January 31, 2005

College Of Education Outrage!

Scott McConnell, a student in the masters of Education program at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, got an A- on his paper. He also was kicked out of school because of it.
LeMoyne College expelled Scott McConnell, a student from its Masters of Education program, for writing a paper in which he advocated the use of corporal punishment in schools, he said.

The paper, written for a class on classroom management, originally earned McConnell an A-. However, when he attempted to enroll in classes for the spring semester, he found he couldn't.

"LeMoyne doesn't believe students should be able to express their own views," McConnell said. "If you differ from our philosophical ideal you will be expelled from our college."

McConnell, who hopes to become an elementary school teacher, was informed last Tuesday that he couldn't continue at the school.

Now hold on. The paper was well-written, so that wasn't the issue. It clearly met the (presumably) rigorous standards of a graduate program. The only issue seems to have been that McConnell dared to take a position on the issue of corporal punishment that the school disagrees with. He also, according to one source, challenged current notions of multicultural education. And so McConnell, who had been conditionally admitted and attended course last summer and fall, was rejected for regular admission after doing a 60 hour internship in a local school after writing the paper.

“Even though I have strong convictions and I believe in corporal punishment, I do follow the law of the school and I have never had any problems. If Lemoyne was so afraid of this paper, why did they allow me to do more than 60 hours of in one classroom even after I wrote the paper,” McConnell said.

That would appear to be an excellent question. Assuming the evaluations were good (and he was notified that the problemwas his philosophy), does that not settle the issue of his ability to conform to expected norms in the classroom? And the evaluations were good.

McConnell did well during a practicum he served this fall at Syracuse's Franklin Magnet School of the Arts and as a daily substitute teacher in the Syracuse school district, said Neil Driscoll, a spokesman for the district.

So the issue isn't one of how he conducts himself in the classroom, it is one of whether or not he thinks the right thoughts and believes the right beliefs. COnsider the content of his rejection letter.

"I have grave concerns regarding the mismatch between your personal beliefs regarding teaching and learning and the Le Moyne College program goals," leading to the decision not to admit him, Leogrande wrote.

What we have here, then, is an attempt to create ideological clones. The college is serving as a gate-keeper, and won't let those with divergent views pass.

The issues that this case raises are very complicated, said Joseph Shedd, chair of the teaching and leadership programs in Syracuse University's School of Education.

It is about more than just a student's right to express their own opinions, he said.

"There is no clean dividing line between a person's opinions and his or her ability to make responsible professional judgments," Shedd said in an e-mail.

No there isn't -- but there is the question of academic freedom and the right to hold to a minority position within one's field of study. Especially when one considers, as is true here, that the law in a number of states continues to allow the use of corporal punishment. Is it the place of colleges and universities to expel or keep out students for advocating LEGAL activity?

By the way, the matter has spilled over into McConnell's employment. After getting good reviews as a substitute teacher, McConnell has been called on the carpet and faces an interview with the personnel department to determine if he will be permitted to continue as a substitute -- based not upon complaints about his conduct in the classroom, but upon the content of his paper.

The Education Wonks also blog on this story. So do the fine folks at Captain's Quarters, Peter the Elder, and Number 2 Pencil

|| Greg, 06:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hillary Health Scare

I don't like the lady. I won't vote for her. But I send her best wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton fainted today after complaining of a stomach virus before a scheduled speech on Social Security.

She received medical attention at the scene and then went on to give another speech at a Catholic college this afternoon.

"It wasn't as dramatic as it sounds," Clinton said after the 30-minute speech.

Clinton aides said doctors believed she had a stomach virus. They said she felt weak at the private club where she was to speak, needed to sit down, and then fainted briefly.

Clinton, 57, was smiling when she walked out of the club, the general manager said.

|| Greg, 06:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Time To Strip NAACP Of Tax Exemption

They've run ads containing blatant falsehoods. They've tried to influence elections. They've functioned as an adjunct of the DNC. Now the NAACP is refusing to cooperate with an IRS probe of its tax-exempt status.

The nation's largest civil rights group is refusing to turn over documents for an Internal Revenue Service investigation into allegedly improper political activity, claiming the probe is politically motivated.

In a letter to the IRS Friday, the NAACP cited what it contends is evidence that the agency launched the audit before the November election because of political pressure.

Sorry, folks, but it doesn't matter what prompted the complaint. Cooperation with this sort of investigation is an obligation.

Time for them to lose their tax exempt status if they don't immediately comply.

|| Greg, 05:13 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 30, 2005

"This Is A Glorious Day For Iraq"

The message rang out loud and strong from the minaret near a polling place in Basra.
"This is a glorious day for Iraq. Iraqis, you should vote. This is a historic day. It's not been witnessed in Iraq for over 40 years. This is the day Iraqis dreamed of. Please take part so as not to allow another dictatorship to come to power," it said.

Yes, it was a glorious day. The Iraqi people have stood up to the threats of terrorists and voted -- turnout is estimated to be about 72%, higher thn what you get in An American election (much to our shame).

Results are not yet in, but the people of Iraq have spoken. May the terrorists heed their voices.

|| Greg, 06:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

German Government Pimps Unwilling Women Into Sex Slavery

In Germany, if you turn down a job you lose your unemployment benefits.

Sounds reasonable, at first glance.

Until you realize that prostitution is legal in Germany.

And refusing to be a whore will cost you your unemployment check.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

They can't distinguish between a bar and a brothel? Really? One would think that the issue of whether or not one is required to have sex with the customers as a condition of employment would be something of a brght line.

Miss Garweg believes that pressure on job centres to meet employment targets will soon result in them using their powers to cut the benefits of women who refuse jobs providing sexual services.

"They are already prepared to push women into jobs related to sexual services, but which don't count as prostitution,'' she said.

"Now that prostitution is no longer considered by the law to be immoral, there is really nothing but the goodwill of the job centres to stop them from pushing women into jobs they don't want to do."

Come on, all you feminists out there. Join all of us awful women-hating religious conservatives in denouncing women being forced into prostitution. Or does the fact that it is your fellow socialists doing it prevent you from standing up for women being made into sex slaves.

|| Greg, 06:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 29, 2005

Will Freedom Of Speech And Religion Survive?

Is the prosecution of Sweden's Rev. Ake Green an indication of the direction things are headed in the United States?
One Sunday in the summer of 2003, the Rev. Ake Green, a Pentecostal pastor, stepped into the pulpit of his small church in the southern Swedish village of Borgholm. There, the 63-year-old clergyman delivered a sermon denouncing homosexuality as "a deep cancerous tumor in the entire society" and condemning Sweden's plan to allow gays to form legally recognized partnerships.

"Our country is facing a disaster of great proportions," he told the 75 parishioners at the service. "Sexually twisted people will rape animals," Green declared, and homosexuals "open the door to forbidden areas," such as pedophilia.

With these words, which the local newspaper published at his request, Green ran afoul of Sweden's strict laws against hate speech. He was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He remains free pending appeal.

I don't know that I completely agree with Green. i don't know that I would have preached that sermon. And I certainly don't think I would have sent it to the paper. But if I had, no government has any place questioning or punishing those words. And I hold that to be true as a matter of principle, regardless of whether we are talking about the US, Sweden, or any other country on Earth. It is an inalienable human right to hold to one's religious faith, to speak about it, and to write upon it.

Why am I writing about this case? Because I believe that there exist those within this country working to bring about such laws and prosecutions here. They are succeeding in stripping away the right of Christians to speak out against homosexuality in Canada. This will spread to the United States if not checked now. And I say that despite the protests to the contrary by some gay leaders.

Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the gay rights group Lambda Legal, said that religious conservatives in the United States were "trying to twist" the Green case to their advantage, but that it was "not relevant to any actual debate about gay civil rights or the role of religion in the United States."

U.S. gay rights groups "are not interested in forcing any churches to do anything they don't want to do theologically," Cathcart said. Evangelical Christians who think Green's case is what the future holds for them "may be right," he said, "but only if they move to Sweden."

Cathcart is exactly wrong. We've seen courts (including the Supreme COurt) begin to cite the paractices and laws of other countries in their decisions. Rather than relying on the clear words of the Constitution and the historic practices of the US, such decisions take a more expansive view by examining foreign trends when interpreting that document. One recent example, as Cathcart no doubt knows, was none other than Lawrence v. Texas, the sodomy case decided just two years ago, that overturned over two centuries of American laws and jurisprudence. Why should we not be concerned that some future court will see fit to apply the more "sensitive" views of post-Christian European socialism to sharply limit our rights under the First Amendment? We've already seen a prosecutor in Philadelphia argue that quoting Biblical condemnations of homosexuality in public constitutes hate speech as he argued against dismissing felony charges against Christians arrested while protesting a gay pride event.

So while I may not agree with Rev. Green, I support his right to speak out boldly in preaching the Word of God. If I don't, it will only be a matter of time before such restrictions spread to this country.

|| Greg, 09:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Over-Reaction To Klan Auction

My teaching field is history, so I know that there exists a lot of ugly history in the world. We need to remember it all. Some folks specialize in eras or regions or other sub-categories of history, and I don't necessarily hold that against them. My interests happen to run to the development of Christianity and the development of the US Constitution. Others are more interested in darker things, such as Hitler and the National Socialists, or racist groups. This focus might even extend to collecting materials related to their area of focus.

That's why today's auction in Howell, Michigan doesn't bother me. Auctioneer Gary Gray auctioned off Klan robes and otehr racist memorabilia.

Gary Gray says he will be auctioning off history Saturday when he sells seven Ku Klux Klan robes and other paraphernalia at his downtown business.

But the uniforms, knives, books and buttons are reminiscent of a past this small Michigan town would rather forget.

It's been 13 years since a notorious KKK leader who lived in the area died. But the auction has touched a nerve in a community that says it is a welcoming place to minorities, yet has very few living there.

"They want to make sure the image of Howell is not distorted," Gray, 51, said of community leaders opposed to the auction. "They're afraid it will be offensive to some people. But this is just a part of history we're selling."

Gray, a white man and owner of the Ole' Gray Nash Auction Gallery, says the auction is not about promoting racism. He says it's about education and business -- a potentially lucrative departure from his more standard auction fare of antiques, coins and books. None of those auctions, however, has stirred controversy like this one.

The NAACP branch in neighboring northern Oakland County, along with other civil rights groups in southeast Michigan, have blasted the auction as insensitive.

My wife and I travel over to Rosenberg, Texas from time to time. Shorty Yeaman and his lovely wife, Dianne, has a little auction house over there, and we pick up items for around the house. I've been there when he's sold Confederate banknotes, Nazi-related war relics, and even a Japanese battle flag (complete with bullet holes and blood). I have never thought anything of it, nor have I seen it as an endorsement of the ideologies that led to the creation of the items. If he were doing this auction, I'd probably even go over, just out of curiosity. I would seen no reason to object to it.

This auction was about racism's past. The folks who are concerned about it would do better to worry about the present and future.

|| Greg, 08:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pol Demands Court Twart Will Of The People

People in Estes Park, Colorado are trying to recall trustee David Habecker. Why? Because he won't stand for or say the Pledge of Allegience before meetings. Now Habecker wants a federal court to stop the recall on grounds that it violates his rights under the US Constitution, since he is an agnostic.
Habecker's recall election is scheduled for Feb. 15. Several board members helped organize the recall committee, saying voters have lost confidence in Habecker's ability to represent patriotism and "common decency."

"He has his rights, and so do we," said committee member Dewey Shanks. "We're at war. And I don't think now is the time to be fighting over this. He shouldn't have brought it up at this time."

Habecker sued the recall committee, the town, the board of trustees and several officials in Estes Park, a town of about 5,500 residents about 60 miles northwest of Denver that is the eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, asked a federal judge to stop the recall election until after the lawsuit is resolved.

The lawsuit says Habecker, who has served on the town board for 12 years, is patriotic and doesn't oppose the pledge's meaning.

The board began reciting the pledge in May. Habecker, 59, initially recited the pledge except for the words "under God," but he later decided to remain seated.

I understand the man's argument, and have a certain amount of sympathy with him. If this were the case of someone being fired from employent or being denied the right to run or take office because of his unwillingnes to say the Pledge, I would side with him.

But elected officials are supposed to represent the people. It seems clear that a fair number of people in town no longer are comfortable with his representation. They are pursuing an avenue available under law to remove him because they lack confidence in his representation. That is sufficient under Colorado law, which requires no reason be given for the recall.

You don't own that office, sir -- the people do. Let them speak.

|| Greg, 08:12 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Outrage As Cop-Killer Honored

My brother is a cop. But even if he weren't, I would find this to be reprehensible.
He was convicted in the death of a Jackson police officer nearly 25 years ago. Next week he will speak inside city hall. Imari Obadele was invited by Councilman Kenneth Stokes to speak at a black history program Tuesday, and his appearance is causing quite a stir.

The scene was chaotic on Lewis Street in August of 1971 hours after Jackson police officer William Louis Skinner was gunned down during a house raid on Lewis Street .

? heard the shooting. I was there when skinner got shot," said former JPD chief Jim Black.

The 32-year veteran of the Jackson Police Department was in the hospital when Skinner died.

"It was very emotional for all the police officer that were there," Black said.

Police and FBI agents were serving an arrest warrant. Inside were members of the Republic of New Afrika , a separatist militant group. Twenty-six-year JPD vet Jimmy King was nearby.

"It was quiet all of a sudden; sounded like a small war going on," said King.

"You just didn't lose an officer like that. It was very traumatic," Black stated.

In 1972, RNA president Imari Obadele along with several others was found guilty in the killing of Skinner. He served nearly six years. On February 1, 2005, Obadele will stand inside Jackson City Hall in front of an audience to talk about the RNA eleven.

"I think it's an abomination a slam on the good black people of Jackson and the good white people of Jackson," expressed Black.

The speech is part of a black history program. His host is city Councilman Kenneth Stokes.

"To me this would be like promoting Byron De La Beckwith. It's just a travesty," stated King.

This is not a man -- this is a sub-human animal. That he has seen one day outside a prison -- in fact, that he was not executed -- is an outrage. That he would be invited to participate in a program offered by an elected official in city that Officer Skinner died protect is even worse. Councilman Kenneth Stokes is clearly as lacking in moral decency as Obadele

Officer Skinner's family still lives in the Jackson area.

WLBT received a statement from Skinner's son justice court judge Bill Skinner. He says quote: "For more than 33 years my family and I suffered the loss of my father. This is not a black and white issue; it is a right and wrong issue. The fact that the city would celebrate a convicted felon who murdered my father tells me this is not the best of the new south."

It is my hope that every law enforcement officer in the region will refuse any order to protect this event, and that the good people of Jackson will turn out to protest this offense against law enforcement officers. I encourage the people of Jackson to take every step to remove Councilman Stokes from office.

|| Greg, 07:34 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 28, 2005

"Gay Pride Week" Satirized -- Gays Offended

Tired of gay rights activists going unanswered, College Republicans at University of Central Oklahoma have decided to hold a Straight Pride Week.
"The general gist is that if you are a straight student on campus be proud, be loud, this is your time to shine," said college Republican Kyle Houts.

The group has posted fliers on campus that read, "we're here, we're conservative, we're out."

Activists for the other side are, needless to say, are not amused.

Members of the Gay Alliance for Tolerance and Equality say they consider the College Republican's celebration an attack on gay and lesbian students.

"What is there to say about it, 'I'm proud, and I'm straight and I guess white,' I don't know?" said GATE member Jennifer Rodriguez. "I think they definitely are being discriminatory because there's probably a lot of gay Republicans out there."

Ms. Rodriguez clearly misses the point. Her heterophobic comments (combined with the additional racial slur direted at whites) make it very clear she needs to be subjected to mandatory sensitivity training. After all, how can she possibly object to the celebration of the identity and sexuality of members of the diverse community of her university? Why does she insist that straights, whites, and conservatives hide their pride?

|| Greg, 09:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Throw A Book, Go To Jail?

I didn't think we could get any more absurd than the kids arrested for drawing. I was wrong.
A 6-year-old boy was put in handcuffs and charged with felony battery after he hit his teacher and a police officer with books, authorities said. The 60-pound first grader appeared in court Thursday, a day after his arrest at Endeavour Elementary School.

The Rockledge boy told officers he was upset because ``someone's grandmother died,'' said Barbara Matthews, a spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department.

``He's a tiny, little kid, so when the two officers first went, they tried to give him benefit of the doubt,'' Matthews said. ``But he was also out of control. Once he struck the teacher, it became a battery.''

A police officer tried to talk with the child, but he was struck in the forehead with a book thrown from 8 feet away, Matthews said.

The boy, who was not named, was handcuffed after the teacher asked that he be prosecuted, Matthews said.

Wait a minute. You've got a kid who is upset and throwing things -- something that six-year-olds do with great frequency. There had been a death, and he wasn't dealing with it well. And for that, the cops arrested him and took him off in cuffs? More to the point, the teacher wanted the case prosecuted? Where was the common sense in this situation?

Fortunately, it looks like some sense may prevail in the case. The principal only suspended the boy for ten days, and the case is not being prosecuted at this time.

Prosecutors temporarily removed the boy's case from the court docket, said David Koenig, division chief of the state attorney's juvenile division.

``The focus now is to prevent him from self-destructing,'' Koenig said. ``We want to find a solution.''

Thank God for someone looking out for the needs of the kid -- maybe he won't be one that gets thrown away because of overly harsh, zero-tolerance policies that don't bother with the whole situation.

|| Greg, 09:33 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Snoop Dogg -- This "Bud's" For You

Talk about your unusual contract clauses.

Rapper SNOOP DOGG refuses to go on stage unless he is provided with strong marijuana, according to reports of his backstage rider.

The DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT star allegedly ensures venues he performs at supply him with the finest cannabis on offer - unless he is dubious about the area's quality control.

Before performing in Park City, Utah, on Monday (24JAN05), "There were large amounts of pot flown in for Snoop and his friends because they didn't trust the quality of bud in Utah" - according to gossip site PAGESIX.COM.

Is it just me, or does there need to be a raid in every city where this guy performs?

|| Greg, 09:22 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Beer Can Save Your Life

Some stories are just too outrageous to be made up.
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out.

But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported.

Sounds like someone had a wild weekend planned -- and managed to find a good way to pass the time while trapped, too.

The survivor's comment on his unique method of escape?

He said: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there."

I'd be glad i took the beer, too -- and wouldn't worry about the liver and kidneys for a few days. After all, they got quite a workout.

|| Greg, 09:12 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sh... Stuff Happens

And to think some folks just have to worry about piles of dog crap. This is incredible.
Urban dwellers who enjoy dining on filet mignon at five-star restaurants would probably just as soon not know about David Dickinson's dilemma.

Bad for the appetite, you know.

But Dickinson, who makes his living in the cattle business, has an environmental problem on his hands that is vexing state officials: a 2,000-ton pile of burning cow manure.

Dickinson owns and manages Midwest Feeding Co. about 20 miles west of Lincoln, which takes in as many as 12,000 cows at a time from farmers and ranchers and fattens them for market.

Byproducts from the massive operation resulted in a dung pile measuring 100 feet long, 30 feet high and 50 feet wide that began burning about two months ago and continues to smolder despite Herculean attempts to douse it.

This would definitely qualify as an UNATTRACTIVE nuisance.

|| Greg, 09:07 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Presidential Family Showdown In New York?

Nixon Administration v. Clinton Administration. Sounds interesting.
Edward Cox, a son-in-law of President Nixon, is considering a Senate run next year against Hillary Rodham Clinton, a longtime friend and adviser said Friday.

``To say he's running against Hillary Clinton is to way overstate it, but he's interested in it. He's testing the waters,'' said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity. ``We're meeting with people and sometime, probably in April or so, a decision will be made.''

Cox, 58, married Tricia Nixon at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in 1971. He is a partner in a Manhattan law firm and a member of the State University of New York board of trustees, appointed by Gov. George Pataki.

The adviser said Cox, who has never run for public office, would not seek the Republican nomination if either Pataki or former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani decided to do so. Neither is expected to seek the Senate seat, and both are potential 2008 presidential candidates.

Still, I hope the GOP can find a stronger candidate.

|| Greg, 08:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No Clue Educators Cancel Spelling Bee

Now I have to tell you – I’ve always hated spelling bees. Maybe it has something to do with the order of the “e” & “s” in the word “does.” Back when I was a fifth grader in Mrs. Buchanan’s 5th grade class at Oak View Elementary School (this must have been 1973 or 1974). But I don’t see them as iniquitous. I certainly don’t find them to be antithetical to the mission of education.

Apparently they do in Lincoln, Rhode Island. School officials there have cancelled the annual spelling bee, a qualifying event for the national spelling bee, on the grounds that it is incompatible with the No Child Left Behind Act.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Newman said the decision to scuttle the event was reached shortly after the January 2004 bee in a unanimous decision by herself and the district’s elementary school principals.

The administrators decided to eliminate the spelling bee, because they feel it runs afoul of the mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"No Child Left Behind says all kids must reach high standards," Newman said. "It’s our responsibility to find as many ways as possible to accomplish this."

The administrators agreed, Newman said, that a spelling bee doesn’t meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards -- because there can only be one winner, leaving all other students behind.

"It’s about one kid winning, several making it to the top and leaving all others behind. That’s contrary to No Child Left Behind," Newman said.

A spelling bee, she continued, is about "some kids being winners, some kids being losers."

As a result, the spelling bee "sends a message that this isn’t an all-kids movement," Newman said.

Uh… yeah. Allowing a couple of kids to shine is a violation of the law? Competition is unhealthy because it means there are winners and losers? Competition doesn’t encourage excellence? Are you nuts? What on earth do you think is the point of sports?

Oh, that’s right – you believe in that quasi-communist viewpoint that letting people win is unfair because it hurts the self-esteem of others. Any success which allows one to rise above one’s peers must actively be discouraged.

Furthermore, professional organizations now frown on competition at the elementary school level and are urging participation in activities that avoid winners, Newman said. That’s why there are no sports teams at the elementary level, she said as an example.

The emphasis today, she said, is on building self-esteem in all students.

"You have to build positive self-esteem for all kids, so they believe they’re all winners," she said. "You want to build positive self-esteem so that all kids can get to where they want to go."

A spelling bee only benefits a few, not all, students, the elementary principals and Newman agreed, so it was canceled.

Incredible -- makes me ashamed to work in the same profession.

|| Greg, 08:43 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 27, 2005

India Honors Christian Missionary

Gladys Staines, who for three decades toiled as a missionary in India working with leprosy patients, was awarded the Padma Shri award by the Indian government.
When contacted in Australia, Staines, 54, told the Press Trust of India news agency she was “absolutely overwhelmed and stunned by the news. “But I am feeling very humbled at the same time. It’s a rare honour and a humbling experience.”

Staines and her husband Graham had spent more than 30 years working with leprosy patients in Baripada district in the eastern state of Orissa.

In January 1999 Graham and his two sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, eight, were burnt to death by a mob of Hindu fanatics who accused him of forcibly converting poor Hindus to Christianity. The three were asleep in their jeep when the attack took place. They tried to escape the flames but the mob - led by principal suspect Ravindra Pal, alias Dara Singh, and armed with axes - prevented them.

Despite the tragedy Staines stayed on in India with her daughter, overseeing the completion of a hospital for leprosy patients in Orissa. She left for Australia only last year. In September 2003 Singh and 17 others were sentenced to death by a local court. Immediately after the verdict Staines said she had forgiven the killers.

A kind gesture for one who has given so much, including her family, for love of the Gospel and the Indian people.

But the true reward is yet to come, having already been received by her husband and sons.

|| Greg, 05:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

From The “Not What You Thought It Was About” Department

First SpongeBob, now this.

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Violent sex 'is killing the Tasmanian devil'

A disease that has devastated the Tasmanian devil population is probably being spread by the animal's boisterous sex life, Australian scientists believe.

The devil has been wiped out in many parts of the island over the past three years.

The number of "nature's janitor", as the animal is nicknamed, has fallen from about 150,000 to less than half that, with four out of every five dying in some areas.

Researchers believe that the animals' habit of fighting over decaying carrion and engaging in violent sexual foreplay accounts for the speed at which the disease has spread.

The illness, noticed about five years ago, causes hideous facial tumours that leave the devils unable to see or eat.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

|| Greg, 05:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Censorship In Houston

Let me begin with a disclaimer -- I don't know a thing about Jenna Jameson, her porn career, or her new book, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale. I don't know whetehr it is appropriate to be out on the "Best Seller's" rack at the local libray, whether it belongs in the stacks, or whetehr it is inappropriate material for a public library.

What I do know is that I have a problem with a single politician being able to unilaterally censor materials in the library. That's why I object to Houston's Mayor Bill White ordering the book off the shelves of local branch libraries and into the closed stacks downtown, where it must be requested by a patron and retrieved by a librarian.

White recently ordered that the library's dozen copies of Jameson's best-selling How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale be removed from open shelves.

In making his decision, White sidestepped the committee process that Houston's libraries typically use to evaluate complaints about items in their collections.

"We're trying to take action quickly, and we didn't see a need to go through a long bureaucratic process," said White's spokesman, Frank Michel.

The mayor decreed that the books, which once were on prominent best seller displays at the central library and 11 branches, be locked in the closed stacks of Houston's central library downtown. Patrons must ask to view or check out the book, which contains Jameson's lurid confessions and a few of her nude photos.

Sandra Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the Houston Public Library, said all copies of Jameson's book now are checked out, and more than 20 people are on a waiting list for the book.

Michel said the mayor got involved because Councilwoman Pam Holm asked him to, and it didn't necessarily mean that White will take direct action on future complaints about library books.

Sorry, Mr. Mayor, that isn't good enough. There is a process in place for challenging books in the Houston Public Library system. It should have been used. That you simply stepped in and issued an order -- even one that might be the best choice for dealing with a book of this sort -- is inappropriate. Decisions to restrict the reading choices of library patrons should be made with wide public input, not by a single individual.

And even more dangerous is Councilwoman Holm's response to the mayor's action. She didn't, and still doesn't, know that there is a system in place to handle such issues.

And yes, I know and agree that not every book is in the library, nor does a library have the resources or obligation to stock everything. However, once the professionals hired to make such choices have put a book on the shelf, it is inappropriate to allow one or two individuals to decide (especially for political reasons) to override that decision. Maybe White's solution was the best one out there -- but it shouldn't have been imposed by decree based upon the complaint of one councilwoman.

|| Greg, 05:12 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 26, 2005

Condi Confirmed!

There was never much doubt that the Senate would confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. However, I’m gratified to see the vote was 85-13. I guess that means that all the leftists who got so much face time in the media attacking Dr. Rice represented only a very small minority – despite the disproportionate coverage.

And I’ll give John McCain his due.

On the Senate floor today, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., suggested Democrats are sore losers. Rice had enough votes to win confirmation, as even her Democratic critics acknowledge, McCain said.

"So I wonder why we are starting this new Congress with a protracted debate about a foregone conclusion," McCain said. Since Rice is qualified for the job, he said, "I can only conclude that we are doing this for no other reason than because of lingering bitterness over the outcome of the election."

And let us not forget the list of shame. Racist anti-Americans must pay a price.

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.
Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
John Kerry, D-Mass.
Carl Levin, D-Mich.
James Jeffords, I-Vt.
Jack Reed, D-R.I
Mark Dayton, D-Minn.
Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii
Evan Bayh, D-Ind.
Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
Tom Harkin, D-Iowa
Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

|| Greg, 06:44 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Temple Coach Insults Bush

Some folks know how to prove they have no class. Temple basketball coach John Chaney is clearly one of these.
IT WAS intended to be a brief, gracious John Chaney acceptance speech for a "special achievement'' award (700 victories) at last night's 101st Philadelphia Sports Writers Dinner at the Cherry Hill Hyatt.

But you never know what you're going to get when you steer Chaney toward a microphone. In an unexpected and stunning first for the prestigious annual banquet, Temple's Hall of Fame coach made news as few can. After a good-natured jab at WIP fill-in Garry Cobb (a President Bush supporter), Chaney crossed the line by turning his time at the podium into a forum to rail against Bush and the war in Iraq. He expanded on his public scolding of Ohio voters, who were key in Bush's re-election, following the Owls' victory at Xavier on Saturday.

Audience members vocally objected to Chaney’s classless rant – leading him to challenge one to a fight and hurl insults at those who dared to use the same First Amendment as him to object to his comments.

Here’s hoping that he doesn’t get another victory – and better yet, that his players have the integrity to refuse to play for a man whose behavior shows he is not a fit role model.

|| Greg, 06:43 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Oregon – The Jihad State?

Well, at least they have chosen to live among Blue State liberals who support them.

The FBI knows of "jihadists" who have trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and are now living in Oregon, the agency's Oregon chief said in an interview with The Associated Press yesterday.

"We don't have an imminent threat that we're aware of. But I will say this: We have people here in Oregon that have trained in jihadist camps in bad areas. In the bad neighborhoods of the world," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Jordan.

Asked what he meant by "bad neighborhoods," he said Afghanistan, as well as several other countries he would not specify.

During the session with The AP, which lasted nearly two hours, Jordan discussed a wide range of themes — from his agents' participation in the Bush administration's war on terrorism to the upcoming opening of a Portland laboratory for forensic work on computers seized from suspects.

Jordan refused to say how many "jihadists" live in Oregon.

He said the FBI knows "they've trained overseas, taken oaths to kill Americans and engage in jihad," but the challenge is "to prove those things."

If you know this to be the case, why don’t you move with the evidence on hand?

And if you haven’t got them in custody yet, why are you alerting them this way?

|| Greg, 06:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bin Laden Fails To Respond

One month after the fact, Osama bin Laden has yet to issue a public statement on the tsunami that killed so many of his co-religionists. He has offered no aid to those impacted by the disaster.

To date, no member of the elite media has stated that the al-Qaeda leader has been slow to respond to the tragedy.

No UN official has labeled him “stingy” for failing to offer aid to survivors.

It seems such criticisms are reserved only for generous non-Muslims. After all, we don't murder our critics.

|| Greg, 06:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Disciplinary Issue Or Criminal Conduct?

I've been quite clear that I have a problem with school violence, and that I believe kids who engage in violence at school need to be dealt with severely.

But that said, I've meant real, actual violence, not fantasy violence.

Goofiness like this Florida case is simply wrong. It is zero tolerance run wild.

Two boys were arrested for making pencil-and-crayon stick figure drawings depicting a 10-year-old classmate being stabbed and hung, police said. The children, charged with a felony, were taken from school in handcuffs.

The 9- and 10-year-old boys were arrested Monday and charged with making a written

One drawing showed the two boys standing on either side of the other boy and "holding knives pointed through" his body, according to a police report. The figures were identified by written names or initials.

Another drawing showed a stick figure hanging, tears falling from his eyes, with two other stick figures standing below him. Other pieces of scrap paper listed misspelled profanities and the initials of the boy who was allegedly threatened.

The boys' parents said they thought the children should be punished by the school and families, not the legal system.

Felony charges? You've got to be kidding me. This is a matter to be handled internally by a school disciplinary system, not by the juvenile justice system. What's the beef with the other kid, and why are they drawing the pictures. Is there an actual intent to do harm to the other child, or is it just the venting of some sort of frustration. Sounds to me like there is a need for counseling, not incarceration. Or maybe just a change of television and movie viewing habits.

But in this post-Columbine world, school kids who engage in normal, even age-appropriate, behavior (or in this case, misbehavior) are determined to be criminals.

And in this case the instruments of the crime are crayons and a few sheets of paper, not guns, knives and bombs.

|| Greg, 05:08 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 25, 2005

Father's Rights/Mother's Rights/Baby's Best Interests

Cathy Young raises some really interesting points about adoption situations like the one I've discussed recently. While it seems like she ould agree with me on the current one (it is judicial child abuse), she does raise a father's rights argument that I have set aside due to the heinous nature of the case.
Biological paternity isn't everything; but it isn't nothing, either. Where is the sympathy for fathers who lose their children through no fault of theirs? Would we be more sympathetic if a woman's baby were taken away at the hospital and placed for adoption without her knowledge because the birth father signed the adoption papers?

The father in such a case faces a strong presumption of guilt. It is readily assumed that if the mother doesn't want him involved, he's either abusive or terminally irresponsible. In society's eyes, when a man doesn't want to marry his child's mother, he must be a cad; when a woman doesn't want to marry the father, he must be a creep.

People can believe that a man would wage a lengthy legal battle out of spite at his ex-girlfriend; yet many won't allow that a woman could want to deny her ex-boyfriend his child for equally base reasons. We stigmatize and prosecute men who refuse to support their children, but not women who willfully conspire to keep a father away from his child.

It's particularly bizarre to place the burden on the man to find out if the woman is pregnant, considering that she's the one with direct knowledge of her condition. Indeed, if a man took such steps after the woman had told him she wanted no further contact, he could be considered a stalker.

In the end, our society sends men quite a mixed message. If your partner gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, you're liable for 18 years of child support, whether or not you want to be a father. If she doesn't want to be a mother, she can give your child to strangers and there isn't much you can do. Then we complain that men don't take parenthood seriously enough.

So we give women too much control in these situations? What are the proper rights of the father? And how do we protect them without doing harm to the child?

|| Greg, 08:42 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

How Could They?

I grew up in Chicago listening to Steve Dahl and Garry meyer. They did great parody stuff -- but even they had their limits.

Not so this station in New York.

Hip-hop radio station HOT 97 has sparked outrage across the city by airing a twisted song that shockingly mocks the 200,000 victims of the South Asian tsunami. The radio station, WQHT, was forced to air an apology yesterday after the insulting song - whose lyrics include racial epithets aimed at Asians - was played for four days last week by morning deejay Miss Jones.

"We are absolutely appalled, saddened, outraged and angered," said Kai Yu of Asian Media Watch.

The nasty parody, sung to the tune of "We Are the World," makes light of how the killer tsunami "washed your whole country away."

Some of the other tasteless lyrics refer jokingly to orphaned children being sold into slavery.

Hopefully this will do away with the famous "blacks can't be racist" lie that we have heard so many times. One of the station's on-air personalities is Asian, and she objected to the song. The response of her black colleague?

Before one airing of the song, the station's news reader, Miss Info, who is of Asian descent, objected to the song, only to be attacked by Jones and her cohorts.

"That song is really offensive to me, and I opted not to involve myself," Miss Info said.

Jones replied, "I know you feel you're superior because you're Asian, but you're not." Later, co-host Todd Lyn, incensed at Miss Info's criticism, said, "I'm going to start shooting Asians."

Strikes me that there is a need for new personnel at the station -- if not a new licensee.

|| Greg, 08:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Scouts In Schools Safe For Now

The “Only Atheists Have First Amendment Rights” Caucus lost another one in court recently, as it was held not to be a violation of the judicially-imposed extra-constitutional doctrine of “separation of church and state” to allow the Boy Scouts to recruit in schools.
A unanimous three-judge panel said the district’s policy was acceptable because the Boy Scouts received no special treatment or emphasis compared to other groups that visited the schools.

“It had a secular purpose and did not advance religion over non-religion,” Judge Bill Schuette wrote in Scalise v. Boy Scouts of America. “Simply because the Boy Scouts utilized the system does not itself create an Establishment Clause violation.”

As interpreted by the courts, the establishment clause has come to mean that government generally is prohibited from promoting or endorsing religion.

Now that seems like a pretty commonsense decision. Just because a group has a religious basis does not exclude it from the public square. And if a forum is open to non-religious groups, it must also be open to religious groups.

The losers in this case are furious, carrying on like leftists often do.

Timothy Taylor, the Scalises’ attorney, called the ruling the “most judicially corrupt and dishonest” he had seen.

“This was a political decision — not a legal one, and one in which the undisputed facts of the case were completely disregarded,” Taylor said.

He said his clients likely would file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Boy Scouts and school district, however, said they did nothing wrong.

“We were simply trying to provide boys with an opportunity to join scouting,” said Dale Holbrook, Scout executive for the Lake Huron Area Council. The council oversees 15,200 Boy Scouts in northeast and central Michigan, including Mount Pleasant.

Sadly, the Scouts don’t get to pass out literature at the schools in Mount Pleasant schools any longer, despite the victory. The schools had become so overwhelmed with material that it found it necessary to close the forum after finding itself bombarded with over 250,000 fliers each year.

|| Greg, 07:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Stupid Cop, Stupid Leftist

A current controversy in Denver revolves around a cop who ordered a woman to remove her “F--- Bush” bumper sticker from her car.
A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman Monday for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush. "He told her that this was a warning and that the next time he saw her truck, she was going to be arrested if she didn't remove the sticker," said Alinna Figueroa, 25, assistant manager of The UPS Store where the confrontation took place. "I couldn't believe it."

Denver police have initiated an investigation into the alleged incident, said Police Chief Gerry Whitman. He declined to comment further.

About 11 a.m., Shasta Bates, 26, was standing in the shopping center store in the 800 block of South Monaco Parkway when a man walked in and started arguing with her about a bumper sticker on the back of her truck that had "F--- Bush" in white letters on a black background.

"He was saying it was very sick and wrong and you shouldn't be doing that," Bates said. "He was very offended by it. I said, 'You didn't have to take it so personally.' "

The two argued for a few minutes, and then the man walked out of the store and stood behind Bates' truck. A few minutes later, the man flagged down police Sgt. Michael Karasek, who was patrolling the area.

Rocky Mountain News reporter Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, who happened to be at the store at the time, walked up to the two and asked what was going on.

The man pointed the bumper sticker out to McCrimmon, and then Karasek told her that it was illegal because it was profane, McCrimmon said.

Simply put, the sticker is constitutionally protected. Cohens v. California, decided some 25 years ago, holds that the use of profanity as a part of a political statement is legal. Absent a direct incitement of violence, or the effect of initiating sexual arousal, there is no constitutional basis for banning that particular word, civility notwithstanding.

On the other hand, I’m sure that Ms. Bates and her ilk will not take any offense whatsoever when I suggest that they can all “F--- off.” After all, President Bush has twice won elections for president, and this American is sick and tired of their whining.

|| Greg, 07:51 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Socialized Medicine Equals Socialized Child Abuse

Want a reason to oppose government financed and administered medicine? Here’s a case for you.
The family of a toddler with eight rotting teeth has been told he must wait up to five months for an operation to have them removed under a general anaesthetic.

Bailey Sargison, two, of Coalgate, 13km west of Darfield, had four teeth removed when he was 18 months old and now faces a second operation to extract eight more.

Mother Alannah May said her youngest son was having difficulty eating and sleeping and needed frequent doses of paracetamol to relieve pain.

A Darfield dentist, who saw Bailey in November, said he was clearly "in pain" and faxed an urgent referral to the hospital.

Bailey was seen by a specialist the next month who confirmed he would need eight teeth removed under general anaesthesia.

Children under five cannot safely be given the sedation or pain relief typically offered to adults during dental work.

The operation may not be until May. Christchurch hospital has a six-month waiting list - or 240 children aged 12 and under - waiting for dental treatment under a general anaesthetic.

On the other hand, if parents decided to wait six months for such treatment, they would undoubtedly be cited for abuse or neglect. In a free market system, such treatment is readily available.

|| Greg, 07:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 24, 2005

Revisionist History – Boxer Style

Senator Barbara Boxer reached a whole new level of spin this weekend, when she portrayed herself as the victim of a mean-spirited attack by Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice.
"She turned and attacked me," the California Democrat told CNN's "Late Edition" in describing the confrontation during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"I gave Dr. Rice many opportunities to address specific issues. Instead, she said I was impugning her integrity," Mrs. Boxer said.

Well, Senator, let’s take a look at that exchange.

"I personally believe — this is my personal view — that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth," Mrs. Boxer told Miss Rice, who has been President Bush's national security adviser since 2001.

Miss Rice responded that she "never, ever lost respect for the truth in the service of anything. It is not my nature. It is not my character."

"And I would hope that we can have this conversation and discuss what happened before and what went on before and what I said without impugning my credibility or my integrity," Miss Rice said.

Well, looks to me like you did impugn her integrity. What else would you call a statement that her loyalty to the president “overwhelmed [her] respect for the truth”? You clearly were saying that Dr. Rice is a liar. Quite frankly, you deserved to be slapped down.

And will somebody tell the folks over at the Washington Times that when referring to Condoleezza Rice it should use “Dr. Rice” rather than “Miss Rice,” since the woman does have an earned doctorate.

|| Greg, 07:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

DemoThugs Indicted In Milwaukee

Five men, including the sons of two prominent Milwaukee Democrat politicians, were charged with felonies today for their role in a tire-slashing incident election morning. The five slashed 40 tires on 25 vans that the GOP had rented for use in its get-out-the-vote effort.
The five who were charged with felony criminal damage to property for slashing 40 tires on 25 vehicles are:

* Michael Pratt, 32, of the 400 block of N. 16th St., Milwaukee. Pratt is the son of former acting mayor Marvin Pratt.

* Sowande A. Omokunde, 25, of the 4000 block of N. 19th Place, Milwaukee. Omokunde is the son of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore.

* Lewis G. Caldwell, 28, of the 2900 block of N. Summit Ave., Milwaukee.

* Lavelle Mohammad, 35, of the 4700 block of W. Lloyd St., Milwaukee.

* Justin Howell, 20, of the 2400 block of N. Olive St., Racine.

The vans had been rented by the state Republican Party to transport voters to the polls on election day Nov. 2.

If convicted, each of the five faces up to a $10,00 fine and up to 3 1/2 years in prison. The crime met the $2,500 damage threshold as a felony because the slashed tires and towing costs totaled more than $5,300, according to the criminal complaint filed today. It says the men were caught after a security guard in the Republican Party headquarters parking lot saw the vandalism and wrote down the license-plate numbers of a fleeing car.

It seems to me that this was part of a conspiracy to violate the voting rights of Republicans. Why were more serious civil rights charges not brought against the five? And how high did advance knowledge of this criminal activity go in Democrat circles? Was it approved by party officials or office holders? One can only hope these questions will be examined.

|| Greg, 07:30 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 23, 2005

Wrong Focus In School Choice

It seems to me, speaking as a teacher, that the most important job of a school is educating it's students. Apparently they think differently on the matter down in Florida.
Pinellas County's school choice plan appears likely to fall short of its most important goal: preventing a return to racially segregated schools.

Though the plan is successfully integrating some schools, it has failed to work in many others, a Times analysis shows. Nearly three years into choice, large numbers of Pinellas families - white and black - have ignored the district's call to integrate voluntarily.

So the most important goal in Pinellas County is preserving an artificial racial mix, regardless of the wants and needs and desires of the students and their families. Rather than looking at schools as a social engineering program, the parents looked at it as an educational program designed to prepare their students for life. Rather than putting kids on a school bus for a trip across the county, they chose schools close to home. In other words, they made rational choices based upon family values, not upon some politically correct notion that kids of one race cannot learn to add or spell without kids of a different skin color sitting next to them.

If application trends hold true:

Several elementary schools in St. Petersburg would become predominantly black for the first time in more than 30 years.

More black students would attend Gibbs and Lakewood high schools, threatening to disrupt racial balances that have taken years to cultivate.

Two middle schools - Bay Point and John Hopkins - would face a similar challenge.

A number of elementary schools in south and mid Pinellas would become far less diverse. Some enrollments would go from majority white to almost exclusively white as black students continue to opt for schools closer to home. More than a dozen mid-county schools already have gone in that direction.

The choice plan prevents those changes from occurring now. A system of race ratios known as "controlled choice" keeps many schools artificially integrated. But those controls expire at the end of the 2006-07 school year.

After that, a powerful social dynamic will continue to work against diversity: Schools that get anywhere close to 50 percent black often become predominantly black because many white parents avoid schools where their children could be in the minority.

I find the analysis interesting. Black parents are opting "for schools close to home." White parents "avoid schools where their children would be in the minority." Upon what are these assertions based? Were parents interviewed to reach these conclusions? Or are they assumptions? Could it be that white parents who have seen their kids forced onto a school bus out of their neighborhood to achieve some artificial notion of equality would prefer that their kids be educated close to home? Might it be that black parents don't want their kids in the minority? Did you consider those possibilities when you wrote the article?

Under choice, schools try to entice families with "attractors," which are themes that run through the curriculum. Some attractors are proving far more marketable than others.

District officials acknowledge it is probably too late to prevent at least a temporary return to a school system with significant pockets of segregation.

The public's impulse to select schools close to home is simply too ingrained. And the district is approaching the end of a four-year phase-in period that was supposed to condition Pinellas families to look outside their neighborhoods for schools, thereby promoting integration.

imagine that. There is an "ingrained" preference for that which is close and convenient. I wonder, do folks who make such stupid statements travel cross-town for half an hour for an integrated grocery shopping experience, one where they will be exposed to a multi-cultural customer base? Or do they prefer going to the Krogers down the block, where they meet neighbors and can purchase the same products more conveniently? Don't answer -- we already know the common-sense answer to that question.

At least the superintendent Clayton Wilcox seems to be asking the correct questions.

He said it is time for Pinellas to ask fundamental questions about what is best for its schools.

Is it so bad for some schools to be nearly all-black if they get the same resources as predominantly white schools? Or is that heresy in a district that has worked for decades to stay racially integrated? What is Pinellas' definition of success when it comes to the racial makeup of schools?

Wilcox, who recently moved to Pinellas from a largely black district in Louisiana, wants to know.

He said he has talked to black people in Pinellas who say they wouldn't be bothered by segregated schools as long as they are equal in quality. He also has talked to people who insist that separate schools could never be equal.

Others argue that, in a diverse society, integrated schools have a value that goes far beyond ensuring equality.

"What do families want?" Wilcox asked.

Bostock said that will be "the big question" as the board struggles in the coming months to map a future for choice.

That seems to be the most important question. After all, those families are the consumers.

After all, some schools in majority black neighborhoods are drawing many white applicants. Why? Because they have strong programs that focus on the things the parents want. I'm not a Montessori fan, but I'm not surprised that a school with a Montessori has an application pool that is very white, even if it is located in a black neighborhood.

And don't forget that it has been black kids who have borne much of the burden of the desegregation program the county had for three decades. It was black kids who were most likely to be herded onto a bus bound for schools far from home. They were the chess pieces that got moved around in the game of integration. Parents who endured those rides now want neighborhood schools, something that they lacked. They see the irony that the result of Brown v. Board of Education (fought to let a black child go to the school closest to her home) eventually led to decisions that resulted in black kids being transported far away from the school nearest to their homes.

|| Greg, 02:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

If You Don't Like The Amenities...

You can always go back to Ecuador. There is daily service from O'Hare, so getting a flight out won't be a problem. And take the kids with you.
As she watched her sons get free dental checkups Saturday, Sara Garcia said why she thinks many low-income Hispanics often don't go to the dentist.

"It's very expensive," said Garcia, who lives in Chicago but grew up in Ecuador. "It should be free, like in Ecuador."

I hate to tell you this, Sara, but it isn't the American taxpayer's job to pay for your kids' dental checkups. I spend enough on dental care for my wife and I without including your family on the tab.

And as for you, Lt. Gov. Quin, do you realize how stupid you sound? Did you really mean to sound like a stereotype of every "oh-so-sensitive" liberal Democrat.

Quinn said that the surgeon general found tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease -- five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever.

And bad teeth can cause children to smile less, damaging their self-esteem, Quinn said.

|| Greg, 02:05 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Paying Tribute To The Watcher's Council

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

|| Greg, 01:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (27) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 22, 2005

Doing The Right Thing

I'm not particularly familiar with Larry Foote of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don't know anything about his play on the field. But I do know something about Larry Foote the man and father, and I am impressed by what I know. Many males (I won't call them men), especially professional athletes, attempt to avoid the responsibility of being a father.
For years, Larry Foote had heard rumors about a kid in Detroit who looked like him. He always laughed them off. Then a friend called to say that a woman wanted to talk to him.

She said Larry was the father of her 8-year-old son, Trey-veion.

Could this really be his kid? Larry was a 15-year-old at Pershing High in Detroit when Trey was born. He'd had a brief relationship with the boy's mother, Khalila Hammond.

When Larry got that phone call, he could have said it was impossible. Hung up. Blocked it out of his mind. He had not been contacted for eight years, and then all he got was one phone call from a mutual friend. There was no lawsuit, no demand of child-support payments.

But this was Larry Foote's one-minute test, and he passed. He said he would take a paternity test, and he wanted to meet the kid who might be his son.

Foote called his fiancée, Flint TV reporter Tara Edwards.

"He said, 'Remember when they were joking there is a kid out there that looks like me?' " Edwards recalled. "Right away, we talked about it before he even got the test back. He said, 'If he's mine, then I want him.' There was no dodging the issue. He wanted to raise him."

Eventually, Foote took the paternity test, but he needed it about as much as an owl needs glasses.

"Once I saw the boy," he said, "I pretty much knew."

Sunday afternoon, Foote will start for the Steelers against New England for a berth in the Super Bowl. Trey will be in the stands at Heinz Field. And when the game ends, they will head home together.

Granted, it would have been a better thing if Larry had kept his pants on at age 15. But having made that bad choice, he has done right by his son. Sadly, that is all too rare. I've got students who don't have contact with their fathers. I had one whose father chose jail over paying child support. Another student, after losing his mother last spring, told me that he had no idea who his father was.

But what moves me is his statement at the end of the article.

"I was one of the few in my neighborhood growing up that had a father that was in my life. A lot of my buddies growing up, they didn't even know their fathers -- they didn't know who they were. My father didn't live with me, but every weekend, me and my father were close. That's how I grew up.

"My uncles that I was close with, they were married and had kids. That's the only way I knew.

"I had to get my son and be a part of his life. My uncle Skip, him and his wife, they weren't fortunate enough to have kids. I couldn't turn back me having a boy, having a son. A lot of people in this world can't have kids.

"I knew it was a blessing."

I know that heartbreak all too well. It may be the hardest thing that my wife and I have had to accept -- harder than her illness. It's good to see this young man recognize the blessing of a child, and to accept that blessing in his life.

|| Greg, 01:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 21, 2005

ACLU To Punish Board Members For Exercising Free Speech?

Wendy Kaminer and Michael Meyers are ACLU Board members. They’ve been critical of the group’s executive directors and the board, which they feel does not provide proper oversight.

The response? An attempt to oust them from the Board for raising the issues.

In a Dec. 28 letter, Catherine S. Travis, a lawyer who sits on the board of the A.C.L.U. affiliate in Oregon, recommended that the board consider suspending or removing Mr. Meyers and Ms. Kaminer, saying that they had violated their fiduciary responsibilities by talking to reporters about matters she called confidential.

"Appropriate corrective action must be taken now to avoid further incidents that can only impede the organization's ability to meet the unprecedented challenges to civil liberties we face at this critical juncture," Ms. Travis wrote.

Ms. Kaminer and Mr. Meyers began pressing for more information about certain practices last summer. Their pressure led to the disclosure that the organization had signed an agreement that obliged it to check its employees' names against government terrorist watch lists, the type of lists it has decried. They also discovered that Mr. Romero advised the Ford Foundation, his former employer, to use the language of the USA Patriot Act, which the organization is fighting, in its grant agreements.

Most recently, the dissident board members have criticized Mr. Romero's decision to do more extensive research on A.C.L.U. donors and members without fully informing the board what data would be obtained by whom. They say they were concerned that the organization is engaging in the same kind of research that it has contested as a violation of privacy when done by government agencies and corporations.

"They are going after the critics instead of the criticism, and I think that's a gross embarrassment and shameful for the A.C.L.U.," Ms. Kaminer said in an interview.

Mr. Meyers said any effort to punish or silence them would be a violation of the organization's commitment to free speech and the right to dissent. "I am a person who urges them and constantly reminds them that they must practice what they preach," he said, "and I am, therefore, their worst nightmare."

In her letter, Ms. Travis expressed concern that the dissidents' criticism was hurting the organization.

Ms. Travis said in a telephone interview that she had not intended for her letter to be circulated beyond the board and therefore declined to comment on it. "I find this disturbing, this focus on internal governance issues when the organization is doing such important work in the protection of our civil liberties at a crucial junction in our history," she said. "I'd like to see the media looking at that."

Yeah, we wouldn’t want the public to examine ACLU practices and procedures, even though it is a not-for-profit group that is exempt from taxation. We wouldn’t want to risk having anyone look at its books, its policies and procedures, and its compliance with federal law. And we certainly wouldn’t want to see if it complies with the principles it claims to uphold and to which it seeks to hold even private organizations.

The ACLU is one of the most powerful groups in America. If it ousts dissenting board members, it is also among the most hypocritical.

|| Greg, 06:34 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Lost In Translation

I guess that there are some things that are just Texas things. One of them is a hand gesture used by the President and his family during the Inaugural Parade. It seems to have caused great consternation in Scandinavia.

Many Norwegian television viewers were shocked to see U.S. President George W. Bush and family apparently saluting Satan during the U.S. inauguration.

But in reality, it was just a sign of respect for the University of Texas Longhorns, whose fans are known to shout out "Hook 'em, horns!" at athletic events.

The president and family were photographed lifting their right hands with their index and pinky fingers raised up, much like a horn.

But in much of the world those "horns" are a sign of the devil. In the Nordics, the hand gesture is popular among death metal and black metal groups and fans.

"Shock greeting from Bush daughter," a headline in the Norwegian Internet newspaper Nettavisen said late Wednesday above a photograph of Bush's daughter, Jenna, smiling and showing the sign.

Bush, a former Texas governor, was simply greeting the Texas Longhorn marching band as it passed during a Washington D.C. parade in the president's honor, explained Verdens Gang, Norway's largest newspaper.

Someone needs to tell the folks in Norway that Satan backs the OTHER party – and the Oklahoma Sooners.

|| Greg, 06:19 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Is Leftism A Mental Pathology?

Since they cannot accept the clear evidence that Bush won the election this past November, these folks must either be intellectually defective or psychologically unstable. Consider these fine examples.

"I think they stole Ohio," contended Darrell Anderson. "I think Kerry should have won," the Marylander added. "I think he did win. I think he absolutely won. I think he got enough electoral votes to win, counting Ohio." Anderson believes that the Republican party rigged voting machines in the Buckeye state. "I think the exit polls were correct. They were outside the margin of error. I don't care what they say, it falls outside the mathematical possibility that there would have been a six-point swing — Kerry being six points ahead to a three-point win for Bush, it's outside mathematical possibility."

Donning a shirt labeling President Bush an "international terrorist," Michael Bedoian traveled to the International A.N.S.W.E.R-organized rally from Seattle. He offered, "I'm not convinced that [Bush] won the election. My personal opinion of these people is that they have absolutely no regard for human life or the democratic process."
"I think that there was voter suppression, primarily in Ohio," a San Franciscan opined. "If it were an honest election, I would say that Bush would have lost." Fellow Californian Neal Weiner said, "There seems to be a controversy in Ohio and Florida, which was pretty much covered up with the help of John Kerry." Weiner believes that "we don’t know who the right president is, because what happened in Ohio was never properly investigated."

Others are more strident in their belief in an Election Day fix. Holding a modified American flag reading "One Nation, Under Fraud," Stephanie Kornfeld said, "I believe that the Republican party has consistently used fraud to get into office and to stay in office." Traveling to the D.C. rally from suburban Boston, Kornfeld rejected the idea that Bush won the 2004 presidential election. "I honestly don't believe that. I don’t believe those numbers are accurate," she maintained. "I think Kerry did win, because the exit polls would verify that."

Uh, folks – exit polls are known to be notoriously unreliable in close races. Even the best fall within the standard deviation only about 95% of the time, meaning it is possible to get a wildly mistaken result around 5% of the time. And that is only if one presumes the sample was not biased in some way or another – something that the pollsters’ own report says was not the case. So since the numbers from the polls are unreliable, so is the perception of the world spoken of by the protesters above. And without the exit polls, their little theory falls apart, especially since the results of the election on November 2 match up well with the results of virtually every other poll taken in the waning days of the campaign.

So which is it, Leftists? Did we get an erroneous outcome on exit polls that even the pollsters call flawed, or an even more improbable SIMULTANEOUS FAILURE OF MULTIPLE UNRELATED POLLS occur in the days leading up to the election using much more controlled random samples? Only someone with low intelligence or subject to severe distortions of reality could select the second option.

|| Greg, 06:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 20, 2005

The Second Inaugural Address Of George Walker Bush, January 20, 2005

Prepared copy of President George W. Bush's inaugural address: Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:

From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?

These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.

|| Greg, 07:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Last Hurrah

Chief Justice William Rehnquist administered the oath of office to President George W. Bush today, after four months out of the public spotlight. It is likely his last time performing this traditional function of the chief justice, if not his last public act in that capacity.

Rehnquist, 80, made his first appearance at a public event since October, when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a tracheotomy. He also has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.

Wearing his black robes of office, Rehnquist was the last dignitary to arrive and join Bush and others on the stage for the swearing-in ceremony.

Just 16 minutes before he was due to administer the oath of office, Rehnquist used a cane and walked slowly down the steps of the East Front of the Capitol, with his administrative assistant and top aide, Sally Rider, behind him.

Introduced by Sen. Trent Lott, Rehnquist smiled as the crowd applauded. He wore a light-colored scarf around his neck and a black cap.

His voice sounded hoarse, and his tracheotomy tube, which helps him breathe, was visible. He read the 35-word oath and then congratulated Bush.

They shook hands, and Rehnquist then left the podium, before Bush's speech.

Rehnquist has been a giant while serving on the Supreme Court, both as an associate Justice and as Chief Justice. He is a noted scholar of Supreme Court and legal history, and has published several books on those subjects while serving on the court. It speaks to his reverence for the history and traditions of the Court that he made a point of being present for today’s inauguration, for no one would have thought any less of him for passing that duty to another justice due to his illness.

May God bless you and comfort you in this time of infirmity, Mr. Chief Justice.

|| Greg, 07:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Senator Robert Byrd (D-KKK) Blocks Rice Vote

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. "Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

Robert Byrd

Michelle Malkin and Newsmax point out that the only member of the KKK serving in the US Senate, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, is blocking a vote on the nomination of Condi Rice to be Secretary of State, despite the fact that she has more than enough members of the Senate publicly pledged to confirm her.

Let's recap the Byrd Record.

This ex-Klansman wasn't just a passive member of the nation's most notorious hate group. According to news accounts and biographical information, Sen. Byrd was a "Kleagle" -- an official recruiter who signed up members for $10 a head. He said he joined because it "offered excitement" and because the Klan was an "effective force" in "promoting traditional American values." Nothing like the thrill of gathering 'round a midnight bonfire, roasting s'mores, tying nooses, and promoting white supremacy with a bunch of your hooded friends.

The ex-Klansman allegedly ended his ties with the group in 1943. He may have stopped paying dues, but he continued to pay homage to the KKK. Republicans in West Virginia discovered a letter Sen. Byrd had written to the Imperial Wizard of the KKK three years after he says he abandoned the group. He wrote: "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia" and "in every state in the Union."

The ex-Klansman later filibustered the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act -- supported by a majority of those "mean-spirited" Republicans -- for more than 14 hours. He also opposed the nominations of the Supreme Court's two black justices, liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas. In fact, the ex-Klansman had the gall to accuse Justice Thomas of "injecting racism" into the Senate hearings. Meanwhile, author Graham Smith recently discovered another letter Sen. Byrd wrote after he quit the KKK, this time attacking desegregation of the armed forces.

The ex-Klansman vowed never to fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

Thus Byrd will have the distinction of attempting to prevent the confirmation of the first two African-Americans to the Supreme Court and the first African-American woman to serve as Secretary of State. He is also supporting the delay in voting on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. I guess the Democrats are really going back to their traditional values, with "Sheets" Byrd in the lead.

|| Greg, 07:47 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Signs Of Election Fraud Ignored

Wisconsin law requires that all same day voter registrations be verified by post card after the election. Those that cannot be verified (such as postcards returned) are to be turned over to the local prosecutor for investigation and possible prosecution.

That hasn’t been going on in Milwaukee (10,000 unverifiable registrations) and much of the rest of the state following John Kerry’s razor-thin victory in that state.

In the wake of Milwaukee's inability to send confirmation cards to some 10,000 newly registered voters, a Journal Sentinel review suggests that a little-discussed - but key - safeguard in election law is not routinely followed.

The provision requires that any confirmation cards that the U.S. Postal Service cannot deliver be sent to the local district attorney's office for investigation for possible fraud.

District attorneys from around the state said Wednesday, however, that they receive few such referrals - and some did not know it was a requirement. And some cities, including Racine, don't send out confirmation cards at all.

Meanwhile, some clerks have complained to state election officials that the returned cards they do submit are not investigated by authorities.

"People need to follow the statutes," said state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), who expressed dismay at the findings. "This is a process we have established to ensure the integrity of our election."

The situation came to light after revelations that in Milwaukee, more than 10,000 confirmation cards - out of an estimated 84,000 voters who registered on election day - could not be processed.

Milwaukee officials have said the number is comparable to that of the 2000 presidential election, and that the cards may be illegible, missing some required information or duplicates of ones filled out earlier.

The Journal Sentinel has submitted an open records request seeking access to the cards, which officials say contain some private information that must be redacted first.

The election problem is the latest for the city. Among the others: registration cards that were not recorded before election day; absentee ballot requests that were not filled; and 238 absentee ballots that were not delivered to the polls in time to be counted.

And that is just the Milwaukee situation. Some counties aren’t sure what to do, and others ignore this legal requirement.

· In Ozaukee County, District Attorney Sandy Williams said her office does not become involved in voter fraud investigations, and an office administrator reported that she had never seen any of the returned cards in the several years she has worked there.

· In Racine County, District Attorney Michael Nieskes said that his office had not received any returned confirmation cards and it's unlikely that it would.

· In Waukesha County, District Attorney Paul Bucher said he was not aware of his office receiving any returned confirmation cards. If it does, Bucher said, he would investigate.

· In La Crosse, City Clerk Teri Lehrke said, "I don't believe we have ever sent any of those to the DA's office. We usually take them out of the system if they come back non-deliverable."

· In Eau Claire County, District Attorney Rich White said he didn't know anything about rules regarding the verification cards and hasn't seen or heard of any of them. "Unlike some places, I'm not sure that Eau Claire County is a potential hotbed for a lot of election fraud," he said.

· In Brown County, which includes Green Bay, District Attorney John P. Zakowski, said he hadn't seen any voter cards returned to his office.

· In Marathon County, Wausau doesn't send out the cards. "When they register (at the polls), they are signing something swearing they are who they say they are and are qualified to vote," said Mary Goede, deputy city clerk.

· In Richland County, Richland Center does not send out verification cards. And District Attorney Andrew Sharp said sending out verification cards in a rural county would be "silly," because "everyone in the county knows everybody, so that (voter fraud) couldn't happen here."

Democrat activists have not yet sought to question the flaws in the Wisconsin elections system that leave open the possibility of voter fraud. Could that be because Wisconsin was a blue state in both 2000 and 2004, and the margin of victory for John Kerry is significantly below the number of unverifiable votes?

|| Greg, 07:32 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

School’s Out For Summer

One of the developments in education I’ve disliked over the last few years has been the practice of assigning “summer homework.” It is more than supplying a summer reading list and telling a kid to stimulate their minds during those weeks – it is actual “to be completed and graded” homework that must be submitted at the start of the term, or work on which a student will be tested immediately upon return from summer vacation. It isn’t really common, and is found mostly in advanced classes for which a student must “opt in”, so I don’t have to worry about it. Teaching average classes in a large school, I’m lucky to know how many kids are enrolled in my class the Friday before school starts, muchless who they are.

Peer Larson and his father, Bruce Larson have decided to strike back, filing suit in Wisconsin to ban the practice.

The Larsons are representing themselves in the lawsuit, which was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last week. Bruce Larson is president of Larson Chemical Corp. in Greendale.

In addition to Peer Larson's Whitnall High School math teacher, Aaron Bieniek, the lawsuit also names the high school math department chair, Nancy Sarnow; Whitnall High School Principal Joel Eul; the Whitnall School District; and state schools superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster.

What provoked this suit? It seems that poor Peer got stressed out by the expectations of an honors math teacher.

The lawsuit emanates from a series of assignments that Peer Larson says Bieniek gave him and his classmates at the end of the 2003-'04 school year.

At the time, Peer Larson says, he was a sophomore in Brenda Hojnacki's class. Bieniek gave what Peer Larson described as a "presentation" for what students could expect in his honors pre-calculus class in the fall.

"He handed out the homework then as well," Peer Larson says. "He told us it was available online to download."

Peer Larson says Bieniek told the students he wanted the homework done at certain points during the summer, and that it had to be "postmarked by a certain date."

He said those dates were approximately at the beginning of July, August, and when the school year resumed.

"Not too many people were exactly happy with it," Peer Larson says. "Nobody really likes to do homework, especially during the summer."

Peer Larson said he completed the first and third assignments, but had trouble doing the second one because it was a lengthy assignment and he was working a full-time job as a counselor at the Indian Mound Reservation Boy Scout Camp in Oconomowoc.

"The second assignment was 16 pages, and that was extremely difficult for me to do," Peer Larson says.

"At camp, there really was never enough time to do it. At the end of the day, I'd be too tired to actually work on any kind of math."

Peer Larson says he could not recall if Bieniek made his phone number available to help the students, but that he thinks Bieniek included his e-mail address and some Web sites that could help guide students through the work.

He says Bieniek agreed to count only the assignments with the two highest scores, but only as long as he did all three assignments, which he says he ultimately did.
He says the whole experience ruined what was supposed to be an enjoyable summer break.

"It provided quite an amount of stress," Larson says. "I barely made the first assignment in on time."

Personally, I think the kid comes off as a whiner. But I also think the notion of three major assignments without direct instruction on the material is unreasonable. School is not in session, and a couple of websites and an email address is hardly a substitute for teaching. But the family didn’t bother to file a formal complaint with the district to challenge the practice – they raised it informally and let it drop. The state reviewed the issue and found it not to be a violation of the law. Rather than work with the school or the board, they file a lawsuit. I guess I don’t see where the kid was harmed, since he was made aware of the expectation in advance and did nothing to get out of the class.

By the way, I wonder if Dad, who runs his own chemical plant, gives his employees the summer off because they need a break? I wonder if he does any work when he is on vacation. And I’m curious if he would hire an employee with the work ethic the son appears to have.

UPDATE: Look at the Milwauke Journal-Sentinel editorial on the suit.

We hope and believe a judge will toss their lawsuit into the middle of Lake Michigan. We are not lawyers, but we are familiar with a legal principle that seems not only to allow, but to compel, throwing it out. It is a principle that lawyers call de minimis non curat lex. If young Larson studies Latin this summer or before, maybe he could learn what it means: “The law does not concern itself with trifles.


|| Greg, 07:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Tragedy From Every Angle You View It

I hesitate to even make this post.

This is what we've been dealing with for the last couple of days at school.

There are no words to express the incredible sadness of the situation.

And only one request.


|| Greg, 07:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

You Will Be Assimilated!

This one is particularly funny to me – I lived in the town for about a year before I got married.
IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, potentates had a rude method for annexing neighboring communities. The baron's soldiers would surround the town, cut off water and food, then catapult boulders and fireballs at the citizenry.

We live in a gentler society. In St. Louis, a garden spot of polite civilization, municipal annexations today resemble courtship. Suburban towns woo their would-be citizens with promises of water and sewer service, police protection and spiffy roads.

Alas, the leaders of little Millstadt are a throwback to the olden days.

The village wants to annex a 50-home subdivision outside its borders. So, the town lawyer sent prospective citizens a letter: Agree to annexation, it said, or Millstadt will "terminate access to its water system."

In other words, subdivision residents could surrender or face life without showers and flush toilets. More than half of them signed papers agreeing to be annexed.

But there's one thing the municipal barons of Millstadt may have overlooked: Millstadt's new residents will have a privilege that medieval residents never enjoyed. They can vote.

Given the annexation laws of Illinois, I’m not surprised that Millstadt managed to pull this trick off. The state has more or less set a policy that anything that is developed or about to be developed needs to be in some municipality. You might manage to avoid that fate for a while, but you will eventually be assimilated.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to be a part of the town, you really have no right to complain when the town decides to stop providing you services.

|| Greg, 07:08 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Guns For Me, Not For Thee

Hypocrisy, thy name is Michael Moore!
Filmmaker Michael Moore's bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night.

Police took Patrick Burke, who says Moore employs him, into custody after he declared he was carrying a firearm at a ticket counter. Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.

Now this is the same Michael Moore who railed against guns in “Bowling for Columbine.” I guess HE and his employees need guns – just not all of us peons. How does it feel mike, knbowing that you employed and facilitated a GUN CRIMINAL?

|| Greg, 07:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Leftist Terrorists Assault Pro-Bush Demonstrators

We've been hearing for the last four years that freedom of speech and assembly don't exist in the US any more. I think those members of the loopy Left who make such claims are correct -- because they are doing their damnedest to stop the speech of anyone who they disagree with. Leftist terrorists have made a point of using violence against conservatives who dare to speak.

That was demonstrated again today in Washington, where the anti-American Left was allowed to assemble, speak, and march; and where a little group of pro-American counter-demonstrators were viciously attacked by those who give aid and comfort to our nation's enemies.

Ten minutes after telling his fellow protesters to stay safe, Gil Kobrin lay huddled in the slush and mud as two anarchists repeatedly kicked him in the back.

How he got from point A to point B is simple enough. Kobrin, accompanied by a dozen members of the conservative group ProtestWarrior, crashed a rally of hundreds of anti-Bush demonstrators at Meridian Park in Washington, D.C. Holding aloft signs that read "Say no to war unless a Democrat is president" and "Not to brag, but Bush won, so shove it!" they had set off earlier on inauguration morning in search of their opposites.

The ProtestWarrior contingent didn't have to search for very long; the party came to them.

"You can go a [expletive] half-mile away and stand on the first street corner you see!" shouted a self-described anarchist, dressed all in black with a bandana covering his face. As they taunted and threatened and liberally profaned Kobrin and the rest of the group, a member of the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN) -- the official organizers of the rally -- tried to break it up.

"Your purpose is to instigate people. You're going to have to leave!" shouted the "marshal," DAWN's term for their ad hoc security force.

"We're staying here," Kobrin replied.

Then he went down under a hail of black boots. Once the marshals pulled the anarchists away, ProtestWarrior sued for peace and made for the exit. Their chant of "Four more years!" was answered by the anarchists' reply: "Wah wah wah!"

It wasn't much of a contest. ProtestWarrior's contingent numbered 13, the other side in the hundreds. If they won any hearts and minds, no one said so.

In other words, the Leftist thugs attempted to close off a public place to free speech, and when patriots stood their ground they were assaulted. So insecure in their beliefs and fearful of contradiction were the thugs that they could not stand so much as thirteen voices of contradiction in a sea of hundreds of supporters. They had to engage in physical violence against those whose only crime was engaging in speech they disliked. So much for the freedom these anti-American Leftists claim for themselves.

I can think of no better reason for those who love America to make sure that the Left, especially as incarnated in the Democrat Party, never again achieves meaningful power in this country.

|| Greg, 06:30 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 19, 2005

The Will Of The Voters Prevails In Louisiana

Back in September, 78% of Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution to ban gay marriage. A judge immediately overruled the will of the people on the grounds that the amendment dealt with more than one subject.

Today the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the will of the people, ruling that "each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object."

At issue was a provision of the amendment that stated: ""A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be recognized."

Opponents had warned that the amendment went far beyond banning gay marriage and would deny contractural rights to all unmarried couples — whether gay or heterosexual — in such areas as owning property, willing it to heirs, and taking legal care of an incapacitated partner. As a result, they contended, the amendment had more than one object, and therefore could not become part of the constitution.

The court ruled that the amendment did not take away any of the rights that currently exist in Louisiana law permitting the joint purchase of property by unmarried partners, the delegating of medical decisions to an unmarried partner, or the bequeathing of property in a will. This portion of the decision, while not legally binding in other states, will serve to undercut the argument that the defense of marriage amendments undercut the ability of unmarried individuals, particularly homosexuals, to manage their legal, business, and financial affairs.

|| Greg, 07:44 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Did Hersh Article Break The Law?

A recent New Yorker article by Sidney Hersh disclosed the following.

The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran ... Much of the focus is on accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical and missile sites. ... (The) American commando task force has been set up in South Asia and is now working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists and technicians who had dealt with Iranian counterparts ... The American task force ... .has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations ... The task force members, or their locally recruited agents, secreted remote detection devices ...

Columnist Tony Blankley points out that this disclosure appears to be a violation of Title 18 United States Code section 794, subsections (a) & (b). Those provisions of federal law prohibit the publication of national defense information during time of war in a manner that would be useful to the enemy. These violations are punishable "by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life."

Hersh discloses troop movements, the location of those movements, the missions of the troops, and the assistance received from locals. This would be very useful to al-Qaeda and to Iran. Is there a prison cell (perhaps on death row) with Mr. Hersh's name on it?

And even if there isn't -- what are the ethics of publishing information that increases the level of danger to US military personnel in the field?

|| Greg, 07:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Geek Alert -- Ancient History

The hottest spot in Rome during the reign of Nero was Caesar's Palace.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

It was actually the Domus Aurea -- the Golden House -- that he buit for himself after burning the city.

After his death, it was buried as part of a campaign to wipe out Nero's memory.

Now the Domus Aurea has been found.

The entombment of the palace was meant to make everyone forget Nero. Instead, it conserved, as if in amber, his residential compound as few ancient sites in Rome have been preserved. This week, almost 2,000 years after Nero's rule, Rome city officials unveiled a new find from the palace that offers a tantalizing hint of the treasures buried beneath the hill. It is a large mosaic, more than 9 by 6 feet, showing naked men harvesting grapes and making wine, a typical illustration for a Roman palace of the time. Three of the men are stomping on grapes in a vat. One plays a double flute. They all seem to be having fun.

The mosaic adorns a giant arch buried in Colle Oppio, the hill on which Nero's palace stood. The arch was probably part of a large hall. Grottoes and tunnels extend from four exits -- leading to as yet unknown finds.

"Colle Oppio is a giant scrap yard," said Eugenio La Rocca, the city's adviser for monumental assets. "There is doubtless much more underneath. Everything has been sealed. There are acres of a city quarter in there."

Makes a guy want to get out his fedora and bullwhip so he can go out and paly Indiana Jones.

|| Greg, 07:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

ACLU Head Spills The Beans On Polygamy

Rick Santorum was blasted when he said that the Texas Sodomy and Massachusetts Gay Marriage ruling opened the door for polygamy. He was accused of being absurd.

Someone didn't memo the ACLU about that issue.

In response to a student's question about gay marriage, bigamy and polygamy in certain communities, Strossen said the ACLU is actively fighting to defend freedom of choice in marriage and partnerships.

"We have defended the right for individuals to engage in polygamy," Strossen said. "We defend the freedom of choice for mature, consenting individuals."

So when they tell you that the redefinition of marriage and morality doesn't include multi-partner marriage, don't believe them.

|| Greg, 07:29 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Are We Sure Trial By Jury Is The Best Way?

It would have been a real kick to watch this jury selection.
Defense attorney Leslie Ballin called it the "jury pool from hell." The group of prospective jurors was summoned to listen to a case of Tennessee trailer park violence. Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin's client was found not guilty.

Yeah, buddy. Looks like you got the pick of the litter here.

And a little side note for folks -- while Tennesee might be a red state, Shelby County (Memphis) is reliably blue.

|| Greg, 07:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 17, 2005

A Story That Frightens Me, Angers Me, And Saddens Me

When you work with adolescents, you realize that they can have attack without warning. It's not always possible to know what will upset a kid. You just hope that the attack is verbal, and it usually is.

Sometimes it isn't.

That leads me to the story of Lisa W. Rath, a teacher at King's Fork Middle School in Suffolk, Virginia. She was violently assaulted and seriously injured by a student on March 19, 2004.

On that Friday, more than 30 students filled Rath’s second-floor civics classroom for the last period of the last day of the week. When the girl entered, the hood on her black sweatshirt covered her head. Not appropriate, not in accordance with school policy.

Off, Rath commanded. The girl complied, but slammed her books on her desk, laid down her head and went to sleep.

Pick your battles, Rath thought. From her stool in front of the class, she began describing the differences between local and state governments.

Twenty minutes later, the squeal of the fire alarm interrupted Rath and woke up the girl. A drill. The students flowed to a stairwell.

Halfway down, the girl flipped her hood back up, as did several other girls.

Take them off, Rath ordered. All complied but the girl.

“I’m not taking my hood off,” Rath heard her mumble.

Rath reached out and pulled the hood down just before they exited the school. The girl spun around, drew back a fist and spat curses at Rath.

“I’m going to get you!” she threatened, inches from Rath’s face.

Another teacher quickly led the girl away. Rath shrugged it off. She needed to take attendance. She’d send the girl to the guidance office after the fire drill.

The all-clear soon sounded. Rath led her class to the door, and asked an office assistant to escort the girl to the office. While another teacher took over her class, Rath also started toward the office.

Almost immediately, she felt something strike her. The girl’s threatening voice was screaming and cursing in her ear.

She had broken away from her escort and attacked Rath from behind, raining blows on her head, grabbing handfuls of hair and pounding her skull against the wall.

Stunned, Rath curled up with her fingers laced across the back of her head, vainly trying to protect herself.

“I kept asking her to please stop,” Rath recalled.

The punching and hair-pulling seemed to last forever; it took a few moments for other teachers to wrench the girl, still cursing and threatening, away from Rath. Meanwhile, teacher Lela F. Joyner wrapped her body protectively around Rath’s head. Hanks of hair littered the floor. Blood smeared the wall.

Joyner pulled Rath into a nearby classroom and locked the door. She held Rath’s head as the injured teacher vomited.

An ambulance whisked Rath to the emergency room at Obici, where she had begun her day seven hours earlier. She arrived with a black eye, scratches on her neck and shoulder, contusions on her face and scalp, knots on her head and missing a contact lens. Quarter-sized patches of hair were torn from her scalp. Doctors discovered a partly torn eardrum, which would leave her with a permanent mild hearing loss.

Discharged from the hospital, Rath went to the courthouse and police station. The ferocity of the attack led to a felony charge of malicious wounding. Rath hoped authorities could force the girl into counseling. She didn’t want another teacher to suffer the same fate.

Rath has a kinder soul than I. She agreed to a plea bargain which kept the girl in the juvenile system, where there would be more appropriate counseling, educational, and rehabilitative services for the girl. I don't know that I would have that level of generosity. There is also a cost -- Rath is going to leave the classroom, and is currently applying to social work graduate programs so that she can go into counseling.

When you teach, you are defenseless. If an attack comes, you hope and pray that there is someone else to help you. Self-defense isn't an option. In the last four years I have known three teachers who have lost their jobs after being assaulted by students. Two had the audacity to physically strike, in self-defense, a kid who had assaulted them first. The third was labeled as unprofessional and insubordinate after leaving campus to seek medical attention for a ruptured eardrum caused by a student screaming an obscenity in his ear. All were given "take it or leave it" severance packages by their districts that included the threat negative references and the filing of action to have their certification revoked. None of the students involved received more than three days of in-school suspension, despite multiple witnesses in each case who supported the teachers involved.

So yeah, I'm frightened -- frightened that some kid will some day come after me for doing my job the way I've been told to do it.

I'm angry -- angry that such assaults happen and that the system is more concerned about protecting the kid than the teacher.

And I'm sad -- sad that good teachers like Lisa Rath are left so scarred by such events that they leave teaching.

How many more leave because something like this happens in their building, or in their district? How many more are discouraged from entering the field by such events? And what is the effect of such violence on every other student in every other classroom?

|| Greg, 01:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Terrorist Supporters Attempt To Disrupt Anti-Terrorism Rally

Lest anyone deny that there are supporters of terrorism among both the anti-American Left and the Muslim community in the United States.

More than 200 counter-demonstrators gathered Sunday across the street from the park for what was billed in advance as a silent vigil honoring children slain in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most were reserved, but some 40 people, mostly men of Middle Eastern descent, yelled and exchanged taunts with pro-Israeli demonstrators across the street.

"Two, four, six, eight, we are martyrs, we can't wait,'' chanted the group, most of whom wore kaffiyehs -- the cloth headdress closely associated with Palestinian militants. Some drove around the park, their faces covered, waving Palestinian flags.

"We are here to make sure that these people are ashamed of themselves,'' said Essam Mahgoub, a native of Cairo, who lives in Oakland and attended with his wife and four children.

"They (Israelis) stole our land, raped our women, destroyed our olive trees and destroyed our homes,'' he said.

Amazingly enough, only one arrest was made. Since no name is given by the San Francisco Chronicle, we can only assume it was one of the terror supporters.

|| Greg, 01:19 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Iraqi Catholic Archbishop Kidnapped

The violence against Iraqi Christians perpetrated by Islamists continues.
A Roman Catholic archbishop in Mosul, Iraq, has been kidnapped, the Vatican said Monday.

It identified the kidnapped man as Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, of the Syrian Catholic Church, one of the branches of the Roman Catholic Church.

"The Holy See deplores in the firmest way such a terrorist act," a Vatican statement said, demanding that he be freed immediately.

According to reports from Baghdad, Casmoussa was walking in front of his church in Mosul's eastern neighborhood of Muhandeseen when he was abducted.

Mosul is a northern Iraqi city that in recent months has been a hotspot of violent insurgency.

The reason for the kidnapping was unclear, but Christians - tens of thousands of whom live in and around Mosul - have been subjected to attacks in the past.

Christians make up just 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people. The major Christian groups in Iraq include Chaldean-Assyrians and Armenians. There are small numbers of Roman Catholics.

Officials estimate that as many as 15,000 Iraqi Christians have left the country since August, when four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were attacked in a coordinated series of car bombings. The attacks killed 12 people and injured 61 others.

Another church was bombed in Baghdad in September.

Pray for the safe return of the archbishop.

|| Greg, 01:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ban Nazis -- But Commies Are Just Fine!

Andrew Stuttaford had the same reaction I did to German proposals (in response to the tempest in a teapot regarding Prince Harry's poor wardrobe choice for a costume party) to ban Mein Kampf and Nazi symbols throughout all of Europe.
“German politicians have called for a Europe-wide ban on Nazi insignia after Britain's Prince Harry caused outrage by wearing a swastika armband and Nazi regalia at a fancy dress party… Markus Soeder, general secretary of Germany's Christian Socialist Union opposition conservative party told the paper: "In a Europe grounded in peace and freedom there should be no place for Nazi symbols. They should be banned throughout Europe, as they are with good reason in Germany." Soeder also urged the German government to push for a more balanced history program in British schools.”

No word yet on whether those German politicians, who seem to have a thing or two to learn about free speech, would support a Europe-wide ban on Communist insignia.

I wonder why not.

Apparently there is no problem with the sale of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, or the works of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao or any or the other thuggish proponents of a bankrupt ideology which killed (and continues to kill) many more poeple than Hitler ever dreamed of exterminated. Why is it that wearing a swastika is seen as evil, while a protrait of Che on one's shirt is trendy and "cool"? Shouldn't both be viewed as equally offensive in the eyes of people who value freedom and human rights?

Could it simply be that Euro-Socialists realize that their platform has no roots if one removes the poisoned soil of Marxist thought?

|| Greg, 09:21 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Is Wisconsin Red?

John Kerry won Wisconsin by a hair more than 11,000 votes. Now it turns out that some 10,000 Election Day voter registration cards cannot be verified in Milwaukee alone. Yeah, that's right -- 10,000 people walked into polling places, filled out a card, were allowed to vote, and now the legitimacy of their vote cannot be verified. And that's just in Milwaukee, where there were some 83,000 same day registrations (which means that 20% of eligible weren't registered until election day in Milwaukee -- a shockingly high number). That doesn't include the rest of the state.

Now, if there are similar trends around the state, especially in liberal hotspots like Madison and Racine, there could easily be more unverified voters than the margin of victory for Kerry. Yet no outcry has arisen on the left, no shouts of voter fraud or demands for investigations to determine whether the integrity of the voting process was compromised in Wisconsin. The Greens and the Libertarians, more than willing to question Bush victories in Ohio and New Mexico, didn't question this much closer and much more questionable Kerry victory. Have we reached a point in this country where even overwhelming Republican victories are presumed invalid, while fraud-tainted Democrat victories are assumed to be legitimate.

Dirty Harry over at Stranded on Blue Islands also discloses that the Racine City Clerk is stalling the release of voter records to Racine County GOP officials (these are public records -- anyone can request them) who are planning to crosscheck those records with county death records, real estate transactions, and the state felon list. What are they trying to hide?

|| Greg, 08:28 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 16, 2005

Someone Who "Gets It"

Yesterday I critiqued a column by someone who doesn't "get it" when it comes to school and social problems. Today I've found someone who does "get it," Joseph H. Brown of the Tampa Tribune. Let me offer a few tidbits for you.
I have to give it to Jeff Rawlins, assistant principal at Jefferson High School. Frustrated by the recent murders of Kwane Doster and John Simmons, he challenged the community in last weekend's Saturday Forum to start a movement against black-on- black crime. I have to give him his props because he, a white man, has shown more outrage about the staggering homicide rate among young black men than any black person around here.

Doster, 21, and Simmons, 15, were shot to death over ``trash talk,'' the in-your-face banter that goes on between young black men over the most trivial of issues. It happens too frequently, and Rawlins, a career educator who has ``spent too much time crying with scores of concerned parents and grandparents,'' has had enough.

Need I recite the sad statistics?

In 2002 the United States had 14,054 homicides, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. Black men accounted for nearly 40 percent of victims, and black men committed 95 percent of those murders. Those are alarming statistics for a group that makes up about 6 percent of the population.

So why, as Rawlins wondered, haven't national black organizations put the issue of black fratricide front and center? The reasons are as old and outdated as some of their agendas.

Yeah, that's right -- it is always either the white man's fault or fear that the white man will take it as confirmation of racist beliefs -- so blacks keep on dying at the hands of other blacks.

On Monday the nation celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King, a man whose tactics to achieve equality for black America stressed nonviolence. There will be much talk of his ``dream,'' but there will be little talk of the fact that King considered self-criticism an essential part of the struggle for equality. In his 1958 book ``Stride Toward Freedom,'' he wrote:

``Negroes must be honest enough to admit that our standards do often fall short. One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self- criticism. Whenever we are objects of criticism from white men, even though the criticisms are maliciously directed and mixed with half truths, we must pick out the elements of truth and make them the basis of creative reconstruction. We must not let the fact that we are victims of injustice lull us into abrogating responsibility for our own lives.''

King went on to say: ``Our crime rate is far too high. ... Negro leaders must develop a positive program through which Negro youth can become adjusted to urban living and improve their general level of behavior.''

Yeah. We never hear THAT Martin Luther King mentioned by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, and the like among "black leaders." When Bill Cosby dared to echo some of these comments, he was criticized by the "blame the white man" crowd for blaming the so-called "victims" who are committing the crimes of violence against their own people. When acting right is "acting white" and therefore to be avoided, the problem is not one of white racism but rather of a pathology within the community itself.

My students are 75-80% minority -- about 45% Hispanic and 35% black. I am, as I frequently joke with my students, a short, fat, balding, middle-aged white guy. I don't have the power to make the changes that have to happen to stave off violence within their communities -- I don't always have the power to stave off a fight in the hallway. Changing me isn't the answer. It is a concerted effort to change the kids that is needed, one that has the cooperation of all the institutions in the community. But it has to be a program that isn't about a mentality of victimization from without, but rather one of empowerment from within.

|| Greg, 01:33 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Judicially Sanctioned Child Abuse

Evan Scott was kidnapped Saturday morning, ripped from the arms of his parents and carried off by a virtual stranger. This happened before a crowd of reporters and television cameras, at the order of a judge.
ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — The adoptive mother of a 31/2-year-old boy at the center of a custody dispute tearfully handed the boy to his biological mother on Saturday, then dropped to the ground and repeatedly screamed: "How can they do this to a little boy?"

Evan, bundled in a blue jacket and sucking on a pacifier, was carried outside by Dawn Scott, who along with her husband, Gene, cared for the child for most of his life. The couple had appealed a judge's ruling transferring custody to the biological mother, Amanda Hopkins.

News crews gathered around the Scotts' home Saturday morning in anticipation of the meeting, and the child's biological father and grandfather pushed a television cameraman out of the way during the transfer.

How could this have happened?

As I pointed out in an earlier post, Evan's mother gave up the child for adoption while Stephen White, the violence-prone sire of the boy, was in jail for physically abusing her. Shortly before the adoption was to become final, the abusive sperm-donor who had taken no interest in the child asserted a claim over teh boy and demanded that the child be ripped from the only home he had ever known. The Florida courts were willing to go along with the charade, and were prepared to give the abuser custody of the child until Amanda asserted her claim to custody of the child. Ignoring the best interests of the child, Amanda was awarded custody and the violent thug was granted visitation.

In the whole process, the only people who have actually advocated for the best interests of the child have been Gene and Dawn Scott, who have raised, nurtured, and loved little Evan. They are the only people who have treated this little boy like a human being, worthy of dignity respect, and consideration.

Gene Scott called it a "very emotional, traumatic situation" and said the family would continue their legal fight.

"If they truly loved him, they wouldn't have done this," he said, tears welled in his eyes.

I couldn't have said it better. Pray for little Evan, and for Gene and Dawn Scott. And trust that there is a just God who will appropriately deal with Amanda Hopkins, Stephen White, and the judge who gave this order.

|| Greg, 11:29 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Was It Islamo-cide?

Hossam Armanious, a Coptic Christian from Jersey City, was an outspoken participant in a chat-room on Middle Eastern affairs, frequently engaging in heated discussions of religion. He was recently threatened for his critical remarks about Islam.

Now Armanious, his wife and his two daughters are dead, victims of a brutal murder.

Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site

He "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.

The source, who had knowledge of the investigation, refused to specify the anti-Muslim statement. But he said cops told him they were looking into the exchanges as a possible motive.

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.

"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.

Police are not commenting on the issue, but that religious motivation appears to be one that they are looking at closely. The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation.

Armanious' fervor apparently rubbed off on his daughter, Sylvia — who would have turned 16 yesterday.

"She was very religious and very opinionated," said Jessica Cimino, 15, a fellow sophomore at Dickenson HS.

A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia seemed to have taken the most savage punishment.

"When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.

The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.

So it appears that there was special attention paid to desecrating a religious symbol. Sounds to me like a sign that anti-Christian bias was a motive for the slayings.

And it is clear that robbery wasn't a motive -- the violence done to the bodies and the fact that the family's valuables were left behind makes that rather plain.

In Egypt, home of the Coptic Church, Copts are a minority oppressed by the Muslim majority. The hostility between the groups continues to exist in this country. After all, Copts still resent the oppression of their co-religionists in Eypt, while Muslims continue to expect the Copts to be good dhimmi even in a country where they have religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

Have the Islamists become so comfortable in this country that they believe they may kill with impunity those who criticize their religion and the evil done in its name?

|| Greg, 11:18 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 15, 2005

School-To-Prison Pipeline?

I don't fisk an article often, but I think I will do this one from the Houston Chronicle.
Increasingly, discipline in our public schools is handled by police officers and the court system rather than educators. Our judges are trained to address criminal behavior, not adolescent misconduct. In Houston, judges complain — rightly — that the Houston Independent School District uses the courts to discipline students for minor school infractions. In HISD, the most common reason for more than 50 percent of the referrals to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs are for persistent misbehavior, which falls under the vague category of forgetting school assignments, loitering in the halls, truancy and disrespect. Studies show that these students are being prepped for prison by the very same system charged with educating them.

Yeah, there is a lot of discipline handled by police and courts. But is that the fault of the schools? Have they been so stripped of authority that farming out that discipline is the only availble means for dealing with the worst offenses. And when the lower level of discipline isn't effective, it might just be that the legal system is the only thing available to teachers and administrators. Which is not to support HISD, which everyone knows is a mess. But I know we have cops on campus issuing citations in my school, which borders on HISD. I don't know that I would stay if we did not. I teach at a school that includes some rough neighborhoods. Just this week we had a kid taken away in an ambulance to get stitchesafter he got his head gahsed open on a locker door during a fight. Both he and the other student in the fight will be visiting a judge in the next few weeks.

The institutional links between school failure and prison are out-of-school suspensions, juvenile detentions, outplacement in separate special education and alternative educational programs.

The high recidivism rate for these young people suggests that schools are giving up on students and not working to help them reform.

But is the school the cause of these problems, or are they simply the setting in which they play out? Two years ago, one of my students hit a kid with a baseball bat in the parking lot after school so he could steal the other boy's new Jordans. Did the school fail my student, or did he arrive already prepped for crime. Is it a culture of drugs and violence that makes these kids criminal, or the fact that we punish them for not being in class on time or for cussing out a teacher?

Also, is it the school's place to reform these students? We're supposed to teach them academic subjects. We've had the task of feeding them two meals a day handed to us. I'm supposed to be looking out for signs of abuse, drug use, and a variety of other social and physical ills. Do you really want to extend the "character education" mandate to include dealing with criminal behavior?

Millions of at-risk third-graders are left stranded and behind, and used as the source to predict the number of future jail cells needed. California schools are a prime example of this disturbing trend and appears to be setting a benchmark for most states. (Unfortunately, Texas ranks second to California in incarcerating youths.) Nationally, at-risk students often receive inadequate academic and counseling support in alternative educational pathways.

The widespread failure of our public schools to meet the needs of our youths leaves them stripped of hope and dignity, academically unprepared to return to a regular educational program and more susceptible to criminal behavior.

So what is your solution to the plight of these third-graders who cannot read at grade level or do basic math? More social promotion? Putting them in a classroom setting where they are not equipped to handle the work? More special programs pulling money away from the "good kids" who do their work, try to learn, and follow the rules? Back when I taught English, I was always struck by the reaction of my kids to Phyllis McGinley's "Lament of the Normal Child", because it so succinctly encapsulates the problem we have in ignoring the needs of the "normal students" in favor of the "troubled students". I'm afraid that we face the exact situation here -- shortchanging the kids who do what is expected in favor of those who don't. When are we to look after their needs in a classroom in which we are supposed to pay attention to the "speial needs" of mainstreamed and at-risk students? Do you propose that we allow one or two disruptive kids to prevent the other 25 from learning? Or should we get rid of four or five core curriculum teacher slots at my campus so we can set up a special program just for those students who refuse to conform to basic standards of behavior?

Minority students are hardest hit. In Texas, for example, African-American and Hispanic students are in the minority, but they represent the majority in Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education programs. Shockingly, many of these minority children are placed in alternative educational programs for nonviolent and minor school offenses like dress codes, tardiness and truancy. In a society saturated with at-risk youths, we must invest in their education to prevent juvenile delinquency. As has been often said, it is cheaper to educate than to incarcerate.

Now hold on just a minute. Why are they the majority? Could it be because they commit the majority of the offenses? And why are they placed in the alternative programs? Could it be because they comit these infractions repeatedly? Dare I point out that there are major problems in the African-American and Hispanic communities in this country that contribute to the problem. Working hard, doing well, and getting a good education is "acting white."

So is following the rules. I can't tell you the number of times kids have trotted out the accusation that I'm hassling them "because I'm black" or "because I'm Mexican" if I ask them for a pass if they are in the hall, ask why they aren't wearing their ID, or tell them to pull up their pants and tuck their shirt in as required by the dress code. Some are insubordinate and insolently refuse to comply. Those kids get written up. Now who is the bad guy, Ms. Campbell -- me or the kid?

I teach 10th graders. As of Friday, after nine days of school (that's total 36 class periods on a block schedule), I have one student student with no fewer than SIX tardies. I've got several who have not yet deigned to grace us with their presence? This is the school's fault? Is it your position that there should be no consequences? I won't get into the question of what you can do to a kid who fails to appear for detention. Your only solution at that point is a suspension or an alternative program -- or to ignore the infraction altogether, which means there is no consequence to misbehavior.

"Setting High Standards" and "Leave No Child Behind" are just empty slogans to students who are deprived of an education. Last October, The New York Times exposed the negative impact of alternative educational programs in an article titled," Get Tough Youth Programs are Ineffective." This article highlighted a study by the National Institutes of Health, which included a 13-member panel on youth violence and ways to prevent it. The panel concluded that negative peer pressure is the No. 1 issue with boot camps and other punishment-focused programs. Other systematic problems cited against alternative educational programs were: inadequate counseling for youth and their families; and ineffective adult lecturing programs such as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE).

And negative peer-pressure is also the number one problem they run into in their communities. I've already pointed that out. Gangsta rap and narco-corridas have more influence than teachers do in these students' lives. Schools are a counter-cultural force in many communities, and that means that there are times we are going to have to exclude parts of that culture. Gang-bangers aren't welcome. Kids who get up and call me a mother f*cker in class are not welcome. Taking away the option of excluding these kids will not improve education, it will only render me more powerless and them more powerful. Eventually, if you continue to take away our power to exclude such kids, I and many of my colleagues will quit. As far as the bootcamps and other punishment-based programs are concerned, I don't care if the programs are effective in changing the behavior of the disruptive 5-10% -- they need to be out of the classroom for the sake of the rest of the kids..

To disconnect the school-to-prison pipeline trend, The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund teamed up to host a daylong discussion called "Building Capacity For State-Level Advocates to Address the School to Prison Pipeline." I participated in this roundtable, along with fellow Texans and others from North Carolina, Mississippi and Massachusetts. As a parent on the frontline fighting for my children and others, I shared a parent's sense of helplessness and frustration. When confronting the educational bureaucracy and its high-powered attorneys (paid for by taxpayers), defenseless parents are intimidated. That is why it is urgent to create parental empowerment, which will lead to more parental involvement.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the educational system is the conficting message sent about parental involvement. By using governmental immunity to defend wrongdoing, and labeling parents who speak out as troublemakers, school officials deter parental involvement. At the same time, they cite the lack of parental involvement as an excuse for students' poor performance. These organized tactics demean, undermine parents and cause some of them to question their parenting skills.

On the other hand, I can't tell you how many times I've had to deal with parents who come into a meeting with the express intent of cursing me. Too many parents insist that their child certainly couldn't possibly be guilty of misbehaving. I've been present as parents have insisted that they have the right to exempt their child from a detention (or even a suspension) if they don't think it is deserved -- and I've seen building and district administrators comply! We actually had one parent attempt to get a court to forbid one of our assistant principals being involved in any disciplinary actions agains a student because the man was white and therefore obviously a racist. And I won't get into the issue of parents who appear on the school doorstep with so-called "civil rights leaders" or television reporters in tow before they have even contacted the school about their problem. I don't want those parents involved. Frankly, Ms. Campbel, I think you are one of them, the type who has a deep hostility to the schools you attend and their personnel, and who believes that anyone who dares to tell you "No" is automatically acting in bad faith.

The parental involvement barriers I experienced as a parent and as an advocate in Fort Bend Independent School District gave me a deeper understanding of the extent to which a school district will go to deter parental involvement. These experiences allowed me to share the following lessons that I had learned out of necessity. Parents can advocate for their children by: getting organized; serving on the school district's board and committees; obtaining parental advocacy training; enlisting the support of other parents; making the media and public officials aware; and speaking out about the need for high expectations for every child.

We would love for you to do the constructive things on that list. Unfortunately, you've just spent an entire column complaining because the district has tried to set high expectations for every child, and has used the means available to enforce them. I've yet to see a single proposal regarding what you would do to solve the problems the school faces. I suspect that the end result will be more restrictions on what the school can do to deal with the problem students, and no improvement in the actual conduct of the students themnselves.

Each roundtable participant presented compelling evidence of the school-to-prison pipeline. A group of state leaders, led by Rep. Dora Olivo, D-Missouri City, has planned a summit on Jan. 28 to address legislation and policies that better promote safe schools and lead to a more equitable and effective student disciplinary system.

In learning more about this subject, I was particularly moved by a documentary called System Failure-Violence, Abuse, and Neglect in the California Youth Authority. In this video presentation, young victims and their parents share their horrifying experiences. The documentary confirms my theory that the most effective way to bring about alternative educational reform is through a state/federal report card, including participants' evaluations.

Think about it: If providers of the alternative educational pathways are held accountable, they would be forced to positively change the way they do business — in order to stay in business.

Ah, there we have it. This whole column is about creating another set of "victims" of "the system." Maybe the better way is to simply abolish public education as we know it and give the funds to parents as vouchers. Those students interested in learning can go to schools where they don't feel threatened. Teachers can teach in schools where they have some authority.

And you can set up your own program for the delinquents, and figure out what to do with them. The only problem I see is that you wouldn't have an enemy (especially not an implicitly racist white enemy) to blame for the problem. You would only have yourself and your community.

|| Greg, 03:59 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Leftists Object To Bombed Bus -- Call It Anti-Palestinian

Shortly before 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2004, Egged Bus 19 was blown up at the corner of Gaza and Arlozorov streets in Jerusalem by a homicide bomber who detonated the explosives strapped to his body. The terrorist, a Palestinian, murdered 11 people and wounded at least another 45.

Bus 19 has been brought to a number of cities in recent months to point out the devastating effects of terrorism in Israel. The next stop is Berkeley, California. But local terrorists sympathizers will protest the display, claiming that it is "politically charged and one-sided."

Organizers of the exhibit, which will be the focus of an anti-terrorism rally at a Berkeley park on Sunday, said the point is to show the devastating effects of terrorism.

"We're bringing it around the country to heighten the awareness of the cruelty, the godless brutality of terrorism," said James Hutchens, president of the Washington, D.C.-based group The Jerusalem Connection, formerly known as Christians for Israel.

Critics see the exhibit in a different way, and are planning a counterdemonstration in opposition to Israeli policy.

Barbara Lubin, executive director of the Berkeley group Middle East Children's Alliance, which provides aid to Iraqi and Palestinian families, sees the real purpose of the exhibit as "perpetuating the idea that Palestinians are terrorists."

Lubin is organizing a silent "Vigil for Global Justice," to be held across the street from the Sunday rally.

Let's make something crystal clear here, something that must not be forgotten.

Arafat was a terrorist.

Abbas is a terrorist.

The rest of the Palestinian leadership is composed of terrorists or terrorist supporters.

Deal with it, don't protest because people point those facts out.

Chris Cantor, a member of the group Students for Justice in Palestine, said he doesn't expect many students to attend the Sunday rally. Spring classes at UC Berkeley do not start until Tuesday.

He had heard about the exhibit and, like Lubin, thought it was one-sided.

"It's focusing on something that I think everybody agrees is a tragedy," he said. "It doesn't address any of the root causes of violence."

I've addressed the root causes above.

Arafat was a terrorist.

Abbas is a terrorist.

The rest of the Palestinian leadership is composed of terrorists or terrorist supporters.

The best way to address the root cause of terrorism is to kill every terrorist you can find, just as you would any other form of vermin.

That any individual or group could object to this display, highlighting the evil of intentional attacks on civilians which are perpetuated and approved by the Palstinian leadership and its affiliated terrorist groups, shows the utter bankruptcy of their cause. They are terrorist apologists, and should be rejected as such by every decent person. Their view deserves no hearing.

Lest we forget.

The Victims Of Palestinian Terror On Bus 19

|| Greg, 02:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Moss Threatens To Unveil Shortcoming

After he was fined, repoters asked Rany Moss if he was upset about losing $10,000 for his antics during the Green Bay game. His response demonstrated a level of class seldom seen in the NFL.
"No, it ain't shit," he said as he climbed into his SUV. "It ain't nothing but 10 grand. What's 10 grand to me? What's 10 grand if you're rich? It ain't shit. Next time I might shake my dick."

Would anyone even notice if he did?

|| Greg, 02:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Court To Newdow --Constitution Doesn't Mandate Atheism

Michael Newdow really doesn't get it. In his crusade to wipe out any hint of religious speech or expresion in any public venue, Newdow fails to recognize that his success would effectively gut the very First Amendment he alleges he wants enforced. Fortunately the courts are starting to see the absurdity (and, indeed, the danger) of his activities.
On Thursday, Newdow told U.S. District Judge John Bates that having a minister invoke God in the Jan. 20 ceremony would violate the Constitution by forcing him to accept unwanted religious beliefs.

But one day later, Bates ruled that Newdow wouldn't get far in his legal challenge and noted the absence of a "clearly established violation of the Establishment Clause."

"Moreover," the judge said in the ruling, "the balance of harms here, and particularly the public interest, does not weigh strongly in favor of the injunctive relief Newdow requests, which would require the unprecedented step of an injunction against the president."

The government had asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss the current lawsuit, saying the invocation had been widely accepted for more than 200 years old.

The court on Friday said it doesn't have the power to order the president not to speak at his own inauguration and the act of ordering the president not to permit an invocation and benediction — which Newdow sought — would be one and the same.

So, Mike, get this through you thick little atheist skull -- just as no one has a right to force you to speak or believe other than what you choose, you also lack the right to impose restrictions on others. You are not harmed by hearing that which you object to, whether in person or on television, and your own intense shocking sensitivity is not the standard by which the First Amendment is enforced.

Oh yeah, and Mike -- you need to go back and read up on the concepts of "stare deceis" and "res judicata", since you clearly slept through those lessons in law school. Since you already adjudicated this very issue, the earlier decision stands and serves as the precedent for all future cases on the issue. In short, you and your supporters lose FOREVER!

|| Greg, 01:42 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hitler Sought Papal Kidnapping

"When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror,
the voice of the pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was
enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the
tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."

Golda Meir
October 9, 1958

One of the great lies of the last half-century has been the accusation that Pope Pius XII stood by silently while Hitler murdered the Jews. While nothing could be further from the truth, that lie is repeated by Jews, anti-Catholic bigots, and secular Leftists in an attempt to defame the man's memory and delegitimize Catholicism. Yet even a cursory examination of the record shows that to be untrue.

Now we have one more piece of evidence to refute the charge.

Elements of alleged plots to abduct the Pope during Germany's occupation of Italy have already emerged in the past from some historians, but Avvenire's full-page report said its details were new.

Avvenire said Hitler feared the Pope would be an obstacle to his plans for global domination and because the dictator wanted to eventually abolish Christianity and impose National Socialism as a sort of new global religion.

The newspaper said a plot that was codenamed Operation Rabat had originally been planned for 1943 but was not carried out that year for unspecified reasons.

It said that in 1944, shortly before the Germans retreated from Rome, SS General Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff, a senior occupation officer in Italy, had been ordered by Hitler to kidnap the Pope.

According to the newspaper, Wolff returned to Rome from his meeting with Hitler in Germany and arranged for a secret meeting with the Pope. Wolff went to the Vatican in civilian clothes at night with the help of a priest.

The newspaper said Wolff told the Pope of Hitler's orders and assured him he had no intention of carrying them out himself, but warned the Pontiff to be careful "because the situation (in Rome) was confused and full of risks."

Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had already fallen and set up a German-backed puppet regime in northern Italy. The German occupation of Rome was in its dying days. Allied forces were advancing on the capital, which they liberated on June 5, 1944.

As a test of Wolff's good faith, Pope Pius asked for him to free two Italian resistance leaders who had been condemned to death. Wolff arranged for them to be released, the paper said.

Now does that sound like Pius XII was "Hiler's Pope," or perceived as a supporter of National Socialismby that Satanic philospohys main proponent? Or does it sound more like he was, as the New York Times called him after his radio address on Christmas Day, 1942, "a lonely voice crying out in the silence of a continent" speaking out against "the exile and persecution of human beings for no reason other than race or political opinion"? Would Hitler have ordered such a kidnapping if Pius was a collaborator in the Final Solution? The answer should be obvious to those who are honest.

|| Greg, 01:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Methane Seas On Titan -- Will Liberals Blame Bush?

Huygens has sent back loads of information about Titan. The release of data from the European Space Agency probe continues as it is processed.

New, refined pictures from Saturn's moon Titan released today show a pale orange surface covered by a thin haze of methane and what appears to be a methane sea complete with islands and a mist-shrouded coastline.

Space officials worked through the night to sharpen the new photos taken by the space probe Huygens, which snapped the images Friday as it plunged through Titan's atmosphere before landing by parachute on the surface.

This is a remarkable achievemaent for the European Space Agency, which has partnered with NASA in this first exploration of one of Saturn's moons. According to articles I've read, this data may help us understand the development of Earth as the solar system formed. Congratulations to all involved in this pushing back of one more scientific frontier!

|| Greg, 01:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 14, 2005

Ever Wonder Who Is Watching You?

Found this among my daily visitors today, courtesy of Statcounter.
VISITOR ANALYSIS Referring Link philadelphia white supremacist&spell=1 Host Name IP Address Country United States Region Washington Dc City Washington ISP Us Dept Of Justice Returning Visits 0 Visit Length 0 seconds VISITOR SYSTEM SPECS Browser MSIE 6.0 Operating System Windows 2000 Resolution 1280x1024 Javascript Enabled

Gee, i wonder how I earned the surveilance?

|| Greg, 03:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 13, 2005

Do They Accept This Excuse From Students?

We have zero tolerance for drugs in our schools? Shouldn’t we have zero tolerance for drug using school board members?
Oakland school board member Dan Siegel was cited for marijuana possession at the Oakland International Airport as he prepared to board a flight on Tuesday -- and says his use of the drug is just part of life.

"Yes, I use marijuana occasionally for stress,'' Siegel said Wednesday, a day after he was caught with the marijuana. "It's just a part of life." He said he does not have a prescription for medicinal marijuana.

Siegel, a former school district attorney who is expected to run for Oakland mayor in 2006, was cited Tuesday night after Transportation Security Administration officials found less than ounce of the drug in a piece of his checked baggage, Oakland police Sgt. Larry Krupp said.

What is the penalty for drug possession in Oakland schools?

|| Greg, 07:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Yeah, I Know It Looked Awful, But. . .

Most new television shows get at least a couple of weeks to thrive. Not this one.
CBS lost "The Will" after just one night.

This reality series, which logged a minuscule 4.2 million viewers on its premiere airing Saturday, has been axed by CBS, the network confirmed Wednesday. Despite heavy promotion, "The Will" ranked 79th place in viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it CBS' lowest-ranked show of the week. (The week's most-watched show, CBS' "CSI," drew almost 29 million viewers.)

A rerun of CBS' Sunday crime drama "Cold Case" will plug the hole this Saturday, the network said.

A reality show whose 10 participants vied to be sole heir to the fortune of a 73-year-old rancher, "The Will" thus joins a handful of other one-shot blunders in TV history.

The most recent was "South of Sunset," a CBS detective drama with former Eagles rocker Glenn Frey, which debuted October 27, 1993, then was never seen again. With a 6.1 rating, that show attracted what was deemed the smallest audience ever for a series premiere on any major network.

For the sake of comparison, "The Will" got a 2.9 rating.


|| Greg, 07:25 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rant Against Fox News Commentators

Sylvester Brown, a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, doesn’t much like Fox news. That’s why he wastes an entire column ranting against several Fox commentators who have shows carried on one of the local stations.
"A PBS Mind in a Fox News World."

I saw that slogan on a bumper sticker, and it resonated with me. I consider many news programs on the Fox network unabashedly partisan and ultraconservative. The idea that millions rely on it for news and information makes me wince.

Although I agree with the sentiment, I'd never paste the sticker on my bumper. It assumes that all Fox News viewers are morons. Too rude for me.

While scanning the FM dial a couple of months ago, however, I heard a promotion for a local radio station:

"St. Louis 97.1 FM - Younger. Smarter. Better."

Well, talk about rude.

Oh, dear. The station promo is RUDE. Heaven forbid!

"Younger, smarter and better" than . . . who? Elderly people? Other radio stations? Liberals? Who?

To better understand, I've been listening. I'm still baffled.

I've only heard brief segments of the eight hours each day on the Emmis-owned station filled by conservative media darlings Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. But what I've heard doesn't strike me as being "smarter" or "better" than anything else available.

If by "younger" they mean "bratty," "whiny" and "attention-craving," however, then they have that mastered.

Seems like Sylvester has it down, too. That is what the rest of his column is, anyway – a series of anecdotes from the shows all intended to paint the respective hosts as petty blowhards who don’t merit their exposure.

What I sense behind the posturing of these hosts is a yearning to be recognized by the very celebrities they heckle.
And I could argue that I sense the same yearning to be recognized in Sylvester’s column. After all, he is a columnist in one Midwestern newspaper – a Blue State bloviator in the middle of a sea of Red State values. And yet these – gasp! – conservatives have national syndication deals that pay them handsomely and bring them opportunities that Sylvester will never have. I can imagine him sitting in front of his keyboard, carefully calculating how insulting he would need to be in order to get a bit of that national exposure via a mention on one of those shows, or maybe even by the liberal deities of Air America.
Fox's conservative blowhards obviously make millions and attract much-wanted attention. But if the juvenile antics of their hosts reflect a better and smarter world, perhaps I'll reconsider applying that bumper sticker.

Not, of course, that you are a liberal elitist, Sylvester. More likely because you don’t understand the medium of talk radio, and prefer that the government subsidize your preferred entertainment rather than having it compete in the marketplace – or the marketplace of ideas.

|| Greg, 07:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Bigger Congress?

Jeff Jacoby makes an interesting point about the disconnect felt by many people when it comes to their member of Congress. His take on the matter is that there are not enough members.
Divide Iraq's 25 million people by the number of members in the new parliament (275), and the result is one legislator for every 91,000 people. That will make Iraq's government almost exactly as representative as Great Britain's — each member of the House of Commons also represents, on average, about 91,000 citizens. Other democracies are comparable. The ratio for Italy's Chamber of Deputies is 1 to 92,000. For the French National Assembly, 1 to 104,000. For Canada's House of Commons, 1 to 105,000. For Germany's Bundestag, 1 to 136,000.

But in the US House of Representatives, each lawmaker represents, on average, a staggering 674,000 citizens. That makes the "people's house" in Washington one of the least democratic bodies of its kind in the world. No wonder so many Americans feel alienated from Congress. The vastness of their constituencies has turned too many representatives into distant careerists, political moguls with bloated staffs and bloated egos who are more closely attuned to their campaign war chests than to the lives of the people they are supposed to represent.

Term limits would help reconnect members of Congress with their districts, as would an end to blatantly partisan gerrymandering. But there is an even better way to make Congress more democratic: Make it bigger.

Jeff does have a point. If we had representation at the same level as the First Congress, the House of Representatives would consist of some 6000 members. If we used the same ration adopted after the 1790 census, we would have nearly 9000 members. Jacoby suggest that we simply increase the size of the House to somewhere around 1300, or triple the current size. That would make every vote for Congress more important, and allow voters to feel connected to their representative. More to the point, the diversity this would foster would make for a better representation of the view of Americans.

As far as I’m concerned, if we slash Congressional salaries and staff to compensate for the increased size, it might not be a bad idea.

|| Greg, 07:19 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

How Long Does Child Support Continue?

Now I’m not opposed to child support payments being ordered by a court after a divorce. But it seems to me that there have to be some reasonable limits. They’ve crossed the line in Canada.
The doctor at the centre of the case, William Neufeld, is angry that he must shell out as much as $22,000 a year to see his daughter Jennifer through at least three years of medical school at the University of Calgary.

"It's just very wrong to teach the children of this province that if they happen to be the children of a person who makes more than an average amount of money, they can just sit on their ass and do absolutely nothing and expect to be paid for it, as long as they're making good marks," he told the Vancouver Province Tuesday.

In making the ruling, one judge referred to Jennifer as "an exemplary student."

The appeals court based its ruling on the fact that a separation agreement Neufeld signed after splitting with Jennifer's mother Barbara in 1999 did not set a cap on his educational support for either Jennifer or her younger brother.

Barbara Neufeld's only income is from spousal support, the ruling noted.
The ruling also took into account William Neufeld's income of $170,000 a year, and said it might have come to a different conclusion for a child "simply going to college because there is nothing better to do."

Now wait. Support payments are to continue into the child’s LATE TWENTIES! Where I grew up, the last nine or ten of those years constitute ADULTHOOD! And while it isn’t unusual to insist upon payment of college tuition (despite the fact that the law does not require married parents to pay a child’s college tuition), isn’t that the point at which legally mandated support ought to stop?

By the way, please notice that the mother in this case contributes NOTHING – because the courts have given her a support package that lets her live comfortably without working. So this guy is being sponged for probably something approaching $100,000 when one considers that there is a second child involved and that we are talking in terms of Canadian dollars, not a currency that has a value close to that of the American dollar.

|| Greg, 07:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 12, 2005

Hate Crime Laws – Proper And Improper Usages

I’m not a big proponent of hate crime laws. While they make for nice symbolism – “we won’t tolerate hate” – they are generally not enforced with sufficient frequency or consistency to deal with the problem they are meant to eliminate. Swastikas on a synagogue are generally presumed to be a hate crime until proven otherwise, while Satanic scrawlings and desecration of the Eucharist at a Catholic church are treated as teenage mischief. That is why these two stories strike me as representing the two sides of this coin.

My first example is of a case where a hate crime law clearly ought to be used.

Ever since he was 12, Daniel Romano has cut a noticeable figure around Middle Village, a working class part of Queens. Mr. Romano, 20, who calls himself a Satanist, stands out, with his blue-tinted bouffant hairdo, his black clothing and fingernails, and the prominent crucifix, worn upside down.

Mr. Romano has long been teased for dressing like a "gothic kid" or simply a "goth," in a community with small homes, neat lawns and populated with many Roman Catholics.
But in recent weeks, two local teenagers began fixating on Mr. Romano, calling him names including "Satan worshiper," "baby sacrificer" and "hooker killer," the authorities say. On Sunday the verbal harassment turned into violence.

Mr. Romano, while walking on 72nd Street in Maspeth, was attacked by the two teenagers, the authorities say. Yesterday the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, announced that the young men, Paul C. Rotondi and Frank M. Scarpinito, both 18 and from Middle Village, would be charged with hate crimes, which carry harsher penalties and are usually leveled when an attack involves a victim's ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

Let’s look at this case. You have a clearly identified crime, assault. It is clearly motivated by the victim’s religion, a criteria for the hate crime charge. There is no possible basis for claiming that the activity engaged in is itself protected by the Constitution. When all factors are taken into consideration, a harsher charge is warranted.

But then there are statutes that are subject to abuse, and prosecutors inclined to abuse them. We see this in the unfolding case of a group of Christians arrested at Philadelphia’s Outfest last fall, and charged with multiple offenses that could see them imprisoned for 47 years.

Although the precise sequence of events is in dispute, the general outline of what happened Oct. 10 is relatively clear, thanks to several videotapes and the police report.

Early that afternoon, 11 demonstrators led by Marcavage entered the eight-block area around 13th and Chancellor Streets where Outfest was taking place. Marcavage had a Bible in one hand, a bullhorn tucked under the other arm, and a Repent America baseball cap on his head.

The demonstrators were no strangers to event organizers or police. Repent America had brought its message - "Homosexuality Is Sin, Christ Can Set You Free" - to previous gay-pride events. In addition, group members had been thrown out of Citizens Bank Park in August for bringing in a banner to protest the Phillies' observance of Gay Community Day.

Soon after their arrival, Marcavage and company were surrounded by Outfest's makeshift security force, which was armed with pink whistles and eight-foot-tall boards of pink-colored insulation mounted on sticks. The force's goal was to prevent the group's signs from being seen and its words from being heard.

Eventually, a crowd formed, and police, who said in their report that they wanted to prevent violence, instructed the demonstrators to go to the edge of the Outfest area. A videotape shows Marcavage asking officers to protect his own freedoms of speech and movement.

After complying with two orders to move and refusing a third, the demonstrators were told they would be arrested. At that point, Marcavage sat down in the street, forcing police to haul him away.

Now there might be a basis for misdemeanor charges here, but even that is debatable. Outfest is a street festival, but the streets (in a residential area) are not blocked off to the public. People could come and go through the area at will – until (view video here) a pre-planned, pre-announced strategy of containment was implemented against Repent America by event organizers, based solely upon Repent America’s religion, sexual orientation, and exercise of the right of free speech. One of the charges, ethnic intimidation, is based strictly upon speech – spoken quotes from the Bible and those written on signs. Has the First Amendment been so watered down that quoting from a revered religious text constitutes “hate speech” and “fighting words” for which an individual may be imprisoned? And would a group of gay rights protesters at a Catholic ordination (like those who pelted a newly ordained priest and his mother with condoms in Boston several years ago) be charged with a felony hate crime on such a flimsy basis?

So while I may be pleased with enhanced charges based upon motive in the Queens assault case, I am much more frightened by the erosion of liberty in Philadelphia and its implications for American freedom.

|| Greg, 05:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Strength From Above

We’re not a country that imposes religious tests for public office. I would oppose any attempt to impose such a requirement. But at the same time, I thing George W. Bush is exactly right in saying a relationship with God is important for any president.
"I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit," Mr. Bush said. "That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have or one of the greatest freedoms is the right to worship the way you see fit.

"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord," he said.

Now some might object to that statement. I believe they would be wrong to do so. The burdens associated with the office of President of the United States are awe-inspiring. They are, I believe, more than any one person can bear alone – and yet they must be borne alone. One must have some other source of strength – and my faith tells me that the source of that extra strength is God.

|| Greg, 05:24 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (28) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Another Frivolous Lawsuit – Brought To You By PETAphiles

Are California cows happy cows? Not according to the folks at PETA, who sued to stop a series of popular commercials for California cheeses.
The ads showed cows in spacious pastures on rolling hills.

They were challenged in a false advertising lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, based in Norfolk, Va.

PETA claimed that most California cows are actually unhappy and spend their lives in dry, grassless dirt lots.

I’m curious – how did they determine whether or not the cows were happy? Did they do exit polling?

|| Greg, 05:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Another Free Speech Case From Missouri?

Just this week, the Supreme Court ruled that the white trash who make up the KKK cannot be barred from a program picking up trash on Missouri highways. Now the St. Louis area transit agency, Metro, has removed ads from trains because they were placed by a white supremacist group, the National Alliance.
Metro plans to remove a white separatist group's advertisements from MetroLink trains today, calling the group's philosophy offensive.

The St. Louis unit of the National Alliance paid $1,500 for 50 ads on MetroLink trains. The ads read, "The Future Belongs to Us," and provide the group's Web site and phone number.

The National Alliance has been described by watch groups as the nation's largest neo-Nazi group and has a relatively large and active membership in St. Louis.

Now hold on. A government agency is going to pick and choose which groups are allowed to advertise on trains based upon whether or not folks find the philosophy of the organization “offensive”? Does this mean no more ads from Planned Parenthood? From the NAACP? From gay rights groups? From the Democrat Party? Who, exactly, is going to get to decide which groups can be offended and which ones cannot? Will vegetarians have to put up with ads for restaurants that serve meat? Will thinking people continue to be offended by ads for the local Air America radio outlet? And will pacifists be required to tolerate recruiting posters from the military? Why is it this ad, which on its face is innocuous, that must be removed?

|| Greg, 05:16 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Unifying Values?

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Chivas Regal) has called for Democrats to follow an agenda based upon the unifying values of the party.

"Unlike the Republican Party, we believe our values unite us as Americans, instead of dividing us," the Massachusetts Democrat said in a speech prepared for delivery at the National Press Club.

"Today, I propose a progressive vision for America, a vision that Democrats must fight for in the months and years ahead -- a vision rooted in our basic values of opportunity, fairness, tolerance and respect for each other."
Kennedy played a big role in the 2004 White House race that saw President Bush re-elected and Republicans increase their majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Apparently Senator Kennedy (D-Delirium Tremens) doesn’t realize that the Democrats were rejected when they ran on their values. Following such a path will be a basis for the continued rejection of a Democrat Party out of touch with the values of most Americans, in favor of a GOP that actually does stand for opportunity, fairness, tolerance, and respect for each other.

|| Greg, 05:09 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 11, 2005

Oops! They Did It Again

How much more screwed up does the King County count need to be before a court takes notice and throws out the fraud-wracked Washington gubernatorial election?
Three days after King County election officials explained most of a controversial discrepancy between the number of ballots cast and voters known to have voted, the gap has grown again.

After whittling the discrepancy from 3,539 votes to 1,217 last week, officials yesterday said they had made a mistake.

The number of votes now unaccounted for is "somewhere around 1,800," county Elections Superintendent Bill Huennekens said yesterday.

It's impossible to come up with a precise number, Huennekens said, because workers are adding and deleting names of registered voters as they update the list in preparation for a Feb. 8 special election.

Huennekens said the numbers released Friday were wrong because the names of 1,003 voters appeared twice on the voter list. Not all of them voted in the November election. Computer experts are trying to figure out why some names were on the list twice.

It seems manifestly clear that there are at least 10 times the margin of victory in unknown votes, along with all the other problems. Where is Jesse Jackson? Where is Barbara Boxer? Where is the Congressional Black Caucus? Where, oh where, are the host of Democrats who protested the Ohio vote? It seems they don’t care when the margin is close and any change will benefit a Republican – proving that the mantra of “count every vote” doesn’t apply here – unless we are talking about counting illegitimate votes for their preferred candidate.

|| Greg, 09:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Catholic League Slaps Dan Rather

Applying the very standard he applied to Boston’s Cardinal Law, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Liberties issued this statement regarding embattled CBS anchor Dan Rather.

Here is what Dan Rather said about Cardinal Law on December 9, 2002:
“The Roman Catholic Church faces a long-running crisis of a different sort in Boston, where Cardinal Bernard Law is resisting calls for his resignation over his handling of the priestly sex abuse scandal. But there are new questions tonight about how much longer the cardinal can hang on.”

Now try this one on for size, Dan:
“CBS faces a long-running crisis of a different sort in New York, where Managing Editor Dan Rather is resisting calls for his resignation over his handling of an erroneous report on President Bush’s National Guard service. But there are new questions today about how much longer Rather can hang on.”


|| Greg, 09:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

User Fees For Emergency Services?

Should out-of-towners be charged for rescue services if they are in an automobile accident?
Winter Park could be the first city in the state to charge for pulling injured motorists from their wrecked cars, according to a Local 6 News report.

Local 6 News reported that if a driver involved in the crash isn't a city resident, crashing in the city could cost even more.

Winter Park firefighters respond to hundreds of crashes every year and the money from the proposed service fees could provide money without raising taxes.

Fees could range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for extensive crashes involving cutting people out of their cars, according to a report.

While the idea of charging non-residents a user fee is attractive, I have some concerns. Has the idea truly been thought through? And what’s the next step? A user fee to investigate crimes against non-residents? I can hear it now – “I see here that you are from Miami. If you want us to take a report and look for the guy who shot you, that will be $5000. If we catch the guy and prosecute him, that will be another $5000. You can’t expect the taxpayers of our community to pick up the tab.”

Thoughts and reactions?

|| Greg, 08:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 10, 2005

An Accounting From CBS

Well, the axe has fallen.

Four CBS News employees, including three executives, have been ousted for their role in preparing and reporting a disputed story about President Bush’s National Guard service.

The action was prompted by the report of an independent panel that concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of the piece. The panel also said CBS News had compounded that failure with a “rigid and blind” defense of the 60 Minutes Wednesday report.

Asked to resign were Senior Vice President Betsy West, who supervised CBS News primetime programs; 60 Minutes Wednesday Executive Producer Josh Howard; and Howard’s deputy, Senior Broadcast Producer Mary Murphy. The producer of the piece, Mary Mapes, was terminated.

The correspondent on the story, CBS News anchor Dan Rather, is stepping down as anchor of CBS Evening News.

The fact that the senior folks were dumped tells you how serious the problem really was, for all of Rather’s attempts to minimize the error. But they had to save face by allowing Rather to retire gracefully. Still, Rather is faulted as a cause of the problem.

The panel said a "myopic zeal" to be the first news organization to broadcast a groundbreaking story about Mr. Bush’s National Guard service was a key factor in explaining why CBS News had produced a story that was neither fair nor accurate and did not meet the organization’s internal standards.

The report said at least four factors that some observers described as a journalistic “Perfect Storm” had contributed to the decision to broadcast a piece that was seriously flawed.

"The combination of a new 60 Minutes Wednesday management team, great deference given to a highly respected producer and the network’s news anchor, competitive pressures, and a zealous belief in the truth of the segment seem to have led many to disregard some fundamental journalistic principles," the report said.

In other words, this report didn’t measure up to even the lowest standard, because they wanted to be first with a story they wanted to be true. A heck of a note for Dan to go out on.

The interesting point for me is the recommended changes.

The panel made a number of recommendations for changes, including: · Appoint a senior Standards and Practices Executive, reporting directly to the President of CBS News, who would review all investigative reporting, use of confidential sources and authentication of documents. Personnel should feel comfortable going to this person confidentially and without fear of reprisal, with questions or concerns about particular reports. · Foster an atmosphere in which competitive pressure is not allowed to prompt airing of reports before all investigation and vetting is done. · Allow senior management to know the names of confidential sources as well as all relevant background about the person needed to make news judgments. · Appoint a separate team, led by someone not involved in the original reporting, to look into any news report that is challenged.

All of these sound like good ideas. It would be a complete cultural change. The key question for me is whether or not the recommendations will be fully implemented. After all, it would severely hinder the CBS tradition of dicey scoops based upon questionable evidece that is more fitting for a tabloid than a major news outlet.

|| Greg, 09:05 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dem Election Theft Began Before Election

And the Democrats still want to claim that no voter was disenfranchised in the gubernatorial election.
Less than a month before the November election, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue Washington state because it was moving too slowly in mailing military ballots overseas. At that point Washington was the only state that hadn't mailed its overseas ballots. Questions about military ballots have come up frequently since the Nov. 2 election ended with a deadlocked governor's race. Democrat Christine Gregoire was certified governor-elect Dec. 30 and is to be sworn in Wednesday. But Republican Dino Rossi has made the military ballots, generally seen as Republican votes, a key part of his effort to call for a new election.

On Oct. 7, State Elections Director Nick Handy sent all county auditors an e-mail tagged "URGENT" telling them about a threat from the senior litigation attorney for the Department of Justice. Handy said the state's attorney had been told the federal government "is preparing a lawsuit to be filed tomorrow against the state of Washington."

This tracks closely with what Rossi has claimed in his election contest. There is a pattern that extends back weeks BEFORE the election that resulted in federal scrutiny. The result?

"Military overseas and other absentee voters may not have received or been sent their absentee ballots in a timely manner and could have been disenfranchised by the neglect, mistake, or error of election officials," according to the case filed by Republicans in Chelan County Superior Court.

Rossi was joined at a news conference by the parents of Tyler Farmer, a Marine wounded in Iraq who didn't get his ballot until the day after the election and was unable to have his vote for Rossi counted.

But such things are clearly irrelevant to the Democrats. Stealing elecions is a longstanding tradition for them. It doesn't matter whose right to vote is compromised.

Lisa Cohen, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, said no one has shown evidence of "broad disenfranchisement" of military voters. "Was there some isolated cases? Quite possibly," she said. But she said that most of the problems could be avoided by the alternative methods of voting available to military personnel.

In other words, Ms. Cohen and her party just don’t care, since those votes were most likely Rossi votes. And besides -- they are only members of the military, right, Ms. Cohen? Its not like they ware racial minorities or other members of the ever-shrinking Democrat coalition.

But why should we be surprised. They’ve said the same thing about every other irregularity in this election. When does the cumulative weight of the evidence add up to something for the Democrats? Especially when one considers the frivolous challenge to Ohio’s electoral votes last week, based upon much weaker evidence in an election that was not nearly as close.

|| Greg, 08:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

ACLU Seeks To Stop Execution – Over Prisoner’s Objection

The case seems like every other death penalty appeal – throw a bunch or arguments at the wall and see if they stick. The one the ACLU is riding hardest is the one that claims lethal injection is causes intense pain, and is therefore cruel and unusual punishment.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut argued Friday that serial killer Michael Ross could suffer "excruciating pain" during his execution by lethal injection Jan. 26, and asked a federal judge to stay the execution and hold hearings on the process the state plans to use.

"I believe what's really at stake here is the humanity of everyone in this room and the humanity of the state of Connecticut," attorney Annette Lamoreaux, legal director for the ACLU of Connecticut, argued to U.S. District Judge Christopher F. Droney.

But here is a twist that seems really striking to me. The condemned doesn't want the appeal to move forward, so the ACLU is arguing he isn't competent to determine his own legal strategy!

The local ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ross' father, Dan Ross, as "next friend" to his son. It claims Michael Ross is mentally incompetent, due to an array of documented mental disorders. Lamoreaux claims that by "volunteering" to be executed, Ross is endangering his own health, "as it amounts to state-assisted suicide."

Ross last week was found to be mentally competent to control his legal affairs by Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford in New London.

Ross, appearing on five monitors throughout the courtroom, was adamant he did not want the lawsuit to proceed.

"This lawsuit came as a complete surprise to me," Ross said. "I don't need anyone filing anything on my behalf.

"I believe you should dismiss the case," Ross told Droney. "They do not have standing" to bring the lawsuit.

Ross, a Cornell University graduate, is well-versed on death penalty case law and recent controversies concerning the lethal combination of drugs used in the execution process.

So the man is has epertise in the area and understands the issues. The only thing that the ACLU is hanging its hat on is that the guy doesn't want their help. Why is this case not being dismissed? He is making a choice on legal strategy.

Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Harry Weller argued that even the ACLU's expert, anesthesiologist Mark Heath, acknowledged that if the drugs were administered properly, Ross would die a humane death. Weller also emphasized there is no evidence to suggest Ross is incompetent.

"The claim here is that if someone decides to accept execution, they must be incompetent," Weller said. "I think that's the theory that's driven all this litigation."

Talk about your crazy defenses – “If he is willing to accept the judgement of the court, he is incapable of directing his own defense.”

|| Greg, 08:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

History Geek Alert!

It is a Civil War buff’s dream!
Civil War buffs are getting access to a treasure trove of information - thousands of original maps and diagrams of battles and campaigns between 1861 and 1865, all posted on the Internet. The Library of Congress is posting 2,240 maps and charts and 76 atlases and sketchbooks, while The Virginia Historical Society and the Library of Virginia are adding about 600 items. Much of the collection is online now; the rest will be by the spring. The items depict troop positions and movements, as well as fortifications. There also are reconnaissance maps, sketches and coastal charts and theater-of-war maps.

To see the collection, click here.

|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 08, 2005

A Little Too Close To Home For Me

Had i tried to go out this evening, I would have had trouble.
Residents of Seabrook had to stay indoors under the threat of a possible explosion after a Union Pacific railroad train carrying concentrated hydrogen peroxide

Two 90-ton rail cars fell over on their sides, leaking the potentially combustible materials. A fire on the engine — thought to have been sparked as a result of the force of the impact — was extinguished by firefighters.

No injuries were reported, but the hydrogen peroxide leak posed a threat to nearby residents.

We heard sirens, but that was about it. We weren't in the "shelter in place" zone, but knowing that it was within 2 or 3 miles is a bit concerting. Especially since I drive by the place where it happened at least twice daily.

|| Greg, 11:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An American Hero Dies

There are some names you hear mentioned with reverence growing up in a military family. This Navy brat heard this man's name more than once.
Sheldon Hoard Kinney, 86, a retired Navy rear admiral whose ship sank three German U-boats in one night and who saw combat service in three wars, died Dec. 11 at his home in Annapolis. He was a former commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy.

If you go to one link off of my site, this should be it. He was a truly amazing man.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Elizabeth "Lea" Douglas Kinney of Annapolis; two sons, Douglas Kinney of Washington and Bruce Kinney of Snellville, Ga; a brother; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

My deepest condolences to all who loved him.

|| Greg, 05:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 07, 2005

Would You Give?

Three years ago, fashion writer Christa Worthington was murdered in the town of Truro, Massachusetts. No arrests have been made, despite the recovery of a male DNA sample. Now police are asking all male residents of the town to voluntarily give a DNA sample to be tested.
"We are turning to the Truro community and asking that they look inward and begin to consider the possibilities that exist within their community who may have interacted with Worthington," State Police Trooper Christopher Mason said. "From an investigators standpoint, it is efficient and effective."

District Attorney Michael O'Keefe said that officials will look more closely at those who do not cooperate.

"I would say to any member of the public that they should have no (qualms) about cooperating with the police. By law, that DNA sample can't go anywhere," O'Keefe said.

Am I the only one who finds the district attorney’s statement a bit chilling? The police have no probable cause to get a court order for the samples. Instead they say "Give us your DNA or become a suspect in a murder investigation." What assurance is there that the DNA sample will be used only in this case? Will the “volunteers” become a part of a larger police DNA database, available for use in any case? And will the refusing to cooperate be presented to a court as probable cause for compelling someone to give a sample?

I think I would opt out of this program – and tell the cops to pound sand when they came to question me. Exercising one’s right to privacy is not a legitimate basis for being made the subject of a criminal investigation.

|| Greg, 10:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Parents Serve Detention With Daughter

Steven and Susan Manis had car trouble several times in October and November. That made their daughter, Jessica, late for school six times. At Pearland Junior High East, students tardy more than twice receive a one hour detention. Since the school would not relent (though it looks like they may have, because the kid should have more than one detention by my count), the parents came to serve the detention with their daughter.
"This is a case of a zero tolerance policy gone wild," Susan Manis said. She said the part of school her daughter missed never included an academic class but a home room-like class called "Advisory."

She said the tardies came on mornings when the school bus had already passed before she found out her van wouldn't start. A recurring electrical problem with the vehicle has been remedied, she said.

"We are enforcing the handbook consequences for a student who is repeatedly late to school," Principal Lonnie Leal said in a written statement.

While i've always been critical of zero tolerance policies,I disagree with the parents. This policy is reasonable. The only wild thing I see here is that these parents think that the tardy policy shouldn’t apply to their daughter because they feel she has a good reason for being late.

To be honest, I think this is just a political stunt. Both parents ran for school board last spring, and both were defeated. I'd bet they are planning another run.

|| Greg, 10:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Persecuting Physicians

My darling wife suffers from chronic degenerative conditions that cause her great pain. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that we have a pair of doctors who do their best to keep her healthy and minimize her discomfort. We scrupulously adhere to her treatment regimen and medication schedule. That’s why the outrageous prosecution/persecution of Dr. Bill Hurwitz resonates with me so strongly.
On December 15, Dr. Bill Hurwitz was shackled in the courtroom and hauled away to jail. A federal jury in Virginia declared the doctor guilty of some of the drug-dealing charges the government brought against him - a conviction that carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years to life.

Dr. Hurwitz specialized in treating patients suffering with chronic pain. Some of his treatment techniques were considered "controversial" a decade ago but are now widely accepted as standard practice by doctors working in medical schools as well as in private practice. These methods are now recognized in state law, for example, in Virginia.

Further, the doctor's plan or protocol for treating such patients was formally accepted in written agreements by both state and federal government officials in 1997 and 1998.

As part of these agreements, Dr. Hurwitz allowed federal government agents working for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) access to all his patient records, at any time, without requiring a court order or search warrant. He also provided DEA agents with complete and ongoing records of all patients receiving powerful pain medicines every three months.

This isn’t a man trying to push drugs or hide anything. This is a doctor trying to treat patients. He even went above and beyond the call of duty in providing those records, because he wanted to make sure that his patients were not abusing or diverting the drugs. Now I’ll concede I am a bit disturbed by some of the privacy implications of the practices, but I assume that he made his patients aware of what was being done and referred patients with objections to other doctors.
So what did he get for his trouble? He got screwed.

During four years of providing prodigious amounts of patient information to government agents, DEA agents never advised him about any of the illegal activities of the few patients who did so.

Hurwitz himself became aware of illegal or unethical activities of 17 patients and refused to treat them further. After learning that four other patients suffering with chronic pain were arrested on drug charges, he watched these patients more carefully and used laboratory tests to confirm that these patients were indeed taking the drugs in the prescribed doses.

About 15 of his 400 patients lied to Dr. Hurwitz about their pain in order to get prescriptions for more medicine than they needed. When government agents discovered these patients were selling drugs illegally, they bribed them to testify against Dr. Hurwitz by offering lenient prosecution.

They also sent "patients" to him that were imposters, liars for hire, paid for by government prosecutors.

Given that government agents were given all the information they wanted and more, it would have made sense to let Dr. Hurwitz know when a patient was diverting drugs.

So let's recap. The DEA knew that two patients made nearly $4,000,000 selling their medications. Dr. Hurwitz was told nothing of this. The pushers were given deals, and the doctor was indicted and arrested on 62 felony charges, including conspiracy to traffic in controlled substances, drug trafficking resulting in death and serious bodily injury, and health care fraud.

The trial tactics were even more outrageous. The prosecutors tried to shift the burden of proof by insisting that the doctor show he didn’t know of the diversions. They got the judge to forbid the introduction of any evidence related to the doctor’s cooperation with the DEA. The sheer number of charges brought by the prosecution were designed to leave the jury convinced that even if a given charge wasn’t proved, Dr. Hurwitz must be guilty of something, making it much more likely that there would be a conviction one or more of the charges. Sadly, they succeeded.

When are we going to stop criminalizing the practice of medicine? When are we going to allow the “best practices” to be determined by physicians rather than bureaucrats and prosecutors? Prescription decisions need to be in the hands of doctors, not prosecutors. Prosecutions should be directed at criminals, not those who write a prescription in good faith.

|| Greg, 10:07 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

GOP To Sue Over Washington Gubernatorial Election Theft

And after the Democrat antics yesterday ovr the certification of the Bush victory, I’d better not hear any complaint about the suit. After all, Washington Republicans have actual evidence of actual voting irregularities.
The Republican court challenge to Christine Gregoire's election as governor, expected to be filed today, will center on mishandled provisional ballots in King County and lingering questions about why the county shows more votes counted than people voting on Nov. 2.

That's Republican candidate Dino Rossi's best bet for getting a judge to overturn Gregoire's 129-vote victory, said former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton. Gorton, an attorney who lost his Senate seat in a close 2000 race, is not part of Rossi's legal team but is a close adviser to the candidate and has been consulted about the imminent legal challenge.

"That will be the primary ground of any election contest," Gorton said yesterday. "And I've got to say I think it's not only a valid argument, but a compelling argument.

The lawsuit also will likely include allegations of votes by dead people and felons, and multiple votes by the same voter. But those issues, while garnering much attention among Rossi supporters in recent days, will be secondary.”

More votes than voters. Mishandled provisional ballots. Problems with absentee ballots. “Enhancement” of ballots with no clear voter intent indicated. Dead voters. Felon voters. Multiple voters.

How could anyone think the 129 vote margin is NOT in question?

|| Greg, 10:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 06, 2005

No Crosses Allowed At Inauguration?

Why has the Secret Service banned the symbol of Christianity from rallies and demonstrations in public parks and on public sidewalks?

The Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition is protesting a proposed ban on the display of crosses during inauguration ceremonies for President George W. Bush.

In a December 17 letter to the National Park Service, the Secret Service-- which is responsible for the safety of the President and other US government officials-- asked for a ban on numerous items during the inauguration festivities. The Secret Service sought a ban on potentially dangerous items such as firearms, explosives, and laser pointers; but the list of proscribed items also included "coffins, crates, crosses, crates theaters, and statues." No explanation was given for the inclusion of crosses on the list. The Christian Defense Coalition, which was planning to hold a prayer vigil during the inaugural parade, received a permit that listed the banned items, including crosses.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, decried the ban on crosses as a clear form of "religious bigotry and censorship." The restriction is even more offensive, he added, "when one realizes that it is only Christian symbols that have been excluded." The Secret Service regulations explicitly allow for bullhorns and signs of up to 20 feet in length.

Mahoney announced that members of his group "will be on the public sidewalks holding crosses at the inauguration parade even if that means risking arrest and jail."

I keep hearing that because of the reelection of George W. Bush and the increase in GOP strength across the country, we live in a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. This certainly is a strange way to show it, by banning the public display of that faith’s sacred symbol. I can see no legitimate reason for such a ban, and believe it to be invalid on its face.

|| Greg, 10:55 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Feed These Hungry Puppies

This is outrageous! Iraqi police dogs are starving to death!
The commander of an Army Reserve detachment is begging friends back home to send food for Iraqi police dogs.

"The dogs are starving and urgently need dry dog food," Capt. Gabriella Cook, commander of the Las Vegas-based 313th Military Police Detachment, said in a Dec. 28 e-mail reported Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"Some of them have already died," Cook wrote. "Half of them are sick. We have no way of buying actual dog food here."

Cook's unit arrived last month in the Iraq capital. She said 12 German shepherds and one black Labrador retriever trained for bomb-detection and attack at the Iraqi Police Academy in Baghdad have been eating table scraps and garbage.

"It seems like an emergency situation," Diana Paivanas, a Henderson pet-care provider and Cook's friend, told the Review-Journal. "Something needs to be done now to save these dogs."

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., a veterinarian, directed a legislative aide to contact an Army liaison to investigate, a spokesman for the senator said. But when contacted Wednesday, his office said they were unsure where to send donations and that they are looking into it.

Military officials at the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad did not immediately respond to the newspaper's request for information about the food supply for U.S. canines in Iraq.

I know there is a lot of suffering and hunger in that war-torn country, but something can surely be done.

Paivanas said she found it costs about $50 to mail a 30-pound bag of dog food to Cook.

Henderson Veterinarian Terry Muratore estimated that each of the 13 working dogs would consume a 40 pounds or more of dry food per month.

"If securing the country entails having security dogs that are healthy, then we should do that," Muratore said. "Surely there's space on a C-130 to get a pallet of dog food over there."

If you would like to help feed the dogs, you may send checks to the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society. They are working with several companies to ship food to the animals as soon as possible.

"PetSmart has donated a pallet of food, and we hope PetCo will do the same," Judith Ruiz, president of the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society said.

Ruiz said several companies have donated food and that with the money, the Humane Society will be able to buy more dog food at a discounted rate and will also pay for shipping to Iraq.

"All funds will go directly for the animals," Ruiz said.

The Humane Society is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization. So your donation will be tax deductible.

Send donations to:

Las Vegas Valley Humane Society
Funds For Dogs In Iraq
2250 E. Tropicana
Suite 19
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Make checks payable to the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society. The group asks that you indicate in a letter or on the check that you want your donation to go to the dogs in Iraq.

|| Greg, 10:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Andrea Yates Gets An New Trial

Two of the big murder trials of the last five years have come from killings within a few miles of my home – the Clara Harris and Andrea Yates cases. Both recently filed appeals of their convictions, and while the Harris appeal was denied, the appellate court has ordered a new trial for Yates.
Yates' lawyers had argued at a hearing last month before a three-judge panel of the First Court of Appeals in Houston that psychiatrist Park Dietz was wrong when he mentioned an episode of the TV show "Law & Order" involving a woman found innocent by reason of insanity for drowning her children.

After jurors found Yates guilty, attorneys in the case and jurors learned no such episode existed.

"We conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dr. Dietz's false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury," the court ruled. "We further conclude that Dr. Dietz's false testimony affected the substantial rights of appellant."

I’ve sort of expected this ruling for some time, although I don’t think the erroneous testimony substantially impacted the jury verdict. After all, she immediately called the police and confessed to killing her children. There is no doubt that she did the crime, only the question of the level of responsibility she bears under Texas law. I think the court has erred in ordering a new trial here.

|| Greg, 10:46 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dare We Call It Vote Fraud?

I remember working the Gaffner for Congress campaign years ago, right after Congressman Mel Price died. We worked hard to win that seat that had been held by the deceased incumbent for over four decades, and it looked like we had a shot. As we watched the vote come in on election night we were ahead of Jerry Costello in every part of the district, including the county where he was County Board Chairman, his hometown where he had been mayor, and even his home precinct.

And then East St. Louis came in. The Democrat stronghold sank our victory. I wondered then, and wonder now, how much fraud was involved in that outcome.

Well, someone finally looked at the issue of vote fraud in that town.

A second investigation into claims of voter fraud in East St. Louis during the election Nov. 2 has been launched, this time by St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida.

Haida's investigation is limited to 13 absentee votes that were cast from a boardinghouse in East St. Louis. The federal government has declined to talk about its case, but a search warrant issued during an FBI raid at East St. Louis City Hall on Nov. 23 indicates that the reach is much greater.

"Our investigation is separate but not in conflict with the federal government," Haida said Wednesday.

Oliver Hamilton, a Democratic precinct committeeman, owns the boardinghouse, at 1232 Cleveland Avenue, targeted by the investigation.

I suspect that they will find the voters did not personally cast those ballots. I heard a lot of stories of such things way back when, but it seems like things may not have changed that much.

Eleven computer hard drives seized in the East St. Louis City Hall raid were returned on Monday. FBI agents said other items seized were being retained as the investigation continues. The federal government search warrants say the items were taken to help in the investigation of election fraud, mail fraud and "obstruction of an official proceeding by the destruction of records."

Hmmm… this could get interesting. But I wonder where Jesse Jackson is on this, since election fraud is his big issue. Could it be that the election fraud by black Democrats is not a concern for him?

|| Greg, 10:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

CSI: Egypt?

Maybe I’m a geek – but wouldn’t it have been neat to be there for this?
A team of researchers briefly removed King Tut's mummy from its tomb Wednesday and laid bare his bones for a CT scan that could solve an enduring mystery: Was it murder or natural causes that killed Egypt's boy pharaoh 3,000 years ago? Tut's toes and fingers and an eerie outline of his face could be seen as the mummy, resting in a box to protect it, was placed inside the machine in a specially equipped van parked near his underground tomb in the famed Valley of the Kings. The 1,700 images taken during the 15-minute CT scan could answer many of the mysteries that shroud King Tutankhamun's life and death including his royal lineage, his exact age at the time of his death now estimated at 17 and the reason he died.

|| Greg, 10:34 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 05, 2005

A Great Civics Lesson From Dr. Williams

My students will get a copy of this column the next time I teach American Government.
In recognition that it's Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases against Congress throughout the Constitution such as: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

Dr. Walter E. Williams
Are we a republic or a democracy?

|| Greg, 09:03 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Does Freedom Of The Press Still Exist?

The last time I checked, freedom of the press was still enshrined in the First Amendment. That includes the right of a newspaper to make editorial decisions about what it fit and proper to publish – especially in the way of opinion pieces.

That protection will be gone if the Arizona Supreme Court upholds a lower court judge’s decision to allow a trial in a lawsuit that alleges that a letter to the editor caused emotional distress to members of the local Muslim community. The letter, published as attacks on US troops in Iraq increased, suggested that American soldiers in Iraq should take reprisals by killing Muslims in nearby mosques.

Two Tucson men filed a class-action lawsuit against the Gannett Co. newspaper on Jan. 13, 2004 over a letter printed on Dec. 2, 2003 as deadly attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq mounted.

The letter prompted some fearful Tucson Muslims to keep their children home from religious schools and resulted in letters of protests from readers and a published apology by the Citizen, which also sent staff members to meet with members of a local mosque.

In a Dec. 6, 2003 column apologizing for the newspaper's decision to print the letter, Publisher and Editor Michael A. Chihak said the letter's author had written a second letter to clarify that his comments only referred to military actions in combat zones.

Now let’s say it outright – the sentiment in the letter is somewhat disturbing. The idea that the US military should take random revenge on individuals based upon religion is repulsive. But it is also protected speech, not, as the individuals who sued claim, a call for violence that could legitimately include attacks on Muslims in America.

Judge Leslie Miller of Pima County Superior Court in Tucson on May 10 allowed the lawsuit's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress to stand, setting the stage for pretrial fact-finding now put on hold during the appeal to the Supreme Court.

"Clearly, reasonable minds could differ in determining whether the publication of the letter rose to the level of extreme and outrageous conduct," Miller wrote.

No, judge, reasonable minds cannot differ on that matter. There is no threat, nor was there any incitement to violence. The extreme and outrageous conduct here is the use of the courts to suppress political speech, and your decision to ignore the clearly delineated limits of government power.

|| Greg, 08:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Turkey Run?

Staff the district office of Rep John Conyers (D-Michigan) requested sixty Thanksgiving turkeys from a Detroit food pantry to distribute to needy families in the district. Now the staff turkeys won’t say where the frozen turkeys went.
Conyers' Detroit office promised an accounting of any turkey distribution by Dec. 27, but the Gleaners Community Food Bank had received no paperwork as of Tuesday, said the charity's director, Agostinho Fernandes. Fernandes said he became suspicious that the turkeys didn't get to poor people after hearing from a friend that a federal court worker had said he was offered free turkeys from a member of Conyers' staff.

Conyers aides insist that the turkeys were properly distributed, and said that a fax had been sent on Tuesday listing the names of the recipients. But Fernandes said that no list had been received as of the end of the day on Tuesday. And Conyers has failed to respond to requests from the Detroit Free Press that he contact the paper about the situation.

Conyers staff member who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal told the Free Press that [Conyers staffer Elisa] Grubbs and her cousin, Conyers' Detroit deputy chief of staff Marion Brown, along with a former Conyers aide, DeWayne Boyd, picked up the turkeys and later gave contradictory accounts of what happened to the birds.

The unnamed staff member raised concerns in a memo sent to both the FBI and House ethics committee. Conyers was the target of an informal ethics committee inquiry last year following a Free Press investigation about use of staff members during work hours for political campaigns.

Boyd, who was fired from Conyers' Detroit office in 2002, was convicted on seven counts of fraud last month in U.S. District Court in connection with a scam he ran from Conyers' office in 1999.

So a couple of staff members and a former staffer convicted of fraud picked up 720 pounds of frozen turkey and have so far failed to account for it. The congressman and other staffers are stonewalling those seeking answers. Very interesting.

"You can imagine how we feel," Fernandes said. "They didn't pay anything. This was donations to them to help the needy. We get calls from different representatives who want to put together food baskets for their needy constituents and you have faith that these people are going to bring the food to the people it's intended to go to."

Stealing from the needy during the holidays. That’s low, even for the Democrats.

|| Greg, 08:51 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Will The Aid Be In Your Country Tonight?

Jim McIngvale is one of those characters that someone would have to invent if he didn’t really exist. Better known as "Mattress Mack," he turned one store into one of Houston’s thriving businesses through grit, hard work, and showmanship. So ubiquitous are his ads that I’m reasonably sure that there are Houston area children whose first words are “Gallery Furniture saves you money!”

Now he’s been asked by former president George H.W. Bush to head up Houston area fundraising for tsunami aid.

McIngvale, one of the city's most public philanthropists, said his customers have been asking what he plans to do to help the relief effort.
"I was at a loss," he said, "and then President Bush appointed his father and Clinton."

Linda McIngvale contacted Bush's office to inquire about helping locally.

"We had a meeting," Jim McIngvale said. "It's just a way for us to be involved and help all these people in this tremendous disaster."

If anyone can get folks to give, it will be McIngvale.

But I also want to highlight one item buried at the end of the story.

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, is working with the group Houston's Solution for Tsunami Victims to collect medical supplies.

I don’t like the woman, but I’ll give her credit and acknowledgement for doing the right thing here. I’m quite pleased to see it.

|| Greg, 08:46 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 04, 2005

What Part Of ILLEGAL ALIEN Don't You Understand?

A so-called civil rights group is asking a federal appeals court to stop the implementation of an Arizona law denying government benefits to illegal aliens. Voters adopted the law in November.
The civil rights group contends the measure will harm families who depend on public benefits for basic necessities, and could potentially cut them from all state services.

I think most Americans would see that as a good thing. After all, these people are not supposed to be in the country at all, and therefore have no legitimate claim on any taxpayer-funded services.

By the way, the Mexican government is now distributing a guide explaining how to illegally cross the border and hide out in American society. Once we determine how much the book cost the Mexican government, perhaps we should cut the foreign aid budget for Mexico by ten or twenty times that amount.

The 32-page color primer, published by Mexico's foreign ministry in December, gives would-be migrants tips including how to swim across the Rio Grande and avoid dehydration in the desert. It also sets out their legal rights on detention.

And maybe it is time to set up guard towers with working machine guns to stop the invasion countenanced and assisted by the Vincente Fox.

|| Greg, 09:18 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Women Use Less Birth Control

It goes against the norms of our contraceptive culture, but the number of women not using birth control has increased over the last decade.
At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women are forgoing birth control, a trend that has experts puzzled -- and alarmed about a potential rise in unintended pregnancies.

Buried in the government's latest in-depth analysis of contraceptive use was the finding that the number of women who had sex in the previous three months but did not use birth control rose from 5.2 percent in 1995 to 7.4 percent in 2002. That means that as many as 11 percent of all women are at risk of unintended pregnancy at some point during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44).

The article is couched in alarmist tones, noting that women who have unintended pregnancies are more likely to be unprepared psychologically or emotionally for parenthood. There is also much speculation about why these women are not using birth control.

Physicians, statisticians and advocates who specialize in reproductive health had several theories for the rise in unprotected sex. They pointed to possible factors such as gaps in sex education, the cost of birth control, declining insurance coverage, fears of possible side effects of contraceptives and personal attitudes about childbearing.

It is possible, said Paul Blumenthal, that many more women are trying to conceive and thus have stopped using contraception. But the Johns Hopkins University professor said it is more likely that more women have found the cost of birth control burdensome.

Because the number of uninsured has increased, these women might be on the short end of that stick," he said. Since 2001, the number of uninsured Americans has risen by 4 million.

Jeffrey Jensen, director of the Women's Health Research Unit at Oregon Health and Science University, said he regularly encounters patients who have trouble affording birth control, even if their private insurance covers it.

"It is absolutely unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 [a month] for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free," Jensen said. Drug companies "have cut way back" on free samples and many women turn to less effective types of birth control because of cost, he said, "running a greater risk of pregnancy as a result."

Two things leap out at me. The first is the absolute discounting of the possibility that these women are exercising their “right to reproductive choice” in a manner that leads them to CHOOSE to get pregnant. Such a thing is unimaginable to supporters of contraceptive culture and the sacrament of abortion. The second is the immediate assumption that women – presented as strong, intelligent, independent individuals capable of making rational informed choices by abortion proponents when they argue in favor of “a woman’s right to choose” – are depicted as ignorant, frightened, powerless victims when they don’t use birth control.

And I won’t even get into the statement that “men are getting off scot-free.” Aside from the lack of choice given to men in the abortion decision, the financial burden imposed by the child-support laws of the US, and the legal imposition of “my body, my choice” feminism designed to demean men as nothing but irresponsible sperm donors, why should men be expected to pay for the reproductive choices made by women? The whole point of feminism over the last half century was to liberate women from paternalistic men – but apparently not to the point that women might support themselves, or pay for their own choices.

But the one thing is clear -- to the researchers, the notion that a woman might voluntarily choose to conceive is. . . inconceivable.

|| Greg, 07:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Property Rights At Heart Of Dispute Between Old, New Neighbors

I’m sure glad I didn’t buy into this neighborhood.
Signs at the entrance to Morgan's Crossing advertise a swim and tennis community with brick-front homes starting at $160,000. The three-bedroom, three-car-garage homes are about 2,600 square feet.

Just down Double Springs Church Road is another sign: "Danger — Keep Out — Live Fire Machine Gun Range." The signs at the entrance to Kevin Brittingham's 33-acre property also note that the range backs onto Morgan's Crossing.

The case highlights the friction that can emerge in fast-growing communities such as Walton County, where newer residents may have expectations about land use at odds with established landowners. This is especially true where new homes border agricultural land.

Though the Census Bureau lists Walton County as the 57th-fastest-growing in the United States, it's still largely rural, said Kevin Little, County Commission chairman.

Little said one worried farmer recently went to the county offices to have his chicken houses marked on the official map for his property. He said the farmer wanted to prevent future neighbors from moving in and then trying to shut down his chicken houses by claiming they didn't know about the odorous farm operation.

It strikes me that these new residents didn’t use due diligence to find out about their new neighborhood. Why should someone else have to change their property use just because new folks move into their area? But I’m disturbed by Little’s reaction to the issue.

Little said Brittingham has the proper licenses to own his guns, and his land is zoned for agricultural use — which, in Walton, allows for shooting guns. So the commissioners won't be getting involved, Little said. "If a neighbor doesn't like what somebody's doing, that's what the courts are for."

No, it’s not. If you don’t like what your neighbor is doing and it is legal, then that isn’t for the courts – IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS! Especially when it involves the exercise of a right protected by the Constitution.

John Eberhart, who mans the sales office at the subdivision, said he's a member of the National Rifle Association and enjoys occasional skeet and trap shooting. With that much land, "I would probably be out there and shooting myself, but not machine guns," Eberhart said. "Military ordnance, you should not be able to shoot next to or abutting residential property."

But the thing is, John, that it wasn’t residential property until you made it residential property. Do you really mean to say that he should lose his constitutional rights because YOU decided to build and sell houses out in the middle of the country. That’s mighty arrogant of you.

Eberhart said builders didn't know that Brittingham had a private shooting range on his land until the first buyers were ready to close on their houses. He said the builders were initially willing to buy Brittingham's land, but he wanted too much for the property, which is mostly floodplain and unbuildable.

Eberhart admits that some potential buyers have been scared off but said he worries that buying Brittingham's land could set a precedent that could encourage others to "blackmail" developers in the future.

Yeah, imagine that – a precedent that says that someone has the right to use their property as they see fit, even if some big developer buys up the surrounding property, subdivides it and starts selling houses. This guy had a pre-existing use that you knew or should have known about. How is his insistence that his property rights be respected or bought out to be considered “blackmail”? I’d argue that the builders’ insistence that Brittingham take a lowball price for his land or face legal action fits the definition of that term much better.

|| Greg, 07:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Peanut Butter Police

They don’t have much tolerance for peanut butter sandwiches in Yorktown, Indiana.
Savannah Dowling is a typical 8-year-old girl; much of her protein comes from peanut butter sandwiches.

However, if she wants to bring one to Central Indiana's Pleasant View Elementary School, she has to eat it at a special table in the cafeteria to accommodate one first grader with a severe allergy. Soon she'll have to take her lunch to an area the school is calling the "peanut gallery" so the one child with the peanut allergy isn't affected.

Now hold on.

For the sake of one kid, they have a special area for those who have the audacity to consume food containing nuts?

Don’t they have it backwards? Shouldn’t it be the allergic child who is restricted?

The boy's parents refused to be interviewed but said their child's allergy warrants extraordinary safeguards.

"He does not have to ingest it for his air to constrict and he loses the ability to breathe," the parents wrote in a statement. "We have the medical evidence that shows that our son has one of the worst allergies on record for this food."

Gee, that’s too bad. Your child is clearly too ill to be in a normal school environment, so you need to home school him. Any other option is simply irresponsible parenting. You do not get to demand that the entire world go to extraordinary lengths to accommodate your child’s special needs. That is simply not reasonable.

|| Greg, 06:51 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Oh, Really!

One more sign that some folks don’t get it.
An electric blue wristband seen on the wrists of democratic supporters has been spotted across the nation. The wristband, which is being worn by young and old alike, boldly declares that its wearer is an "Enlightened American" who supports democratic candidates and ideals.
Many Democrats were disappointed by the results of the 2004 Presidential Election. Now, as the Inauguration approaches, some remain in a state of disbelief, while others feel that their voices will remain unheard and their needs unmet by the incoming administration. By wearing the Enlightened American wristband, these individuals band together in common voice declaring that they remain firm in their ideals, especially during this important political time.

You lost the election.

You are not a better person because you voted for the losing candidate.

But maybe we need to market a red bracelet that reads Real American – just to make the point.

|| Greg, 06:42 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

24 Bugs CAIR

Those wacky supporters of jihad and terrorism, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), are bugged by the storyline for the upcoming season of the Fox series 24. It seems that the terrorist threat this time comes from – a Muslim family operating as a sleeper-cell.

"At first I was shocked," organization spokeswoman Rabiah Ahmed told the New York Daily News. "In this particular case, they show an American-Muslim family and they portray them as terrorists."
What’s so shocking to you? That someone might have made a connection between Muslims and terrorism? Or that they had the cojones to actually put it on the show, given the threats of retribution your group has made over the years against anyone who even hints that there might just be a causal relationship between Islam and terrorism? Or could it be your shock that someone would suggest that Muslim teens might even be involved with terrorism? After all, we know that no Muslim has ever been involved in terrorism, and that it is Buddhist nuns who are blowing themselves up in Israel and other parts of the world.

This is the show’s fourth season. Deal with the fact that the group that is the biggest source of terrorism in the world (Islam) is actually going produce the villains this year.

|| Greg, 06:10 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

January 01, 2005

Predictions For 2005

Alright folks, here they are. I, the all-knowing and all-seeing Precinct Chair, present to you my predictions for the Year of Our Lord 2005.

1. At least one more state will legalize gay marriages, while at least five will ban them. I don't think California will be the one, rather I suspect that the Minnesota courts will do the deed. And Texas will most assuredly be one of those which formally outlaws such marriages through a constitutional amendment. My longshot prediction in this regard is that a federal court, probably somewhere in the Ninth Circuit, will declare that gay marriage bans contradict the Equal Protection Clause, leading to new momentum for a Federal Marriage Amendment.

2) Chief Justice Rehnquist will submit his resignation, likely on January 21, to be effective upon the confirmation of his replacement. While much speculation will center upon the elevation of Justice Thomas to the center seat, it will not happen. He will instead seek to move Scalia to the Chief Justice position, and will nominate a sitting state supreme court justice to the high court. My longshot prediction is that the appointee will be California Justice Janice Rogers Brown, whose appointment to the DC Circuit has been blocked by the use of parliamentary tactics by the Democrats.

3) Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle will prove the old adage that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if he wants it to. The ham sandwich in this case will be Tom DeLay, and it will come close to the end of the year, shortly before DeLay has to file for the 2006 primary. Facing the potential for a strong primary challenge and a trial during the fall election campaign, DeLay will announce his decision not to run for reelection. My longshot prediction has the Texas Legislature stripping the Travis County DA of its authority to investigate breaches of ethics laws, and invest that power in the office of the Texas Attorney General , where it rightly and logically belongs.

4) Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for reelection to the Senate, promising not to seek the Democrat presidential nomination and to serve out her term. Few observers of American politics will believe her. My longshot prediction is that early polls will show her locked neck-and-neck with George Pataki, but defeating Rudy Giuliani.

5) This year will see the death of Pope John Paul II. His successor will be a conservative cardinal, who will continue to follow the course set by the current pontiff. He will not be a European. My longshot prediction is that he will not take the name John Paul III. My even longer shot prediction is that he will select either Leo or Benedict.

I asked my darling wife, who views the world through a very different set of lenses, to give me her five predictions. Her response was... interesting, and truly not intended to mock the suffering of those touched by natural disasters.

I only have one to share with you. The hurricanes... the tsunamis... Goob as president. I figure when the rapture comes and all of you people are still here you'll say "Shit! We were on the wrong side."

Uh... yeah. We'll see who is right a year from now.

|| Greg, 01:01 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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NAME: Greg
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