Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mighty Red for a Blue State
It's been a real wingnut jamboree in the Wisconsin legislature this week--lots of hymn-singing, soul-testifyin', and family-values protectin' going on. The party actually started on Tuesday, when on that day alone, the Repug majority in the State Senate (with the help of a few Democrat enablers) passed a comprehensive bill permitting medical practitioners to refuse to perform certain procedures if such procedures violate their religious or ethical beliefs. Another bill would require doctors to inform patients seeking an abortion that the fetus may feel pain as a result of the procedure--something that is by no means settled science. A third bill mandates abstinence education in public schools. Today, our solons passed a bill banning both reproductive and therapeutic cloning. And not just banning it, but criminalizing it. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been one of the pioneers in stem-cell research, but the Jesus-freak Republican majority couln't be bothered to ask someone who knows the facts to walk up the damn street to teach them about it. They just clutched their Bibles, wiped crocodile tears from their eyes for all the dead babies, and voted their ignorance.

All of these bills are likely to be vetoed by Governor Jim Doyle if/when they reach his desk (although he hasn't made up his mind on the abstinence bill), but that shouldn't make anybody rest easy. Doyle, a Democrat, is up for reelection in 2006, and if I bet on politics, I'd take the field against him. His own party isn't entirely wild about him: There's talk of a primary challenge from the left because Doyle's been too cozy with business interests. (Politically, that sucking-up to business interests availeth naught, as it always doth.) Two Repugs have declared their candidacies so far: Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and Green Bay-area Congressman Mark Green. And even if Doyle vetoes the bills now, in 2007 they'll be back if either Walker or Green is in the governor's chair. And then, they'll become law quicker than you can say "Fighting Bob LaFollette is dead."

Roberts By the Numbers:
The Daily Aneurysm, September 14, 2005: [John] Roberts will be confirmed by the Senate by about the same margin [as in the Judiciary Committee]--all the Repugs and half the Democrats." The Associated Press, September 29, 2005: "All of the Senate's majority Republicans, and about half of the Democrats, voted for Roberts." OK, on the prediction scale, it wasn't exactly picking Roberts to be the chief-justice nominee in the first place, which would have been the real shocker, given his anonymity. But we actually got something right, which is pretty rare, so yippee for us. And so Roberts joins a surprisingly short list--he's only the 17th chief since 1789 (and that includes William Cushing, even though he served only two days in 1796). The list includes such historic figures as John Marshall, Roger B. Taney, Salmon P. Chase, and William Howard Taft. And if Roberts serves as long as Marshall, the longest-serving chief, he'll be in office until 2041, and given his youth, that's a possibility. If he lasts as long as the average chief, he'll serve until sometime in 2020.

This is the way it works. Bush won the right to make this pick when he won/stole the 2004 election. But that doesn't make it any easier to swallow, especially when you consider that long after Bush is rotting either in jail for his war crimes or Hell for his sins, his legacy will continue to screw up the United States of America.

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