Thursday, September 3, 2015

In Texas, He's Just Not That Into You (Anymore)

Good news for citizens, bad news for latex glove companies: Texas has clarified its laws concerning when a police officer can conduct a roadside body cavity search.  Wait, did I just write "roadside body cavity search"? That's really a thing in Texas?

Yes.
Notwithstanding any other law, a peace officer may not conduct a body cavity search of a person during a traffic stop unless the officer first obtains a search warrant pursuant to this chapter authorizing the body cavity search.

Why #PoliceLivesMatter Is Redundant

Pointing out the obvious, from (of all places) Red State.
...it’s utterly false to claim that police families are forgotten when police officers are killed. Almost no one receives more public honor, sympathy, and support, than families of slain police officers, and we haven’t needed sanctimonious newspaper columns or hashtag campaigns as a society to help us remember that.
The reason “Black Lives Matter” exists as a thing is that, for too long, when black citizens were killed by police (sometimes without justification), their deaths went largely unremarked upon and unmourned. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Can a Christian be a county clerk in the United States?

Short post here: The argument presented here is that being a Christian is incompatible with government policy and the implication is that Christian government officials must be afforded special powers non Christians are denied, for example, the power to substitute personal religious beliefs for official public policy. This injects religion into not only the function of government employees but the electoral process as well. Voters would rightly want to know which variety of candidate was seeking their vote.

The problem, of course, is that it's unconstitutional on its face.
Article VI. The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (emphasis added) 

A Refreshing Concession to the Rule of Law

And in Iowa, of all places.

So the Iowa Board of Medicine made a rule that any woman seeking an abortion in the Hawkeye State must have a personal visit with a physician before the physician may prescribe an abortifacient such as mifepristone. The Iowa Supreme Court disagreed, and ruled the Board of Medicine rule unconstitutional.

After reluctantly concluding an appeal to higher courts would be useless, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a bill that instructs Medicaid to consider "interactions with doctors via telemedicine as "equivalent" to an in-person doctor's visit."

Every so often, conservative zealots meet their Waterloo. Good for the Governor, in this instance, to concede defeat gracefully.

Awkward: When an "Evil" Agency is More Ethical than the Government Investigating It

Florida's Governor Rick Scott, whose previous job earned him the Biggest Medicare Fraud Fine Ever Levied Against a Hospital Corporation, became so upset over the deceptive Planned Parenthood videos he ordered an immediate investigation into Florida's 16 Planned Parenthood clinics. Well, fine, every state has an agency to do this sort of thing and they do inspect regularly, so at best the Governor's order would serve to reassure Floridians that their PP clinics were legitimate healthcare providers, or at worst find evidence of wrongdoing and thus get those bad actors shut down.

But when the state investigators returned a clean bill of health for all 16 clinics, the Governor did something far worse than the convicted felon who created the dishonest videos in the first place: he chose to edit his own investigators' report to lie to the citizens of Florida about those findings.

The state released its findings of the Planned Parenthood investigations on Aug. 5. Emails between the governor’s office and AHCA, obtained by POLITICO Florida through a public records request, show the agency prepared a press release that same day noting that “there is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state.”

Scott's office revised the release to exclude that sentence, an email sent by Scott’s communications director, Jackie Schutz, shows.

Background Checks And Suicide: One Seems to Inhibit the Other

New research suggests that background checks can act to reduce suicide by firearms. Many of the elements evaluated in background checks - like history of domestic abuse and significant mental illness - are also risk factors for suicide.

The current study looked at suicide by firearm rates in Connecticut, where a stricter background check is required, and Missouri, where background checks have been eliminated.  The rate of suicide in Connecticut dropped by double digits while in Missouri they increased.

“Contrary to popular belief, suicidal thoughts are often transient, which is why delaying access to a firearm during a period of crisis could prevent suicide,” said study author Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, in a press release announcing the study’s findings on Tuesday. “Just as research indicates that handgun purchaser licensing laws are effective in reducing firearm homicides, they could reduce suicides by firearms as well.”

Bloomberg/Des Moines Register Poll Describes Romance Between Iowa and Trump

New polling data assesses likely Iowa caucus-goers' feelings about Donald Trump's strengths. In particular they believe his "immigration plan" (or maybe better, "deportation plan") is a great idea, despite some nagging questions. It's a great summer romance - breathless excitement over the flashy new guy with the convertible, the one who eclipses the old stodgy boyfriend who can't go out Friday night because he has a shift at Walmart.

The numbers offer yet another explanation for why Trump has surged ahead in Iowa and nationally, even if he has yet to provide many details on how his proposed mass deportation would work. It would cost between $400 billion to $600 billion and it would take 20 years to remove those immigrants living in the country illegally, according to the conservative-leaning American Action Forum.

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