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Archive for March, 2008

Candidate Endorsement: Chris Bennett for Vice President

Chris Bennett[NOTE: Originally posted on Last Free Voice]

As you are hopefully all by now aware, longtime LFV contributor Chris Bennett is seeking the LP’s Vice Presidential nomination. While he would have my support simply for being an LFV contributor and a great guy, there is so much more to his candidacy that I have decided to formally endorse his bid for the LP Vice Presidential nomination.

Chris is 35 years old (will be 36 on August 30th) and lives in Springfield, Illinois. He graduated from Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado. As an interesting aside, Chris was classmates with Matt Stone, co-creator of “South Park”.

Chris has been married to Evonne Bennett for eight years, and they have two children, Brandon (age 7) and Charity (age 9). He will graduate in May from the University of Illinois at Springfield, with a degree in Political Studies, and a minor in Economics. As such, there should be no question that he has the education to back up his candidacy, especially when compared with other LP candidates (including many of those seeking the LP’s Presidential nomination).

Chris also has the actual experience to back him up. As a libertarian activist for the last 16 years, he has volunteered on four presidential campaigns, three of them Libertarians. He was Scheduling Coordinator for the late Aaron Russo during his 2004 presidential campaign, and was also heavily involved in the Marrou and Badnarik presidential campaigns. He is currently the Legislative Chair for the Libertarian Party of Illinois, where he has fought for better ballot access for third parties in one of the most difficult ballot access states in the country.

Chris announced his candidacy right here on Last Free Voice last year, and his platform is as follows:

I will not make promises I can not keep. I do not have 200,000 dollars in future contributions and I am not endorsed by a famous dead person. However there are some promises I will keep:

I am strongly against the invasion and the “police action” in Iraq and will help push for an anti-war resolution at the Denver Convention.

I am against a fair tax and I will continue to fight to decrease the tax burden for all Americans.

I will continue to fight to restore our civil liberties and constitutional rights and fight to eliminate the Patriot Act, the Real ID Act, the Military Commissions Act and the North American Union.

As an African-American, I will use my candidacy to recruit more minorities and women into the libertarian movement.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, I will continue to convince younger voters and non-voters that the Libertarian Party is the future not the two “boot on your neck” parties and use my candidacy to re-energize libertarian college campus and local organizations across the country.

If I am nominated, I will help/assist state parties on getting our presidential ticket on their respective state ballots.

If I am nominated, I will assist serious Libertarian candidates running for office in all facets of their campaign across the country.

The days of a dormant Libertarian Party VP candidate are over. Our VP candidate should be as active as our Presidential candidate and I will proudly work with whoever you choose as our Presidential candidate in order to spread our message of liberty and freedom to the American people.

Chris has been working hard to spread the word about his candidacy, and in fact he is one of the few Libertarian candidates to get attention from the mainstream press. Even better, he received FRONT PAGE attention in a major newspaper, the Springfield State Journal-Register.

By BERNARD SCHOENBURG
POLITICAL WRITER

Published Monday, October 15, 2007

At 6-foot-9, Chris Bennett is hard to miss. And his political aspirations match his height.

Bennett, 35, a senior at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is hoping to become the vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.

“The days of a dormant Libertarian Party VP candidate are over,” said Bennett in a news release announcing his quest last week. “Our VP candidate should be as active as our presidential candidate and I will proudly work with whoever you choose as our presidential candidate in order to spread our message of liberty and freedom to the American people.”

Bennett was soft-spoken as he explained in an interview how he realized, after working on Bill Clinton’s primary campaign in 1992, that he didn’t really believe in Clinton’s platform.

“I just didn’t like how he wanted more government in more stuff,” Bennett said. “I didn’t like government having more control over the health-care situation, as Hillary tried to do and she’s proposing to do now.”

So, Bennett said, “I went soul searching.”

“The Republicans didn’t feel right,” he said. “They never really do reach out to minorities or a lot of women. And the Democrats, it just seems like they were taking the black vote for granted. So I decided ‘I’m going to search for another party.’”

Bennett had seen a Libertarian Party convention on C-SPAN. The convention included an African-American candidate for the presidential nomination, Richard Boddie.

“He was saying stuff that I really agreed with,” said Bennett, who is black.

Bennett now has been a Libertarian activist for more than 15 years, including working as scheduling coordinator during the late Aaron Russo’s 2004 attempt to be the Libertarian nominee for president.

“For the longest time, I used to carry a Constitution in my back pocket,” Bennett said, “so if anybody wanted to get in a philosophical, constitutional argument, I could whip out my Constitution.”

Bennett doesn’t think the country’s leaders are adhering to the Constitution, including going to war in Iraq without a formal declaration of war. Among his platform planks are “restore our civil liberties and constitutional rights,” including elimination of the Patriot Act and a proposed federal “Real ID” identification card. He said both invade people’s privacy.

He’d like to see lower taxes, with eventual elimination of the Internal Revenue Service.

Bennett frequently posts on Web sites, including one called

lastfreevoice.com, often in strong language.

“Jesse Jackson has taken up the anti-gun issue only because he failed as a ‘civil rights’ leader and pushes his new agenda to re-invent himself,” Bennett claims in one entry. “Just remember Hitler forced his people to give up their guns and look what happened; millions died in concentration camps. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; I’ll defend those values with my gun to protect my right to bear arms.”

Bennett said he actually doesn’t own a gun, but believes in the right to own one.

He’s also taken off on television preachers who get rich through their appeals.

“TV evangelists are the scum of the Christian community,” he said, writing about recent allegations of misspending by Richard Roberts, son of Oral Roberts. “Isn’t it immoral to steal from your contributors for your own lavish lifestyles …? Who do they think they are — the GOVERNMENT?”

And in an essay chastising Democrats for not doing more to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, he refers to the president as “Fuhrer Bush.”

Bennett is pro-life on abortion, which goes against the Libertarian platform. But he thinks other Libertarians may be coming around. He also thinks steps should be taken to legalize drugs.

A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bennett moved to Littleton, Colo., at age 9. He’s been married to his wife, Evonne, for 71/2 years, and they have two children. He moved to Springfield in 2005 to attend UIS.

While he said rural or suburban Libertarians might not be keyed into the issue of race relations, those from urban areas are, and he thinks the party is good for African-Americans.

In addition to ending discriminatory drug laws, which he blames for too many blacks being in prison, the Libertarians’ anti-tax sentiment would also help, Bennett said.

“If we lower taxes, people would be more able to get the house that they want or be able to contribute to their church or their social organization a little bit more,” he said. People could also “save for a rainy day.”

“I know a lot of people who would like to start their own IRA account, but they can’t because they’re taxed so much,” Bennett said.

Clearly, Chris interacts well with the media, and is able to get across his point intelligently, but also in a way that the average person can easily understand.

For the above reasons, I endorse Chris Bennett, without reservation, for the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential candidacy.

This brings me to another point. Chris is in desperate need of donations, to help him get to the Libertarian Party Convention in Denver. As a family man working his way through college, with a wife and two children, he is far from wealthy. Not only will he need the funds for travel and hotel, plus incidentals such as food and beverage, he will also need the funds to print brochures, to hand out to the delegates in order to get the votes he needs.

We all give money to other candidates, whether Ron Paul or Steve Kubby or George Phillies, or someone else. We need to start giving money for Chris’s campaign, because unless he can afford to get to Denver, he will be unable to continue his campaign. It would be a travesty if a qualified candidate such as Chris was not seriously considered for the LP’s Vice Presidential nomination, solely because he lacks the funds to attend the convention. We can do much better than that, especially with a candidate who has proven his worth. If we all pitch in, we can get Chris to Denver.

You can make donations to Chris’s campaign by clicking here, or you can click directly on the “donate” link on his website, which will take you to the same place. You can donate by credit card, debit card, or by setting up other payment arrangements via PayPal.

While I normally would never ask anyone to donate to a specific campaign, I’m making an exception in this case. Chris is “one of us”, a valuable and respected member of the blogosphere, a valuable and respected contributor to Last Free Voice, and a valuable and respected member of the libertarian movement, who has given freely not only of his time and expertise on other campaigns, but also has managed to engage in hands-on activism while in college and trying to raise a family.

Chris is not just another libertarian on the internet, waxing philosophical about libertarianism, who suddenly decides he should be nominated to represent the LP in a lofty position; nor is is a Johnny-Come-Lately to the LP who suddenly decided he should be nominated for for the Vice Presidency; he has actually made many years of sacrifices which benefit us all, and he has the experience and education to back up his campaign for the Vice Presidency.

Unlike many candidates, Chris is not looking to raise millions. He has set a goal of $3000 to attend the LP Convention, and since I used to live in Denver, I can assure you that it’s a very reasonable goal, especially since it will also cover the costs of his campaign brochures.

I have made a commitment to donate $100 to Chris’s campaign, to help him get to Denver. If only 29 more people match that commitment (and I know there are many others who can afford to do so), Chris will have met his goal. However, even if you can only spare $10, or $20, or $50 – or if you can give the legal maximum of $2300 per person, or $4600 per married couple – you can rest easy with that donation, knowing Chris is a tried and proven libertarian, and a candidate who has actually earned that donation through his many years of activism on behalf of libertarians everywhere.

Please, help spread the word. Let’s raise the funds necessary to get Chris to Denver!

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Disturbing medical marijuana case involving an AIDS patient

Tom FaltynowiczTom Faltynowicz, a 43-year-old gay rancher in Meade County, South Dakota, was diagnosed with Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1990, and is currently facing criminal charges for possessing and growing marijuana for medicinal usage.For those of you unaware of the specifics of that disease, a patient infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may or may not develop AIDS. Once infected with HIV, the disease damages the CD4 cells (T-Cells), and in fact uses those cells to replicate within the body; CD4 cells can be replaced through normal process in the early stages of the disease, but eventually the counts start to fall as the cells are overcome by the virus. A CD4 count between 700 and 1000 is considered normal in a non-HIV infected person; while a CD4 count of about 500 is considered normal when the virus is present. A CD4 count below 200 is indicative of AIDS, since it is at that point that the body loses its ability to fight off opportunistic infection.

Opportunistic infection is any infection which, under normal circumstances, the body could easily fight off. However, due to the lack of CD4 immune cells, AIDS patients are at very high risk of contracting diseases which they would never contract were it not for the virus destroying their immune system. Some diseases are so common in AIDS patients, and so uncommon in non-AIDS patients, that they are considered to be AIDS-defining diseases. Examples of AIDS-defining diseases include Pneumocystis Pneumonia (a fungal infection of the lungs) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma (once believed to be a rare form of cancer, now believed to be caused by Herpes Virus HHV8); these diseases are normally not seen in patients with a normal immune system. While there is viable treatment for many opportunistic diseases, they must be treated swiftly in an AIDS patient due to the patient’s body being unable to fight infection on its own.

Another important way of measuring HIV is by measuring the viral load. The viral load is the amount of HIV in the body. So while a CD4 count measures the amount of damage HIV has done, a viral load count will measure how much of the virus is actually in the body. In this way, doctors are able to measure whether drugs are working to halt the spread of the virus.

AIDS is a pandemic first identified in 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), due to Pneumocystis Pneumonia being identified in five homosexual men in Los Angeles. The disease did not take over worldwide as quickly as it is generally believed, though. AIDS has been identified in tissue samples of patients who died of unknown causes as early as 1959; one postmortem case identified the virus in a tissue sample from a 15-year-old boy who died in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1969, though it is still unknown how the boy may have contracted the virus. Some scientists suggest the virus could have first infected humans sometime during the end of the 19th Century, while other scientists suggest it first infected humans during the early 20th century, between 1915 and 1930. Regardless of whether it started during the late 19th Century or early 20th Century, it took many decades for it to even become prevalent enough to be noticed. Since the virus is slow to overtake its host, the window for inadvertent infection of others is years, rather than days or weeks as with most viruses.

It is unclear exactly how the virus started, but it seems clear that it crossed species from primates (which can carry a disease known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) into humans, likely when humans came into contact with the bodily fluids of monkeys, possibly during consumption, hunting or butchering the animals (monkey meat is a delicacy in some areas of the world, and is regularly eaten in some areas of Africa). The virus spread due to a number of factors, including vaccines given with unclean needles in developing countries. While AIDS is now generally viewed as a disease of gay men and intravenous drug users, the truth is far more chilling, since the virus is not contained only within a particular population. Many women and children are infected with the virus, and in some areas of the world, particularly Africa where infected patients do not have access to proper health care, the number of deaths has become catastrophic.

At this time, there is no cure for HIV, or for AIDS, nor is there a vaccine to prevent transmission. However, scientists have designed a number of drugs inhibit the virus’s replication. To understand how these drugs work, a short primer on the virus is necessary.

HIV takes over CD4 cells, changing their molecular structure by inserting its own ribonucleic acid (RNA). The virus itself, which is too small to be seen except with an electron microscope, consists of an outer envelope containing the virus and the proteins and enzymes necessary for replication; the envelope has about 72 spikes on its surface. When the virus bumps into a cell coated by the CD4 protein, the spikes stick into the cell and fuse, at which time the inner contents of the HIV envelope is released into the CD4 cell.

Once inside the cell, the HIV enzyme called reverse transciptase converts the viral RNA into DNA, which is compatible with human genetic material. This DNA is transported to the cell’s nucleus, where it is spliced into the human DNA by the HIV enzyme called integrase. Once it is spliced into the human DNA, the HIV DNA is known as provirus. The provirus may lie dormant within a cell for quite some time. However, when the cell becomes activated, it treats HIV genes in almost the same way as human genes. First it uses human enzymes to convert HIV genes into messenger RNA. The messenger RNA is transported outside the cell nucleus, and is used as a blueprint for producing new HIV proteins and enzymes, much in the same way as the human body normally produce replacement cells.

Complete copies of HIV genetic material is contained among the strands of messenger RNA produced by the cell. These copies combine with newly made HIV proteins and enzymes to form new viral particles, which are then released from the cell. The enzyme protease plays a vital role of the HIV life cycle, as it chops up long strands of protein into smaller pieces, which are then used to construct mature viral cores. At that point the newly matured HIV particles are ready to infect another cell, and begin the replication process all over again. In this way the virus quickly spreads through the human body, and causes its host to become infectious. HIV is passed to others through bodily fluids; some fluids contain more of the virus than others.

Contrary to popular belief, people do not die of HIV, or of AIDS. They die of the opportunistic infections which accompany the complete loss of their immune system. Patients therefore must take a strong cocktail of medications to stop the virus from replicating and destroying their immune system. Some common drugs prescribed for AIDS patients, to stop the virus from replicating, include reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which prevent the viral RNA from being converted into human DNA; protease inhibitors, which prevent the virus from creating new mature viral cores; and integrase inhibitors, which prevent the viral DNA from being spliced into the human DNA within the cells.

Unfortunately, with those life-saving treatments for the virus come life-threatening side effects, from lethal liver damage to an overwhelming nausea which results in starvation and dehydration; when this occurs, it only worsens those same symptoms which can be caused by the virus itself. Over the years many drugs have been discovered to combat the side effects (those same side effects are found in many other medical conditions as well), and to increase the quality of life for those who are infected with the virus; some of those drugs and treatments are pharmaceutical in nature, and some are natural.

One of the non-pharmaceutical drugs, which has proven very helpful in battling the anxiety, overwhelming nausea and physical wasting which comes with the virus and its treatment, is marijuana. So effective is marijuana that scientists have even made a pharmaceutical version of the drug, used in chemotherapy patients as well as AIDS patients, which contains synthetic THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). However, many patients believe that the natural THC in marijuana works better than the synthetic version in Marinol, and science supports this belief. In studies of marijuana usage for medicinal usage, it was found that other chemicals found in marijuana have additional medicinal effects which complement the effects of THC. Furthermore Marinol is extremely expensive (Tom’s Marinol costs about $2200 per month, so severe is his nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms), and thus the drug is far beyond the financial reach of most patients; and for that reason they cultivate and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. While the black market cost of marijuana can be high, the plant can be cultivated at home from seeds, at very little cost to the patient.

In some states, it is legal for patients with a valid medical prescription to possess certain amounts of dried and cultivated marijuana for personal medicinal use. However, even in those states, the US Government – which has declared that marijuana is an illicit and therefore illegal drug – refuses to permit patients to use the cultivated form of THC. Patients are regularly arrested for merely possessing the substance which allows them to live a more normal life, and which in cases of extreme wasting seen in AIDS, is actually life-saving. This occurs nationwide, including in the states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use.

I do not advocate the casual use of marijuana (or any other drug, prescription or otherwise) to get “high”. I do strongly advocate the right of physicians and patients to determine the best course of treatment, and I believe the government has no right to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship when the patient is not being placed in untoward danger.

Enter Tom Faltynowicz. When Tom was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, he was given “maybe a few years” to live. Eighteen years later, he is in a fight for his life, but it’s a fight of a very different kind.

In September 2007, law enforcement officials in his native Meade County received an anonymous call, stating that Tom had between 75 and 100 marijuana plants growing behind a metal building on his property. It is believed that the anonymous call came from Tom’s daughter, who was angry with him because he had recently stated his disapproval of her relationship with a particular man.

When Meade County Investigator Michael Walker and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent John Griswold arrived at Tom’s home the next day, there were not 75 to 100 plants on the property, or even anywhere near that many; in fact, there were no plants out in the open at all. However, when asked by those officers about the accusation, Tom immediately admitted to growing marijuana to treat his medical condition. He even invited the officers into his home, so they can see where he was growing it, and he was completely cooperative at all times, even according to the police report regarding the incident. All told, the officers found five plants, and about four ounces of dried marijuana. There was never an allegation that the marijuana was being used for anything but his medical condition, and never an allegation that he was selling the marijuana. It remains undisputed that Tom was using the marijuana to treat AIDS, and the side effects of the many potent medications he takes to fight the virus.

Tom takes a total of four antiretroviral drugs to combat the HIV infection: Combivir (a combination of Retrovir and Epivir), Sustiva, and Viread. Each of these drugs, by themselves, come with potentially fatal side effects. All of these drugs can cause severe nausea, and can result in extreme anxiety as an additional side effect. In addition, Tom has been prescribed Marinol, the synthetic THC drug to combat nausea and vomiting, so there is no question that he suffers the side effects which are treated by marijuana, and there is no question that his side effects are severe based upon his dosage. However, Tom says that the marijuana is far more effective than the Marinol, since Marinol makes him so tired that he cannot function; and his physician is aware of and supports his use of marijuana to treat his symptoms.

Tom, though he has no prior criminal record with the exception of two prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana – both of which occurred after he was diagnosed with AIDS – pled guilty to felony possession of marijuana. He faces a maximum of two years in prison, and a maximum fine of $4000; he could also be given probation. His sentencing date has been set for April 21st, before the Honorable Jerome Eckrich, Circuit Judge. Tom’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Traub, will speak at the sentencing hearing. The State Attorney has already said that he will not object to anything Dr. Traub might say. It appears that no one is interested in punishing Tom Faltynowicz; at the same time, under the law, his possession of marijuana – regardless of the reason why he possessed it – is a felony in the state of South Dakota.

Tom, however, is an exception to the reason that law was written. It was written to stop people from abusing the drug to get high, and to stop them from selling or otherwise providing it to others for the same illicit purpose. It is extremely doubtful the legislature was aware of the medicinal effects of marijuana when that law was passed, and it’s extremely doubtful the legislature ever intended to punish patients with a deadly disease. It’s even possible that the medicinal effects of marijuana were unknown to them when that law was passed, since it is hardly a new law. Nevertheless, since the law exists, it will be enforced, even against people like Tom who are using marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes.

This raises a number of questions. Even if Tom is merely placed on probation, and even if he stopped smoking marijuana altogether, using Marinol to control his symptoms would result in violation of probation, since he would test positive for THC during required drug tests. If he fails a drug test while on probation, he will be incarcerated.

If he is incarcerated, he will not only not have access to the drug which he needs to survive without excessive suffering due to overwhelming nausea, vomiting, physical wasting, and extreme fatigue; but the South Dakota Department of Corrections will be forced to pay for the extremely expensive antiretroviral drugs which fight the virus as well as the Marinol, at a cost of thousands of dollars per month to the taxpayers, in addition to the increased cost of incarceration for a man with an infectious deadly disease. As you should understand after my explanation of how those drugs work, and how the virus works, missing even one dose of his antiretroviral drugs could be catastrophic for his health, since it would allow the virus to replicate until the drug was again built up to a therapeutic dosage. Yet in a prison environment there is no guarantee that he will receive his life-sustaining medications at all, much less receive them on the schedule those drugs demand.

Tom has said that he will not stop using marijuana, because it allows him to live a relatively normal life. Without it, his body is wracked with pain, nausea, and vomiting; he is unable to eat or drink, and thus his body becomes even more weakened, even more unable to fight the virus, and even more prone to the many opportunistic illnesses, any one of which could easily end his life. This is especially true if he is confined in a jail or prison facility, given that there are large numbers of inmates living in close approximation.

To incarcerate Tom Faltynowicz would therefore place his life at severe risk, and as such would clearly constitute cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. Furthermore, it would serve no purpose to incarcerate him, since his crime is merely possession of a drug which allows him to live with his disease and to continue take the cruel medications which literally keep him alive. He poses no threat to anyone and he is not selling or otherwise distributing the marijuana, nor has it even been suggested that he is selling or distributing the marijuana. Rehabilitation is also not a valid cause for his incarceration, since he merely uses the drug for medicinal purposes, and thus he is not in need of rehabilitation.

Society would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz. The interests of justice would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz.

As such, justice demands that the court show mercy by giving Tom Faltynowicz a suspended sentence, no probation, and whatever fine the court sees fit, as long as it is within Tom’s ability to pay said fine.

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Kn@ppsterI found this entry on Thomas Knapp’s blog, Kn@ppster, and found it quite interesting. Here is an excerpt; you can read it in its entry in its entirety at the link:

I’m not one for silver bullets—no one thing will put third party candidates into contention for the presidency—but some changes just make sense. One of those changes is nominating earlier. My recollection is that the Libertarian Party used to nominate its presidential candidates the year before the election. Andre Marrou was nominated for president in 1991. Ron Paul was nominated in 1987. And so on, and so forth. It was only in 1996 that the LP moved its nominating convention into the year of the election itself.

Late nominating conventions handicap third parties. We can’t expect the kind of pre-nomination media coverage that “major party” candidates get. The sooner a party positions itself behind a nominee, the sooner that nominee has access to the party’s full pool of presidential contributors and can get to work reaching beyond the party to the American public. It’s all well and good to hope that a pre-nomination third party candidate will “break out” and catch the mainstream media eye … but it seldom works out that way.

I think Tom Knapp makes a very good point. As far as I can see, the only downside to nominating earlier is that third parties won’t get any media attention at all during the primaries. Right now they don’t get much, but it does get them at least mentioned in many newspapers.

Then again, can the third parties overcome that negative, and list their presidential nominee on the primary ballot, as just one candidate for that office? I’m honestly not sure. If so, it would look in the press as if that one candidate has a great deal of support within the party, rather than as it is now when it appears to the public that each candidate receives a little support here, and a little support there. Making third party candidates appear to have overwhelming support during the primaries can only be a good thing.

On the other hand, many third party voters wouldn’t even bother to vote during the primaries, if they knew their candidate had already been chosen, so there may be no reason to mention them at all in the mainstream media.

It’s a complicated issue, and one which should be thoroughly explored.

_________________________________

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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tarnished badgeIn Ironton, Ohio last night, a pedestrian was hit and killed by a police cruiser, driven by a cop on his way to work. Unbelievably, the cruiser dragged the man for blocks, and the cop allegedly didn’t even realize he was dragging a human underneath his cruiser. In fact, he dragged the man all the way to the police station, over a half a mile away!

I don’t buy that “I didn’t know I’d hit someone” story at all. If a driver hit a dog, they’d know it, and they’d know if they were dragging the dog because there would be noise and bumps involved. Given that a human is much bigger than a dog, how much more would someone realize they were dragging a human?

I suspect the cop was hoping the guy’s body would disengage from the cruiser, and then he could be the first on the scene, blaming someone else for the death.

The victim, Guy Thomas, age 46, was a block away from home when the accident occurred. His family found his shoe and his wallet two blocks away from the point of impact. The family has still not been contacted by the police, which makes me think the cops are circling the wagons already. At the very least, the Police Chief should have gone to the family’s house, apologized and offered his condolences, and assured them that all steps will be taken to get to the bottom of it. The police have asked the Ohio Bureau of Investigation to become involved, which is a positive, but at the same time, how can they not contact the family? How can they even make a positive identification without contacting the family, when the man’s wallet was found elsewhere?

Even if it was an accident, which is altogether possible, it does not excuse the actions of the police following the incident. If your car hits and kills someone, chances are you’re going to be arrested. The cop in question has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

However, if a citizen hit and killed someone and dragged their body for blocks, do you think the cops would believe them if they said they didn’t know they’d hit someone? No way would that story be believed, and the driver would be booked and charged with vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, as well as hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident.

This cop should be treated like anyone else would be treated under the same circumstances. He should be arrested, not just placed on administrative leave. That he hasn’t been arrested is outrageous.

You can read more about this – some of the comments are quite interesting – on WSAZ.

UPDATE 3/10 @ 3 pm: Police have confirmed that the victim is Guy Thomas, and that he was found dead beneath the cruiser’s rear bumper; and that the officer who hit him is 27-year-old Patrolman Richard Fouts. Fouts has been with the police department for only two months. He has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

Why isn’t the cop being charged criminally for leaving the scene of an accident, and hit and run, along with vehicular manslaughter? Do you really think that if you or I ran over someone, then dragged them for over a half mile under our car, that we wouldn’t be arrested when we tried to claim that we didn’t know we did that?

The police say they are waiting to find out if Mr. Thomas was dead before he was hit by the police car. Does that really matter at this point, other than giving the cops an excuse to cover for the cop who committed a horrible, incomprehensible crime?

To believe that, one would have to believe that Mr. Thomas was seen alive just moments before he was hit, yet he suddenly died, fell in the middle of the road, and was hit by a cop who then cluelessly dragged his dead body for over a half mile.

Whoever came up with that one should be writing fiction for a living. Even if Mr. Thomas was dead when he was hit, it does not excuse the officer lying about whether he knew that he hit a human and was dragging a human body underneath his car; he had to have known that. That cop still committed a crime, either way. He committed hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident, both of which are criminal charges.

Put that cop in jail, or at the very least suspend him without pay while the investigation is ongoing. The level of disparate prosecution in this case is shocking.

__________________________

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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Tim CouchI’m not exactly sure why someone who sits on a state legislature (where he represents about two and a half obscure rural counties out of 120 counties in the state) thinks that he can legislate what everyone in the world does, but

Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.

Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted. If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.

Ah, eastern Kentucky, home of one of this blog’s all-time favorite criminals, the Duct Tape Bandit. LOL. That probably answers my original question in this thread.

Aside from the logistics, in that it is absolutely impossible for a state legislature to legislate the behavior of everyone on the internet – no matter how hard they may try – is this a good idea?

Even though I covered the Megan Meier controversy to a great degree, I think it is a horrible idea, and I’ll tell you why.

What happened to Megan Meier was an anomaly. That poor young girl was mentally ill, as evidenced by the fact that she was prescribed not just anti-depressants, but also Geodon, an anti-psychotic. Her adult neighbor Lori Drew was well aware of this, so what she did to that child is absolutely unconscionable, whether one believes she is responsible for Megan’s death or not.

While I realize there are people who have mental illnesses on the internet – and sometimes I wonder if the majority of people posting on the internet have a mental illness – the internet is not a nanny, nor should anyone expect it to be. It is also not a place for children, or the otherwise weak at heart. It is definitely rated “R”, so no one who couldn’t get into an R-rated movie shouldn’t be here in the first place, unless they have parental guidance.

Some other parts of the internet are rated NC-17, some are rated X. With some websites, you don’t even realize you are going to an X-rated site until you are already there (another problem, but responsible internet users simply don’t click on unknown links in the first place).

I can write an article as ElfNinosGreatAuntTilley, and as long as I don’t harm anyone in the process, it is not a crime for me to do that. The right to anonymity is a basic right. It is a right which I exercise everytime I log onto this blog. It is a right which I exercise in my personal life on a fairly regular basis. The fact of the matter is that no one is entitled to know my name, in real life or on the internet. I’m not doing anything wrong, and in fact I do a lot to help others in life, but I like my privacy.

Why do I think it is important for me to post under a pseudonym? There are several reasons, all of which I feel are perfectly valid.

I used to regularly bust scammers on Quatloos, cooperating with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to get these slimeballs behind bars where they belong, and in that capacity I angered some extremely dangerous people. Once I even angered a man who was a dirty ex-NYPD cop, and a former enforcer with the Colombo crime family (yes, the mafia). He had stolen millions from people in a scam wherein he pretended to be a loan company for people who can’t get conventional loans, and he would charge them a large up-front fee. He did his best to ascertain my real identity, and made multiple threats of physical violence against me, including both murder and rape.

In a situation like that, I have two choices. I can either bust the guy under a pseudonym, and be able to sleep at night, or I can do so under my real name, and end up moving every few months. I choose to stay put.

As most of you are aware, I am a professional writer, and I write about true crime as well as criminology issues. However, I didn’t sign up for the publicity which comes with that. I have a unique name, and I don’t want people coming onto this blog to ask me the same questions I’ve been asked (and answered) a million times, and harassing my friends who visit this blog; yet I have every reason to believe they will do that, because that’s what they did when I had a professional website. I just want to be me when I’m here, and I want others to feel comfortable posting here as well.

Tim Couch may not think those are valid reasons for me to not use my real name on the internet, and he’s entitled to his opinion. At the same time, I didn’t elect him, and I don’t live in Kentucky, so his opinion could not possibly be more irrelevant to me.

The fact of the matter is that there are more than enough laws already on the books to handle any situation which might arise on the internet, regardless of whether the person is using their real name or a pseudonym. There are laws against stalking, harassment, obscenity, and other problems. Sure, it might not be easy to find the perpetrator, but it’s not always easy to find perpetrators in real life either.

There are laws to cover what Lori Drew did to Megan Meier, too, if the authorities would use their heads. She could be charged under child abuse laws, stalking laws, harassment laws … the list goes on and on. I don’t know why they decided to not charge her, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t be charged if the prosecutor wanted to do so. Of course, now a federal grand jury is considering charges against her for wire fraud, since she used a false name on MySpace for the specific intention of stalking and harassing another person (though that’s a Catch-22, since Megan Meier also falsified her age with her mother’s permission, as she was otherwise too young to have a MySpace account). It’s not a problem to use a false name in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when someone uses a false name in order to commit a crime, which is something the vast majority of people on the internet will never do.

So, in a nutshell, I think Kentucky State Representative Tim Couch needs to worry about things which are actually under his control. He is not in a position to legislate the internet, since he is just a state legislator. He has, like a typical politician, grabbed onto a controversial issue to get publicity. Even if his law passes, he is only giving his constituents a false sense of security on the internet since the law would not apply to anyone outside that state; he’d do a far greater service to his constituents if he introduced a bill to fund a public information program about the internet, or requiring that children in his state be educated about the dangers of the internet. He knows or should know that he has no jurisdiction to legislate the internet. If he doesn’t know that, he isn’t smart enough to be making laws in the first place.
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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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I found this very disturbing local story while looking for updates on the cop who hit and killed a pedestrian, dragged his body under the police cruiser for over half a mile, then claimed he didn’t know he had hit anyone.

Soldiers dying in their sleepApparently a lot of young soldiers are making it through the war, and coming home only to die in their sleep unexpectedly. Even more strangely, this has happened three times within a three-week period, to three families in West Virginia who live within an hour of one another.

Is the Veterans Administration giving returning soldiers a fatal cocktail of medication for post-traumatic stress disorder? It certainly seems that way, since all three of these young men were taking the same drug cocktail. Healthy young men don’t just die in their sleep. Something stopped their respiration while they were sleeping, and I’d guess it was the drugs they were prescribed combined with their disturbed sleep patterns.

I haven’t heard anything about this in the national media. Is this a national epidemic? It’s possible that it is, and journalists just haven’t put the pieces together to realize that.

Clearly, anyone reading this who is taking that combination of drugs (or knows someone else who is taking it) needs to contact their doctor immediately.

“He would normally stay up watching TV at night because it was hard for him to sleep and I went ahead and went to bed. The next morning when I got up, I found him on the couch, he was in the same position he was in when he went to sleep and he was already gone,” Layne said.

A soldier from Kanawha City, Eric Layne left behind an 18-month old son and a baby girl on the way.

Meanwhile, Logan County resident Cheryl Endicott’s son Nicholas died January 29th while being treated at a military hospital in Bethesda.

He too reportedly went to bed and never woke up.

“They told me that at 10:55, they entered his room, he was non-responsive, had no pulse so they deceased him right then and there,” said Endicott.

Finally, on February 12th Stan and Shirley White lost their son Andrew, another Kanawha County service member who stopped breathing in his sleep. For the Whites, it was the second son they said goodbye too. Robert White died while serving in Afghanistan.

“You’re always expecting and fearing when your children are at war that they’re not going to make it back. They don’t come back and lie in their bed, go to sleep and die. That doesn’t happen. That’s not supposed to happen,” Stan White said.

Each family heard about the others’ tragedies and eventually compared stories.

All three men were in their 20s, served in Iraq and died in their sleep within a three-week period, but that’s only the beginning of the similarities.

Each military man was being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had started exhibiting the same strange behavior and symptoms.

“Excessive weight gain, anger management disturbed sleep patterns, tremors,” White said.

The young men were each taking a number of prescription drugs before they died, but the combination they all had in common includes Paxil, Klonopin and Seroquel.

You can read the rest of this extremely disturbing article here.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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Alden Link is a Libertarian candidate for the Libertarian presidential nomination. He’s an older gentleman, and his main emphasis seems to be on nuclear power. He claims that nuclear power plants can produce enough gasoline to end our dependence upon foreign oil.

I’m no scientist, but I don’t understand how nuclear power plants can produce gasoline. Perhaps someone reading this can explain if the following is possible:

A nuclear power plant has the energy to produce about 15 thousand barrels of gasoline a day.

Given the following equivalents:
• 1 watt equals 3.4 british thermal units (BTU)
• 1 nuclear power plant produces 1,000,000,000 watts
• 1 barrel of gasoline contains 42 gallons
• 1 gallon of gasoline is equal to 125,000 btu
• 1 day has 24 hours

1) 1,000,000,000 watts / hour x 3.4 btu = 3,400,000,000 btu/hour
2) 3,400,000,000 btu/hour divided by 125,000 btu/gallon =27,200 gallons per hour
3) 27,200 gals./hour divided by 42 gallons per barrel = 647 barrels/hour
4) 647 barrels per hour x 24 hours = 15,542 barrels of gasoline per day

The raw materials needed for this process are carbon from recycled atmospheric carbon dioxide and hydrogen from water. This process is therefore non polluting and actually cleans the air

The United States imports about 13,000,000 barrels of oil per day. Some of it is used to run electric generating facilities. Most is used as motor fuels.

If the US builds 900 nuclear power plants for converting energy to fuel we would be energy independent. and not need ANY imported oil. More power plants than that and we could export petroleum products.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Charlette Marshall-Jones, the Hillsborough County, Florida deputy who was caught on surveillance cameras dumping a quadriplegic man out of his wheelchair after he was arrested on a traffic violation, has been arrested herself.

In case you missed it, here is the video:

Marshall-Jones has been charged with abuse of a disabled person, and faces five years in prison. In the meantime she has been suspended without pay.

I bet the gals in genpop would be happy to have not only an ex-cop, but an abusive ex-cop who likes to abuse people in wheelchairs who can’t even move, join their ranks. They might even throw her a few of those pillowcase parties I’ve heard so much about. ;-)

Now authorities need to go after the jail employees who saw it but didn’t report it, and especially the jerk cop at the end of the video who laughed about it.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Man going to prisonNEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report.The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said.Using updated state-by-state data, the report said 2,319,258 adults were held in U.S. prisons or jails at the start of 2008 — one out of every 99.1 adults, and more than any other country in the world.

You can read the rest of this article here.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Clinton and ObamaAccording to The Smoking Gun, Jose Antonio Ortiz stabbed his brother-in-law, Sean Shurelds (who was flown to a hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition) due to a disagreement about Hillary Clinton vs Barack Obama.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently Shurelds supports Obama, and Ortiz supports Clinton. While the two were in the kitchen of someone’s home (it is unclear whose home) Shurelds told Ortiz that Obama was “trashing” Clinton, and Ortiz responded that “Obama was not a realist.”

While for most people that would be pretty much the end of the conversation, not so with these two, for whom those were not just fighting words, they were stabbing words. Ortiz and Shurelds argued, began to choke and punch each other, and eventually Ortiz grabbed a knife and stabbed Shurelds in the abdomen.

Ortiz then went back to doing the dishes, including, of course, the knife he had used to stab his brother-in-law.

Not at all surprisingly, Ortiz has a case of selective memory (not unlike the typical politician), and conveniently denies any memory of the stabbing incident. He has been charged with felony aggravated assault, as well as two misdemeanor counts. Bail has been set at $20,000.

I’m sure Clinton and Obama are proud to have supporters who are willing to go that far for their chosen candidate. Or not.

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Once again, President Bush proves that he has absolutely no idea about … well, anything. Here, he claims that the economy is not being harmed by the war, and the extraordinary amount of money being spent on the war. Instead, he thinks the war is helping the economy.

Um, yeah. That may be true if you’re one of his fat-cat friends who own companies which supply equipment and necessary (and sometimes unnecessary) items to feed the war machine. Otherwise, it’s not helping you (or me) economically at all.

By the way, since he mentions the rebate, just where exactly where is the government supposed to get the money to do that?  It’s just more debt, and more interest on debt.  It’s just the Republicans trying to look better before the presidential election in November, pure and simple.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Cat holdupA robber in Texas came into a convenience store, pointed his gun at the clerk’s head and fired.

The clerk moved just in time to dodge the bullet, and emerged quickly from behind the counter with her own gun.

You go, girl!

A Longview clerk showed her mettle for the second time within a year Saturday, returning gunfire on an assailant as he fled a Fourth Street convenience store.“He cocked the gun to shoot (at) me again, and then I went barrel to barrel with him,” Robin Adams said in the EZ Food Mart where she and her store manager husband, Jimmy, returned to work Sunday. “This thing happened so fast that nothing was said about money. It was like he came in here to kill me.”

No one was injured in the shooting.

At 9:59 p.m. Saturday, Adams was ringing up orange juice and a cigarillo for a customer when man stepped rapidly in front of her register and raised a handgun, firing once.

“He’s shooting right at her face,” the manager said as he replayed an in-store video showing the man firing at his wife of 31 years. “She’s got powder burns on her face.”

The video shows the clerk bending slightly at the register when the gun was raised toward her. She stands up, moving her head reflexively to the left while lifting a .32-caliber pistol from a shelf just inches below the cash till.

“I’m just so happy I got lucky and tilted my head,” she said, estimating the bullet missed her skull by fewer than three inches. “And the only choice I had was to pull mine out.”

The clerk fired once on the fleeing man, striking a plastic glass partition. The assailant’s bullet had nicked the top of a pack of Winston Light 100s behind Adams’ head and continued through the store front glass.

You can read the entire article here.

This is why women need to be familiar with firearms, not fear firearms (well, you should fear them, but it should be a healthy fear so you don’t end up doing something stupid, and not a fear of using them in self-defense), know how to shoot so you don’t freeze if you need to use the gun (take lessons, for goodness’ sake), and have firearms available for use.

You never know when it’s going to be you, or the other guy. There are a lot of violent freaks out there, and you need to always be prepared to deal with them.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Night of the Living DeadIf you have ever had to deal with the federal government’s bureaucracy, you can only imagine how hard it would be to prove to the government that you actually are alive if their records reflect that you are dead. After all, just showing up at the Social Security Administration isn’t going to do it. Given that, how exactly does someone prove to the satisfaction of the government that they aren’t dead, when they’re dealing with brain-dead government employees who simply believe whatever their computer screen tells them?

Yet, a shocking number of Americans have to find this out the hard way; by at least one official estimate, the government incorrectly declares 35 Americans dead every single day.

The problem begins at the Social Security Administration, keeper of most of the records tabulating deaths in the United States. Like other government agencies, the IRS, with whom Todd has most recently tangled, relies upon Social Security’s database, said Dan Boone, a spokesman for the IRS.

When Social Security determines that an eligible current or future beneficiary has died, it closes the person’s entry in its Case Processing and Management System, or CPMS.

The system is only as good as the data it receives. Sometimes, that isn’t very good.

Todd, for example, was killed when someone in Florida died and her Social Security number was accidentally typed in. Since then, her tax returns have repeatedly been rejected, and her bank closed her credit card account.

“One time when I [was] ruled dead, they canceled my health insurance because it got that far,” she said.

Toni Anderson of Muncie, Ind., expired when someone in the government pushed the wrong button, making the records declare that it was she, not her husband, John, who died Nov. 8.

Social Security even sent this letter: “Dear Mr. Anderson, our condolences on the loss of Mrs. Anderson.”

In September 2006, the inspector general’s office tried to get a fix on how many people Social Security was improperly killing off by reviewing updates to the agency’s Death Master File.

In all, Social Security officials had to “resurrect” 23,366 people from January 2004 to September 2005. In other words, over a period of 21 months, Social Security was presented with irrefutable evidence that it had been “killing” more than 1,100 people a month, or more than 35 a day.

Two months later, in November 2006, the inspector general looked specifically at 251 cases of people to whom the agency continued to issue checks even though Medicare records said they were dead.

“Of the 251 individuals in our population, 86 are deceased and their SSI payments should be terminated,” the audit said. “The remaining 165 beneficiaries were actually alive and their Medicare benefits—and, in some cases, their SSI payments—were incorrectly terminated.”

Read this entire article here.

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Carmen Kontur-GronquistVoters in Arlington, Oregon, are very, very angry. That’s not unusual, since there are very angry voters everywhere these days.

What is unusual is the reason why they are angry.

Apparently their Mayor, Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, had some photos taken to send in for a fitness magazine, and in them she was dressed in her bra and panties. This all happened before she became Mayor, incidentally. A relative posted the photos on MySpace, hoping to find the single mother a date.

I didn’t see a thing in the world wrong with the photos; the most controversial of them is posted at top left. Basically, she’s showing off her rock-hard abs, and if I had abs like hers, I’d be showing mine off too. So what. Those photos are no different from any other photos for a woman’s fitness magazine, because I used to read some of those periodicals myself, back when I was into bodybuilding and fitness. In fact, her photos actually showed a lot less than they usually show in those magazines. Those types of photos are not at all sexual in nature, though, because they are intended only for other women to see, as inspiration in their fitness routines.

The people of Arlington, however, are absolutely outraged over those photos, and they actually threw her out of office for it.

When I first heard this story back when it first broke I thought, no way would a town actually recall their Mayor for posing for a fitness magazine. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his living as a bodybuilder, and even posed fully nude multiple times, and he’s the Governor of California.

I was wrong, because they did recall her. The vote was 142-139 in favor of throwing her out of office.

If we are still so backward in this country that we’d throw a woman out of elected office merely for posing for a fitness magazine, covering more than the average bathing suit covers, are we really ready for a female president? Or would Congress impeach her the first time they see a picture of her in a bathing suit?

What do you think? Is it just that one town, or is most of American that narrow-minded? Given this, are we ready for a female president?

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Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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The Moderate Voice, “None of the Above”

March 5, 2008 by Pete Abel

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“As I grow older, I regret to say that a detestable habit of thinking seems to be getting a hold of me.” – H. Rider Haggard

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.” – William James

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So which is it? Am I an aging addict of the detestable habit of thinking, or am I merely rearranging my prejudices? Honestly, I’m not sure, but I do know this much: The libertarian impulses of my youth and the stoic conservatism of my early adult years are gradually giving way to the doubts of middle-age – doubts that are centered on two questions:

(1) Do I really believe smaller government and lower taxes are the cures to what ails us?

(2) When people are hurting and in need, is it appropriate for their government to turn away, claiming, “That’s not our issue; it should be resolved by individuals and the free market”?

Libertarian conservatives don’t doubt the answers to these questions. They respond “yes,” to both, without hesitation, without equivocation.

Twenty years ago, I would have been similarly clear-headed. I’m no longer so sure and, apparently, neither is 13-year Republican Congressman Steve Chabot of Ohio. According to a Feb. 19 article at Politico:

… Chabot has earned a 97.5 percent lifetime rating from The American Conservative Union and has largely stuck to the Republican ranks, except to oppose some pork-laden spending bills.

But when foreclosures in his hometown of Cincinnati skyrocketed, Chabot found himself aligned with Democrats — and against his party’s leaders, his conservative colleagues and the White House.

Chabot’s bipartisan dalliance illustrates how tough economic times could erode the Republican conference that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) is counting on to blunt Democratic victories running up to the November elections.

So, let me get this straight: When rock-solid conservatives learn that their constituents are suffering, they suddenly decide government should do something about it?

Read the rest of this thought-provoking post by Pete Abel on The Moderate Voice.

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