference. On the GOP side, it is a massive lead for state AG Tom Corbett, but even he notched just 26% of the vote (state legislator Sam Rohrer lags behind at just 4%). On the Dem side, the lack of attachment was even more apparent, as over 70% of voters did not pick a favorite. Three Democrats (Wagner, Onorato, and Hoeffel) all tied...at a whopping 6% of the vote.
TX-Gov: Dueling Numbers On Next Week's Primary Elections
Depending on whether you buy stock in PPP's numbers or Rasmussen's, Texas Governor Rick Perry may or may not be able avoid a runoff in next week's GOP gubernatorial primary. Ras has Perry on the verge of winning outright on Tuesday, with the incumbent gaining 48% of the vote, to 27% for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and 16% for teabagger Debra Medina, whose numbers have clearly stalled. Meanwhile, PPP has Perry favored to be forced into a runoff, earning just 40% of the vote to Hutchison's 31% and Medina's 20%. For what it's worth, PPP also says that Perry would easily win a runoff, in any event.
In the general election, Rasmussen contributes some new numbers, and they continue to show near-certain (he has an insurmountable lead in the PPP poll) Democratic nominee Bill White in an extremely competitive position against his likely opponent, Governor Perry. Perry leads White by just six points (47-41), while Hutchison has a slightly bigger lead over White (47-38). Medina's recent flirtation with truther and birther hijinks have cost her dearly in the general election--White now holds a ten point edge (47-37) over Medina in the incredibly rare circumstance that she becomes the nominee.
WI-Gov: GOP Has Early Edge, Says Rasmussen
Rasmussen's numbers in the past two weeks have moderated somewhat in terms of where they sit vis-a-vis other recent polls. On exception would be Wisconsin, where the pollster sees a sizeable edge for Republican Scott Walker over Democrat Tom Barrett (49-40). Rasmussen also says that former GOP Congressman Mark Neumann also leads Tom Barrett (44-42).
From Keith's diary over at Daily KOS, A Special Comment From My Father:
Last Friday night, my father asked me to kill him.
This is not the central fact around which tomorrow's health care summit at Blair House will, or should, revolve. But I'd like it on the record somewhere that I asked all those going there, including the President, to think more about people like my father - patients, in our hospitals, at this moment - and less about elections and political points and "crashing the party."
I get his attention again. I ask him: do you want me to stop all of this? And he looks at me and mouths "yes." And I ask him: you understand what happens then. And he looks at me and mouths "yes." And I ask him: you realize you are not terminally ill, and if we do stop all of this, it might not be quick. And he mouths "stop this." And I say, trying to joke him out of it -- and trust me, gallows humor is your best defense in this situation -- "what? You want me to smother you with a pillow?" And he mouths "yes - kill me"...
And as I left that night the full impact of these last six months washed over me. What I had done, conferring with the resident in ICU, the conversation about my father's panicky, not-in-complete-control-of-his-faculties demand that all treatment stop, about the options and the consequences and the compromise - the sedation -- the help for a brave man who just needed a break... that conversation, that one -- was what these ghouls who are walking into Blair House tomorrow morning decided to call "Death Panels." Continue reading...
Crossposted at Daily Kos"Strike while the iron is hot.""Make hay while the sun shines.""Take time by the forelock."Or, as they say it in French, "Il faut battre le fer pendant qu'il est chaud."All are time-tested phrases in the English and French[...]
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“Blogger’s Note—This is a post I made in 2006. It is true today just as it was four years ago. A Shamu at a Sea World in Orlando, Florida killed and attacked a trainer. While I’m sorry someone is dead, why are these creatures held as prisoners in a tank? There is just no way [...]
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Because the first Carrie Prejean wasn’t awful enough!Hark! to the Breaking News that has been announced on the Fox News Dot Com Light Entertainment Fun Web Site that calls itself “Pop Tarts,” for reasons I don’t especially care to[...]
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And, Republicans did not like it when Rep. Anthony Weiner called them out today during the debate on the antitrust bill. But, he's right. Even if his words had to be stricken from the record, they live on:
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