Heads up

I know blogging has been sporadic and sometimes sparse over the last couple of weeks, and it will probably be that way for at least the next two weeks. Lately I’ve been buried under most of the time during the day, and when I come home oftentimes I’m just flat out exhausted, not to mention mentally spent. And on the weekends, like many of you, I enjoy getting out and enjoying the weather. I’m also suffering through a mild case of political writing burnout.

So please bear with me for the next couple of weeks while things are hectic for me, and while I’m in the process of getting my writing sea legs back. I’ll do my best to provide fresh content for the blog daily, but there may be days where you see some only some light evening blogging or perhaps a couple of newsy posts containing links to various stories of interest rather than on one particular topic. As always, feel free to post links to stories that interest you in the open threads, as I check those often for potential post topics.

Thanks in advance for your patience and understanding :)

Attention North Carolina Dems: Obama is grossly misleading you

The USA Today wrote about a subject I have tackled in depth here on a number of occasions, and that is Barack Obama’s penchant for grossly misleading people about his ties to lobbyists and special interests. They mention ads he is running in PA. He is running similar ads here in NC:

The episode underscores the pitfalls confronting a candidate who rails against special interests while raising $193 million and counting — the most of any presidential campaign. Obama’s fundraising tests the limits of his claim that he is independent of Washington’s influence industry because he doesn’t take money from federal lobbyists and PACs.

Other examples that strain against that claim:

•Obama holds fundraisers at law firms that lobby in Washington. Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the campaign held five fundraisers at New York and Boston offices of three firms that lobby, including Greenberg Traurig, whose lobbying clients include gambling and handgun interests.

Obama counts lobbyists among his informal advisers, including Broderick Johnson, who heads the Washington lobbying practice of Bryan Cave, which represents Shell Oil, records show. Nine campaign staffers have been lobbyists, public records show. Johnson did not respond to requests for comment.

•Obama accepts money from spouses of federal lobbyists. In December, the campaign returned a $250 contribution from lobbyist Thomas Jensen of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, but a few days later, it cashed a $500 check from his wife, Sarah, records show. Jensen said his wife had “personally chosen” to contribute to Obama.

•Obama accepts contributions and fundraising help from state lobbyists. Florida lobbyist Russell Klenet hosted a fundraiser for Obama Aug. 25, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Two months before, Klenet had withdrawn as a lobbyist in Washington for a kidney dialysis company that relies heavily on federal revenue, Senate records show. Klenet did not return phone calls.

•Obama is raising more than his opponents from executives of some of the corporate interests he criticizes. Obama has received more money from people who work at pharmaceutical and health product companies, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. He’s taken in $528,765 through February, compared with $506,001 for Clinton and $139,400 for McCain, despite saying last July that “I don’t take pharma money.”

[Obama spokesman Tommy] Vietor declined to answer questions about lobbyists’ role in the campaign and the candidate’s decision to accept contributions from lobbyists’ spouses and partners. He called Obama’s policy an imperfect but important symbolic step. Vietor said Obama “has long believed that lobbyists exert far too much influence over the national agenda.”

Obama attracts small donors

Obama has called his refusal to accept PAC and federal lobbyist money “a multimillion-dollar” sacrifice, but his opponents’ numbers suggest otherwise. Clinton has raised about $2 million from lobbyists and PACs while McCain has taken in about $1.2 million, according to the center.

Obama points to his unprecedented success in raising small sums from tens of thousands of regular citizens. As of Feb. 29, he had raised 41% of his money in increments of $200 or less, compared with 26% for Clinton and 13% for McCain, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute.

Yet Obama’s 20 largest sources of money, grouped by employers, are executives from major corporations and law firms with a Washington lobbying presence — including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Google, according to the center. Clinton’s and McCain’s top donors include executives from some of the same companies, such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

Toldjah So on numerous occasions.

I know the next primary contest is in Pennsylvania next Tuesday, but I think Hillary’s going to win that one. On the other hand, Obama is way ahead of Hillary here in NC headed into the May 6th primary, and that leaves plenty of time for Democrat voters in this state to get a little more informed about their choices. Yeah, I’m a Republican so my opinion won’t be worth much to NC Dems, but all the same I thought I’d give it a try. If you’re looking for a candidate who shies away from special interests, Barack Obama is not your man.

Blogging about BO is an exercise in extreme frustration, because it’s clear as day that the man is anything but the person he presents himself as to the public, yet so many bandwagon jumpers refuse to see the light. When a politician starts sounding too good to be true to his side of the aisle, that’s usually because he is. But we live in an era where a politician who makes people “feel good” can go far on charisma and “just words,” so I guess the reality of who a candidate really is isn’t important if what one relies on is “feelings.”

You know the old saying about being able to lead a horse to water …

Related: Barack Obama – Jedi Master?

US Supremes uphold the use of lethal injection

Reuters reports:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a challenge to the lethal three-drug cocktail used in most U.S. executions during the past 30 years.

By a 7-2 vote, the high court rejected a challenge by two Kentucky death row inmates who argued the current lethal injection method violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment by inflicting needless pain and suffering.

“We too agree that petitioners have not carried their burden of showing that the risk of pain from maladministration of a concededly humane lethal injection protocol, and the failure to adopt untried and untested alternatives constitute cruel and unusual punishment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s main opinion.

Death penalty opponents argued the condemned prisoner can suffer excruciating pain, without being able to cry out, if given too small a dose of the anesthetic.

[…]

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.

Lyle Denniston at the SCOTUSBlog explains the ruling:

In a widely splintered decision, the Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for death-row executions to resume across the country, concluding that the most common method of lethal injection does not violate the Constitution. The final vote was 7-2 in Baze v. Rees (07-5439), although there was no opinion that spoke for five or more Justices. The Court’s plurality adopted as a standard for assessing the validity of an execution method whether it poses a “substantial risk of serious harm.” It rejected the death row inmate’s proposal that the standard be “unnecessary risk.”

Three Justices definitely supported the new standard, but four disagreed with it, in whole or in part. One Justice was silent on the point, and the other said the key issue was not one standard or another, but “facts and evidence” about a given state’s execution method.

While the opinion appeared to leave open a chance that some further challenges could be made to the use of lethal drugs under a specific procedure in another state, it rejected a challenge to the method as used in Kentucky which is fairly close to the protocol used in 36 states and by the federal government. The opinion also appeared to mean that the three drugs now used in all of those jurisdictions do not, alone or in combination, fail the Court’s new standard. What might still be in issue is the actual process that a state uses to administer those drugs, monitor the inmate’s condition, and complete the execution.

If defense lawyers do now mount new challenges, they will have to seek new court orders delaying specific executions, because the Supreme Court had not issued a formal moratorium on executions, even though — as a practical reality — it had not allowed any scheduled execution to occur while it was considering the Baze case. Thus, states would be free to schedule new execution dates.

Justice John Paul Stevens, joining the result only, called for the Court now to consider whether the death penalty in general is unconstitutional — an issue that was not before the Court in the Baze case. Stevens wrote: “The time for a dispassionate, impartial comparison of the enormous costs that death penalty litigation imposes on society with the benefits that it produces has surely arrived.”

Make sure to read the whole thing.

The full SCOTUS ruling can be read here.

NPR interviews teenage global warming skeptic

Last June, I wrote about Kristen Byrnes, the then-15 year-old dynamo who has website full of postings which debunk some of the claims made by global warming alarmists all over the world.

NPR recently interviewed this smart young lady, now 16. Here’s a snippet:

Her Web site includes charts of temperature records, El Nino indexes, isotope measurements. Skeptics loved it: A 15-year-old attacking the mainstream scientific view.

“It took off like wildfire,” [stepdad] Mike says, “But that was nothing compared to when her Al Gore critique went up.”

Kristen had no fear. She took on Al Gore the Nobel laureate, Academy Award winner and former vice president. She went after Jim Hansen, one of NASA’s top climate scientists. E-mail poured in, mostly from skeptics happy a young person had taken up the cause.

“I got a letter in the mail on my birthday from a senator,” she says.

Someone runs off into another room to track it down and returns with an envelope from the office of Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican famous for calling global warming a hoax.

“Dear Kristen,” the letter begins. “Thank you so much for your letter and e-mail and for your kind words. I appreciate your help in the fight against global warming alarmism. You are a common sense young lady and an inspiration to me. I want you to keep up the good work. We are winning.”

Mainstream scientists would argue that many of the issues on her Web site are red herrings or have been put to rest — and Kristen did get emails from people challenging her science. But after a few exchanges, she says, her opponents backed down. “A few of them gave up and figured they can’t win against a 15-year-old,” she says. Mike laughs as she says this.

Go here to check out – and bookmark – her website. It’s so refreshing to see a teenager who isn’t afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, even when it’s coming from egomaniacal Nobel prize winners like The Goracle.

Keep up the good work, Kristen! :)