Patterico's Pontifications


Jailing Mom to Protect Her Unborn Child

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 9:36 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Texas court is considering whether it was legal for a Corpus Christi woman to be jailed to protect her unborn child from her drug use:

“After pleading guilty to forging checks in 2005, Lovill was sentenced to three years of community supervision, a form of probation, and ordered into a substance abuse program.

Two failed drug tests in the first three months, however, resulted in Lovill spending one year incarcerated in a drug treatment facility, where she remained until February 2007.

Five months later, another positive drug test prompted probation officials to have Lovill arrested and held in the Nueces County Jail while they sought to revoke her probation. This time, she was pregnant.

At Lovill’s revocation hearing, probation officer Sandra Garza asked that Lovill be sentenced to the Nueces County Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility, where a “special needs unit” could offer medical care while her pregnancy progressed.

“We considered her drug use being very high risk, and we were concerned for the baby,” Garza testified.

The judge agreed, ordering Lovill held in jail until a bed opened up at the treatment facility. Three months later, Lovill was still waiting in jail when she was taken to a Corpus Christi hospital to give birth to a son.”

Lovill’s boy lives with her relatives. She has reportedly completed a drug treatment program and “visits him regularly.”

Prosecutors claim Lovill was jailed for violating her probation and also to protect her unborn child. They assert the government has a valid interest in protecting an unborn child from the mother’s admitted drug abuse, and that ignoring her pregnancy is denying reality.

Lovill’s attorneys claim this is gender discrimination and dangerous for the mother and child because women are subjected to the “high stress, poor nutrition and wretched sanitary conditions of jail” or to drug treatment facilities described as a “prisonlike setting geared toward offenders with serious mental health problems.”

Lovill prevailed in her initial appeal and the case is now pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the equivalent of the Texas Supreme Court in criminal matters. Oral argument is scheduled for Wednesday in Austin.


Hillary’s [Mis]Statements

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 6:36 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

First Hillary claimed she had been named for Sir Edmund Hillary, the famous mountain climber, despite the fact that she was born more than 6 years before he gained fame for climbing Mt. Everest. Then it was her exaggerated claims of importance in negotiating peace in Northern Ireland. That was followed by the debunked campaign story of the pregnant Ohio woman who died after she was denied care. And who can forget Hillary’s “mis-speak” about avoiding sniper fire in Bosnia?

Now a British paper has questioned Hillary’s statements regarding her stay at Belfast’s Europa Hotel:

“But according to the Sunday Life newspaper, during a speech she made to the Stormont parliament she said that Belfast’s landmark Europa Hotel was devastated by an explosion when she first stayed there in 1995.

The Europa, where most journalists covering the decades-long conflict stayed, was famed as Europe’s most bombed hotel, earning the moniker “the Hardboard Hotel”.

However, the last Provisional IRA bomb to damage the Europa was detonated in 1993, two years before President Clinton and his wife checked in for the night.

The last time the Europa underwent renovations because of bomb blast damage was in January 1994, 22 months before the presidential entourage booked 110 rooms at the hotel.

Mrs Clinton told assembled politicians at Stormont: “When Bill and I first came to Belfast we stayed at the Europa Hotel … even though then there were sections boarded up because of damage from bombs.”

Hillary’s spokesman clarified that she was “trying to express a sincere
‘perception’ of a Belfast in darker days” and was “simply contrasting,” not mis-speaking.


More Delays in Afghan Troop Decision

Filed under: Obama,War — DRJ @ 6:33 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Obama Administration’s most recent excuse for not sending more troops to Afghanistan is that they need proof the Afghan government will be a good partner:

“In Sunday talk show interviews, [Obama Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel did not answer directly when asked whether Obama would wait for a final election outcome before deciding U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. He repeatedly underlined doubts about the Kabul government as a reliable partner for the U.S.

“There’s not a security force, an army, the type of services that are important for the Afghans to become true partners,” Emanuel said. “It would be reckless to make a decision on U.S. troop level if, in fact, you haven’t done a thorough analysis of whether, in fact, there’s an Afghan partner ready to fill that space that the U.S. troops would create and become a true partner in governing.”

I doubt there are many governments in third world nations, let alone areas beset by repeated and long-term wars, that can meet that standard. As for Afghanistan, final election results could be postponed until the end of the year or even next Spring. More balloting is scheduled for November and if there is a runoff, it won’t take place until next Spring.

There is Democratic support for the Administration’s do-nothing-for-now plan. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry believes Obama should wait until the election is finalized to make a troop decision, although Kerry apparently hasn’t signed on to leaving the Taliban alone:

“It would be very hard, I think, for the president to make a commitment to ‘X’ number of troops, whatever it might be, or to a new strategy, without knowing that all of the components of the strategy are indeed capable of being achieved,” Kerry said, adding that the political and civilian components must be assured.

“And I’m not yet convinced that we’re there,” he said.

On the specifics of U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan, Kerry said he is convinced that narrowing the mission to a hunt for al-Qaida and other terrorists would be wrong. The counterterrorism effort must be part of a larger military mission that targets Taliban and other insurgent groups with conventional ground forces, he said.”

On the other hand, the Pentagon may believe the decision is coming sooner rather than later since it canceled the deployment to Iraq of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. It’s been suggested the Brigade is being held for deployment to Afghanistan.


ObamaCare: The General Situation

Filed under: General — Karl @ 4:43 pm

[Posted by Karl]

As the Democrats’ attempted government takeover of the US healthcare system moves into the back rooms for a bit, it seems like a moment to take a step back from the trees and look at the forest.

Bob Laszewski (who reminded me of how important the CBO would be in this debate back in May) recently summed up this debate as “the coming convergence on Capitol Hill of three extraordinarily powerful, and contradictory, forces”: (1) the Democrats’ near-religious fervor on this issue; (2) the public’s anxiety — leaning toward disapproval — of the effort; and (3) the fact that the Dems still do not have a bill that can become law. Currently, I would say that (1) trumps (2) — though that could change once bills start emerging from those back rooms. Accordingly, it is (3) that is crucial.

Moreover, I tend to agree with Laszewski that “[t]he big issue is going to be money — just whose taxes are going to get raised to the tune of $500 billion to pay for it.” If the Baucus vapor bill’s tax on “Cadillac” insurance plans is unacceptable to Big Labor, and the House’s surtax on “millionaires” is unacceptable to moderates in both chambers (Democrats are the “party of the rich,” y’know), it is far from clear that those babies can be split — but then what?

This yawning chasm is why the Senate is going to try to pay off the AMA by fixing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) fee cut problem off-budget and (ostensibly) separate from ObamaCare. But even if the Dems can clear the procedural hurdles to that shell game, they will have closed only about half of the gap.

The Dems also have to face the the Pushmi-pullyu of “affordability”, otherwise known as mandates and subsidies. The Baucus vapor bill gutted the fines for enforcing the individual mandate, but still requires insurance companies have to get rid of medical underwriting and pre-existing conditions provisions. That creates a “death spiral” for insurers, which is why they have belatedly leapt into opposing ObamaCare. Liberal wonks may want to dismiss the insurers, but the insurers’ studies and campaigns can fuel the pre-existing public opinion that ObamaCare will increase costs and decrease quality. Amping up that public anxiety would make it more difficult for the Dems to maintain the unity necessary to pass a bill.

Keith Hennessey also raises the potential for a fight over regional disparities in the subsidies, if they follow the approach in the Baucus vapor bill. For example, similar families would get a $6,365 subsidy in Las Vegas, Nevada, but only $3,220 in Portland, Maine. In contrasting high-cost vs. low-cost areas of the nation, I am sure it was coincidence that Hennessey picked the home states of Sen. Majority Ldr. Harry Reid and swing RINO Sen. Olympia J. Snowe.

If I have any disagreement with Laszewski, it is here:

The public option, employer mandates, a turbo-charged MedPAC? These are not the biggest issues. The White House will take any deal they can get and will quickly pressure liberals to back off wherever necessary.

These may not be the biggest issues, but the “public option” has become something of an article of faith on the Left, which is why we see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi trying to get centrists to sign on to a strong “public option,” just days after suggesting that liberals consider a watered-down “public option” — and why we see Sen. Maj. Ldr. Harry Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer exchanging barbs over Reid’s not-so-veiled reluctance to include one in the merged bill in the Senate. If the “public option” is seen as dead or neutered too soon in the process, the Dems’ near-religious fervor likely cools a bit, making it harder to pass a bill.

Moreover, there are issues missing from Laszewski’s list that certainly will register with Congress. Subsidizing abortions and coverage of illegal immigrants may seem like sideshows to health policy analysts, but they are hot-button, high-intensity issues with voters, so attention should be paid. And there are the cuts to Medicare and Medicare Advantage that will antagonize seniors, who make up a disproportionate slice of the electorate, especially in midterm elections.

Given this set of issues, it is not surprising that despite Pres. Obama’s frequent declarations that the time for debate is over, House Maj. Ldr. Steny H. Hoyer says that Congress will probably be in session until mid-December and possibly even later. As time runs on, the Democrats may be tempted to exploit the budget reconciliation option they have been quietly keeping on the table. However, as Rick Weissenstein, a health care analyst for Washington Research Group, told CBS:

“I think it would be perceived, certainly by Republicans and moderates, as a last ditch effort to pass something that didn’t have popular support,” he said. “If you’ve gotten to that point, in some ways you’ve kind of lost the war.”

Indeed, with only 24% of voters nationwide saying Democrats should pass ObamaCare on a partisan basis, it is entirely possible that trying to pass the bill alone would sink it entirely.


When Is It Right to Do to Your Enemy What He Did to You?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:17 pm

When your opponent/enemy does bad things to you/your group, when it is morally acceptable for you/your group to do the same thing back to your opponent/enemy?

Let me give you two concrete examples:

  • A man punches you. Is it morally right to punch him back?
  • A suicide bomber kills an innocent child in your country. Is it morally right to strap a bomb to your body, go to his country, find an innocent child, and kill yourself and that innocent child?

I offer these examples as illustrations of extremes, where the answer should be fairly obvious for most people: yes, you can punch the guy; no, you can’t murder the innocent child. The question becomes: what distinguishes them? What are the principles by which we decide that one action is acceptable and the other is not — so that we can apply those principles in cases where the line-drawing is more difficult?

By the way, it’s not certain that everyone will answer the above questions in the obvious way. As with any extreme, you can find people who will give you the nonintuitive answer. Extreme pacifists might tell you it is morally wrong to punch back in the first example. On the Internet, where people love to talk tough, you might find people who would tell you it’s OK to become a suicide bomber, to teach suicide bombers a lesson. It’s common on the Internet to find people who will literally stop at nothing to support the principle of “fighting fire with fire” — even if it means turning ourselves into premeditated murderers of innocent children.

But I’m not interested in the opinions of such extremists. If you answer “no” to the first question, or “yes” to the second, I don’t really care to discuss the matter with you. Your opinion is already known, and your answer to any question is predetermined. That’s fine; you’re entitled to your views — but if your answer is always the same, that doesn’t help those of us who are looking for ways to distinguish acceptable responses from unacceptable ones.

My target audience is the group I suspect most of you fall into. You will say “Hell yes!” to the first question. You will answer the second question “no” because you know that saying “yes” would look crazy. But in your mind, you want to expand upon that “no” because you are committed to fighting fire with fire in general . . . just not to the point where it turns you into a suicide bomber who murders innocent children. Your answer to the second question would probably read something like this:

No, of course I would not sanction murdering innocent children. However, I’m sick and tired of seeing weak-kneed leaders who won’t fight fire with fire. You can’t sit around and let the enemy do whatever it wants; you have to throw the other side’s vile tactics right back at them.

I suspect this is the overwhelming majority of you. Great; you’re who I want to talk to.

What distinguishes acceptable uses of bad tactics from unacceptable ones?

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