Archive for the ‘Louisiana’ Category

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They're saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

Senate Approves Release of Additional $350 Bailout Funds

January 16, 2009

Yesterday, the Senate voted 42-52 to not block the release of the second half of the $700 billion bailout (the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP] money).  Within hours of that vote, the Department of the Treasury announced that $118 billion of the $350 billion would be spent on bailing out Bank of America by investing in it and guaranteeing loans.

President-Elect Obama told reporters, “We can’t just spend our way out of the problem.  At some point credit has to flow effectively. … Banks now are fully caught up in a downward spiral where they have now affected the real economy, the real economy is now affecting their balance sheets.  And so we’re going to have to intelligently and strategically infuse some additional capital into the financial system.”

He went on to say, “[This] wasn’t an easy vote … because of the frustration so many of us share,” referring to how President Bush handled the release of  the first $350 billion.  He continued, “Restoring the economy requires that we maintain the flow of credit to families and businesses.  So I’m gratified that a majority of the U.S. Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, voted today to give me the authority to implement the rest of the financial rescue plan in a new and responsible way.”

This bill, Senate Joint Resolution 5 (sponsored by David Vitter [R-LA]) was kinda backwards, in that the vote against the Joint Resolution actually meant that the Senate supported the release of more money.  The vote fell pretty much along party lines, with a few dissenters on both sides.

I think you all know how I feel – this was absolutely terrible.  The Bush Administration and Treasury Secretary Paulson mishandled the release of the first $350 billion, and I really don’t think the Obama Administration will do much better.  Even if they released the money absolutely “perfectly” (according to how they planned it to go), I STILL think that it will harm the economy and just waste government/taxpayer money.

These bailouts have got to stop!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the Final Presidential Debate

October 15, 2008

Alright, we’re moments away from the beginning of the debate.  As always, I’ll be watching CNN, who will have a focus group (undecided voters in Ohio) with a tracking rating of how people like what they’re hearing (broken up by men and women).  WordPress just added an option to add polls, so I’ll see if I can get that working after the debate is over and post a poll about who won.

Tonight’s debate will be moderated by Bob Schieffer (CBS’s Face the Nation).

We’re about 2 minutes away.

Schieffer: Why is your plan better than your opponents?

McCain: Thanks to everybody, my prayers go out to Nancy Reagan.  “Americans are hurting and angry.”  They’re innocent victims of greed.  “They have every reason to be angry.”  We have to have a short term fix and long term fixes.  Short term fix: Fannie and Freddie cause the sub-prime lending situation, that caused the housing market to collapse.  We need to reverse the decline in home ownership.  People need to know that they can stay in there homes.  Let’s take $300 billion of the $750 billion and buy mortgages so that people can stay in their homes.  What about people who could already afford to stay in their homes?  It’ll drive home value down if there are abandoned houses.  I didn’t like the answer (because I’m staunchly against any of the bailout), but it’ll go over well with voters, and the focus group liked it.

Obama: I think this’ll take some time to work itself out.  We need an economic package for the middle class.  The fundamentals of the economy were weak before this crisis (it depends what you’re defining fundamentals of the economy as).  Tax cut for people making less than $200,000.  Buying mortgages could be a bailout to banks, so I disagree with McCain there, but we do need to help homeowners.  Need to fix energy and health care.

McCain: Obama had an encounter with a plumber, Joe (somebody) Wurzelbacher.  Joe wants to buy the business that he’s worked in, and  he looked at Obama’s plan, and he saw that he’d be put in a higher tax bracket, and that’d cause him to not be able to employ people.  Joe, I’ll not only help you buy that business and keep your taxes low, and provide a way for you to provide health care to your employees.  You want to increase people’s taxes, like Joe the plumber’s.  And he’s right there – he’ll kill small businesses if he raises taxes.  The  focus group liked that.

Obama: McCain wants to give tax breaks to some of the wealthiest companies, including oil companies.  I want to give tax cuts to 95% of Americans.  Income tax, capital gains tax.  THAT’S A LIE ABOUT CAPITAL GAINS!!!  He wants to take capital gains taxes back to levels before Clinton lowered them!  I want to give small businesses tax breaks.  He lies here – 11.5% of Americans don’t even PAY income taxes, because they don’t make enough money!

McCain: Obama says, “We need to spread the wealth around.”  “I want Joe the plumber to spread the wealth around.”  Why would you want to raise taxes?

Obama: I want to cut taxes for 95% of Americans.  Not true!  I want to cut taxes for Joe the plumber before he was able to make $250,000.  I want to give families with kids going to college a break.  I’d prefer that nobody pay taxes, but we have to pay for the core of the economy to remain strong.

McCain: Companies will go overseas if we raise our business tax rates.  “Of all times in America, we need to cut taxes and encourage business, not spread the wealth around.”  Great answer – McCain actually did better with the focus group there than McCain, and that surprised me.

Schieffer: Talking about reducing the budget deficit.  Won’t some of the programs you’re proposing have to be trimmed or eliminated?

Obama: If the $750 billion works as it’s supposed to, taxpayers will get their money back.  I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go.  Some of the cuts we’ll need are subsidies to insurance companies.  “It’s just a giveaway.”  I’ll go through the federal budget line-by-line, and eliminate what’s unnecessary.  We need to invest in the American people.  We need to prevent diseases when they’re young, so they won’t spend as much Medicare money.  The same with college – they’ll drive up the economy.  He’s getting very high ratings right now – he’s appealing to the average American people.

McCain: Back to home-ownership.  During the depression, we bought homes and home values went back up.  This was a plan that Senator Clinton proposed.  We need to become energy independent.  I need an across-the-board spending freeze.  I oppose subsidies for ethanol.  Sorry – got interrupted there.  I will veto earmarks.  Senator Obama put in an earmark for a projector in a planetarium in his hometown.

Obama: An across-the-board spending freeze is a hatchet, and we need a scalpel.  Senator McCain talks about earmarks, but they account for 0.5% of the federal budget.  Eliminating them will help, but it won’t solve the problem.  When President Bush came into office, we had a budget surplus, and now we have a deficit.  Pursuing Bush-esque budgets will worsen the situation, and McCain voted for Bush’s budgets, 4 out of 5 times.

McCain: I will give a new direction to this economy.  I’m not President Bush.  If he wanted to oppose him, he should’ve run 4 years ago.  Mayor Bloomberg just put in a spending freeze in New York, so it can be done.  I’ll eliminate spending.  Obama voted for the last 2 budgets that Bush proposed (the only 2 that came up since he’s been in office!).  I have fought against spending and special interest.  When have you stood up to your party?  He’s getting good ratings, and I really think that he’s appealing to American people.

Obama: The first major bill I voted on was against tort reform.  I support charter schools.  I support clean coal technology.  I have a history of reaching across the aisle.  If I mistaken your policies for President Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues, taxes, spending, etc…, you’ve been a supporter of President Bush.  You’re been against him on stuff like torture, and I commend that, but for the majority, you want 8 more years of the same thing.

McCain: It’s been clear that I’ve disagreed with Bush and my party: climate change, opposition to earmarks, torture, conduct of the War in Iraq, Medicare prescription drugs, HMO patients’ bill of rights.  I have stood up to my party’s leadership.

Schieffer: Both of you promised to take the high road, but both campaigns have turned nasty.

McCain: This has been a very tough campaign.  If Obama had responded to my request to do town hall meetings, like he originally said, the tone of this campaign could’ve been better.  The tone of this campaign has taken a nasty turn.  I apologize for some of the negativity that has come out of my campaign.  I hope OBama will repudiate the remarks made by Congressman John Lewis.  Obama didn’t keep his word about taking public financing.  He’s getting high ratings from men here, but average ratings from women.

Obama: 2/3 of the American people think McCain’s running a negative campaign, versus 1/3 of the American people thinking that of mine.  100% of your ads have been negative (BULL CRAP!).  There’s nothing wrong with having a vigorous debate like we’re having now, but not having town hall meetings doesn’t justify the ads that have come out from your campaign and 527s.  I don’t mind being attacked for 3 weeks, but we can’t afford 4 more years of failed economic policies.  He’s actually getting negative ratings from women, and average from men here.  He’s really attacking McCain during a question about negativity in campaigns, and I think he’s really making himself look bad here.

McCain: If you turn on the television, every other ad was an attack ad on my health care policy, saying that I oppose federal funding for stem cells.  I don’t.  Obama is spending unprecedented amounts of money in negative attack ads on me.  Of course we’re talking about Joe the plumber and restoring jobs to America.  That’s what my campaign is all about.  Again, I didn’t hear a repudiation of Congressman Lewis.

Obama: Lewis, made a statement with what he was troubled with hearing some of the rallies that your running mate was holding.  People were yelling “terrorist” and “kill him,” and your running mate didn’t stop them.  I do think that he gave a good comparison between what’s happening now and the civil right’s movement.  What the Americans want is for us to focus on the challenges that we have now.  We have serious differences on health care.  When people bring up me being with terrorists, that’s not the issues.

McCain: Whenever you have big rallies, you’ll have fringe people, and that’s not appropriate.  But for the majority of people, they’re not saying anything negative.  These people are the most patriotic people in this nation (veterans and wives of veterans).  There’ve been thingsat your rallies that I’m not happy with either.  I have always repudiated out of line statements, and I will continue to do that, but we cannot stand for the things that have been going on.  I haven’t.

Schieffer: Do you take issue with that?

Obama: What I think is most important is that we recognize that in order to solve 2 wars, a financial crisis, creating jobs, then we all need to be able to work together.  “We need to disagree without being disagreeable.  What we can’t do is try to characterize each other as bad people.”

McCain: We need to know the full extent of Obama’s relationships with Ayers and ACORN.  If there’s nothing there, I don’t care about it, but we need to know what all went on there.

Obama: Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of McCain’s campaign.  Bill Ayers is a professor in Chicago.  40 years ago, he engaged in despicable acts.  “I have … condemned those acts.”  I served on a school board with him 10 years ago.  “Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign … and he will not advise me in the White House.”  ACORN: Apparently, they were paying people to get people registered to vote.  The only thing I did with them was represent them with some thing in Illinois – I didn’t catch it all.  I associate with Warren Buffet on economics.  On foreign policy, it’s Joe Biden or Dick Lugar, or General Jim Jones.  “Those are the people who have shaped my ideas and will be surrounding me in the White House.”

McCain: While you and Ayers were on that board, you gave money to ACORN, and you launched your campaign from Ayers living room.  In 2001, he said he’d wished he’d have bombed more.  We need to know all the details here.  And my (not McCain) view is that with Ayers – it’s no big deal if Obama’s honest.  With ACORN, there are some serious problems there – ACORN has supported Obama, and Obama has supported ACORN, and ACORN has shown to have some serious legal problems.

Schieffer: Why is your running mate better than his?

Obama: He’s been there a while – he knows what he’s doing, especially when it comes to foreign policy.  Biden has never forgotten where he came from.  He fights for the little guy.  He has always been fighting for working families.  “After 8 years of failed policies [we] will have to reprioritize … give tax cuts to small businesses … and individuals who are struggling.”  We need to become energy independent, and make sure that our kids afford can go to college.  Biden has always been on the right side of the issues.

McCain: Palin is a reformer.  She took on the old governor, who was part of her party.  She’s given money back to taxpayers and cut the size of the government.  “She is a reformer through and through, and it’s time that we have that breath of fresh air and sweep out” the old politics of Washington.  “She understand special needs families, and understands that autism is on the rise.”  She has united people all over America, and I’m proud of her.

Schieffer: Is she qualified to be President?

Obama: That’ll be up to the American people to decide.  Her work on special needs kids has been commendable.  He didn’t answer the question!  If we have an across-the-board spending freeze, special needs kids will suffer.

McCain (on Biden): Biden is experienced, but he’s had some bad foreign policy ideas, such as dividing Iraq into different countries, and we’ve seen Iraq become united as one country.  Every time Obama says we need to spend more.  Why can’t we have transparency of these government organizations.

Schieffer: Energy and climate control.  Presidents have said that we need to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.  Give us a number of how much you believe we can reduce foreign oil during your first term.

McCain: We can eliminate our dependence on Middle East countries and Venezuela.  Canadian oil is fine.  We need nuclear power plants, and that’ll be how we eliminate those 2 sources of foreign oil.  We need wind, tide, solar, gas, clean coal.  He’s getting huge ratings, and for good reason – it’s a good energy plan.  Especially the nuclear part!!!!

Obama: In 10 years, we can reduce our dependence so we don’t have to import oil from the Middle East or Venezuela.  “Nothing is more important than us borrowing … money from China and sending it to Venezuela.”  We need to expand domestic production, by telling oil companies, “Use them or lose them” in terms of oil fields being leased here in the U.S.  We need to drill offshore, but that won’t solve the problem.  We need wind, solar, biofuel.  We need efficient cars built here in America, not in Japan.  And he’s got good ideas too, but I WISH he would’ve said he wants nuclear power - nuclear power is safe (we use it on subs) and VERY efficient.  NAFTA didn’t have enforceable environmental agreements, and we should’ve included those.  When it comes to South Korea, we have an agreement with them, and they’re sending more cars here than we are to them.  That’s not free trade.

McCain: “Obama said, ‘We will look at offshore drilling.’  Did you catch that?  ‘Look at.’”  We need to do more than look at it, we need to do it.  AGREED!  Our businesses are paying money into Columbia, but because of previous agreements, they’re getting their goods into here for free.  We need a free trade agreement with Columbia, which Obama has opposed.  Obama hasn’t even travelled down there, and he doesn’t understand Columbia.

Obama: I understand it.  Labor leaders have been persecuted, and we need to stand for human rights.  Workers who are trying to organize for rights shouldn’t be persecuted, and that’s why I supported a free trade agreement with Peru.  When I talked about automakers, they’re getting hammered right now, not only because of gas prices, but with the financial crisis.  People can’t get car loans, so we need to get loan guarantees.  We need more efficient cars and cars of the future.  That’ll help create new jobs.  He’s getting VERY high ratings – he’s maxed out with women, and men are rating him high too.

McCain: Obama doesn’t want a free trade agreement with our best ally in the region, but wants to sit down with Hugo Chavez without preconditions.  Jobs and businesses will be created if we open up those markets.  Obama wants to restrict trade and raise taxes, and the last President who did that was Hoover.  We went from a deep recession to a depression.  I won’t let that happen.

Schieffer: Would you first lower health care costs, instead of providing more health care?

Obama: We need to do both.  My plan will allow you to keep your plan if you have health insurance.  We will lower costs so that cost savings are brought back to you.  If you don’t have insurance, you can buy into the same kind of federal pool that federal employees enjoy.  Insurance companies won’t be able to discriminate against people with preconditions.  Drugs will be lower, and we need to look at preventative care.  This will require more money up front, but will lower costs in the long run.  VERY high ratings at the end there.

McCain: Premiums and copays are going up, and health care costs are going up and inflicting pain on Americans.  We need walk in clinics and community health care centers.  We need nutrition and physical fitness programs in schools to keep kids healthy.  I want to give all American families a $5,000 tax credit.  Under Obama’s plan, if you have employees and they have kids, if you don’t have a health care plan, Obama will fine you.  I still haven’t heard what that fine will be.

Obama: Your fine will be $0.  I exempt small businesses for the requirement that large businesses have to provide health care.  Well, Senator Obama, what do you consider a small business???  The average family is paying higher premiums because of the uninsured.  I’ll give small businesses a 50% credit so they can afford it.  If not, you can buy into the plan I have.  McCain will give you the tax credit, but what will happen to older folks who can’t afford the health care plan?  McCain will tax the health care benefits you have from your employer, the first time in history this has ever happened.  Insurers right now are restricted statewide.  Those rules would be stripped away, and you’d see companies excluding people.

McCain: People like Joe are rich, because Obama said about him that we need to “spread the wealth,” so he’s rich enough that he would be fined.  Under my plan, people will be able to go across the country, giving them the chance to choose their futures.  “Senator Government–Senator Obama wants government to do the job.”  Senator Obama and the Democrats have been in charge the last 2 years, and things have gotten worse.

Obama: Under McCain’s plan, there’s a strong risk that you will lose your health care from your employer.  All I want to do is lower costs.

Schieffer: Could either of you nominate a Supreme Court Justice who disagrees with your view on Roe v. Wade.

McCain: I have never had a litmus test.  I think the Court decided incorrectly there, but I’m a Federalist – it should be left up to the states.  We need to nominate people based on qualifications, not if I agree with their ideology.  There should be no litmus test.  These nominees should be picked based on qualifications, who adhere to the Constitution, not people who legislate from the bench.  (But people who stick to the Constitution would oppose Roe v. Wade).  I’ll have no litmus test.

Obama: I’d agree that we shouldn’t have a litmus test.  Fairness and justice should be given to the American people.  It’s very likely that one of us will be making 1 or more appointments, and Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.  I support the decision in Roe v. Wade.  I believe that women are in the best position to make this decision.  The Constitution has privacy built into it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum or popular vote.  “I will look for those judges who have an outstanding record … intellect.”  McCain and I disagreed when the S.C. made it harder for some woman to bring suit for equal pay for women.  The Court said that she waited too long.  If a woman is being treated unfairly, the Court needs to stand up if nobody will.

McCain: You can’t waive the statute of limitation 20 to 30 years.  Senator Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide medical attention to babies who were not successfully aborted (essentially passive infanticide).  Then he voted present on the floor.  He did the same with partial birth abortion.  Men are liking this, but women not so much.

Obama: That’s not true.  There was a bill put forward that said that you need life saving treatment that would undermine Roe v. Wade, but there was a law alreay on the books.  On partial birth abortion: I’m supportive of a ban on late term abortions as long as there’s an exception for the safety of the woman’s life.    Both men and women are rating him a bit above average now.  Surely there is some common ground, when both sides can come together and prevent unintended pregnancies.  Communicate that sex shouldn’t be engaged in carelessly.  Adoption choices should be out there.  Those things are now in the Democratic platform, for the first time ever.

McCain: “Health of the mother” has been stretched to mean almost anything (such as mental health in some cases).  Cindy and I are adoptive parents.  We need to promote adoption and protect the rights of the unborn.

Schieffer: A question about education and national security - I missed what all it was.

Obama: No nation has had a bad economy and a good military.  Education is a huge part of this.  We need better pay for teachers.  We need college to be more affordable.  We’ll offer an exchange of community/military service with money for college.  We can’t do this just in schools.  Parents need to show responsibility too – encourage thirst for knowledge.  And he’s absolutely right here.  It starts at home.  People rated him as high as they could.

McCain: Choice and competition among schools are some of the key elements – New York and New Orleans – where we find bad teachers another line of work.  We need to give parents a choice in sending kids to good schools.  Charter schools are one option.

Schieffer: Should the federal government play a larger role?

Obama: The states need to be in control, but the federal government needs to step in and help struggling local school districts.  Bush did this with No Child Left Behind, “but unfortunately, he left the money behind.”  That was a good line.  McCain and I agree on charter schools.  I think we need to encourage competition between schools.  Bad teachers need to be replaced.  “Our kids need to have the best future.”  We disagree on vouchers, and we disagree on college accessibility.  McCain doesn’t have programs that help college groups.  (That’s because he’ll simplify the tax code to make finding tax credits for college easier to find).

McCain: Vouchers need to be provided, because parents WANT vouchers.  They wanted to chose the schools where their children go (this was in Washington, D.C.).  As far as NCLB, it had its flaws and problems, but it’s the first time we looked at this from the national perspective.  Head Start is a great program.  It’s not doing what it should do, so we need to reform it and fund it.  We can’t just give more money, we need to reform it too.  We need transparency, rewards, and funding.  We’ll find and spend money to find the cause of autism, but to have a situation that the most expensive education is in America means that we also need reform.  We can’t throw money at a problem without reform.  Vouchers work.

Obama: On vouchers in D.C.  The D.C. school system is in terrible shape.  The superintendent there is doing a great job (McCain interjected that she supports vouchers).  There’s not proof that vouchers solve the problem.  We need a President who will tackle this head on.

McCain: Obama said that because there’s not enough vouchers, we shouldn’t have any.  That’s wrong.

Schieffer: Closing statements.

McCain: Thank you.  We need a new direction.  “We cannot be satisfied with what we’ve been doing for the last 8 years.”  I’ve been a reformer.  I’ve opposed my party.  I’ve been a good steward of your tax dollars.  We need to make health care and education affordable to all.  We need to stop this wild spending.  All of these promises made tonight will be made based on whether you trust us or not.  I ask you to examine both my record as well as my proposals for this country.  I’ve put my country first.  “It’s been a great honor of my life, and I’ve been proud to serve, and I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to serve again.  I’ll be honored, and humbled.”

Obama: Washington has been unwilling to address the problems.  We cannot adopt the policies of the last 8 years.  We need change.  You’ve invited me into your homes.  “Our brighter days are still ahead, but we have to invest in the American people.”  College needs to be more affordable.  Wages need to be higher, and we need to grow the middle class.  “It’s not gonna be easy.  It’s not gonna be quick.”  Republicans and Democrats will have to come together.  “If you give me the … honor of being President, I will work tireously and  honorably to ensure the future of our children.”

Bob Schieffer: As my mother would say: “Go vote now.  It’ll make you feel big and strong.”

McCain/Obama: Thank you (to each other).

Alright, overall, I think this was BY FAR the best debate we had.  I commend Bob Schieffer.  He was by far the best moderator we had.

Overall, I think McCain won this won.  This is the first time I’ve called a debate (other than the VP debate, where I called Biden the winner), and I think McCain won.  He was VERY strong toward the beginning.  I think Obama was weak at the beginning, but picked it up toward the end, but overall, I think that McCain was the winner.

Again, I think McCain was definitely stronger here.  I think Obama was too weak.  This was definitely the debate McCain needed, but I’m not sure that it’ll be enough for him to recover.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Obama and Biden Voted Against Funding for Rebuilding After Katrina, But Supported Bridge to Nowhere Funding

September 8, 2008

So, I found something interesting today.  Back in 2005, Congress voted on and passed H.R. 3058 [109th Congress]: “Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia,…”.  This purpose of this bill was for “Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia, and independent agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes.”

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  Before being passed by the Senate it underwent 181 amendment proposals (49 by the House, 132 by the Senate).  One of the Senate amendments, proposed by Tom Coburn (R-OK), S.Amdt. 2165, “To make a perfecting amendment,” was proposed on October 20, 2005.  The original full text of the amendment can be found here, but the amendment basically took money that was, in the original bill, allocated to 2 “Bridge to Nowhere” projects in Alaska, the Knik Arm Bridge, and the Gravina Island Bridge, and would put this money toward rebuilding the Twin Spans Bridge which was bridge connecting New Orleans to Slidell, LA, that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

So, who voted against this amendment?  The same people who have been lying about Sarah Palin, saying that she supported the Bridge to Nowhere projects.  That’s right.  Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted to keep this money going toward the Bridge to Nowhere instead of spending it to rebuild after Katrina.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a vote for Senator McCain who was not in the Senate that day.

Later, that same day, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) (yes, the terrible Republican who got so much pork barrel spending for his state) proposed S.Amdt. 2181: To ensure reconstruction of the Twin Spans Bridge.  He probably felt bad about the money going to his bridges instead of the New Orleans bridge.  Who voted against this amendment?  That’s right, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  Again, we don’t have a vote from McCain, since he wasn’t there that day.

So Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted twice against funding to rebuild after Katrina, but didn’t vote to stop funding TWO Bridge to Nowhere projects?  And Obama/Biden call Palin a hypocrite?  Palin is against the Bridge to Nowhere.  Obama and Biden were for it, and they were against rebuilding a bridge damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  Is this change we can believe in?  No, this is the same old Washington politics.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Democratic Leader Laughs About Hurricane Gustav Hitting During the Republican National Convention

August 31, 2008

Well, this is just disgusting.  The following is a video captured on a flight back from the DNC, of former DNC chairman Don Fowler and Representative John Spratt (D-SC) (transcript below):

The hurricane’s going to hit New Orleans about the time they start. [Chuckle] The timing is — at least it appears now that it’ll be there Monday. That just demonstrates that God’s on our side. [Laughter] … Everything’s cool.

That’s just disturbing.  I don’t care who you are – you shouldn’t want a hurricane to hit EVER, and to want to get political gain out of it is just disgusting.  If a Republican said that, I’d be posting the same thing right now.  It’s shameful and wrong!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Republican National Convention May Be Postponed Due to Hurricane Gustav

August 29, 2008

There are now rumors flying around that the Republican Party may postpone the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, because of Tropical Storm Gustav, which is headed toward the Gulf Coast (possibly New Orleans, but almost certainly somewhere in Louisiana), and will most likely be a hurricane by the end of this week (as of now, the National Hurricane Center is saying Category 1 or 2).

Not only would this create a problem for the party, due to a some speakers being unavailable (President Bush, Governor Bobby Jindal [R-LA], and others), but it would also look bad to see news stories about Republicans celebrating and people dying and having homes destroyed in a hurricane.

Although the media would just naturally have to report both stories, and people would correlate this situation with Hurricane Katrina, I hope that Obama (or other Democrats) wouldn’t attack McCain (or Republicans as a whole) for not postponing the convention (ultimately it’s not his choice), because that would be extremely low.  Conventions can’t be postponed because of a natural disaster, and  hurricanes are a common thing in the month of August.  The Democrats wouldn’t have postponed it, but the whole Katrina fiasco (which was actually more of Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco’s fault than Bush’s) would seem to be replayed here.

Matt Burns, a spokesman for the RNC told reporters on Tuesday, “We are planning for our convention to open on Monday.  Like all Americans, we are monitoring the situation closely in the Gulf.”

An anonymous GOP official told reporters, “You would have to dramatically change the nature of what you do. Much less partisan. Much less political.  Otherwise, it’s the elephant in the room.”

There is also one other possible reason that the convention would be postponed: Bobby Jindal getting the pick for running mate.  Although unlikely, his name has been tossed in the hat of possible picks.  I won’t be surprised if rumors of a postponement will make his Intrade stock scores take a jump later on today as this story gets picked up by the mainstream media.

However, I have also heard that it would be political gold if Jindal was picked and then left the convention to go back to Louisiana.

Personally, I still think Mitt Romney (R-MA), but maybe Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) will be the choice.

I’ll keep you updated as this situation continues.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Supreme Court Bans Dealth Penalty for Child Rape

June 25, 2008

Well, today the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, decided that the death penalty cannot be given as a punishment for raping a child (this had already been decided years ago for rape of an adult). Here are some excerpts from the case, Kennedy v. Louisiana, with my comments below:

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

KENNEDY v. LOUISIANA

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA

No. 07–343. Argued April 16, 2008—Decided June 25, 2008

Louisiana charged petitioner with the aggravated rape of his then-8-­year-old stepdaughter. He was convicted and sentenced to death un­der a state statute authorizing capital punishment for the rape of a child under 12. The State Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting peti­tioner’s reliance on Coker v. Georgia, 433 U. S. 584, which barred the use of the death penalty as punishment for the rape of an adult woman but left open the question which, if any, other non homicide crimes can be punished by death consistent with the Eighth Amend­ment. Reasoning that children are a class in need of special protec­tion, the state court held child rape to be unique in terms of the harm it inflicts upon the victim and society and concluded that, short of first-degree murder, there is no crime more deserving of death. The court acknowledged that petitioner would be the first person executed since the state law was amended to authorize the death penalty for child rape in 1995, and that Louisiana is in the minority of jurisdic­tions authorizing death for that crime. However, emphasizing that four more States had capitalized child rape since 1995 and at least eight others had authorized death for other non homicide crimes, as well as that, under Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, and Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U. S. 304, it is the direction of change rather than the numerical count that is significant, the court held petitioner’s death sentence to be constitutional.

Held: The Eighth Amendment bars Louisiana from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result, and was not intended to result, in the victim’s death. Pp. 8–36.

1. The Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause “draw[s] its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86, 101. The standard for extreme cruelty “itself remains the same, but its applicability must change as the basic mores of society change.” Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238, 382. Under the precept of justice that punishment is to be graduated and proportioned to the crime, informed by evolving standards, capital punishment must “be limited to those offenders who commit ‘a narrow category of the most serious crimes’ and whose extreme culpability makes them ‘the most deserving of execution.’ ” Roper, supra, at 568. Applying this princi­ple, the Court held in Roper and Atkins that the execution of juve­niles and mentally retarded persons violates the Eighth Amendment because the offender has a diminished personal responsibility for the crime. The Court also has found the death penalty disproportionate to the crime itself where the crime did not result, or was not intended to result, in the victim’s death. See, e.g., Coker, supra; Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782. In making its determination, the Court is guided by “objective indicia of society’s standards, as expressed in legislative enactments and state practice with respect to executions.” Roper, supra, at 563. Consensus is not dispositive, however. Whether the death penalty is disproportionate to the crime also de­pends on the standards elaborated by controlling precedents and on the Court’s own understanding and interpretation of the Eighth Amendment’s text, history, meaning, and purpose. Pp. 8–10.

2. A review of the authorities informed by contemporary norms, in­cluding the history of the death penalty for this and other non homi­cide crimes, current state statutes and new enactments, and the number of executions since 1964, demonstrates a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape. Pp. 11–23.

 

(a) The Court follows the approach of cases in which objective in­dicia of consensus demonstrated an opinion against the death penalty for juveniles, see Roper, supra, mentally retarded offenders, see At­kins, supra, and vicarious felony murderers, see Enmund, supra. Thirty-seven jurisdictions—36 States plus the Federal Government—currently impose capital punishment, but only six States authorize it for child rape. In 45 jurisdictions, by contrast, petitioner could not be executed for child rape of any kind. That number surpasses the 30 States in Atkins and Roper and the 42 in Enmund that prohibited the death penalty under the circumstances those cases considered. Pp. 11–15.

 

(b) Respondent’s argument that Coker’s general discussion con­trasting murder and rape, 433 U. S., at 598, has been interpreted too expansively, leading some States to conclude that Coker applies to child rape when in fact it does not, is unsound. Coker’s holding was narrower than some of its language read in isolation indicates. The Coker plurality framed the question as whether, “with respect to rape of an adult woman,” the death penalty is disproportionate punishment, id., at 592, and it repeated the phrase “adult woman” or “adult female” eight times in discussing the crime or the victim. The distinction between adult and child rape was not merely rhetorical; it was central to Coker’s reasoning, including its analysis of legislative consensus. See, e.g., id., at 595–596. There is little evidence to sup­port respondent’s contention that state legislatures have understood Coker to state a broad rule that covers minor victims, and state courts have uniformly concluded that Coker did not address that crime. Accordingly, the small number of States that have enactedthe death penalty for child rape is relevant to determining whether there is a consensus against capital punishment for the rape of a child. Pp. 15–20.

 

(c) A consistent direction of change in support of the death pen­alty for child rape might counterbalance an otherwise weak demon­stration of consensus, see, e.g., Atkins, 536 U. S., at 315, but no show­ing of consistent change has been made here. That five States may have had pending legislation authorizing death for child rape is not dispositive because it is not this Court’s practice, nor is it sound, to find contemporary norms based on legislation proposed but not yet enacted. Indeed, since the parties submitted their briefs, the legisla­tion in at least two of the five States has failed. Further, evidence that, in the last 13 years, six new death penalty statutes have been enacted, three in the last two years, is not as significant as the data in Atkins, where 18 States between 1986 and 2001 had enacted legis­lation prohibiting the execution of mentally retarded persons. See id., at 314–315. Respondent argues that this case is like Roper be­cause, there, only five States had shifted their positions between1989 and 2005, one less State than here. See 543 U. S., at 565. But the Roper Court emphasized that the slow pace of abolition was coun­terbalanced by the total number of States that had recognized the impropriety of executing juvenile offenders. See id., at 566–567. Here, the fact that only six States have made child rape a capital of­fense is not an indication of a trend or change in direction comparable to the one in Roper. The evidence bears a closer resemblance to that in Enmund, where the Court found a national consensus against death for vicarious felony murder despite eight jurisdictions having authorized it. See 458 U. S., at 789, 792. Pp. 20–22.

 

(d) Execution statistics also confirm that there is a social consen­sus against the death penalty for child rape. Nine States have per­mitted capital punishment for adult or child rape for some length of time between the Court’s 1972 Furman decision and today; yet no in­dividual has been executed for the rape of an adult or child since1964, and no execution for any other non homicide offense has been conducted since 1963. Louisiana is the only State since 1964 that has sentenced an individual to death for child rape, and petitioner and another man so sentenced are the only individuals now on death row in the United States for non homicide offenses. Pp. 22–23.

3. Informed by its own precedents and its understanding of the Constitution and the rights it secures, the Court concludes, in its in­dependent judgment, that the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the crime of child rape. Pp. 23–35.

(a) The Court’s own judgment should be brought to bear on the death penalty’s acceptability under the Eighth Amendment. See, e.g., Coker, supra, at 597. Rape’s permanent and devastating impact on a child suggests moral grounds for questioning a rule barring capi­tal punishment simply because the crime did not result in the vic­tim’s death, but it does not follow that death is a proportionate pen­alty for child rape. The constitutional prohibition against excessive or cruel and unusual punishments mandates that punishment “be exercised within the limits of civilized standards.” Trop, 356 U. S., at 99–100. Evolving standards of decency counsel the Court to be most hesitant before allowing extension of the death penalty, especially where no life was taken in the commission of the crime. See, e.g., Coker, 433 U. S., at 597–598; Enmund, 458 U. S., at 797. Consistent with those evolving standards and the teachings of its precedents, the Court concludes that there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and non homicide crimes against in­dividuals, even including child rape, on the other. The latter crimes may be devastating in their harm, as here, but “in terms of moral de­pravity and of the injury to the person and to the public,” they cannot compare to murder in their “severity and irrevocability,” id, at 598. The Court finds significant the substantial number of executions that would be allowed for child rape under respondent’s approach. Al­though narrowing aggravators might be used to ensure the death penalty’s restrained application in this context, as they are in the context of capital murder, all such standards have the potential to re­sult in some inconsistency of application. The Court, for example, has acknowledged that the requirement of general rules to ensure consistency of treatment, see, e.g., Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420, and the insistence that capital sentencing be individualized, see, e.g., Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U. S. 280, have resulted in tension and imprecision. This approach might be sound with respect to capi­tal murder but it should not be introduced into the justice system where death has not occurred. The Court has spent more than 32years developing a foundational jurisprudence for capital murder to guide the States and juries in imposing the death penalty. Beginning the same process for crimes for which no one has been executed in more than 40 years would require experimentation in an area where a failed experiment would result in the execution of individuals un­deserving of death. Pp. 24–30.

(b) The Court’s decision is consistent with the justifications of­fered for the death penalty, retribution and deterrence, see, e.g., Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U. S. 153, 183. Among the factors for deter­mining whether retribution is served, the Court must look to whether the death penalty balances the wrong to the victim in non homicide cases. Cf. Roper, supra, at 571. It is not at all evident that the child rape victim’s hurt is lessened when the law permits the perpetrator’s death, given that capital cases require a long-term commitment by those testifying for the prosecution. Society’s desire to inflict death for child rape by enlisting the child victim to assist it over the course of years in asking for capital punishment forces a moral choice on the child, who is not of mature age to make that choice. There are also relevant systemic concerns in prosecuting child rape, including the documented problem of unreliable, induced, and even imagined child testimony, which creates a “special risk of wrongful execution” in some cases. Cf. Atkins, supra, at 321. As to deterrence, the evidence suggests that the death penalty may not result in more effective en­forcement, but may add to the risk of non reporting of child rape out of fear of negative consequences for the perpetrator, especially if he isa family member. And, by in effect making the punishment for child rape and murder equivalent, a State may remove a strong incentive for the rapist not to kill his victim. Pp. 30–35.

4. The concern that the Court’s holding will effectively block fur­ther development of a consensus favoring the death penalty for child rape overlooks the principle that the Eighth Amendment is defined by “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” Trop, 356 U. S., at 101. Confirmed by the Court’s repeated, consistent rulings, this principle requires that resort to capital punishment be restrained, limited in its instances of applica­tion, and reserved for the worst of crimes, those that, in the case of crimes against individuals, take the victim’s life. P. 36.

957 So. 2d 757, reversed and remanded.

KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEVENS, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined.

And here are some of the opinions:

Justisce Kennedy, issuing the opinion of the Court, with Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer joining.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

No. 07–343

PATRICK KENNEDY, PETITIONER v. LOUISIANA

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA

[June 25, 2008]

JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.

The National Government and, beyond it, the separate States are bound by the proscriptive mandates of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and all persons within those respective jurisdic­tions may invoke its protection. See Amdts. 8 and 14, §1; Robinson v. California, 370 U. S. 660 (1962). Patrick Kennedy, the petitioner here, seeks to set aside his death sentence under the Eighth Amendment. He was charged by the respondent, the State of Louisiana, with the aggra­vated rape of his then-8-year-old stepdaughter. After a jury trial petitioner was convicted and sentenced to death under a state statute authorizing capital punishment for the rape of a child under 12 years of age. See La. Stat. Ann. §14:42 (West 1997 and Supp. 1998). This case pre­sents the question whether the Constitution bars respon­dent from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result, and was not intended to result, in death of the victim. We hold the Eighth Amendment prohibits the death penalty for this offense. The Louisiana statute is unconstitutional.

V

Our determination that there is a consensus against the death penalty for child rape raises the question whether the Court’s own institutional position and its holding will have the effect of blocking further or later consensus in favor of the penalty from developing. The Court, it will be argued, by the act of addressing the constitutionality of the death penalty, intrudes upon the consensus-making process. By imposing a negative restraint, the argument runs, the Court makes it more difficult for consensus to change or emerge. The Court, according to the criticism, itself becomes enmeshed in the process, part judge and part the maker of that which it judges.

These concerns overlook the meaning and full substance of the established proposition that the Eighth Amendment is defined by “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” Trop, 356 U. S., at 101 (plurality opinion). Confirmed by repeated, consistent rulings of this Court, this principle requires that use of the death penalty be restrained. The rule of evolving stan­dards of decency with specific marks on the way to full progress and mature judgment means that resort to the penalty must be reserved for the worst of crimes and limited in its instances of application. In most cases jus­tice is not better served by terminating the life of the perpetrator rather than confining him and preserving the possibility that he and the system will find ways to allow him to understand the enormity of his offense. Difficulties in administering the penalty to ensure against its arbi­trary and capricious application require adherence to a rule reserving its use, at this stage of evolving standards and in cases of crimes against individuals, for crimes that take the life of the victim.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Louisiana up­holding the capital sentence is reversed. This case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

 

Alito filed the dissenting opinion, with Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas joining:

 

 

 

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES 

No. 07–343

PATRICK KENNEDY, PETITIONER v. LOUISIANA

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA

[June 25, 2008]

JUSTICE ALITO, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE SCALIA, and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.

The Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many chil­dren the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpe­trator’s prior criminal record may be. The Court provides two reasons for this sweeping conclusion: First, the Court claims to have identified “a national consensus” that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child; second, the Court concludes, based on its “independent judgment,” that imposing the death penalty for child rape is inconsistent with “‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’” Ante, at 8, 15, 16 (citation omitted). Because neither of these justifi­cations is sound, I respectfully dissent.

III

In summary, the Court holds that the Eighth Amend­ment categorically rules out the death penalty in even the most extreme cases of child rape even though: (1) This holding is not supported by the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment; (2) neither Coker nor any other prior precedent commands this result; (3) there are no reliable “objective indicia” of a “national consensus” in support of the Court’s position; (4) sustaining the constitutionality of the state law before us would not “extend” or “expand” the death penalty; (5) this Court has previously rejected the proposition that the Eighth Amendment is a one-way ratchet that prohibits legislatures from adopting new capital punishment statutes to meet new problems; (6) the worst child rapists exhibit the epitome of moral depravity; and (7) child rape inflicts grievous injury on victims and on society in general.

The party attacking the constitutionality of a state statute bears the “heavy burden” of establishing that the law is unconstitutional. Gregg, 428 U. S., at 175 (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.). That bur­den has not been discharged here, and I would therefore affirm the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

The party attacking the constitutionality of a state statute bears the “heavy burden” of establishing that the law is unconstitutional. Gregg, 428 U. S., at 175 (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.). That bur­den has not been discharged here, and I would therefore affirm the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

 

 

No. 07–343

PATRICK KENNEDY, PETITIONER v. LOUISIANA

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA

[June 25, 2008]

JUSTICE ALITO, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE SCALIA, and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.

The Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many chil­dren the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpe­trator’s prior criminal record may be. The Court provides two reasons for this sweeping conclusion: First, the Court claims to have identified “a national consensus” that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child; second, the Court concludes, based on its “independent judgment,” that imposing the death penalty for child rape is inconsistent with “‘the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.’” Ante, at 8, 15, 16 (citation omitted). Because neither of these justifi­cations is sound, I respectfully dissent.

III

In summary, the Court holds that the Eighth Amend­ment categorically rules out the death penalty in even the most extreme cases of child rape even though: (1) This holding is not supported by the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment; (2) neither Coker nor any other prior precedent commands this result; (3) there are no reliable “objective indicia” of a “national consensus” in support of the Court’s position; (4) sustaining the constitutionality of the state law before us would not “extend” or “expand” the death penalty; (5) this Court has previously rejected the proposition that the Eighth Amendment is a one-way ratchet that prohibits legislatures from adopting new capital punishment statutes to meet new problems; (6) the worst child rapists exhibit the epitome of moral depravity; and (7) child rape inflicts grievous injury on victims and on society in general.

The party attacking the constitutionality of a state statute bears the “heavy burden” of establishing that the law is unconstitutional. Gregg, 428 U. S., at 175 (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.). That bur­den has not been discharged here, and I would therefore affirm the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

The party attacking the constitutionality of a state statute bears the “heavy burden” of establishing that the law is unconstitutional. Gregg, 428 U. S., at 175 (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.). That bur­den has not been discharged here, and I would therefore affirm the decision of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

 

 

 

So, there we have it – the Court goes easy on criminals again. Personally, I’d like to see the death penalty NEVER used, since this would be the worst punishment for criminals (but we should cut down on all the amenities of prisons – they’re getting a little too nice), but then we have prisons being overcrowded and prisoners are let go, so the next best thing is to be like Texas and fry everybody who deserves it. Honestly, this was probably less humane for the rapists, because they sure are going to get it in prison.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Republican Results for the Kansas, Louisiana, and Washington Elections

February 18, 2008

Here are the results for the February 9th, Republican caucus in Kansas (measured in state delegates), the Louisiana primary (which is purely advisory and does NOT impact the delegates), and the Washington caucus (measred in state delegates, but we won’t know a delegate count until later).  Tom Tancredo is included in “Others” and the number in parenthesis indicates the number of other candidates (Note – I forgot to gray Romney out indicating he had dropped out, but it’s too hard to go back and fix it now):

Date State Candidate Votes % Delegates RNC Delegates Total Delegates Delegate Count
9-Feb Kansas Huckabee 11,627 59.58% 36 0 36 219
  Romney 653 3.35% 0 0 0 293
  Thompson 61 0.31% 0 0 0 0
  McCain 4,587 23.50% 0 2 2 697
  Paul 2,182 11.18% 0 0 0 16
  Giuliani 34 0.17% 0 0 0 0
  Hunter 0.00% 0 0 0 0
  Keyes 288 1.48% 0 0 0 0
  Uncommitted 84 0.43% 0 1 1 1
   
  Louisiana Huckabee 69,594 43.18% 0
  Romney 10,222 6.34% 0
  Thompson 1,603 0.99% 0
  McCain 67,551 41.91% 0
  Paul 8,590 5.33% 0
  Giuliani 1,593 0.99% 0
  Hunter 368 0.23% 0
  Keyes 837 0.52% 0
  Others (3) 811 0.50% 0
   
Washington Huckabee 23.20% 0
**99.99% of precincts** Romney 15.50% 0
  Thompson 0
  McCain 25.30% 0
  Paul 21.50% 0
  Giuliani 0
  Other 1.10% 0
  Uncommitted 13.50% 0
    Hunter         0

And here’s a chart of the delegate count after those elections:

Republican Delegate Count after 2-9-08

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Results from the Lousiana Republican Primary as of 12:45 A.M.

February 10, 2008

Here are the results from the Louisiana Republican primary as of 12:45 A.M. with 99% of the precincts reporting (this will be my final update tonight):

  1. Huckabee 67,661 44%
  2. McCain 65,012 42%
  3. Romney 9,840 6%
  4. Paul 8,223 5%

As I said before – I had called it for Huckabee, and now he has been guaranteed the win mathematically.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Midnight Results: Obama Wins Louisiana, Nebraska, & Washington

February 10, 2008

Here are the results from the Louisiana primary as of 12:00 A.M., with 97% of the precincts reporting:

  1. Obama 207,667 57%
  2. Clinton 131,904 36%

The results from the Nebraska caucus as of midnight with 1660/1665 precincts reporting:

  1. Obama 25,986 67.5%
  2. Clinton 12,396 32.2%
  3. Uncommitted 99 0.3%

The results for the Washington caucus with 95.9% reporting:

  1. Obama 21,629 67.51%
  2. Clinton 9992 31.2%
  3. Uncommitted 363 1.1%
  4. Other 51 0.16%

And that’ll be my last update for tonight.  I fly home from D.C. tomorrow, so I may try to get up an updated delegate total, now that all of the Super Tuesday states have come in completely.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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