With all the buzz over the State of the Union address, the iPad launch (yes, Steve Jobs should run product name choices past his wife, at the very least), and President Obama's very wonderful, magical 90 minutes of debate at the GOP House of Representatives retreat, a few worthy news items were missed.Justice for Dr. Tiller
Dr. George Tiller's murderer, Scott Roeder, was convicted of first-degree murder on Friday. The jury deliberated for a half hour before finding him guilty. Frankly, they would have had to have been asleep in order to arrive at any other verdict, given Roeder's testimony not only confessing, but bragging about it. (More about Dr. Tiller here)
It's fortunate that I am not in favor of the death penalty. If I were, I'd be disappointed to discover that Kansas law concerning eligibility for the death penalty does not include premeditated, point blank, clean shots to the head of an innocent victim. Instead, Roeder faces a long, mundane, and boring life in prison, where he will die in relative obscurity. This is as it should be. The victim here was Dr. George Tiller, not Scott Roeder. The less attention we give to the zealots and the pharisees of the anti-abortion movement, the better.
Perhaps it's good that the news was buried in an avalanche of buzz about other, more relevant things, but I wanted to include at least a few short paragraphs to honor the life of a man who did nothing but help women desperate for help in horrible circumstances who was murdered because he chose compassion over dogma.
It does bother me, though, that CNN reports the closure of this case as a "huge relief" for Wichita residents. Really? The whole thrust of this article seems to suggest that Dr. Tiller's practice was somehow a curse on the whole city, without holding accountable those bullies and ideologues who turned it into a free-for-all. That whole blame the victim thing is so...George Bush.
RIP, Howard Zinn 1922-2010
Howard Zinn, progressive, activist, author, and historian passed away earlier this week. Best known for his People's History of the United States, Zinn stripped the mask away from history and told the truth through the voices of ordinary people. Perhaps most significantly, Zinn believed passionately in the power of citizens and citizen activism as a change agent for good in the United States. (More about Dr. Zinn's life and work)
Oregon passes rich tax on the rich and the incorporated
By a 54-46 margin, Oregon voters agreed to raise taxes on taxpayers earning more than $250,000 and raise the minimum tax on corporations and profits. Like just about every other state in the Union, Oregon was facing deep cuts to schools and social services because of budget shortfalls. There's a message here for California and other states: People are ready to tell the rich, privileged and powerful to pay their fair share. While California dithers with it's ridiculous Howard Jarvis-led requirement for 2/3rds vote to raise taxes on anything, Oregon voters got down to business and got the job done. Is it coincidence that this increase was the first voter-approved increase since 1930? We live in hard times, and voters sent a message that there needs to be some civic responsibility by those with much. Good for them.
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