UPDATE: FBI arrests State Treasurer Martha Shoffner, an abuse of authority

While the headline may seem misinformed or overreaching, and considering Shoffner’s tendency toward transactions that have point toward a self-serving abuse of office, and conceding that she has displayed not a dime’s worth of regret, one must still stand back with mouths wide open at the arrogance and schoolyard bully tactics practiced by an agency of government from which we have come to expect a much higher degree of professionalism. It may be that some power-crazed higher-up may have ordered the unspeakable and indecent mistreatment of a 68 year-old woman.

Why is it necessary to take this elderly lady into police custody and subject her to the horrors and potential dangers of incarceration on a Saturday afternoon. It was a power play and the kind of strong-arm action that bears the markings of a personal vendetta. This kind of unnecessary roughness speaks volumes of a general disrespect for humanity and the due process of the law.

So Martha Shoffner is such a dangerous individual and menace to society that she must be taken to jail at such a time as to guarantee two full nights in the hostile environment, the Pulaski County Jail? Is the federal prosecutor’s case so lame that the only way to compensate for what looks like a possible lack of evidence is to treat a non-violent old woman like Al Capone? This smacks of raw intimidation.

I do not know the state of evidence that might be presented against the constitutional officer, and if news stories and her own quotations are to be believed, things do not look good for Ms. Soffner. Should she be exempted from prison? Of course not. Federal prisons have facilities to accommodate the old and inform. Maybe she will be convicted, but that depends on actual evidence and the decision of a jury. In the meantime, it would have been more respectful of our common humanity, and far more professional, to arrest the woman on a weekday when she could have counsel and immediately appear before a federal magistrate.

Yes, I am calling for compassion. It is a virtue seen to seldom that demonstrates strength of character. As Shakespeare observes, mercy is “mightiest in the mighty.” The obverse side of that coin is a display of public cowardice and an abuse of power almost as great as the allegations against the accused.

UPDATE: Max over at Arkansas Times Blog adds some insight on the Saturday arrest.

Thyer said that the timing of Shoffner’s arrest on Saturday had to do with the fact that the Saturday meeting between CHS1 and Shoffner was the first time they had met to make a cash handoff since CHS1 was offered immunity. According to the criminal complaint, the meetings between Shoffner and CHS1 happened at intervals of up to six months. Shoffner wasn’t indicted, he said, because a grand jury wasn’t available Saturday to hear the evidence. Thyer said they decided to move forward without an indictment because a delay would have meant “we would have left $6,000 in government funds in her possession until the grand jury met.” He said the case will be presented to a grand jury as soon as possible.

Ahhhh. So there it is! And why might a federal grand jury not be available on Saturday? Perhaps it is because things move slow on the weekend and the circumstances allowed for a little game of intimidation. Now about that “$6,000.00 in government funds,” if what prosecutors say is true, and they would NEVER stretch the truth, the money was a bribe. What did Thyer think might happen? Banks are not open on weekends either, so his argument simply makes no sense. Was it cash? OK, fine. Then I guess the next thing they will say is that Shoffner has WMD’s. I guess you can do a lot of harm with six grand laying around.

On the brighter side, I am pleased to know that the zealous Mr. Thyer has organized a task force to oppose public corruption. I’d like to know what Huckabee was hiding on all the hard drives he ground down to dust, but that pesky statute of limitations has probably already run. Thyer is after Democrats, and I can’t really fault him for playing the game. I honestly hope he has better luck than the people have had trying to get a handle on public corruption. The problem is that Arkansans simply do not seem to care. One suspects that there are plenty of them that need to be in the iron bars hotel. If Christ Thyer thinks making an example out of a 68 year-old woman is making some sort of statement, it is. The statement is completely wrong.

Think Progress: 12 Programs Congress Refuses to Save From Sequestration

Jet-setters protected from government cuts. Thanks for nothing. This is from “Think Progress.”

12 Programs Congress Refuses to Save From Sequestration

As they were rushing to board their flights home for the weekend, Senators and members of Congress pushed through a bill to allow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reshuffle funding in order to avoid the flight delays caused by FAA furloughs due to the sequester.

Unfortunately for millions of Americans who cannot afford to get on a plane, Congress has yet to repeal the disastrous and devastating cuts to important programs for the poor, mothers, children, and many others.

A flight delay is inconvenient, not being able to receive your cancer treatment is a matter of life and death. Here’s 12 important programs that Congress has so far refused to save from the sequester’s automatic cuts, even though they’ve been in place for nearly 2 months. By contrast, the FAA furloughs caused flight delays for just four days.

1. Long-term unemployment: There are 4.7 million Americans who have been unemployed for longer than six months, but sequestration cut federal long-term unemployment insurance checks by up to 10.7 percent, costing recipients as much as $450 over the rest of the year. Those cuts compound the cuts eightstates have made to their unemployment programs, and 11 states are considering dropping the federal program altogether because of sequestration — even though the long-term unemployed are finding it nearly impossible to return to work.

2. Head Start: Low-income children across the country have been kicked out of Head Start education programs because of the 5-percent cuts mandated by sequestration, as states have cut bus transportation services and started conducting lotteries to determine which kids would no longer have access to the program, even though the preschool program has been proven to have substantial benefits for low-income children. In all, about 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

3. Cancer treatment: Budget cuts have forced doctors and cancer clinics to deny chemotherapy treatments to thousands of cancer patients thanks to a 2 percent cut to Medicare. One clinic in New York has refused to see more than 5,000 of its Medicare patients, and many cancer patients have had to travel to other states to receive their treatments, an option that obviously isn’t available to lower-income people. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) proposed restoring the funding, but the legislation so far hasn’t moved in Congress.

4. Health research: The National Institutes of Health lost $1.6 billion thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing important health research into AIDS, cancer, and other diseases. That won’t just impact research and the people who do it, though. It will also hurt the economy, costing the U.S. $860 billion in lost economic growth and at least 500,000 jobs. Budget cuts will also hamper research at colleges and universities.

5. Low-income housing: 140,000 low-income families — primarily seniors with disabilities and families with children — will lose rental assistance thanks to sequestration’s budget cuts. Even worse, the cuts could likely make rent and housing more expensive for those families, as agencies raise costs to offset the pain of budget cuts, and sequestration will also cut from programs that aid the homeless and fund the construction of low-income housing.

6. Student aid: Sequestration is already raising fees on Direct student loans, increasing costs for students who are already buried in debt. The budget cuts reduce funding for federal work study grants by $49 million and for educational opportunity grants by $37 million, and the total cuts will cost 70,000 college students access to grants they depend on.

7. Meals On Wheels: Local Meals on Wheels programs, which help low-income and disabled seniors access food, have faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts, costing tens of thousands of seniors access to the program. Many of those seniors have little access to food without the program, but Congress has made no effort to replace the funding.

8. Disaster relief: The Federal Emergency Management Administration will lose nearly $1 billion in funding thanks to sequestration, jeopardizing aid for families, cities, and states right as the spring storm season begins. The aid package Congress passed for Hurricane Sandy relief will also see more than $1 billion in reductions.

9. Heating assistance: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps nearly 9 million households afford their heating and cooling bills. Sequestration will cut the program by an estimated $180 million, meaning about 400,000 households will no longer receive aid. These cuts come on top of $1.6 billion in reductions since 2010.

10. Workplace safety: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has long suffered from a lack of funds, which means its staff is so stretched that many workplaces go without an inspection for 99 years. The fertilizer plant that exploded in West, Texas, for example, hadn’t had a visit from OSHA since 1985. That will get worse, as sequestration will cut the agency’s budget by $564.8 million, likely leading to 1,200 fewer workplace inspections.

11. Obamacare: Sequestration cuts a number of important programs in the Affordable Care Act: $13 million from the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Program, or CO-OPs; $57 million from the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control program; $51 million from the Prevention and Public Health Fund; $27 million from the State Grants and Demonstrations program; and $44 million from the Affordable Insurance Exchange Grants program, or the insurance exchanges.

12. Child care: Child care costs can exceed rent payments or college tuition and waiting lists for getting assistance are already long. Yet sequestration will reduce funds even further, meaning that 30,000 children will lose subsidies for care. For example, Arizona will experience a $3 million cut to funding that will force 1,000 out of care.

President Obama’s stumbling reaction to Boston arrest

It was not a powerful speech. It was hardly a speech. In fact, the President’s reaction to news that the remaining suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings is now in custody was a disconnected, rambling mess of clichés in search of a theme. Perhaps his speech writers have been cut because of the sequester. The only problem with that is that the man has an Ivy League education and should certainly be able to pull together one or two coherent thoughts in a tight spot.

Has President Obama ever heard of the word “alleged?” The suspect is not necessarily a terrorist and it has not been proven that he was radicalized into anything. All we know is that one man has been accused of a very serious crime. So far, he has not even been arraigned. The accused person is, in fact, wrapped in a presumption of innocence. The government must prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So far they have proved nothing. A little more restraint might be in order.