February 28, 2005

A Reading/Writing Exercise

Polski3 over at Polski3's View from Here offered this little blogging exercise.
I have now seen this several places (History Teacher and Endless Faculty Meeting) . Guess I'll do it too:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions
5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

"One day the Roman army set out, shadowed as usual by Vercingetorix." From THE ENEMIES OF ROME, From Hannibal to Attila the Hun," by Philip Matyszak.

This could be an interesting survey of what bloggers are reading, or at least what books they have near their computers. Have a happy day and Thanks for reading my blog.

Sounds fun -- let's give it a shot.

"He plunged down to the sick-berth, tolerably fetid stil in spite of double windsails, although it was not as crowded as it had been in the first few days after the battle, when he could hardly step between his patients, and they laid here and there about the orlop." -- From The Wine-Dark Sea, by Patrick O'Brian (Book 16 pf the Aubrey-Maturin series that began with Master and Commander.)

So, what are you reading???

|| Greg, 09:34 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 27, 2005


UPDATE: APRIL 2, 2005 -- His Holiness, Pope John Paul II has died. For my post on possible successors, click here.

+++Original Post+++

It was sort of interesting to read this article on the eventual election of a successor to Pope John Paul II. It raises some candidates I am not familiar with, and being from the Australian press gives a different slant that American articles do.

But the most interesting part may have been at the end.

The basic personality of the next pope will also be important to the church's prospects around the world as he will be the new face of an institution struggling in many places to hold its market share.

While they might seem alike to outsiders – celibate male church administrators with an average age of about 70 – the cardinals' personal stories are surprisingly diverse.

Frenchman Jean-Marie Lustiger lost his mother at Auschwitz and grew up as a Jewish boy named Aaron wearing the yellow star imposed on Polish Jews by the Nazis; Francis Arinze of Nigeria was born into the Ibo religion and converted at the age of nine; American Adam Maida is a lawyer who has argued before the US Supreme Court; Juan Luis Cipriani was a Peruvian basketball champion; and Czech Miroslav Vlk worked as a window cleaner for eight years after being banned by communist officials from acting as a priest.

I've known bishops and met cardinals, back when I was a seminarian. Sometimes it is easy to forget they are human with life histories as interesting as the rest of us. It's why I wept when Cardinal Bernardin died, rejoiced when Wilton Gregory was promoted to Archibishop of Atlanta, wept when Jerry Kicanas had to choose bankruptcy for the Diocese of Tucson, and will rejoice when Jerry Listecki is installed as Bishop of LaCrosse. Most members of the hierarchy are good men -- and I wonder whether we will get a new pope as interesting and exciting as Karol Wojtyla.

|| Greg, 05:51 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Do You Still Doubt She's Running?

This story nearly made me lose my breakfast.
Former President Clinton said Sunday that his wife, Hillary, would be an excellent choice as the first female leader of the world's most powerful nation.

In an interview with Japan's TV Asahi, Clinton said he did not know whether his wife, the senator of New York state, has any plans to one day run for the presidency.

"I don't know if she'll run or not," he told the network, but added, "She would make an excellent president, and I would always try to help her."

Yeah, Bill, like we believe that. You wouldn't be planting the seeds if it weren't likely that Hillary will run. That's not your way.

And there is only one appropriate response.

|| Greg, 09:04 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

One More Euphamism

Anyone care to guess what a story with this headline is about?

Driver, 6 entrants arrested after 60-mile high-speed chase

I know I didn't get it -- until I read the article.

Border Patrol agents arrested six illegal entrants and the driver of a sport utility vehicle Saturday morning after a high-speed chase over 60 miles that started near Arivaca, went through Park Place and ended in a Midtown neighborhood. Border Patrol spokesman Rob Daniels said agents tried to pull over the vehicle on a stretch of Arivaca Road "traditionally used for drug and aliens smuggling" at about 7:30 a.m. The driver of the vehicle refused to stop.

Come on -- "entrants"? "Undocumented workers" was bad enough.

Oh, yeah, the smuggler -- that's what he is -- even drove the wrong way down one-way streets in an attempt to escape arrest. Do you really want to argue that these folks are harmless?

|| Greg, 08:47 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sympathy For The Lawbreakers

The Naples Daily News provides one more example of what is wrong with the focus in discussion of our nation's immigration problem -- an over abundance of sympathy for the lawbreakers, and not enough concern for the law and its rationale. Take this quote from a woman whose husband has been detained by immigration authorities after ignoring a deportation order in 2003.

"I want to know why," she says, caressing her baby's back. "Why did they take him?"

Could it be because HE WAS BREAKING THE LAW?????????

Now tell me, would any paper be so daring as to run an article like this about the effect of arresting drug dealers, child molesters, or embezzlers? Would a media outlet be so concerned about the effects of the arrest of the operator of a chop-shop or brothel on his or her family? I don't think so.

When will people get it -- these are folks guilty of breaking the laws of the United States. They have no right to be in this country, and actions taken to return them to their homeland are a reasonable act of sovereignty on the part of the United States.

Does that mean that every person illegally here is a horrible person? No, it doesn't. They may be nice people like the fellow in this story, or they may be criminal scum like the Mexican gang-bangers who killed the daughter of one of my colleagues in a "just for fun" drive-by and then skipped south of the border to avoid punishment since Mexico won't extradite them. But regardless, they are not entitled to be here, and we need to make them leave by any means necessary. The hardship to them and their families is irrelevant.

|| Greg, 08:38 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Leo On The Death Of Liberalism

John Leo offers the following analysis of why liberalism is essentially dead in the United States -- it is bereft of new ideas. Noting that John Kenneth Galbraith once made a similar observation regarding conservatism, Leo points out the difference between Conservatism 40 years ago and liberalism today.
Conservatism revived with great intellectual ferment and a long burst of new ideas, and liberalism presumably can do the same. But there is no sign that this is happening. No real breakthrough in liberal thought and programs has occurred since the New Deal, giving liberalism its nostalgic, reactionary cast.

Worse, the cultural liberalism that emerged from the convulsions of the 1960s drove the liberal faith out of the mainstream. Its fundamental value is that society should have no fundamental values, except for a pervasive relativism that sees all values as equal. Part of the package was a militant secularism, pitched against religion, the chief source of fundamental values. Complaints about "imposing" values were also popular then, aimed at teachers and parents who worked to socialize children.

Modern liberalism, says Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel, has emptied the national narrative of its civic resources, putting religion outside the public square and creating a value-neutral "procedural republic." One of the old heroes of liberalism, John Dewey, said in 1897 that the practical problem of modern society is the maintenance of the spiritual values of civilization. Not much room in liberal thought for that now, or for what another liberal icon, Walter Lippmann, called the "public philosophy." The failure to perceive the importance of community has seriously wounded liberalism and undermined its core principles. So has the strong tendency to convert moral and social questions into issues of individual rights, usually constructed and then massaged by judges to place them beyond the reach of majorities and the normal democratic process.

The result, Leo notes, is a liberalism that is more concerned with finding vast conspiracies to explain liberals being out of power. Liberals blame the rest of us for being too stupid, racist, or religious to recognize that they are right and the rest of us are wrong on the great issues of the day. And such a focus keeps liberals from finding the real problem, namely that liberalism is no longer moored to the values that Americans hold dear. We haven't left liberalism, it has left us.

|| Greg, 08:22 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dutch Outrage

While Perusing the Belmont Club,I came across a post which made my blood boil. It seems that murder threats by Islamists against a pair of Dutch parliamentarians has resulted in their being kept in prison cells and a high security military base FOR MONTHS. Rather than take steps to protect these lawmakers from Islamists, they have been locked away from the public and hindered from representing their constitutencies.
A Somali-born Dutch politician who received death threats after making a film critical of Islam has revealed she has been living in hiding on a naval base, a newspaper reported on Friday.

NRC Handelsblad said Ayaan Hirsi Ali had revealed her secret residence on a navy base to protest against the circumstances of her hiding.

"I want to live in a place of which everybody knows: here lives a threatened member of parliament, and he or she is safe here," Hirsi Ali was quoted as saying.

Hirsi Ali returned to public life last month after 75 days in hiding following threats to her life after she made a film critical of Islam with Theo van Gogh, who was murdered on Nov. 2.

The newspaper said Hirsi Ali was living on a heavily guarded navy base in Amsterdam, while anti-immigration populist Geert Wilders, whose life has also been threatened, was sleeping in a prison cell in the central Dutch town of Zeist.

Ali blames Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner for the situation.

The Liberal VVD said she revealed the secret locations due to "fear that it would be discovered by other people", the newspaper reported.

"I want to live in a place that everyone knows is where a threatened MP lives. That's the way it is in
countries such as the US and Israel, but also in Italy and Spain," she said.

Hirsi Ali said the secret living circumstances are "very unjust and poignant". She claimed the principle of free speech was threatened by the security philosophy employed by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and the national protection and security service NCBB.

She claimed the philosophy is one in which anyone is threatened must be "hidden away". Hirsi Ali asserted further that the government was inadvertently assisting those who were opposed to her.

The response from other lawmakers has been critical -- of Ali. Some have even suggested that she and Wilders resign from Parliament because of the threats, in effect giving in to the terrorists. When will the Dutch grow some b@lls and deal effectively with the terrorist threat in their midst?

|| Greg, 12:33 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 26, 2005

One Who Gets It

The Terri Schiavo case is one of those that no one would want to have to deal with. End of life decisions are inherrantly difficult, and in this case the individual who claims the right to make the decision on behalf of his stricken wife is the individual who has nothing to lose and everything to gain, while those who seek to keep her alive have nothing to gain but will lose the thing they hold most precious. John Grogan of the Philadelphia Inquirer has a great coulumn in which he explains why he has shifted from supporting Michael Schiavo to supporting Terri's parents.
That's not to say I have changed my opinion about the right of all of us to die with dignity when life has lost all meaning. But for Terri Schiavo, who lingers in a Florida nursing home, the devil is in the details, uncomfortable details that raise sticky moral dilemmas.

Detail 1: Terry Schiavo is not dying. She is not being kept alive artificially. Her heart beats and lungs breathe without help. She cannot swallow food or water. Once the feeding tube is removed, she would slowly starve to death over days or weeks.

Detail 2: Schiavo is not comatose. Her eyes open, and she sometimes responds to stimuli. Doctors say there is no brain activity and her responses are simply reflexive. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, want to believe otherwise.

Detail 3: The Schindlers think their daughter could benefit from physical therapy and might someday swallow on her own, but her husband, as her legal guardian, reportedly will not allow it. Which leads to an equally uncomfortable question: If Schiavo merely required spoon feeding instead of tube feeding, would anyone seriously be arguing to withhold food and water? Does not every human, no matter how incapacitated, deserve sustenance?

Detail 4: Unproven allegations that Schiavo might have suffered physical trauma immediately before her heart stopped for several minutes in 1990, leading to brain damage, have not been fully investigated. The Schindlers have long suggested their son-in-law strangled their daughter; Michael Schiavo's lawyer says the abuse allegations have never been substantiated. Before pulling the plug on this woman, don't these questions need to be fully answered?

The abuse allegations against Michael Schiavo may be nothing but scurrilous rumor spread to damage his credibility. But what if there is even a tiny chance he is guilty of abuse? Should such a person be in a position to decide this life-and-death issue?

Michael Schiavo won a huge judgement in court that was meant to care for her for the rest of her life. He promised to do so. During the trial he claimed that his wife needed therapy, and that the money would enable her to recieve it. Terri never got a day of the promised therapy, and Michael quickly sought to cut off sustenance (not treatment, but food and water) based upon Terri's supposed wish to be allowed to die. Strangely enough, Michael didn't disclose that when he was seeking a court award to do exatly the opposite.

Ultimately, the question is one of what is best for Terri. Either she should be allowed to live on to the end of her natural life, or she should be hastened to death via starvation and dehydration. If someone did such a thing to an animal, they would be branded a monster. When such things were done to Jews during WWII, the perpetrators were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. How, then, can there be any doubt about the morally and legally correct decision.

|| Greg, 11:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rally To Save Enterprise

I mean, the show has finally gotten good.
Star Trek" fans from around the world gathered at the gates of Paramount Studios in Hollywood Friday to protest the impending cancellation of the television series "Star Trek: Enterprise."

Carrying signs reading "It's Not Just a Show, It's a Responsibility" and "18 Years of Loyalty & This Is the Thanks I Get?," more than 100 people massed at the gates of the studio where "Enterprise" is produced to show support for a franchise that has perhaps the most loyal fan base in the world.

None wore costumes, however, in a departure from many gatherings of "Trekkies."

The UPN network, which like Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc., said earlier this month it would end "Enterprise" in May after its fourth season. But the fans are not letting it go quietly.

I just wish that there was some possibility of SciFi picking it up.

|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (44) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

She's Got Legs

And she knows how to use them!

I've got to agree with this analysis of Condi's outfit.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."

As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.

Smart AND Sexy.

Just one more reason to back Condi in '08.

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

Why The Left Is Doomed

Cinnamon Stillwell, a charming writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, writes a column that explains how 9/11 transformed her from a Nader voter in 2000 to a Bush backer in 2004. The things she has experienced since her conversion show why the Left is unfit for power in this country. Her observations show why the president was reelected in November.
But more than anything, it was the left's hypocrisy when it came to the war on terrorism that made me turn rightward after 9/11. I remember, back in my liberal days, being fiercely opposed to the Taliban and its brutal treatment of women. Even then, I felt that Afghanistan should immediately be liberated, as Malcolm X once said in another context, by any means necessary. But when it came time, it turned out that the left was mostly opposed to such liberation, whether of the Afghan people or of the Iraqis (especially if America and a Republican president were at the helm).

Indeed, liberals had become strangely conservative in their fierce attachment to the status quo. In contrast, the much-maligned neoconservatives (among whose ranks I count myself) and Bush had become the "radicals," bringing freedom and democracy to the despotic Middle East. Is it any wonder that in such a topsy-turvy world, I found myself in agreement with those I'd formerly denounced?

Is it any wonder that we may see a long period of Republican dominance in Washington?

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

An Excellent Question

"Where have all the peaceniks gone?"

I've been wondering the answer myself. I mean, none of the "human shields" who went to Iraq to protect Saddam Hussein the Iraqi people from the US military have turned out to protect them from the terrorists insurgents who kill them daily.

Where are all the American and European anti-war activists? Here they are with the opportunity of a lifetime to make a meaningful contribution toward a more peaceful world, and all we hear from them is either a deafening silence or else the usual nonsense about the Bush administration being a gang of imperialist, oil-grabbing war criminals.

Why are these protesters, who are so readily energized when it comes to condemning President Bush and the United States, so silent about the vicious anti-democratic forces that are now committing assassinations, beheadings, kidnappings and murders by the hundreds in Iraq?

Surely the Christian- and Jew-hating terrorists who are committing such heinous acts would be completely demoralized if they were to witness millions of people around the world demonstrating against them. Surely such massive international protests would strike a powerful blow for peace.

But the silence of the anti-war groups is broken only by their wild conspiracy theories and their timeworn objections to the war in Iraq. A lot of good that does. The only beneficiaries of that misdirected behavior are the terrorist insurgents, whose only remaining hope is to create enough death and mayhem to weaken the resolve of the coalition member states to stand side by side with the courageous people of Iraq.

Maybe George W. Bush had it right when he said that people must either stand with the forces of freedom or the perpetrators of terrorism. Does their silence indicate which side the "anti-war" folks have chosen?

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

Glad To Hear It

I'm certainly glad to hear that this lowlife is going to be out of circulation for a while. He's a disgrace to the race, and brings discredit upon the movement he thought he was helping.
The leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group who urged "planting bombs to cause maximum damage" was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison in the nation's first federal conviction under a new anti-terror law.

David Wayne Hull, 42, of Amwell, Washington County, taught another man how to use a pipe bomb at a November 2002 white supremacist gathering on Hull's property. He also gave bomb parts to the other man, a government informant who posed as a violent anti-abortion activist.

The 2002 anti-terror statute bans instructing others how to use pipe bombs or other dangerous weapons in furtherance of a crime. It carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Now, when will this law be applied against supporters of the Islamist cause?

|| Greg, 06:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Mexico Objects To Americans Defending The Nation's Borders

When will the powers that be in the Third World cesspool to our south recognize that Americans are tired of the steady invasion of our country by its citizens?
EL UNIVERSAL learned on Friday that the Mexican government sent a diplomatic note to the United States earlier this month expressing concern over vigilante activities of anti-immigrant groups on the ArizonaSonora border.

Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) official Gerónimo Gutiérrez said it was "very probable" that these groups are violating the rights of undocumented migrants. The note urged the United States to ensure that vigilante groups do not break the law when dealing with Mexican migrants, he added.

According to Gutiérrez, the SRE has singled out a group dubbing itself the Minuteman project. Around 500 volunteers have joined the movement, which plans to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the border in April when migrants cross in peak numbers.

Sorry, American policy towards these folks needs to be "turn back or eat lead." Illegals have no rights that merit respect until they return to the Mexican side of the border.

|| Greg, 06:47 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No-Class Coach Suspended

A month ago I wrote about John Chaney's no-class attack on president Bush during a dinner intended to honor Chaney for his coaching career. Now Chaney is suspended after inserting a "goon" (Chaney's word, not mine) into a game to harm opposing players.
John Chaney's use of a "goon" might have ended a player's season, and the Hall of Fame coach's career could be the next casualty.

Chaney was suspended for the rest of the regular season by Temple on Friday for ordering rough play by one of his players, Nehemiah Ingram, who fouled out in four minutes against Saint Joseph's after breaking an opponent's arm.

Saint Joseph's forward John Bryant, a senior and sixth man for the Hawks, will likely miss the rest of the season.

The Hall of Fame coach had suspended himself for one game Wednesday and apologized.

Chaney will miss Temple's home game against Massachusetts today and road games against Rhode Island and La Salle, before returning for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

"I think my behavior is reprehensible and, as I've said a thousand times, I take responsibility," Chaney said. "If it's the judgment of the school to suspend me, I can accept the responsibility of my actions."

Gee, John, That wasn't what you said when you threatened BEFORE THE ST. JOHN'S GAME to send in your hitman to punish St. Johns if the officials didn't make the sort of calls you thought they should.

He warned before the game he might send some of his "goons" into the game if referees didn't whistle St. Joe's for illegal screens.

He did it, too.

And you certainly didn't do anything to help control the situation after an opposing player was seriously injured. If you were a responsible educator (hell, if you were a decent human being), you would have stepped forward to control your own fans. But having incited them before the game by promising dirty play, and having carried out that threat (ending a kid's senior season in the process), you could have at least had the decency to step forward and call your fans into line when they displayed some of the worst sportsmanship in recent years.

Saint Joseph's senior forward John Bryant suffered a broken arm after a hard foul by one of Chaney's goons. There also were elbows and punches thrown, hard screens attacked and the like.

Temple fans followed their coach's behavior by spitting on Bryant as he lay on the floor. At that point, the night easily could have escalated into something far worse.

No, you apparently thought that was great. No, scratch that -- you reveled in what happened. Why else would you make the following statement to the press after the game?

Chaney made the matter worse after the game by announcing: "I'm a mean, ornery SOB."

All your "sincere" expressions of regret are nothing more than a pile of steaming bull crap. Your apologies and "acceptance of responsibility" have all the sincerity of words of regret from a Klan leader after inciting a lynch mob or a Mafia don whose been charged with arranging a contract killing. Because that's what you did -- you set up a lynching on the court, you set up for a hit. And you proved that my impression of you a month ago was quite accurate. You have no class, and are an unfit role-model for your players.

Temple administrators shouldn't have suspended Chaney for three games -- they should have fired him on the spot. That they didn't shows they run a no-class program.

|| Greg, 06:12 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 25, 2005

Today's Theme Song -- Courtesy Of The Beatles

Birthday -- (Lennon/McCartney)

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party.

I would like you to dance--Birthday
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance-Birthday
I would like you to dance--Birthday

You say it's your birthday
Well it's my birthday too--yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

|| Greg, 05:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 24, 2005

Liberal Hypocrite

Well, I bet this little piece of college scum demands the protection of the First Amendment when he writes. Too bad he doesn't respect the First Amendment rights of those whose vehicles he vandalizes.
That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.

So folks around the University of Massachusetts -- this little puddle of dog vomit, Thomas Naughton, will certainly understand and be supportive if you steal and burn all copies of the Daily Collegian that his column appears in. After all, its just an act of free expression against the senseless column written by this senseless columnist. Not, of course, that I advocate such criminal activity, but hey, on what basis could he object? He's already indicated his support for lawless censorship of viewpoints with which one disagrees, and acted upon that belief.

Hey, Naughton, you broke the social contract. In a truly just world, you would have surrendered your rights.

Contact the Collegian.

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

Theft Of Sperm?

We always hear the tired old -- and misleading -- cliche about "a woman's right to choose" when dealing with anti-life advocates of abortion. The right of a man to choose is not given any consideration under the law, even if the woman has deceived him, placing him completely at the mercy of someone else's choice. Well, this case might be useful in establishing some rights for a man, though the circumstances are pretty outrageous.
A south suburban doctor accused of secretly stealing her illicit lover's sperm to inseminate herself can be held liable for inflicting emotional damage on the unwitting father of her child, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court reinstated part of a lawsuit brought by Chicago physician Richard Phillips against fellow doctor Sharon Irons of Olympia Fields. The lawsuit accused Irons of perpetrating a "calculated, profound personal betrayal" of Phillips after a brief tryst they had six years ago.

When Irons and Phillips started dating in early 1999, Irons claimed she was recently divorced, according to court papers. The pair quickly got engaged and even talked about having children — but both agreed they would marry first.

The pair allegedly never had sexual intercourse during the four-month affair, but did engage in oral sex three times. The lawsuit claimed that after one of those encounters, Irons kept some of Phillips' semen without his knowledge and later used it to impregnate herself.

Soon afterward, the relationship ended when Phillips found out that Irons was still married to her husband, who is also a doctor, according to the appellate ruling. But nearly two years later, Phillips was slapped with a paternity lawsuit, alleging he was responsible for the child Irons delivered after their "sexual relationship" nine months earlier. Court records show DNA tests have since proved Phillips is indeed the father.

Well, it seems very clear that the woman in question is a lying, conniving witch. She deceived him about her availability, and then she acted in a manner designed to circumvent his clear intent of not impregnating her by avoiding sexual intercourse. Her actions are patently abusive, and we wn't even get into the breach of ethics involved.

The judges did toss out a pretty interesting argument that Irons "stole" the sperm she used to impregnate herself. I love the way this is put in the decision.

They also rejected an attempt to sue Irons for stealing the sperm, concluding that her lawyers correctly noted in court filings that Phillips had never asked for it back.

"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision stated. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."

Wouldn't you have loved to be in chambers as the judge -- or some poor law clerk -- was trying to come up with a formulation that had even an ounce of dignity to it? I can only imagine the jokes that went with that drafting process.

But this case also brings up interesting questions, ones that I believe merit some consideration. What parental responsibilities does Phillips have in this case, and what parental rights? If Phillips is indeed a victim here, does he have any obligation to support the child? If he does, has his "right to choose" been violated by what the opinion refers to as "outrageous" conduct on the Irons' part? Does he have standing to seek and gain custody based upon maternal unfitness, given the nature of her actions (which I would argue is akin to rape)? Or does Irons' "right to choose" allow her to saddle an unwilling father with all the responsibilities he actively sought to avoid, despite her having been judicially determined to have "deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff's sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences."

UPDATE: I found an additional article on the case. It appears that the courts in Illinois saddled Phillips with $800 a month in child support. That is outrageous and disgusting. Apparently there is no action by a woman that is so outrageous as to prevent her from imposing the legal burdens of fatherhood upon him.

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

Black-White Adoptions

Several years ago, before my wife became ill, we sought to adopt children through Texas Child Protective Services. We attended the first meeting on a Saturday morning, and at the first break stopped to speak with one of the social workers about the process. She looked at us and told us that we had already been “selected out of the process.” Upon further inquiry, it was explained the state gets so few white newborns in its foster/adopt system that we were being excluded from consideration because “that’s all folks like you always want.”

We were floored. We both taught at large, multi-racial high schools. We were looking to adopt a sibling group (two or more related children) of any race or ethnic group, and we were even willing to consider children with special needs. When we told her this, we were informed that we really weren’t suitable for such an adoption. Before we had even turned in our information sheet, we were ruled out of consideration. Calls to the local supervisor and the agency headquarters in Austin brought only denials that this was agency policy and implicit accusations that we were liars. The final blow was the “suggestion” that we might want to consider some other avenue for pursuing adoption if we were “uncomfortable” with the social workers in the Houston office.

That’s why Larry Elder’s current column resonates with me so.

For decades, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) and others called transracial adoptions "cultural genocide." In 1992, the NABSW issued a paper condemning "transracial" black-white adoptions between Americans, warning against "transculturation . . . when one dominant culture overpowers and forces another culture to accept a foreign form of existence," and stated that "children need to be with those who are most familiar with their culture, heritage and family system." I attempted to determine whether NABSW still maintains its official status against "transracial adoptions," but as of final editing of this article, no one from the organization returned a phone call or e-mail.

Responding to the opposition of organizations like the NABSW, adoption agencies pulled back. After all, who could understand the dramatically different "culture" of blacks better than black social workers?

Finally, in 1994 -- concerned about the alarming number of black children waiting for adoption -- Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act, which prohibits delay or denial of any adoption due to the race, color or national origin of the child or adoptive parents. Still, after the Act, the number of transracial adoptions failed to significantly increase. Why? According to the National Adoption Center, government still allows agencies to use variables to calculate "the best interest of the child." For instance, take a 9-year-old black child who has never lived with a white family. An adoption agency could argue that it's not in the "best interest of the child" to be adopted by a white family -- even when a white family wants the child!

Even now, when adoption seems out of the question for us, I still agonize over that door being slammed in our faces. Not because I feel unfulfilled because I don’t have children – I’ve got 160 of them in my classes, and countless others who I interact with and try to love in the hallways and cafeteria at my school. But I wonder if there are children out there – maybe black, maybe Hispanic, maybe Asian, maybe white – who could be, should be, in our home rather than foster care.

And I wonder how many others have been denied a home based upon the racist policy suggestions propagated by racialist organization of the NABSW.

|| Greg, 06:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 22, 2005

Free Mojtaba and Arash Day

Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both in prison in Iran.

Their crime? Blogging.

Speak out.

Demand their freedom.

And the freedom of all Iranians to exercise fundamental human rights to freedom of speech, press, and religion.

For details, visit The Committee To Protect Bloggers.

|| Greg, 11:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Censored – But Why?

A group of students, formerly members of an eighth-grade gifted class, will finally get their day in court. The issue is the heavy hand of censorship. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why it came to this.
Now high schoolers, the 27 students haven't backed down. They're suing for damages and asking the school to expunge records of any disciplinary action against them for the 2003 episode.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve gave their case steam by certifying the students as a different kind of class -- the kind that can legally seek damages by attaining class action status.

The Chicago Board of Education had asked for students to submit to depositions before the class status was determined, but when St. Eve denied the motion, board attorneys said they would no longer oppose class certification. St. Eve quickly asked if the two sides could settle now that the students have the status, their attorney Irene Dymkar said.

The issue centers on a 2003 vote for a class shirt at the school, 5025 N. Laramie. Students believed one concept won: The name "Gifties" written on the back and a caricature of a boy walking a dog on the front. But school administrators didn't like the design and kept the election results secret, telling students to take another vote, according to the federal complaint.

The students, who were in the gifted program, challenged the election and asked the school to disclose the results. Students and parents said they didn't get anywhere, so students decided to wear the "Gifties" design they believed won.

Though students were asked not to wear the design to school, they wore the shirts anyway in protest.

"That's when the principal told them they'd be suspended for five to seven days," violating the students' First Amendment right to free speech, Dymkar said.
However, none of the students was suspended.

Now it seems to me that this is a clear case of overreaction. I can see no way in which the shirt design could be deemed offensive. The parents involved were supportive of the design, and supported the students in their actions against what appears to be an arbitrary and unreasonable abuse of discretion. And the administration freaked out. They went off on a group of CHILDREN!

Look at the actions taken against them.

Dymkar said Principal Chris N. Kotis did try to punish them. The students say Kotis confined them to their classrooms and denied them access to different parts of the school. Administrators wouldn't allow them to use the bathroom unless they removed the shirts, according to the students.

At one point, they were forced to write an essay describing whether they felt worthy of using the computer lab, the lawsuit says. Later, the school allegedly threatened disciplinary action against any student who signed a petition supporting the T-shirt.

Denial of bathroom privileges over the design on a shirt? That gets into a question of health and hygiene. And determining whether or not they are “worthy” of using academic resources paid for by taxpayer dollars? Perhaps they should have gone the next step and denied them use of textbooks and the pencil sharpener.

And then there is the big screw-up – the threat to punish kids for signing a petition. Unless it was being circulated in class and causing a serious disruption, that is simply out of line. Remember, Tinker v. Des Moines enunciated a clear principle – students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate. The right to petition government officials and employees for the redress of grievances is fundamental to our system of government, and yet these folks sought to punish peaceful and civil activities that should have been encouraged by an institution intended to educate citizens in a free society. That is unacceptable, as anyone who has taken a course in education law in the last three decades would know.

Of even greater concern is that the school has denied parents access to student records. Given that the school was keeping a list of “troublemakers” who wore the shirt and was engaging in abusive practices to coerce conformity, it is reasonable for parents to want to see what has been entered in the multitude of files the school keeps on their children. More to the point, it is their right under state and federal law to see such records. So this isn’t just a dress code issue blown out of proportion – it is an assertion of the rights of parents to oversee the education of their children, and to dispute inaccurate or prejudicial information in their records.

As you can see, what started as a relatively trivial matter has become a situation of very serious concern – because a school administrator didn’t like having his authority challenged. I hope he pays personally and professionally, and that the district that enabled him to do so does as well.

And I still don’t get what the big deal was over the design.

|| Greg, 08:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Is This Case Still Continuing?

Two high school cheerleaders have a couple of drinks before the game. Their peers object, and insist that they won’t compromise their safety or the squad by performing with drunk classmates. The girls are suspended from school and tossed from the team. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Why is it still in litigation, three years later?
What began as an accusation of cheerleaders drinking vodka before a Wentzville Holt High School football game has ended up costing taxpayers more than $400,000, and the legal tab is expected to go higher.

The Missouri United School Insurance Council has had to pay $371,697 in legal fees and $53,899 in costs defending the suit. And despite a federal court's rejection of the cheerleaders' claims, the legal wrangling may be far from finished. A lawsuit filed on behalf of former cheerleaders Lauren Schwaigert and Rachel Jennings and two other girls remains unresolved in state courts.

The tab is approaching a half-million dollars for the school district? Why has the judge let this case go on?

The saga began with a football game on Aug. 30, 2002. According to court documents, Rachel Jennings and Lauren Schwaigert, then 17 and 16 respectively, drank vodka at a friend's house before performing as cheerleaders at the game. A third cheerleader also was said to have been drinking.

Later that night, some members of the cheerleading squad told Diane Moran, the squad's coach, that they were quitting because they couldn't cheer with the girls who had been drinking. Moran brought the squad together for a meeting that lasted until about 2:30 in the morning.

Elizabeth Jennings and Nadine Schwaigert filed suit in federal court in September 2002 on behalf of their daughters. They said the girls were kept at the meeting against their will and berated by other members of the team. They sought $500,000 each in damages.

Meanwhile, the district completed an investigation into the drinking rumors and suspended the girls for 10 days under the student code of conduct.

Moran was removed from her cheerleading duties because of the late-night meeting, but she continued to teach.

The federal court ruled against the girls and their parents last year, and an appellate court upheld that decision last week. The girls and their families were ordered to pay $13,854 in court costs.

Now hold on here. They’ve lost in the district court and on appeal, and they only had to cough up a hair less than $14,000? Why were they not stuck with at least the entire court costs, even if the district and its insurance company couldn’t recover legal fees? I mean, if this wasn’t a frivolous lawsuit, I don’t know what would qualify.

Now they have filed ANOTHER lawsuit over the same incident.

But the case is not over. The two girls were joined by Allyson Justmann, a third cheerleader accused of drinking, and her mother in a suit filed in March in St. Charles County Circuit Court. The Justmanns could not be reached for comment. Lauren Schwaigert's sister Sarah also joined the suit, saying she was subjected to hostile treatment.

In the state court suit, the girls are seeking $100,000 to $500,000 on each of several counts. That case is unresolved.

Sorry, folks, but this matter has already been adjudicated in favor of the district. Res judicata. Hopefully the state judge has heard of that legal concept.

Yeah, sometimes schools mess up, and need to be nailed for their mistakes. But in this case the school really did nothing wrong – and the only school employee who could conceivabley be accused of acting wrongly was the cheerleading sponsor, who was disciplined (for the record, I don’t think she was necessarily that far out of line). Where is the harm to the girls? Where are the damages? I just don’t see them.

|| Greg, 08:02 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dear Abby Blogging

I never thought I would blog on a Dear Abby column, but this letter and response leaped out at me.
Dear Abby:

My husband and I have been married for 55 years. We come from a generation where living together and having children before marriage was unthinkable.
Our 21-year-old granddaughter, "Stella," and her boyfriend moved in together two years ago, in what they called a "trial marriage." Last month, Stella gave birth to a baby girl and sent my husband and me a birth announcement.

We mailed it back with a note telling Stella we are ashamed of their conduct and lack of morals. We also told them there's nothing to celebrate about this birth of an out-of-wedlock child.

Four days later, my daughter (Stella's mother) phoned us in a rage. She said things are different nowadays and we have no right to impose our "outdated moral values" on their daughter and her boyfriend. My daughter insists we owe them an apology. She says we are out of line. Your opinion, please.

in Arizona

Dear Standing:

Although you come from a generation that believes it is best for a child to be born into an established family, it's time to face the fact that a number of younger people feel differently today.

Your moral values are not outdated, but you do owe the couple an apology for lashing out in anger. It was cruel to have returned the birth announcement and told your granddaughter that the birth was nothing to celebrate. Simply not responding at all would have signaled your disapproval.

Now hold on. What, exactly do the grandparents owe an apology for? I don’t see anger here – I see an honest statement of the moral beliefs of the grandparents. I see an expression of disapproval. Maybe it could have been couched in different terms, but I don’t see where grandma and grandpa should be expected to stay silent about their beliefs because others (by their lights) have low or no morals. And I also don’t see where failure to give a gift communicates the message of disapproval that grandma and grandpa wanted to communicate. The thing I see wrong with the manner in which they communicate their message is that it closes doors and does nothing to encourage the granddaughter and the baby’s father to do what the grandparents view as “the right thing.”

Given that my wife and I have not been blessed with children and have been unable to adopt, I would partially disagree with the grandparents. Even if a child isn’t born into a traditional married two heterosexual parent home, the birth of a child is always something to be celebrated. The miracle of new life deserves nothing less. But as a teacher who has seen too many baby showers in the cafeteria and too many excited tenth-grade parents-to-be, I have to agree that we need to stop accepting out of wedlock birth as simply one option among many that are equally acceptable.

Oh, yeah, and about mom complaining that the grandparents “have no right to impose our ‘outdated moral values,’” how does an expression of disapproval do that? Isn’t her demand that the grandparents apologize an impositon of moral values, in and of itself? Is it not an equally “incorrect” insistance that only one set of values is correct? Doesn’t she seek to require that they adhere to beliefs that are not their own? The answer to all of the above questions is “yes,” and that points up the very hypocrisy of those who complain that others are seeking to “impose their morality” -- it isn’t the imposition that they are objecting to, it is the morality itself that they find objectionable.

Frankly, I think everyone in this situation blew it. Granddaughter and her shack-up boyfriend shouldn’t be having kids while they are still playing house. Mom shouldn’t be demanding that her parents adhere to and abide by beliefs that are antithetical to their own. Grandma and grandpa should have found a constructive way of voicing their disapproval, one which did not burn the bridges with a couple who need support and encouragement to do what is best for their new child or deprive the child of the love and nurturing it deserves. And Abby was wrong in her assessment of the situation -- at least how the grandparents should have responded.

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

Prayers For Falwell

I’m not always a big fan of Rev. Jerry Falwell, but I’m sorry to hear he is in the hospital.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell has checked into a Virginia hospital for treatment of a viral infection.

The 71-year-old Falwell was taken Sunday to Lynchburg General Hospital after falling ill at a church service. He had battled a severe cold last week and saw a doctor Friday.

The television evangelist and chancellor of Liberty University says doctors plan to keep him at the hospital for a few days until his lungs clear.

Falwell says, "It's not considered dangerous. It is just troublesome."

Here’s hoping for a speedy and complete recovery.

|| Greg, 07:55 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Taste’s Like Chicken?

As a frequent consumer of high school cafeteria food, I find this story to be particularly troubling.
District school officials canceled today's classes at Eaton Elementary School in Cleveland Park to give cleaning crews time to disinfect the building after hundreds of cats were sterilized and vaccinated in the cafeteria over the weekend.

School Principal Willie McElroy had assured parents on Sunday that the school would be open today. But the unexpectedly large number of cats that were treated and public outcry over the clinic delayed the work on the building, he said.

Parents protested the clinic and wondered how the city could allow the sterilizations in a school cafeteria.

"It probably was not the best place to carry out that service in hindsight," said Jim Collier, chief of the city Health Department's bureau of environmental quality.
More than 500 cats were treated during the two-day clinic, said Robin Buckley, a consultant for Alley Cat Allies, one of the sponsors of the event, along with the city Health Department and the Washington Animal Rescue League.

I’m all for spaying and neutering pets, but I would have to agree that a school cafeteria is NOT the place for such an event. There are questions of sanitation, allergies, and public reaction to the event.

Not to mention concerns about what is in the “mystery meat.”

|| Greg, 07:52 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

She’s A Ho!

Cher has come out and expressed her opinion of Britney and J. Lo.
"I'm not going to give up show business but I'm going to give up touring because, you know, there are all of these young girls coming out like Britney [Spears] and J.Lo." The crowd booed at the names and, according to New Zealand wire reports, Cher smirked: "I know — they are ho's, aren't they?"

Even though I don’t usually find myself in agreement with Cher on anything…

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

Carnival of Education -- Week 3

If you have an article from your site that you would like to see included, (or a post from a different site) please contact The Education Wonks at They should receive entries by 10:00 PM (Pacific) this Tuesday. The Carnival opens Wednesday morning. All that is needed is:

* Name of site
* Title of post
* Permalink URL

Please put "Carnival Of Education" in the subject line. And of course, any assistance that you can give publicizing The Carnival is very much appreciated.

|| Greg, 07:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 21, 2005

I Want One For My Birthday!

And by the way, folks, it is this Friday. (Hint! Hint!)
A toy manufacturer has found inspiration in Condoleezza Rice, creating an action figure of the newly appointed US Secretary of State.

She has been dubbed the most powerful woman in the world and Ms Rice is boldly following in the footsteps of action heroes He-Man and She-Ra.

Dressed in a navy blue trouser suit and powder blue blouse, the figure is complete with a faux pearl necklace. announced the doll would be on sale in the US from today, priced £13 (24.95 dollars).

Any doubt that I'm a Condi fan?

Rice in 08!

|| Greg, 07:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Where Was The Teacher?

This situation is utterly shameful.
Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.

That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.

"It's hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don't need to be getting letters like this," Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey.

"If they don't have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all."

One Muslim boy wrote: "Even thoe [sic] you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?"

His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: "I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques."

Most of the 21 letters Jacobs provided to The Post mentioned some support for the armed forces, if not the Iraq war, and thanked him for his service. But nine of the students made clear their distaste for the president or the war.

The letters were written as a social-studies assignment.

These were mailed as part of a class assignment. Where was the teacher’s professional discretion regarding which letters should be sent?

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

Editor Of Formerly Relevant Newspaper Blasts Bloggers

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, doesn’t seem to think much of bloggers.
Keller also sees “blogging,” or online writing that blurs news and commentary, as a mixed blessing. While he celebrated the blogger’s ability to uncover breaking news, he noted that a blog’s inherent bias might be detrimental to the reader. “A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole,” he said, noting that it can sometimes fall as low as being a “one man circle jerk.”

Given the recent scandals at the former “paper of record,” I think he might consider his words carefully. After all, we certainly couldn’t do any worse that the folks who supervised Jayson Blair.

But I'm curious if he considers the inherent bias of the Times beneficial to the reader, or does he consider it equally detrimental?

And we won't comment on the type of "hole" through which the folks at the Times view the world, or how far up it their heads are.

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

Nazis To Defile Yorktown Site

And sadly, the First Amendment requires that we allow it.

The National Socialist Movement plans to hold a rally June 25 at the Yorktown Battlefield, Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said on Feb. 18.

"Because this is a First Amendment issue, it cannot be turned down," Litterst said.

Here’s hoping that enough patriots are able to attend to make it clear that their fascist viewpoint has no legitimate place in America.

|| Greg, 06:28 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 20, 2005

Ward Churchill Watch -- The Road To Tenure

More evidence has been uncovered as to how Ward Churchill was granted tenure at Colorado. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Charles Middleton had been unable to pressure either the political science or sociology departments into granting Churchill tenure, so he turned to the Department of Communications, apparently placing pressure on the faculty member in line to be the next department chair.
In a memo to the communication faculty, Michael Pacanowsky, who was in line to become chairman, said Churchill needed to join a department, since the program that sponsored his Native American Studies courses did not have the authority to grant tenure.

"Ward's file was circulated to sociology and political science, and they did not agree to roster him in their departments," Pacanowsky wrote in an e-mail dated Jan. 10, 1991. "Because Ward's graduate degree, an MA, was in communications, we were contacted next."

Pacanowsky goes on to say that Churchill's work was not "mainstream in our discipline," but by appointing Churchill, the department would be "making our own contribution to increasing the cultural diversity on campus (Ward is a native American)."

In other words, the reason for the granting of tenure wasn't scholarship, wasn't fitness, it was ethnic. The university didn't want to lose their pet Native American to another school, so they had to dupe some department into taking him. And it is now clear that the ethnicity claim was a fraud. And it appears that pressure was exerted (who knows, maybe a threat to veto the newly selected department chair) to put Churchill on the faculty.

It seems clear that folks were uncomfortable with having him join the department, but felt obligated to do so because of the need for "diversity" at the university.

Pacanowsky said he was "overwhelmed" by the position in which he found himself.

While he saw the benefit of increasing ethnic diversity on campus, "Ward does not seem to me to be the kind of person who fits our mold of a department focused on interpersonal and organizational communication," Pacanowsky wrote.

Three other faculty members from the department have also said increasing campus diversity was a factor in granting tenure to Churchill.

After the communications faculty voted to grant tenure to Churchill, Middleton wrote a letter of thanks to outgoing Chairman John Bowers.

"I am extremely pleased with the results of the vote of the communication department on Ward Churchill's appointment to the faculty," wrote Middleton on Feb. 12, 1991.

"I think that the decision will both enable the department to contribute to the broad agendas of the college and the campus with respect to the study of ethnicity and race in America, and will also give you a dynamic colleague whose work, though not in the core direction in which the department is going at this time, will nonetheless relate to it in a challenging and stimulating manner."

The documents reveal that Middleton had been thinking about offering tenure to Churchill as early as November 1990.

So we again see the impact of race-based hiring. An unqualified individual was forced upon an unwilling department after two others, more closely related to his field, rejected him. That didn't set off warning bells about the candidate, it apparently alerted Dean Middleton that he needed to engage in more explicit hardball tactics to get his man tenure.

I've not been a big advocate of firing Ward Churchill. But I think that the evidence at hand, given that it shows a pattern of irregularities in the granting of tenure, requires that the decision be revisited. Based upon the evidence publicly available, Churchill should probably be stripped of his tenure and required to submit to a new tenure review, based upon the totality of his scholarship and the relative merits of his case. And it is my belief that, in doing so, the resulting decision will be that he not be granted tenure.

|| Greg, 09:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Can The Illinois GOP Recover?

Illinois used to be reliably Republican. When my father was transferred back to his home state in 1976, the state was in the midst of a gubernatorial race that would bring a Republican into office. Republicans would hold that office until 2003. And while Chicago Democrats might be able to tip control of the legislature to their party, many of the Democrats from around the state were of a conservative variety that were willing to work with Republicans.

The problem, though, was the conservative/moderate conflict within the party. As a kid we had Chuck Percy as senator -- one of the most liberal of GOP senators. His eventual loss happened not just because the Democrats ran a candidate who was among the most honorable and decent of men ever to hold public office (Paul Simon), but also because conservatives abandoned Percy. Conservative infighting and moderate strategizing gave Illinois two of the most conservative Senate candidates ever (Judy Koehler and Pat Salvi), but they had no name recognition and were stomped by better known Democrats. Finally, moderate George Ryan destroyed the credibility of the party with the rampant corruption he permitted in the course of his time as Secretary of State and Governor, as well as with his rejection of mainstream GOP principles. Last year's Senate debacle only served to highlight the depths to which the party had fallen.

Can the party be saved? That is up to Andrew McKenna Jr., the new head of the Illinois GOP.

McKenna, who is president of Schwarz [Paper Company], acknowledges that one of the party's first orders of business is to find strong candidates for the 2006 election. The key is to show voters that the party has changed, that it can offer viable political alternatives.

But some Republicans say they simply don't trust that things have changed.

"There's a bunch of people saying they want unification, saying that they're different," said conservative activist Jack Roeser. "That's what [former Gov.] George Ryan told us years ago, and look where it got us."

And the problem is that so many are tainted by their association with Ryan. The state's best known Republican is former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who refused to take the Senate nomination amidst the 2004 fiasco that resulted in the nomination of Alan Keyes as a replacement candidate. The Democrat incumbent is wounded, but who is there ready to take a crack at an incumbent governor, wounded or not?

And then there is the problem of a party more concerned with winning at the top than organizing from the bottom up.

Part of the fresh start means apologizing for ignoring the significance of the suburbs — and the people of Lake County.

From the Lincoln Day dinner podium, McKenna pleaded for local Republicans to set aside the state GOP's troubled past. Again and again, he told the skeptical audience that the future holds enormous promise. And the GOP needs everyone — especially people in the suburbs — to help recruit, raise money and rebuild the party's lineup of political candidates.

In the past, he said, the GOP overlooked the pull of grass-roots political organizing. When it was in power, it consolidated its political pull within the top state offices.

"That won't happen again," McKenna said.

After McKenna spoke, a small crowd gathered around him, curious about the party's solution for boosting the local economy and ideas for persuading local Democrats to vote Republican.

JoAnn Osmond began peppering McKenna with questions and complaints. For years, the local group has had trouble recruiting new volunteers. Longtime members, jaded by the Senate race, have dropped out. Internal squabbling has divided those who remain.

"Are you going to back us and help us unite everyone?" asked the state representative and county chairwoman for the Lake County Republican Federation.

McKenna replied: "I'm here now, aren't I?"

In younger days, I was one of those lake County Republicans. We got ignored until the fundraising letters went out, because we were reliably Republican and refused to allow Chicago to control our destiny. State GOP concern for county politics stated at the state representative level and went up. Maybe now they will pay attention to the county, and even the city and town, races as well. If they don't, the GOP is dead in Illinois.

|| Greg, 11:05 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 19, 2005

Illegal Immigrant Supporters Seek Speech Suppression At University Of North Texas

As a form of political protest, "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day" might have been a poorly thought out act of guerilla theater. But the issue it raised was an important one. The border/sieve between the US and Mexico is a threat to national security, and the presence of 10 million lawbreakers in this country is a threat to the economic well-being and cultural identity of the nation.

What concerns me more is that there are folks who are more offended by the demonstration than by the flaunting of our nation's laws. Even more offensive is their demand that UNT officials be forced to attend brainwashing sensitivity sessions so that they can teach "tolerance" to students. Excuse me, but since when is it a legitimate objective for a university to try to force certain political and social beliefs on its students?

And then there is this even more frightening demand by one of the advocates for foreign invaders.

Emma Guzman Ramon, president of Denton’s LULAC chapter, said she appreciated Jackson’s statement, though it could have come sooner and been more powerful.

"I think whenever an incident like this happens, UNT should have spoken up a lot earlier and said they don’t condone the message," she said.

She said her group wants the university to preview content to be presented in the free-speech zones.

"There should have to be some kind of a review before it goes to a free-speech area because they’re [UNT] using that as a crutch," she said.

So, lest criminals and their supporters be offended, the university should actively censor student speech, not merely pen it up in a couple of sharply limited "free speech zones" which require permission for use. If this woman had even half a concept of what was in the United States and Texas Constitutions, she would realize that the entire campus is, by rights, a free speech zone, and that no public official has any right to censor the political speech of any citizen.

How much longer are Americans going to sit back and accept the notion that one's rights are limited by the most overly-sensitive member of the community? We are guaranteed freedom OF speech, not freedom FROM speech, and freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. There is no such thing as an "I'm offended" exception to civil liberties.

|| Greg, 09:54 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Food Or Sex?

If you are a male cockroach, the answer isn't "food" -- even if you are starving.
The compound that lures males to their potential mates is so powerful that cockroaches near death from starvation will forgo peanut butter for a chance to copulate, said Coby Schal, a professor of entomology at North Carolina State University and coauthor of the study, published today in the journal Science.

No word on whether or not the pair might be open to combining the two for a particularly kinky time.

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

Death Of A Hero

The Houston Fire Department lost one of its own today.
A 12-year veteran Houston firefighter was killed fighting a house fire early this morning.

Six others were injured in the 6 a.m. fire at a vacant house on Brandon Street, near Texas 288 and Belfort, authorities said.

Capt. Grady Burke, 39, died when the roof collapsed on him while inside the house in south Houston, said Assistant Chief Rick Flanagan.

None of the others' injuries required hospitalization and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Burke is survivied by his wife, Cindy; daughters, Hannah, 9; Hailey, 8; and son Hunter, 7.

Burke is the first HFD fatality snce April, 2004.

City of Houston emergency personnel form an impromptu honor line as an ambulance leaves a fire scene with the body of Capt. Grady Burke. Burke, 39, was killed early today while battling a fire at an abandoned house.

|| Greg, 08:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Headline Spin

It is always amusing to examine headlines 9especially in the Houston Chronicle) to see how stories get spun by a paper.

Look at the headlines in two Texas papers about a new poll on support for the war in Iraq.

Poll: War support shrinking in Texas (Houston Chronicle)


Most Texans still back war
(Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

I guess it all comes down to a question of what editorial line you want to take on the war.

|| Greg, 08:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An African Pope?

Word has it that Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria, one of the more conservative members of the Curia, is considered high on the list of possible successors to Pope John Paul II should his death come soon. While that might seem jarring to many people, it wouldn't be the first time an African has served as successor to St. Peter. In fact, there have been three, dating to the earliest centuries of Christianity.

Pope Saint Victor I was born in Africa and bore a Latin name as most Africans did at that time. A native of black Africa, Saint Victor was the 15th pope and served during the reign of Emperor Septimus Severus, who was also African and had led Roman legions in Britain. Victor I is credited with reaffirming the holy feast of Easter to be held on Sunday as Pius has done. An outspoken pontiff, Victor I condemned and excommunicated Theodore of Byzantium for denying the divinity of Jesus Christ and added acolytes to the attendance of the clergy. He was crowned with martyrdom and served as pope for ten years, two months and ten days. He was buried near the final resting place of the apostle Peter, the first pope in Vatican. While some historians contend that St. Victor died in 198 A.D. of natural causes, others have suggested that he suffered martyrdom under Servus. He is buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City near the "Convesso." Pope Saint Victor I feast day is July 28.

Pope Saint Gelasius I was born in Rome of African parents and was a member of the Roman clergy from youth. Of the three African popes, Gelasius appears to have been the most active. He occupied the holy papacy four years, eight months and eighteen days from 492 A.D. until 496 A.D. Saint Gelasius expanded upon Miliatades' work with the Manicheans, exiling them from Rome and burning their books before the doors of the basilica of the holy Mary. He is credited with delivering the city of Rome from the peril of famine and was a writer of strong letters to people of all rank and classes. He denounced Lupercailia, a fertility rite celebration. He asked them sternly why the gods they worshiped had not provided calm seas so the grain so the grain ships could have reached Rome in time for the winter. He persuaded Femina, a wealthy woman of rank, to return the lands of St. Peter, taken by the barbarians and the Romans, to the church. He designated that the lands be used to support the poor who were flocking to Rome. Pope Saint Gelasius I feast day is November 21.

Pope Saint Militiades I occupied the papacy from 311 to 314 A.D., serving four years, seven months and eight days. Militiades decreed that none of the faithful should fast on Sunday or on the fifth day of the week because this was a pagan custom. It was Militiades who led the church to final victory over the Roman Empire. Saint Militiades was buried on the famous Appain Way. Pope Saint Militiades I feast day is December 10.

The article also discusses a number of other saints from Africa, though I'm inclined to dispute the assumption implicit in the article that "African" necessarily means "black." After all, the Roman Empire was a European empire, and it is more probable that folks such as Augustine and Monica (for example) were of European ancestry, or more closely related to the Berbers of North Africa. But certainly the Egyptians mentioned were likely to reflect the current ethnic makeup of Egypt, as were folks such as Saint Antonio Vieira, Saint Benedict the Moor, Saint Martin de Porres, St. Moses the Black, and more recent martyrs like St. Charles Lwanga (who is surprisingly not mentioned in the article).

|| Greg, 08:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 18, 2005

Grading Day Round-Up

Well, another evening of grades, grades, and more grades – and a quick round-up of today’s highlights.

You’ve just gotta love it when someone finds a creative loophole in a law. Like this guy in Boise, who discovered that he could give his patrons sketchpads and pencils to create “serious artistic merit” to the display of nudity. As a result, his girls are transformed into “art models” rather than strippers, who may not perform fully nude in town.

African Muslim charities are complaining that laws intended to stop the funding of terrorists are hurting them. My response? Too bad – too many of your “charities” have been little more than fronts for al-Qaeda, Hamas, or other terrorist groups. Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.

Mike Adams writes another funny column, this one dealing with both the proliferation of “erectile dysfunction” commercials and discussions in today’s society – and the causes of the condition in his case. Trust me, this one is worth the read. And as one of my colleagues said a couple of weeks ago in the teacher’s workroom – “in case of erections lasting more than four hours, have your wife call all her girlfriends.”

In a move that causes mixed emotions for me, the Senate has passed legislation banning discrimination based upon genetic makeup or genetic predisposition to medical conditions. While I think that the move to protect the most personal information we have is laudable (you don’t get more personal than DNA), I’m not a big fan of government imposing ANY non-discrimination rules on private employers. Companies that make irrational decisions to discriminate will suffer financially, and those making rational decisions to discriminate will profit – neither one of which should be stopped by the government. But if we are going to have such laws (and it appears we shall have them for a very long time), one that prevents an employer from deciding things based upon your DNA seems reasonable.

And speaking about employers and employment decisions, a casino in New Jersey is going to fire overweight waitstaff. Employees who gain more than 7% of their body-weight will be suspended pending a 90-day, company-paid weight-loss program. I guess I won’t be gambling at the Borgata.

Bill Maher once again displayed that he is both a bigot and a moron. He appeared on “Scarborough Country” this week and described Christians and other religious believers as having “a neurological disorder.” So much for the adhering to the talismanic principle of “tolerance” that you and your fellow liberals insist must come before all else.

Deroy Murdock points out the many REPUBLICAN contributions to Black History that are overlooked by black activists who are aligned with the Democrat Party that fought tooth and nail against freedom and liberty for blacks. It is worth a read, and includes a link to the House Policy Committee's 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar, which can be downloaded for free. The calendar contains daily facts about the GOP's leadership in the field of emancipation, womens' rights, civil rights, and the inclusion of minorities based upon merit. Take that, Howard Dean!

Columnist Gil Spencer comments on the decision of a Philadelphia judge to throw out charges against the Repent America protesters who were arrested at Outfest. He notes that gay activists try to spin the situation into one of “incitement to riot” or some other exception to the First Amendment, but that the argument doesn’t work. The answer to speech that someone hates is more speech, not censorship.

|| Greg, 06:20 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 17, 2005

Tomb of St. Paul Found

For all my fellow archaeology geeks, here's another fun one for you.
A sarcophagus which may contain the remains of St. Paul was identified in the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, reports Giorgio Filippi, a archeology specialist with the Vatican Museums. The sarcophagus was discovered during the excavations carried out in 2002 and 2003 around the basilica, which is located in the south of Rome.

An official announcement is pending.

|| Greg, 06:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

While I’m Working On Grades

It is that awful time of the marking period – the weekend before grades are due. As usual, a torrent of late work has come crashing onto my desk. It may be a while before I get back to regular posting.

So, without further ado, I give you a host of “stories that have caught my eye.”

Freedom of speech and freedom of religion won a round in Philadelphia today as a judge dismissed all charges against members of a Christian group arrested at Philadelphia’s Outfest. The judge indicated that a thorough review of video of the incident. "We are one of the very few countries that protect unpopular speech. And that means that Nazis can March in Skokie, Ill. ... That means that the Ku Klux Klan can march where they wish to," Judge Dembe said. "We cannot stifle speech because we don't want to hear it, or we don't want to hear it now.”

We kept hearing last year during the campaign that Clear Channel was conspiring to suppress liberal voices. Guess again – the nation’s largest radio network is trying out a liberal talk format on about 40 stations nationwide. They want to see if it is a moneymaker for them – which is exactly why so much of their programming is conservative.

Seems that Ward Churchill has been drawing criticism for a long time – and the folks out at Colorado have been ignoring it. Little things like plagiarism, poor scholarship, false claims of Native American heritage, and even threats or acts of violence against others have been raised for years, but the university has failed to investigate the matters further.

Even a court order isn’t sufficient in Massachusetts if a hospital wants to kill a patient. Barbara Howe has ALS, and her daughter, Carol Carvitt, has a court order allowing her to make medical decisions for her mother and forbidding the removal of life support without her consent. But Dr. Britain Nicholson, Massachusetts General Hospital 's chief medical officer, has ordered life support be removed next week. This makes the Terri Schiavo case look benign, as Ms. Cavitt is simply trying to uphold her mother’s expressed wishes regarding the removal of life-support – the very argument used to authorize Terri’s husband to order her execution food and water to be cut off.

It seems that the next royal wedding won’t take place in Windsor Castle after all, but in the local town hall. A quirk in British law would require that Windsor Castle be opened to the general public for weddings if Charles and Camilla were to be married there. So, it is off to the historic Windsor Guildhall for the civil ceremony.

Arizona has a “stupid motorist law” which authorizes government agencies to bill folks for the cost of their rescue if they drive around barricades or ignore the orders of safety personnel. It is about to be applied for the first time, after Paul Zalewski of Cave Creek decided to drive his Hummer across a flooded street. Zalewski is to be billed for over $800 for the helicopter rescue of himself and his six passengers, including three children.

Proving that she doesn’t know that her 15 minutes are up, former Apprentice competitor Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth is complaining that executive producer Mark Burnett is racist in his handling and presentation of black players. "Once you start looking at how all the black men are perceived as lazy and laid-back and nonaggressive," she said, "and all the black women are quite the opposite, I do think there is a pattern." Yeah – it shows what happens when you bring affirmative action hires into a highly competitive program.

Andrew Hyman cogently presents the case that certain Democrats are lying when they say that President Bush’s re-nomination of judicial candidates who have been filibustered have been rejected by the Senate. Rather, he argues, Senate Rule 31 makes it clear that they have not been rejected – and that same rule does not allow for the use of a filibuster as a means of rejecting a candidate at all.

Look who gave money to support Lynne Stewart’s defense fund – George Soros. How is it that a man who claims to love America gave money to a woman committed to destroying it? And why wasn’t this disclosed by the Mainstream Media when he was bankrolling the Kerry campaign with soft-money donations to liberal 527 organizations?

Bravo to FBI agent Robert Jordan for refusing to back off his comments that there are “people here in Oregon that have trained in jihadist camps”. I just hope that he got the name of all in attendance at his meeting with local Muslims and other community members in the Portland area. After all, if they were offended by comments that are clearly true, they may be part of the problem. Quite frankly, we need to quit apologizing to offended Muslims for speaking the truth – that there are members of the Muslim community who are active supporters of terrorism. The professionally offended need to take offense at the disloyalty of members of their own community, not at folks who comment on that reality.

Bravo to Colin Levey for pointing out that journalists have no greater rights under the First Amendment than any other American. No one is required to tell them anything or turn over information to them. They have no right to obstruct justice or withhold information from law enforcement. Those who pretend otherwise are engaged in a self-aggrandizement that can and will lead to their own downfall.

And why does this story make me think of Howard Dean and the Democrat Party?

|| Greg, 05:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 16, 2005

Eminent Domain -- A Threat To Free Exercise Of Religion?

As traditionally understood, eminent domain is the right of government to take property at fair market value for a public use, usually for parks, roads, schools and the like. Over the last 50 years or so, it has expanded to include takings for urban renewal. But in recent years the power has been used to seize property from owners unwilling to sell to private developers favored by the city because of the potential for increased tax revenue. Next week, in Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.), the Supreme Court will examine that issue. The outcome could be particularly critical for churches.
The question is which direction the court will go in Kelo and what impact it might have [cases involving the use of eminent domain against churches to increase tax revenue]. Some expect new limits on government power. A landmark ruling on eminent domain at the state level - used for 20 years as precedent in many cases, including by the state court in Kelo - was reversed by the Michigan Supreme Court just six months ago.

In the 1983 decision in Poletown v. City of Detroit, the Michigan court approved the taking of 500 acres to sell to General Motors for a plant. Hundreds of homes and businesses and six churches were condemned. In July 2004, the court called the Poletown decision "a radical departure from constitutional principles" and overturned it in County of Wayne v. Hathcock.

"[I]f one's ownership of private property is forever subject to the government's determination that another private party would put one's land to better use, then the ownership of real property is perpetually threatened by the expansion plans of any large discount retailer, mega-store or the like," the court said.

The US Supreme Court accepted the Kelo case shortly after the Michigan court rendered that decision.

The logic applies not just to churches, but also to private schools, hospitals, charities, and other untaxed entities. Take the land, sell it at a bargain-basement price to a developer, and get it on the tax rolls would be the temptation facing every land-locked community or fast-growing municipality. In effect, not-for-profits would be at the mercy of government.

As would owners of modest homes -- for the Kelo case isn't about a church, it is about taking homes in an older middle-class neighborhood for redevelopment as a marina and high-dollar condos.

Hopefully the Court will safeguard the rights of all property owners, and guarantee that our churches are not driven from town in the pursuit of additional taxes.

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

Impeachment For Judge In Ross Case?

Several weeks ago I commented on the bid by the ACLU to stop the execution of Connecticut death row inmate Michael Ross. Now there is a bid to impeach one of the judges involved in the case, U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny, on grounds of partiality and improper behavior. Congressman Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) has delivered a letter from Republicans in the Connecticut statehouse to House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) requesting an investigation, which has begun.
“He has exhibited behaviors and decisions that directly contradict the role of an impartial judiciary,” the three-page letter said of Chatigny, adding, “Such abuses of judicial powers should not and must not be tolerated. We strongly urge your committee to investigate the matter fully, and to commence proceedings to redress this misconduct, including the possible removal from office.”

Ross had fired his defense team and hired a lawyer to expedite the proceedings after 24 years of court proceedings to determine his guilt and punishment, as well as challenging the death penalty. At that point the ACLU intervened, ostensibly on behalf of Ross' father.

Finally, on Jan. 24[, 2005], Chatigny, who had not been presiding over the case, issued a stay of execution, which was followed by a flurry of appeals.

Four days after his initial stay, Chatigny held a conference call with lawyers from both sides to discuss a letter sent to the court by a fellow inmate of Ross’s arguing that Ross had lost his sanity while in prison and was not mentally competent to ask the court for his own execution.

During this call, Chatigny challenged Ross’s lawyer, T.R. Paulding, who was hired to expedite Ross’s execution, to follow up on the inmate’s insanity claim. When Paulding equivocated, Chatigny berated him, at one point saying, “You better be prepared to deal with me if in the wake of this an investigation is conducted and it turns out that what [the inmate] says and what this former program director says is true, because I’ll have your license.”

In other words, Chatigny intervened in the attorney-client relationship to the point that he ordered Paulding to act contrary to the desires and directions of his client. What's more, he threatened the man's career if he didn't follow the judge's directives to act contrary to his client's wishes and directives. In effect, the judge's order prohibited the attorney from being an advocate for his client, and turned the case from an adversary proceeding into a virtual conspiracy to thwart that client's pursuit of what he believed to be his interests. That intervention in the attorney-client relationship certainly approaches unethical conduct, if it does not cross the line. Furthermore, indicates a partiality that is unfitting in a judge.

This case bears watching, as it could be the beginning of a trend towards holding biased and activist judges accountable for their malfeasance while on the bench.

|| Greg, 08:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

When Tolerance Equals Intolerance

Students in Kentucky's Boyd County are required to participate in a "diversity training." The program, though, does not practice respect for diversity. In fact, it is explicitly opposed to freedom of speech and freedom of religion -- at least if that means believing and saying that homosexual activity is immoral. Or so says a suit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund.
“This mandatory ‘diversity training’ hardly teaches diversity. It not only puts a gag on students who disagree with homosexual behavior, it also actively attempts to change their moral beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The Supreme Court is clear on this matter: Americans have an absolute right to their beliefs. This training obviously crosses that constitutional line.”

All middle and high school students in Boyd County schools are required to attend the “diversity training.” School policies and practice do not permit parents to opt their children out of the training, even if it violates their personal beliefs and morality.

In the training session’s video, school employees and other individuals state that homosexuality is a characteristic that cannot be changed and that school policy prohibits any student from telling another student that he or she believes homosexuality is “wrong.”

According to the complaint filed today, “Students are required to undergo this training without expressing any disagreement. This effectively forces the students to speak in agreement with the School District’s view that homosexuality is a safe and healthy lifestyle that cannot be changed.” To read the full text of the complaint, go to

Now I know that there are going to be folks who show up here and argue that the position taken by the school on homosexuality is the correct one -- that it is an immutable characteristic not a chosen lifestyle. That isn't the point, and is really irrelevant. Rather, the problem is that the school district is taking a position on a moral issue addressed by religious beliefs and teachings of students and their families and churches. The school is insisting that it is the arbiter of MORAL AND RELIGIOUS VALUES, and is prohibiting constitutionally protected speech. That goes far beyond the bounds of any legitimate educational mission.

The great irony here is that the training is required under the settlement of an ACLU-litigated suit over the district's refusal to recognize the Boyd County High School Gay-Straight Alliance. In agreeing to recognize the rights of members of that organization, the district abrogated the rights of every other student in the district and their parents. Where is the tolerance and respect for diverse views in such a settlement?

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

But Was It In His Lesson Plan?

There are lots of bits of history I would like to cover in class, but I don’t. After all, do my students really need to know about Catherine the Great’s “riding accident”? The controversy over Lincoln’s sexuality? The FDR’s infidelities? Probably not, and common sense dictates that I keep them out of a high school classroom. And if I were a science teacher, I somehow think I would have steered clear of this lesson, with its much greater potential for harm to a student.
ORLANDO, Fla. — A high school chemistry teacher was arrested after students claimed he taught his class how to make a bomb, authorities said.

David Pieski, 42, used an overhead projector in class to give instructions in making explosives to students at Freedom High School, including advising them to use an electric detonator to stay clear from the blast, an Orange County sheriff's arrest report said.

In Pieski's classroom in Orlando, authorities found a book labeled "Demo," which includes the chemical breakdown for a powerful explosive, the arrest report said.

Uhhhh… yeah.

Dude – what were you thinking? Let’s forget about 9/11, Oklahoma City, and Columbine. How about just good common sense?

And then there is this line at the end of the story that almost slipped my notice.

School officials told investigators that Pieski previously had been told he was not allowed to have any form of explosive on campus.

He had to be told this? Shouldn’t that have been a basis for closer supervision? I know it certainly would raise some red flags for me.

|| Greg, 05:10 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Churchill Hiring, Tenure Decisions Bypassed Normal Procedures

Ward Churchill has been at the center of a controversy for several weeks. Many fgolks have asked how it was possible that the usual standards of scholarship and peer review failed, getting him into a tenured position without a doctorate.

The answer is simple. They didn’t fail. The normal procedures were simply bypassed.
Churchill started teaching at the school in the 1980s as a non-tenure track teacher. Ethnic studies was not even a department back then.

In the 1990 e-mail exchange, [Kaye] Howe, the vice chancellor, noted that Churchill had been invited to be a guest lecturer that fall at Alfred University in western New York State.

Howe sought support from [Charles] Middleton, the dean, to make Churchill a visiting professor in Indian studies in spring 1991. Howe said Churchill could return to his slot in the academic support program if the visiting professorship did not turn into a permanent faculty position.

"I think this would give Ward a significant opportunity," Howe wrote.

Howe told Middleton she had the "highest esteem for Ward."

Middleton responded that he agreed with Howe "in principle." However, he anticipated Bruce Ekstrand, the vice chancellor for academic affairs, would have concerns about Churchill's lack of a doctorate.

Ekstrand - not Howe - had direct authority over faculty appointments. Howe supervised the support programs where Churchill then worked.

Now that isn’t necessarily outrageous. Go ahead and give the guy a chance. Maybe he doesn’t have the doctorate that the job would ordinarily require, but sometimes that can be dispensed with if there is exceptional merit on the part of a candidate. Not to mention, this wasn’t even a tenure-track position. That could come later, with all the usual reviews and evaluations.

But then things got even more interesting. For reasons not discernible in the public record, Churchill was brought before the Board of Regents for a decision on tenure – ten months after being offered the non-tenure-track visiting professorship, in April, 1991. And no one seems able to explain why or how, especially since the normal process for granting tenure .

This is a situation that cries out for examination. Every step of the way, normal processes and procedures were dispensed with and finessed. We need to know why, so that such things do not happen again. After all, an unqualified, plagiarising polemicist was head of a department at a major state university. That should be a matter of concern for folks of all political stripes.

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

Passport-Free Travel – A Thing Of The Past

It looks like we’ll all be needing a passport if we want to see the Canadian Falls or take high tea in Victoria, BC.

In three years, U.S. citizens and Canadians will have to show passports or a federally issued ID cards linked to Homeland Security databases to re-enter the country from across the border.

The intelligence bill passed by Congress last year mandates the new identification requirements be in place by Jan. 1, 2008.

It also requires that the Department of Homeland Security have by then a registered traveler program for border travelers like those now being tested at five airport sites. The programs allow frequent travelers to avoid extra security inspections by volunteering for background checks.


This may not seem like much to folks in most of the country. After all, how often do
folks zip into Canada if they live in Missouri? But for those along the
longest unfortified border in the world, international travel has never been
terribly difficult. It appears it will be much more difficult, starting in
three years.

As a Texan, though, I want to know about travel across the southern border. Will a passport be necessary there? Or will it continue to leak like sieve, with little effort made to enforce our nation’s immigration laws?

Seems to me that we are focusing on the wrong place. Canada is not the source of our border problem – Mexico is.

|| Greg, 05:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 15, 2005

In Memory Of A Nameless Hero

It may sound funny coming from a middle-aged white guy, but some of my greatest heroes growing up were the Tuskegee Airmen.
I owe my existence to one unknown African-American fighter pilot of a past era.

Blame it on my dad, a Navy officer who made clear to me at a young age that the qualities he and my mother sought to instill in me are not limited to people who look like me. And one of the prime examples he held up for me were those men who performed such great deeds in their planes. It is why I wept before the Super Bowl, as some of the last of them walked and rolled on to that field. And it is why I wept again today, as I read First Lt. Jennifer Miller’s commentary in today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch. She has a special connection to that elite group of African-American pilots, military pioneers who proived that plack men could do anything a white man could do -- maybe even better than a white man could do it.

When I was little, my family and I took a weekend trip to Dover, Del., to visit my father who was on Army Reserve duty that summer. During our trip, we visited a hanger at Dover Air Force Base where a group of veterans were rebuilding a vintage B-17G from World War II called the "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby." That July morning, I watched my grandfather stand motionless in front of that Flying Fortress. He had not seen one for at least 40 years.

Looking closely, I thought I saw a tear on my grandfather's cheek, and - as only a child could - I asked, "What's the matter, Poppy Arnold?" We sat down on a nearby bench, and he told me this story.

It’s one of those stories remarkable not for the unusual heroism it conveys. Rather, it leaps out at me because the heroism was so ordinary, so commonplace. Such heroism is the everyday currency of those in combat. And so it was that Lt. Arnold Bernfeld, a 22-year-old bombardier in the 8th Air Force's 509th Bombardment Squadron, 351st Bomb Group, found himself and his B-17 in the sights of a German fighter. It was a situation likely to have only one outcome. The only question was whether or not the bombs in the belly of the plane would be delivered before the crew met their end.

Suddenly, the German fighter disintegrated in a fireball before his very eyes. My grandfather announced "Bombs away," the pilot regained control of the plane, and the group headed back to England. As my grandfather looked out the nose of the plane, he saw an American fighter plane with a red tail. My grandfather distinctly remembered the pilot, who had shot down the German fighter, looking towards his bomber and saluting. He never forgot the black face of that pilot who saved his life that day, along with the lives of the other nine members of his crew.

That was the job of the Tuskegee Airmen. Their duty was to protect the men and planes who rained death and destruction down on the enemies of America. They did it well – so well, in fact, that the 332nd Fighter Group never lost a bomber under their care. They were truly the best of the best, and they proved their skills many times over. Sixty-six of their number died in combat, and another thirty-two were held as prisoners of war after being shot down. Rarely in the history of air combat has their like been seen.

|| Greg, 09:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Filibuster For Frist?

I make no secret about my support for Condoleezza Rice at this early stage of the race for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination. But one of the other prominently mentioned names is that of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. But what does he need to do to distinguish himself from the field?
If Bill Frist is going to distinguish himself from his likely 2008 primary contenders (like Virginia senator George Allen), he needs to be Bush's game-breaking quarterback in the Senate. In fact, one could argue that successfully pushing Bush's agenda through the Senate would so identify Frist with the Bush legacy that he could run as Bush's ideological heir. But to do this, Frist will need to exhibit some of that famed Volunteer-state toughness, and this means breaking filibusters the old-school way, with non-stop debate, sleepless nights, and cots in the Senate required.

I don’t know if I agree with that assessment, but I agree that a real filibuster, with the Democrats constantly on television actively obstructing the work of the Senate, is what is needed to get the American people to speak out. I don’t know if there exists film of the Democrat filibusters of civil rights measures, but wouldn’t it be great to run them side-by-side? Even more fun would be the film of Senator Byrd in 1964 and in 2005, seeking to keep minorities from voting then and from becoming judges today.

|| Greg, 09:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Bargain At Twice The Price

Hey, kid, want a bargain basement price for college? Try St. Louis Christian College.
In a big, fat, expensive valentine to its 200 students (and parents), the Bible college's board of trustees on Saturday agreed to provide full-tuition scholarships for its resident students starting this fall. That adds up to more than $16,000 in savings over four years.

For a student taking 12 credit hours (though many students take more), the old system cost about $10,000 a year. Cancel the tuition and add a new $450 student services fee, plus increased room-and-board fees and the new total will be about $6,000.

The school sees its primary mission as preparing students for ministry, and hopes to make it possible for more young people to answer their calling. It is also hoped that the tuition-free program will bring about an increase in enrollment.

"Why on earth are we doing this?" Jamie Lankford, St. Louis Christian's director of business, asked at the chapel service.

He answered by ticking off statistics: Three out of five ministers leave the ministry within their first five years. About 50 percent of ministers are at or near retirement age.

With dorm rooms only about a third full, Lankford said, administrators knew they could do more to help fill them. And they could do it by reducing the amount of loans students take out - especially since many students will take on low-paying jobs in the ministry.

If St. Louis Christian can double enrollment, it can offset the costs of the tuition plan, said Tom Wallace, the school's director of development. He's hoping for 70 more students this fall.

The school also anticipates raising about $400,000 in the next two years from area churches, alumni and individuals.

And, for the record, commuters will pay half-tuition (and save about $1,900 a year) while part-timers will get no breaks.

If it works, it will be the salvation of the college – and a boon to its students. But the question is, will it mark a trend towards decreasing tuition rates everywhere?

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

February 14, 2005

Watcher's Council Notice

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, 11:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 13, 2005

RIP -- Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos

She was one of the most important Catholic figures of the twentieth century. Many knew her name, but few saw her after she became a cloistered Carmelite nun. After nearly a century of life, and nearly nine decades after she and her cousins claimed to have seen the Virgin mary at Fatima, portugal, Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos has passed on to her heavenly reward.
LISBON (Reuters) - Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, the last of three children who claimed to see the Virgin at Fatima and who revealed a vision the Catholic Church said foretold the attempt to kill Pope John Paul, died on Sunday, the Church said.

Dos Santos, 97, who later became a nun, was the eldest of the shepherd children who in 1917 told of seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary six times. She died at her Carmelite convent at Coimbra in central Portugal.

"She had been weak for several weeks and had not left her cell," Coimbra Bishop Albino Cleto told the Church's Radio Renascenca.

Like the story of the visions at Lourdes, the Fatima visions have great following among Catholics. Like Lourdes, the visions were given not to the powerful or famous, but rather to simple children of the porest class.

The events at Fatima unfolded against a backdrop of religious persecution under anti-clerical factions that ruled Portugal after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1910.

In 1916 she experienced her first vision, when an angel appeared to the children, she wrote in her memoirs.

On May 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary appeared to her and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marta on an oak tree. On her last appearance before an estimated 50,000 onlookers, witnesses claim to have experienced a 15-minute spectacle of bright lights and rainbow colors.

In her memoirs, dos Santos said the Virgin Mary appeared to the children six times in 1917. Jacinta and Francisco died in the influenza pandemic in 1919 and 1920.

The two were beatified, the last step to sainthood, by Pope John Paul during his Fatima visit in 2000.

V. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.
R. And may perpetual light shine upon her.
V. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
R. Amen.

|| Greg, 10:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Election Results Are In

The people of Iraq have spoken.
The Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance ticket received 4,075,295 votes, or about 48 percent of the total cast, Iraqi election officials said. The Kurdistan Alliance, a coalition of two main Kurdish factions, was second with 2,175,551 votes, or 26 percent, and the Iraqi List headed by the U.S.-backed Allawi finished third with 1,168,943 votes, or about 14 percent.

Those three top finishers represent about 88 percent of the total, making them the main power brokers as the assembly chooses national leaders and writes a constitution.

About 58% of eligible voters cast ballots, despite a Sunni call for boycotts. natureally, of course, Sunnis are unhappy and question the legitimacy the results.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television, Mohammed Bashar of the anti-American Association of Muslim Scholars said the fact that there were no international or U.N. monitors in Iraq made him question the figures.

"Those who boycotted the elections are more than those who took part in it," he said. "Boycotting the election does not mean that the boycotter will renounce his rights."

In other words, we engaged in an electoral crap-shoot and lost, so we plan on continuing to engage in terrorism against the British, Americans, and the Shiite majority that we oppressed during the Saddam years.

What comes next?

CONSTITUTION REFERENDUM AND THE NEXT ELECTIONS: Iraqis will vote on the proposed constitution by Oct. 15. If they approve, elections for a permanent government to replace the assembly will be held in December. If voters reject the charter, the National Assembly will be dissolved and a new transitional assembly will be elected in December to take another stab at constitution-writing.

In other words, these poor, "disenfranchised" Sunnis who sided with the terrorists will get a chance to vote on the Constitution and potentially derail it -- and then will be able to vote in the elections that follow.

|| Greg, 01:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rodeo Is Coming!

Anyone who has ever lived in Texas knows about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. As we get closer to opening day (March 1), my wife and I get more excited, and the local news begins to publish more rodeo-related news.

And this story is so heartwarming. Barrel racing is one of my favorite events at the rodeo, the only one in which women compete. I'm hoping that someday little Brittney Holland is among the top 64 competitors in the world, so that I get a chance to see her ride.

The horse knows the girl's voice.

He knows her touch and the loving way she lays her cheek against his neck and feeds him treats from the palm of her small hand.

Some say that seeing is believing.

But one doesn't have to see to believe.

Fourteen-year-old Brittney Holland believes in her well-trained horse, Dollar, and in her skills and experience as a rodeo performer.

The ninth-grade honor student from Aledo High School also believes what Susan Holland, her mother, has told her since she was 3. When Brittney asked if she would ever be able to see Hayley, her older sister, her mother told her no.

"Britt, you're going to do greater things being blind than you ever would if you had total vision," Susan Holland said.

Yeah, that's right. Brittney is legally blind, and can only see two letters at a time in her large-print school books. The kid has big dreams, and I hope and pray that they all come true.

Oh, and if you want to learn a bit about the real stars of bull-riding -- the bulls -- check out this article.

"Bulls have their own personalities," says Rorey Lemmel, general manager of Stace Smith Pro Rodeos of Texas, a supplier of bucking bulls for the Dixie National Rodeo, running through Wednesday at the State Fairgrounds in Jackson.

Among the 70 or so bucking bulls bringing their reps to Jackson are Speckled Bird, Copper Top, Smokeless Drifter, Bounty Hunter and Dirty White Bull.

"Some fans show up as much for the bulls as for the cowboys," says Mike Mathis of Lufkin, Texas, rodeo announcer for this year's Dixie National.

Riders and fans alike are savvy about certain bulls: They know that some, for instance, may lean either to the right or the left, like a Supreme Court justice or a car with bad brakes.

And some of us, like basketball fans from Chicago, want to see the bulls win.

So I'll probably be posting a couple more rodeo related articles in the next couple of weeks, and then deluge you with rodeo coverage for those glorious three weeks in March when cowboys and livestock go at it in the Reliant Center.

|| Greg, 12:13 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 12, 2005

Slavery In Niger

Our country abolished slavery 140 years ago, yet activists rant on as if the "peculiar institution" continues on to this day in America. They demand reparations, affirmative action, and special programs. On the other hand, these same activists, usually black, are rarely troubled to raise their voices on behalf of victims of contemporary slavery.
Slavery in Niger is not an obscure thing, nor a curious relic of the past, it is an intrinsic part of society today.

A Nigerian study has found that almost 8% of the population are slaves.

You wonder how this can be in the 21st Century and why people do not know about it?

When was slavery banned in Niger? Last year. Yeah, you read that right -- 2004. And yet we hear not a word from any of the usual suspects. Where is Jesse Jackson? Where is Al Sharpton? Yoo-hoo -- Maxine Watters? Nope. Not a one of them has anything to say. I guess that long-dead slaves are more important than slaves who are alive today, continuing to be held in defiance of the laws of Niger and all human decency. I guess fattening their own pocketbooks and campaign coffers in the liberal salons of Hollywood and the Upper East Side matters more than men, women, and children held in bondage. After all, there isn't any money to be made in challenging this chattel status of impoverished blacks in a backwards corner of Africa, while affirmative action, minority contracting, and reparations scams are a source of big bucks for the "professional Negros" of the liberal Left.

But since so-called black leaders in this country won't tell you about them, let's hear about the slaves of Niger from the BBC. Who are these slaves, and what are the conditions they live in?

Most slaves in Niger today are the descendents of slaves who were kidnapped in wars and raids centuries ago, and were simply born into their status.

Many slaves in Niger are appallingly abused by their masters.

Slave children are taken away from their parents before they are two-years-old, to break the bonds between parent and child and to eliminate any sense of identity.

The children grow up working in the house of the master.

Assibit was born into slavery, as was her mother and her husband

The slave owners encourage the slaves to reproduce to increase their numbers, sometimes even determining when they have sexual intercourse.

They treat the slaves like their cattle.

Slaves are often beaten for small misdemeanours.

They work long hours and are sometimes deprived of food as punishment.

There are documented cases of slaves being stripped naked in front of their families to humiliate them, of female slaves being raped by their owners, and even of male slaves being castrated by their owners as punishment.

So the next time you hear some Leftist start the usual litany about American racism, ask them why they are not doing something about enslaved blacks today in Africa. And then give them a boot in the ass, suggesting to them that they need to do something constructive with their passion and outrage. Like freeing men, women, and children in Africa who are slaves, rather than demanding "something-for-nothing" for folks in this country who never have been.

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

VIP Treatment For French Mumia Supporters

The French hate America. They hate Americans. But they do love American criminals, having shielded murderer Ira Einhorn for decades. They've also permitted confessed child rapist Roman Polanski, one of their citizens, to escape punishment for a crime he pleaded guilty to in 1977. Oh, yeah, and there is one criminal they really love.
French politicians and activists seeking a new trial and freedom for convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal were welcomed in a Friday rally at City Hall and given replicas of the Liberty Bell.

Mjenzi Traylor, the city's first deputy director of commerce, told the crowd of about 150 that he was there to "make certain that we are receiving the message that you would like for us to deliver to Mayor Street."

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, later called that greeting an "absolute outrage."

Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Faulkner in 1981.

"This man stood over him and shot him, point-blank, in the face," Maureen Faulkner said. "For them to give them replicas of the Liberty Bell and welcome them with open arms, I think it's an embarrassment for the city."

Faulkner said she planned to call Street on Monday to protest the city's actions.

"This is a disgrace," she said. "It is a slap in the face for all of law enforcement."

Street planned to attend the meeting with the French politicians but canceled due to a busy schedule, his staff said.

Instead, Traylor was scheduled to meet in private with Connie Little, the mayor's executive assistant, and the French politicians.

This is pretty disguisting stuff -- allowing foreigners to come to America to protest the conviction of cop-killing scum like Mumia. And even more disgusting is this little tidbit.

Jacques Daguenet, a city councilman from Paris, then decried what he called Abu-Jamal's "racist trial." Paris made Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen in 2003.

"He is the voice of people who have nothing," Daguenet said. "We have to struggle to have him free."

Majid Wannass, a deputy for the mayor of Saint Denis, just outside of Paris, drew cheers when he told the crowd his town would rename a street for Abu-Jamal.

Heck, we need to make a deal with these foreign slimeballs. You think Mumia is innocent? You think he is a victim of a racist system? Fine -- we'll cut him loose right now, and send him back to France with you right now. Surely you folks wouldn't have any problem with that/ Heck, we'll send any other convict you think is innocent as well. After all, we wouldn't want to go against French opinion on such grave matters. I bet they will just LOVE Paris.

|| Greg, 09:18 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jameson Book Returned To Houston Public Library Shelves

I mentioned Mayor Bill White's act of censorship a couple of weeks ago, after complaints about the book from one member of City Council.

That action has been overturned.

A library system internal memo dated Feb. 1 said a review committee recommended that the books be relocated to the fine arts and recreation section on the third floor of the central library. Books in that section include celebrity biographies.

Michel said Friday that White's decision last month was a temporary measure designed to address community concerns quickly, and that White always anticipated that a library committee would make a final decision.

But no city officials made that claim when the Houston Chronicle published a story Jan. 27 revealing White's decision.

At the time, [Mayor's Office spokesman Frank] Michel said, "We're trying to take action quickly, and we didn't see a need to go through a long bureaucratic process."

Also at the time, Toni Lambert, interim director of the Houston Public Library, issued a news release calling White's decision "a reasonable solution."

Holm said she never was told White's decision was temporary, adding she is "in the dark" about why the committee that issued the Feb. 1 memo was formed.

Does anyone believe that the memo was really written on February 1? Or that a committee really made the decision? I suspect that any close inquiry will show that Mayor White caught so much heat that the new policy was devised as a cover. That seems to be his modus operandi when faced with public criticism.

But regardless, I'm glad to see the censorship of the book end -- not that I have any interest in reading it.

But apparently others do want to read it. Since Mayor White's censorship decision was reported, the number of request for the system's twelve copies has increased from 20 to 41.

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

Freedom Of Religion And Speech Upheld In Sweden

In an appeal of a case that has been used to point out the danger of hate speech laws, a Swedish pastor has been acquitted of charges of violating Swedish hate speech laws for preaching a sermon which condemned homosexuality.

The appeals court ruled that Sweden's law, which was enacted after World War II to protect Jews and other minorities from neo-Nazi propaganda and was only recently extended to gays, was never intended to stifle open discussion of homosexuality or restrict a pastor's right to preach.

The defendant, the Rev. Ake Green, had a right to preach "the Bible's categorical condemnation of homosexual relations as a sin," the court said, even if that position was "alien to most citizens" and if Green's views could be "strongly questioned," according to news-service translations of the court's ruling.

The prosecution had attracted widespread attention in Europe, where laws restricting speech deemed to incite hatred of specific groups are common. Some conservative Christian groups in the United States have followed the case, saying that similar laws that would restrict speech rights are in the works there.

Now I don't agree with all of Green's words -- in fact, I think he is wrong in his more outrageous statements. But that is irrelevant when one considers the principle involved -- does the government have the right to stifle religious speech, especially a pastor's sermons? Absent an incitement to violence, the answer must be a resounding negative.

Naturally, gay rights activists are outraged.

Gay activists said they were dismayed by the ruling. "I don't think the verdict would have been the same if Ake Green had agitated against Jews or blacks or any other group protected by Swedish law," said Maria Sjodine, manager for the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights. "I really hope this is going to be appealed to the supreme court, and they find him guilty. Otherwise, we are not being treated equally as other groups who are covered by this law."

Actually, Ms. Sjodine, you had better hope that the supreme court rules exactly the same way as the appellate court -- or else the next case brought might be against you and your colleagues for hate speech against Christians with whom you disagree. That is the thing about freedom of speech -- you only have as much as you are willing the other side of the argument.

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

Are You Sure You Want To Flee To Canada?

Hey, Kerry voters! John Leo provides a whole host of reasons for some other option rather than running to Canada. And some of them should really leap out at you. After all, you claim that the US under George W. Bush is a fascist state that unduly restricts your freedom. You might want to reconsider your choice.
A national infatuation with censorship. Canadians tend to be a benign people who value niceness. So they have a strong tendency to suppress speech that they see as lacking in niceness. Un-nice books and videos are seized at the border or banned from libraries. Any material cited for "undue exploitation of sex" or for being "degrading or dehumanizing" can be banned. Speech is illegal if it "promotes hatred" or spreads "false news." Advertising "directed at children" can be ruled illegal. If the recorded message on your answering machine is deemed discriminatory, you can be prosecuted for it. In Saskatchewan, a newspaper ad listing four biblical citations against homosexuality (just the listing, no text), accompanied by two hand-holding male stick figures with a line drawn across them, was ruled a human-rights offense, and the man who placed the ad was directed to pay $1,800 each to three gay men who were offended by the ad. "Canadians put up with an insane amount of crap that Americans might not," said David Sutherland, former director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Canada's trying to be European. Canada has been aping trends in Europe, from the obsession with multiculturalism to the rising contempt for religion, greater censorship, and even a declining birthrate. Canada's birthrate is 1.49 children per woman, well below the replacement level of 2.1. Canada's elites behave much like those of the United States, favoring judicially imposed decisions over democratic and legislative ones. In Canada, a smaller and less varied nation than the United States, the elites meet less resistance. But there are signs of a pushback. Though the Canadian and American press consistently give the impression that gay marriage is overwhelmingly favored in Canada, a February 2 National Post /Global National poll found that two thirds of Canadians oppose gay marriage and would most likely vote against it in a national plebiscite. The polls suggest that Canadians are close to Americans on this issue. It's elite opinion and judges that make Canada look different.

There are also the standard problems of higher violent crime rate, candidness cuisine, Canadian football, and Canadian music -- plus the screwed up Canadian healthcare system that sends Canadians south to the US for ordinary American healthcare that they must literally be dying to get in Kanuckistan.

Besides, it is only a matter of time before incorporate Canada into the United States (maybe we'll cut loose Quebec and British Columbia). Might I suggest you consider Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea instead?

|| Greg, 08:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

That's Gay!

Lord, how I hate that phrase! I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to break my students of the habit of using the term "gay" as a synonym for "stupid". I've suggested to them that their test packet really doesn't have a sexual orientation, and that they would be offended if I used "black" or "Hispanic" the same way. I've even pointed out that they ought to show more respect to their classmates who are gay (some of them quite openly so).

That said, I think this school in Swansea, Massachusetts went well beyond the limits of common sense in this case.

A high-school sophomore has returned to his classes after a one-day suspension for using profanity, but he's still sore about the punishment.

"It's made me sick," said the student, Chris Carreiro. "I've been nerved out about it all week."

Carreiro, 16, and a former class president, says he was suspended for telling a guidance counselor that a teacher was "being gay" a week ago Thursday.

He said he was using "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" or "lame," and was not implying anything about the teacher's sexuality. He and his friends often use the word in that context, he said.

The administration has said the Joseph Case High School student isn't giving the full version of events - that Carreiro was suspended for more than just the use of the word "gay."

But Carreiro says letters his family has received from the school corroborate his story. During a phone interview, Carreiro read one, sent to his mother, which lists the reason for his suspension as "inappropriate language and behavior."

"If there was more to the story, wouldn't they have told my mom?" he asked.

Both Carreiro and the school administration agree that his suspension stemmed from an incident last week.

Carreiro said he was helping a friend with books, and was late for computer class. The teacher sent him to the guidance office for tardiness, he said.

In the guidance office, he told counselor Edward Pettine that the teacher was "being gay," but not that the teacher actually was gay.

"There's a difference," Carreiro said. "There was no homosexual thing. I wasn't using profanity."

Carreiro said the guidance counselor shouted at him, and dismissed him from the office. He later found out that he was suspended, and that Pettine wanted him to serve detention.

Come on -- SUSPENSION over the issue? And since the document sent to his mother gives that as the reason, it is disingenuous for the school to come back with a response that there was more to his suspension than the use of the word "gay." In addition, I would have to think that the one place where a student should be able to speak freely would be in the counselor's office.

I'm also curious -- how many other students has the school suspended for the use of the word "gay" in a derogatory fashion?

(Hat Tip to The Education Wonks. Also, be sure to consider making an entry into their Carnival of Education.)

|| Greg, 08:32 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rice Leads Among Conservative Bloggers

Patrick Ruffini has been running a poll over at his site. Now I'll concede it is uncientific, but its results show that the leader among GOP-oriented folks on the internet is -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He offers a good breakdown of the results here.
Looking at the complete results, the contenders can be broken down into tiers:

Tier I: Rice (42%), Giuliani (14%), Bush (10%)
Tier II: Romney (7%), Pawlenty (6%), Allen (5%), McCain (5%), Owens?
Tier III: Santorum (4%), Frist (3%), Sanford (3%), Brownback (2%), Hagel?

Why take such a survey so early? Does it hold any predictive value? The honest answer is hardly at all. However, by comparing the opinions of blogosphere activists with the broader electorate, we can detect which candidates may be over- or under-valued in the political marketplace come 2006 and 2007. Measuring which candidates generate the most buzz and excitement online can successfully predict significant events like the Dean surge in late 2003. Compare these results to the Gallup poll of 493 Republicans or leaners taken February 4 – 6:

Giuliani 33%
McCain 30%
Bush 12%
Frist 7%
Other 6%

The most glaring difference is the exclusion of Condi Rice (and the limited selection of candidates generally). Rice could be expected to do well in a traditional poll, though perhaps not as well as in the blogosphere, where she also cleaned up in the Right Wing News poll. In the spring of 1997, not every poll included George W. Bush in its list of potential GOP candidates, but those that did showed him leading decisively.

Now what does this mean? Less than meets the eye, I believe. Given that Dr. Rice was not even included in the Gallup poll, it would be expected she would do less well there. Also, as Ruffini notes, this is very early in the cycle. But I think that Dr. Rice has a base of support in the GOP that could make her inclusion on the eventual 2008 a virtual lock, though which spot she would take is an open question. And there is also the question of where George W. Bush would place his support. If his brother ran, would he support Jeb ovr Condi? Or would a privately expressed preference for Condi cause Jeb to sit out the race? The Jeb/Condi dynamic is an interesting one in 2008 -- and might result in the two of them being the 2008 GOP team.

|| Greg, 08:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 11, 2005

Stewart Convicted As Accomplice To Terror


Providing material support to terrorists.

Defrauding the United States.

Making false statements.

Those are the charges on which radical lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted yesterday. The crimes took place in connection with her defense of blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. She is not guilty of representing him vigorously, which was her obligation and his right under the Constitution. Rather, Stewart became an active and willing party to communicating directives for terrorist activities during her press conferences.

During a visit to Sheik Omar Abdel el-Rahman's cell in Minnesota in 2000, she and a translator conspired to distract prison officials in order to receive and later deliver a coded directive whose purpose was to initiate new terrorist acts in Egypt.

The sheik spoke the directive to the translator, who transmitted it to Egypt. But there was some question in Egypt about its authenticity — until Stewart called a press conference to authenticate it.

What passed between the sheik and Stewart was not an attorney-client matter, which would have been considered confidential, but rather a terrorist communication in the guise of an attorney-client discussion.

She had signed a legally binding document promising not to do any such thing so that she could see the sheik in the first place. Apparently, she figured there was no way the government could prove she had knowingly been involved in transmitting the terrorist message. What she didn't know was that everything going on in the sheik's cell was being taped.

In those taped conversations, Stewart and the sheik actually gloated about how they were tricking prison officials.

That goes well-beyond representation of a client. That falls into the area that is an exception to attorney-client privilege – the attorney becoming a participant in the crime. And make no mistake, Stewart’s activities did make her a party to the conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks, including the United Nations building.

You think this sounds far-fetched? Think again. This lawyer to members of the radical-chic set hd often expressed her belief that violence and terrorism were proper when directed against our country.

The people killed and injured in pursuit of revolutionary goals deserved it, she said. "I don't believe in anarchistic violence but in directed violence," she once said. "That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support."

Such hypothetical advocacy of violence, while abhorrant, is permissible under the First Amendment. Were Lynne Stewart to have limited herself to such philosophical statements she would have merited our contempt, but not jail time. But when she became the messenger girl for terrorists, Stewart crossed a bright line from free speech to criminal activity. She deserves no sympathy. Especially because she lacks even the faintest trace of contrition for her crimes.

|| Greg, 05:25 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Marquette University – Guilty Of False Advertising?

In his latest column, McCarthyism at Marquette, Professor Mike Adams comments on the recent decision by Marquette University officials to shut down the College Republican Support the Troops fundraiser for on the basis that it was incompatible with the values of Marquette as a Catholic university. Adams questions that, in light of certain other activities permitted at or sponsored by the university.

You have been quoted, Dean McCarthy, as saying that the CR benefit does not “comport to the University’s mission.” Your communications office (414.288.7445) has issued an official statement accusing the CRs of “having a cavalier attitude toward the taking of a human life.”

I found the university’s official statement to be interesting since your own library refers to Planned Parenthood as “an excellent resource for information on women's health and global reproduction issues.” Furthermore, Marquette’s Association of English Graduate Students ( is
allowed to promote Planned Parenthood on your website. Could it be argued
that Planned Parenthood has “a cavalier attitude toward the taking of a human

I also noticed that there will be a Gay and Straight Alliance (“rose sale” on Valentine’s Day at Marquette University. Does that sale
“comport” with the university’s mission of promoting a “Catholic

You have, according to my research, at least two gay organizations on campus. Both organizations seem to enjoy “unfettered pursuit of truth” at Marquette. They are allowed freedom of speech on your website and freedom of association on your campus. Although, as a private school, you are not bound by the First Amendment, you seem to grant these organizations certain rights voluntarily, in the name of academic freedom.

So, how are we to resolve the university’s position that, a) pro-abortion speech is permissible, b) pro-gay speech is permissible, and c) pro-war speech is impermissible?

The answer is simple: Marquette University is not committed to serving God or the Catholic Church. It is committed to advancing the policies of the Democratic

That observation seems accurate to me. Marquette is being very selective in terms of which elements of Catholic theology it is supporting. In doing so, it is following the tenets of the liberal political correctness that has infected much of higher education over the last few decades. Could you imagine the outcry over the university shutting down one of the gay groups?

Having made a pretty damning indictment of the Jesuit institution of higher education. If he stopped there, though, the good professor would have dealt a stinging blow to the university. But as anyone familiar with his work knows, that is not his style. Adams continues on to make a startling demand, based upon the fraud he has demonstrated.

Clearly, the true purpose of your university has not been revealed to potential students at Marquette. Instead, they have been fraudulently induced into paying $22,950 per year in tuition under the false promise of, among other things, academic freedom.

Accordingly, I hereby demand a tuition refund in the amount of $23 million. This refund should be distributed to the 1000 members of the College Republicans at Marquette immediately. Since you are the 124,873rd person to receive this letter from me, it is likely that others will be calling upon you (at 414.288.1412) to do the same.

If, for some reason, you refuse to refund the full amount in 30 days, I will ask the CRs to stop engaging in right wing or, as you say, “provocative” tactics, such as the organization of an Adopt a Sniper benefit. Instead, I will urge them to engage in more liberal tactics. Specifically, I will urge the 1000 members to overtake your office with a sit-in, just like the radical leftists did on campuses in the 1960s.

I don’t know that I agree with Dr. Adams’ solution here. It seems simplistic to me. After all, some of those students have been at the university for multiple years It strikes me that the full amount due in refunds should be at least double his proposed total (assuming each member has averaged two years at Marquette), if not an amount closer to $50 million. And this does not get into the question of damages for the devaluing of their degree, nor the necessary expense of acquiring the Catholic formation they believed they would get at Marquette. And then there are the punitive damages, which could take the total well over the $100 million mark.

|| Greg, 05:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Buckley Prays For Pope’s Death

William F. Buckley loves Pope John Paul II. Yet he shocked many when he said he was praying not for the Pope’s recovery, but for him to quickly pass on to his heavenly reward.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state, said simply, "If there is a man who loves the Church more than anybody else, who is guided by the Holy Spirit ... that's him. We must have great faith in the pope. He knows what to do."

What to do includes clinging to the papacy as a full-time cripple, if medicine, which arrested death by only 10 minutes, can arrest death again for weeks and even months. But the progressive deterioration in the pope's health over the last several years confirms that there are yet things medical science can't do, and these include giving the pope the physical strength to coordinate and to use his voice intelligibly.

So, what is wrong with praying for his death? For relief from his manifest sufferings? And for the opportunity to pay honor to his legacy by turning to the responsibility of electing a successor to get on with John Paul's work? Muriel Spark commented in "Memento Mori": "When a noble life has prepared old age, it is not decline that it reveals, but the first days of immortality." That cannot be effected by the hospital in which the pope struggles.

What do you think? Is Buckley right, or is he grossly wrong in his thinking on this point?

And please respectfully confine yourself to that question, not turning this into a more general view on religion, Catholicism, or the Pope himself.

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

More Inhumanity To Children

This event in North Lauderdale should horrify any person with so much as a scrap of a soul.
A newborn boy - believed to be less than an hour old - survived being thrown from a moving car onto a swale alongside a busy street Thursday afternoon, Broward County sheriff's officials said.

The car sped away, and investigators are seeking the parents of the eight-pound, two-ounce child whose umbilical cord was still attached when found by a woman passing by the scene.

Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said the unidentified woman who found the baby brought him to a nearby sheriff's office. The baby was taken to Broward General Medical Center, which upgraded his condition from critical to serious Thursday night.

"He's doing remarkably well and we're hopeful that he'll recover," Leljedal said.
Another sheriff's spokeswoman, Veda Coleman-Wright, said Thursday night that the boy is improving. It was unclear what injuries the baby may have suffered from being thrown. Investigators are searching for a white, older-model large sedan that eyewitnesses observed leaving the scene. The woman who rescued the baby - which was inside a small plastic bag when tossed from the car - said she observed a man and woman arguing inside the vehicle.

The baby was thrown from the passenger side of the vehicle, landing three or four feet away in the grass. When the Good Samaritan approached what she thought was a package, it began to move and she realized a baby was inside.

Are you sickened? Are you disgusted? Do you believe that those who did this are evil and deserve no mercy from our legal system?

And if you answered “yes” to the above, how can you rationalize that with support for the status quo on abortion in this country, which would have permitted the mother to have this little one’s life terminated by a physician only twenty-four hours earlier?

UPDATE: It seems the story is not true. The “Good Samaritan" is the mother, and she hid the pregnancy from family and friends. Details here, but my questions above still stand.

|| Greg, 02:08 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 10, 2005

The Danger Of Treaties

She thought she was writing about a good way to ban hate speech. What Beth Goodtree really did was give a great reason for signing on to fewer treaties, and making sure that those treaties do not impinge upon the rights of Americans under the Constitution.
Much of today's anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment is promulgated by hate speech. Falsely wrapping themselves in the 'free speech' provisions of various countries, these haters have been given free rein to spread their repugnant political agendas aimed at genocide and ethnic cleansing. However, we can stop this and we have the legal juice to do it. Even as individuals. Here's how:

Remember those pesky Geneva Conventions? We, the United States, signed them, as did Israel, Great Britain, Canada, and many other countries. Well, when we signed them, we agreed to carry out all sections of them. No "one-from-column-A-one-from-column-B" nonsense. America, and all other signatories, agreed to them all.

Therefore, since the US is a signatory to all the Geneva Conventions; and since the Geneva Conventions list 'hate speech' as a war crime of genocide (or the implied potential to encourage genocide); and also since it clearly states* in Articles III and IV that any signatory must amend their constitutions or other legal processes to be in compliance; this makes it clear that "hate speech" as defined by the Geneva Conventions themselves, is not protected under US or any other signatory country's law. "Hate speech" is defined as incitement towards a group based upon national, ethnic or religious affiliation. Also included in this "Hate Speech" part of the Geneva Conventions are people who aid, fund, abet or help in any way.

Therefore, private individuals or groups can sue others in US civil court for violations of the Geneva Convention's Hate Speech provisions - a war crime.

Her candidates for prosecution for exercising rights guaranteed under the First Amendment?

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, for showing The Road to Jenin and other films that present Israel in a bad light vis-a-vis the Palestinian conflict.

Islamist religious leaders who continually call for "death to the Crusaders (Christians) and Zionists."

Saudi Arabia.

Duke University and other schools hosting pro-Palestinian events.

Maybe the time has come for us to reconsider our continued adherance to these treaties as impinging upon national sovereignty and the rights guaranteed to the American people under our Constitution.

* The Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, 26 November 1968

Article III

The States Parties to the present Convention undertake to adopt all necessary domestic measures, legislative or otherwise, with a view to making possible the extradition, in accordance with international law, of the persons referred to in article II of this Convention.

Article IV

The States Parties to the present Convention undertake to adopt, in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, any legislative or other measures necessary to ensure that statutory or other limitations shall not apply to the prosecution and punishment of the crimes referred to in articles I and II of this Convention and that, where they exist, such limitations shall be abolished.

|| Greg, 09:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Obscene Court Decision

Why would a court ever consider granting special privileges to a confessed child rapist?
FILM director Roman Polanski has won a bid to sue for libel in an English court via videolink in order to avoid the risk of extradition to the US for child sex offences.

In a ruling announced today, England's highest court overturned an earlier Court of Appeal decision that Polanski should be made to live by the "normal processes of the law".

Polanski, 71, who fled America more than 25 years ago after admitting having sex with a child, wants to sue US magazine Vanity Fair over an article he says defamed him.

In a case seen as a test of the rights of libel claimants to avoid having to appear in court to give evidence, Polanski is seeking to use the English courts for the libel action, which Vanity Fair's publishers Conde Nast are contesting.

Ordinary folks would have to appear in court in a lawsuit, but there seems to be a special exception here to prevent Polanski from being brought to justice.

The sick bastard entered a guilty plea to drugging and raping a 12-year-old in 1977, only to flea to France prior to sentencing. Because he is a French citizen, he cannot be extradited from France under French law.

And by the way, what did he do upon reaching France? He soon began a relationship with actress Nastasia Kinski -- who was 15 at the time.

|| Greg, 07:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Royal Wedding II

Well, it is finally going to happen. Prince Charles will finally marry Camilla Parker-Bowles.
The Prince of Wales is to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, it was announced by Clarence House today.

The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles will marry on Friday April 8, at Windsor Castle.

Mrs Parker Bowles will use the title HRH the Duchess of Cornwall after marriage.

When Charles becomes King, Camilla will not be known as Queen Camilla but as the Princess Consort.

The move will end years of speculation about a relationship which has spanned decades.

Let’s be honest – it is about time. Diana has been dead for years, and Parker-Bowles is long divorced with no possibility of reconciliation. Better the two simply make official that which has been openly acknowledged for years.

My one criticism is the decision is not that Camilla is divorced and her husband is still alive. Rather, I am amused by the hypocrisy that anyone in Anglican circles would be troubled by the situation, given that the Church of England traces its roots to Henry VIII's need to give himself a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.

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

Is This Justice?

I’m not sure that it is. Speaking as a man, I find the nature of the assault pretty appalling.
A jilted woman who ripped off her ex-lover's testicle with her bare hands was jailed for two-and-a-half years today.

Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when 37-year-old Geoffrey Jones rejected her advances at the end of a drunken house party.

She yanked off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

But Monti choked and spat it out before a friend handed it back to Mr Jones with the words: "That's yours."

In a statement read to the court, Mr Jones said: "Amanda attacked me in an unprovoked manner and the attack has ruined my life."

Seems to me that a man convicted of attacking a woman who rejected his advances would have faced more serious charges and a longer term in jail. Especially if he ripped of a body part – say a breast – as part of the attack. What do you think?

|| Greg, 07:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 09, 2005

Condi For President

Dick Morris wrote an interesting commentary on why the GOP needs a “Draft Condi” movement for 2008.

Of course, she isn’t running — nor is there any indication that she is harboring thoughts of a candidacy. But as her visibility increases, so will her viability. It may just be possible to draft Condi into the race. A real presidential draft movement hasn’t happened since 1952, when Republicans urged Eisenhower to get into the race. A draft-Condi movement seems almost antiquated in this era of ambitious and self-promoting candidates, but it may well fill a deep need in the electorate to vote for someone who is running in response to a genuine call of the people.

Condi Rice is a work in progress. Her rise has been impelled by her merits and achievements rather than any efforts on her part to curry favor in the media. She is still working and still progressing. But keep your eye on this political star. It is rising and may one day be ascendant.

I agree. As I look at the field as it stands today, it appears that the Democrats will be running Hillary Clinton. After all, what other candidate do they have of her stature and popularity. On the other hand, the GOP has a field of candidates who in all likelihood cannot emerge from the shadow of George W. Bush as he works to complete his legacy. Cheney is out. Frist lacks the appeal, and Rudy stands at odds with the conservative base on social (and personal) issues. More troubling is the lack of a frontrunner.

And then there is Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Attractive, well-spoken, charismatic, intellectual, and a self-made woman, Rice has risen from her start as a Southern black child during the waning days of Jim Crow to a position that would have appeared unattainable by a black woman at the time of her birth a half century ago. She would stand in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton, who started in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, married an up-and-coming Bill Clinton, and rode his coattails to power. Rice worked to get to the top, while Hillary got there by virtue of her husband.

What factors does Morris see as helping Dr. Rice in any presidential bid? She is a key part of the team that developed and implemented the Bush policies in the War on Terror. She has academic credentials that she has the intellectual strengths that the Left has argued Bush lacks. Rice’s conservative credentials and strong religious background will make her appealing to the core constituency of the GOP. The symbolism of her candidacy and election would be a capstone on the battle for inclusion of minorities in the public life of the nation. And she appeals to certain demographic groups -- African-Americans, Hispanics and single white women – that formed the core of the recent Democrat coalitions, thereby making it more difficult for any Democrat, including Hillary, to garner enough votes to win the presidency.

In short, Condoleezza Rice appears to be the best choice for the GOP in 2008. However, she has shown no public interest in a run for elective office. It may be that what is needed is a grass-roots campaign to persuade our new Secretary of State to toss her hat into the ring. And as one who doesn’t see any other candidate out there who appeals to me, I’m more than willing to throw my support to her right now.

|| Greg, 05:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Democrat Dayton Done In 2006

He cloed down his Senate office because of fears of terrorism. He disgraced himself during the debate over the confirmation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And now he is a lame duck -- Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota has announced he will not seek reelection to a second term in 2006.
Dayton said it has been a "tremendous honor" to serve the people of Minnesota for the past four years. However, he said he did not believe he was the best candidate to keep the seat in the hands of the Democrats.

"Everything I've worked for and everything I believe in depends upon this Senate seat remaining in the Democratic caucus in 2007. I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the DFL party to victory next year."

Fundraising was also a factor in the decision.

"I cannot stand to do the constant fundraising necessary to wage a successful campaign," Dayton said. "And I cannot be an effective senator while also being a nearly full-time candidate. Plus, I choose to devote all of my time and energy to the job Minnesotans elected me to do."

In 2000, Sen. Dayton contributed nearly $12 million dollars of his own money to his campaign.

Last month, the Associated Press reported Dayton raised $1.35 million last year, topping his goal of $1 million. However, he finished the year with only $177,000 in the bank.

Republicans need to move quickly to find a strong candidate to run for Dayton's seat. Names currently mentioned include Congressmen Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy, as well as former Senator Rod Grams.

Heck, maybe the blogging world can spice things up. How about Lileks, King from SCSU Scholars, or one of the crew from Powerline? Come on, boys, here's your chance to turn blogging into the new frontier of American politics!

|| Greg, 05:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Crime Of Blogging in Iran

So, you think the United States is descending towards fascism and that freedom of speech is gone? You think that Bush is a warmonger who wants to attack other countries under the pretext of promoting freedom? Why don’t you read this story about one blogger’s plight in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

After three days in prison without being informed of the charges against her, she finally faced an interrogator.

The next day, I was taken to a room down a long corridor and told to sit down. A fat hand with an agate stone ring set an interrogation form in front of me. Then he began asking about my Web log, which has hyperlinks on it to Western feminist groups.

"Do you accept the charges?" the interrogator asked.

"What charges?"

"That you have written things in your Web log that go against the Islamic system and that encourage people to topple the system," he said. "You are inviting corrupt American liberalism to rule Iran."

"I've tried to write my ideas and opinions in my Web log and to communicate with others in Farsi all over the world," I said.

He was displeased.

"These answers will lead us nowhere, and you will stay here for years. Tell us the truth. How much have you received to write these offenses against the Islamic state? How are you and your fellow Web loggers organized?"

How should I respond? I knew my mother must be terribly worried about me. What could I say to make sure I got out?

"We are not organized against the state," I said. "I write because I want to criticize the system. There are some things in our state that should be corrected." "Why don't you write an e-mail directly to the supreme leader's office?" he asked. "The supreme leader considers all criticisms and takes corrective actions."

"I hadn't thought about that," I said. This was nonsense, of course, but I saw an opening. "From now on, I will write directly to the supreme leader and stop writing in my Web log."

"It is too late for that," he said.

So the next time you read Kos, Atrios, Oliver Willis, John Aravosis or some other liberal blogger going on about the oppressive nature of the “BusHitler Regime”, point them to this article and suggest that their wild fantasies of tyranny and oppression are nothing next to the reality faced by those who are critical of a truly oppressive government.

|| Greg, 05:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ninth Circuit In First Amendment Tussle

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, is not know for being part of the religious right. The court, best known for declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional a couple of years ago, is now facing charges from an atheist lawyer that it unconstitutionally promotes religion. At issue is the court’s seal.
The case was brought by an attorney who was admitted to practice before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June. In his lawsuit against the San Francisco-based court, Ryan Donlon said the certificate admitting him contains the court's seal which unlawfully contains what he believes is a tablet object representing the Ten Commandments.

Cathy Catterson, the court's clerk, said the seal highlights a woman, known as "the Majesty of the Law" who is reading a large book. At her feet is a tablet with 10 unreadable lines on it - what Donlon believes is the Ten Commandments.

Catterson said the tablet has "the same shape" of the Ten Commandments but "you can't read the text of it."

She said the drawing became the court's seal decades ago, and is a depiction of a tile mosaic in one of the century-old courthouse's ornate courtrooms.

Now let me see if I’ve got this straight. The mere depiction of tablets representing the Ten Commandments, without a single word upon them, is unacceptable in an allegorical work. The mere presence of the tablet in the context of the larger work unconstitutionally entangles church and state. Have we reached a new level of absurdity in this country?

Like it or not, the Western legal tradition has many sources, one of which is the ancient Hebraic law represented by the Ten Commandments. Its depiction is an acknowledgement of an important source of law. Its presence on the seal in no way requires an affirmation of religious belief or an endorsement of the contents.

UPDATE: Look who weighed in on the case -- and thinks this suit is pretty silly.

Others were skeptical of Donlon's suit, including the lawyer who persuaded the 9th Circuit in 2002 that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance amounted to a government endorsement of religion.

"I'm not impressed," said Michael Newdow, the Sacramento atheist-doctor-lawyer who ultimately lost his challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court but is still fighting the issue on other fronts. After examining the seal and the markings in question, he said: "It could be the Bill of Rights. I don't know what the heck that is."

Newdow said Donlon appears to be hostile toward religion.

"You look at that seal and you don't get the sense that someone is pushing religion," he said. "It's not the same as putting up a giant monument out of nowhere."

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

Call For Saudi Sanctions

By no stretch of the imagination is Saudi Arabia a beacon of freedom. It is a repressive theocracy that fails to meet the basic standards of human rights necessary to be considered a civilized nation. That we receive half-hearted support in the war on terrorism is hardly grounds for our turning a blind eye to the religious repression that goes on there. Saudi Arabia strictly prohibits all public religious expression other than those that follow the government's interpretation of Islam, and regularly detain individuals who violate religious laws under cruel and demeaning conditions. And even though Saudi Arabia was labeled a “country of particular concern” by the State Department’s religious freedom watchdog, that designation carried with it no sanction. Some folks want to change that.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, the [U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)] recommended that the U.S. identify Saudi government officials responsible for severe violations and not allow them entry into the country. It should also bar officials who propagated around the world "an ideology that explicitly promotes hate, intolerance, and human rights violations."

The government should also issue a demarche (warning), urging Riyadh to stop funding or other support for literature or other activity promoting hate, intolerance, and human rights violations, "including the distribution of such materials in the United States and elsewhere outside of Saudi Arabia."

Further, the U.S. should not issue licenses to export "dual-use" items - materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes -- to any Saudi government agency responsible for severe abuses, it recommended.

Last year, shackles, leg-irons "and other items that could be used to perpetrate human rights violations" were among goods exported from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.

"As world events of the past several years have confirmed, ensuring that governments respect freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief both advances our strategic interests and is a vital component of securing broader freedoms," Bansal said.

The president’s recent inaugural address dealt with freedom around the world. Let’s continue to promote such freedom by placing these limited sanctions on the Saudis. After all, we must hold our allies to a standard higher than the one to which we hold our enemies.

|| Greg, 05:03 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Unclear On The Concept

Let’s see. Ward Churchill is a professor at Colorado University, a state school funded through legislative appropriations of taxpayer money. And yet he has the gall to make this statement?

"I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for Bill Owens. I work for you. . . . The Board of Regents should do its job, and let me do mine."

Uh, dude, you might want to rethink that position. The reality is that you do work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. Your job exists only at the sufferance of the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. The legislature of the state of Colorado could abolish you department, or even the entire university, tomorrow. Now there might be room for discussion of what your employment by the taxpayers of the state of Colorado allows you to do, but make no mistake -- you work for those taxpayers.

|| Greg, 04:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Judge Stands Up For Military

One of the more outrageous practices in recent years has been the ban on military recruiting on some college campuses because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Congress passed the Solomon Amendment in 1995, penalizing schools that receive federal money if they refuse to allow recruiters on campus. Unfortunately, that law was recently struck down by a federal judge. But I like the response by another federal judge, U.S. District Judge William Acker Jr., who has decided that he will no longer hire law clerks from those schools.
Acker wrote that he was exercising the same freedom of speech that U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall supported when she ruled Jan. 31. She backed the faculty's claim that their rights to free speech were violated by enforcement of the Solomon amendment, which requires schools to provide access to military recruiters or lose federal funding, including student loans.

In response, Acker said Yale Law School students need not apply.

"Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated," Acker said. "I therefore recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt YLS."

I suspect the judge will find some very fine law clerks from other schools. The contempt that elitist institutions are showing to America will provide students from other schools with a chance to show their ability, and to prove that the mere fact that a school is old does not mean it is superior. I hope more judges will have the guts to stand up to the anti-Americanism of institutions which lack the patriotism and commitment to freedom to allow their students the opportunity to talk to military recruiters.

|| Greg, 04:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pizza Delivery -- By Any Means Necessary

When I was in seminary, I heard stories from some of the priests on faculty about the lengths they had to go to, decades before, to get pizza’s surreptitiously delivered to what was then a closed campus. Those stories floated to the top of my mind as I read this article.

The lieutenant stopped off in his Lynx chopper to deliver the takeaway during a training exercise, The Sun newspaper reported.

His landing in the Stanford area was cleared, but the delivery of the pizza was not, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said today.

The 25-year-old Army Air Corps lieutenant pilot, based in Wattisham, Suffolk, was delivering the pizza to his girlfriend, an officer cadet.

A MoD spokesman said: "There was a training sortie by Lynx helicopter on Jan 25.

"The training exercise consisted of low-level map reading. It involved a landing in the Stanford area.

"The pilot took it upon himself to basically deliver this pizza.

"He has been made aware that the chain of command doesn't condone his actions and has been disciplined."

But you’ve got to admit – it will be a great story to tell the grandkids some day.

|| Greg, 04:52 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Problem Solved

I recently blogged on a story in which a trapped vacationer urinated his way out of his snow-covered car after being caught in an avalanche. Now I’ve found this story about putting snow to good, if unexpected, use.
Romanian firefighters managed to put out a fire in an apartment by throwing snowballs through the window.

They used snowballs because they could not got their fire engines close enough to the building in Sibiu.

Fire crews arrived within minutes of the alarm being raised by neighbours of the elderly woman who lived in the apartment.

But icy roads prevented them from getting close enough to the building to use their hoses so they resorted to desperate measures.

Chief firefighter Florian Chioar told National newspaper: "We had to do something because our cars couldn't get near that building. So we used the snow and put out the fire in about 30 minutes."

So remember, folks, that that delinquent that pegged you with a snowball isn’t really a delinquent – he’s practicing fire safety skills!

|| Greg, 04:47 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 08, 2005

The Problem With Activist Jurisprudence

Judges are not philosopher kings, no matter what they may believe in their heart of hearts. Their continued failure to recognize their subordinate role in the constitutional order endangers the whole structure. Such activist judges tend to write in terms of sweeping principle not explicitly contained in the Constitution. Consider this famous example from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, devised by Justices Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter.
"Intimate and personal choices," the justices wrote, are "central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

Such a principle sounds reasonable, but it contains in it the seeds of many a decision overturning long-standing legal principles and time-honored laws supported by the people. It was used in Lawrence v. Texas to knock down the Texas sodomy law, and has been cited by those out to legalize homosexual marriage. James Taranto points out the problem with reliance on such a judicially created principle.

Abortion and same-sex marriage, by contrast, do spark strong opposition, but not on privacy grounds. Abortion opponents argue that life before birth is worthy of legal protection, while the case against same-sex marriage is that it confers public approval on gay relationships--approval the New York and Massachusetts courts have given without public consent.

When judges find rights in hidden constitutional meanings, they run a twofold risk. If they limit those rights, striking balances and compromises between such competing values as privacy vs. life or privacy vs. morality, they act as politicians, only without democratic accountability. The alternative, to let those rights expand without limit, seems more principled and thus is more appealing. But it ignores democracy's most important principle of all: the right of the people to govern themselves.

In effect, the judges limit the people and their elected representatives to the regulation of matters that are unimportant, reserving to themselves the role of determining what the law shall be on important matters. This overthrows the constitutional understanding of our republican form of government by making judges, rather than the people, supreme. And if the supremacy of the people is eliminated, does it not take with it the legitimacy of the government?

|| Greg, 09:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Chalabi Challenge

Ahmed Chalabi is emerging as an important in the new Iraqi political landscape. That may create some problems for the US, since America’s former fair-haired boy has been roughly treated by American officials and their allies in the Provisional Government. Barbara Lerner presents an interesting review of the charges made against him by his enemies. It isn’t flattering to the folks at CIA and State.

Her conclusion?

All in all, it is in America's interest to explore the possibility of a new relationship with a newly empowered Ahmed Chalabi, because clinging to the old slanders is more likely to damage us than him. An apology for having maligned him unfairly in the past would be a good way to start.

Sounds like a good plan to me. We need friends on all sides in Iraq -- and if divorcing the policy errors of the former powers-that-be at CIA and State will do it, then it needs to be done.

UPDATE: The New York Sun has an interesting analysis of the Chalabi situation.

|| Greg, 08:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Good Things Happen To Good People

If your boss disappeared, could you keep the business afloat for several months – without access to the checkbook? Could you keep the employees paid, inventory stocked, and generally make a go of it? I would personally say no – but I think Dawna Lentz would disagree with me.
Dawna Lentz, the manager who ran a Quiznos Sub shop on a shoestring after the owners went absent, won't lose her job as she'd feared.

On the contrary, Quiznos is flying the 25-year-old to its Denver headquarters to meet company President Steve Shaffer and to go through training to become a certified manager.

"She's shown loyalty to Quiznos like no other employee has," corporate spokeswoman Stacie Lange said yesterday. "Her ability to keep that store afloat through a very difficult time needs to be commended."

Lentz received an outpouring of support after her story appeared in The Seattle Times on Friday. For the past two days, customers lined up at the Holman Road Northwest store, which on Tuesday was out of just about everything but bread and lunchmeat.

Some people gave kudos, some offered jobs, and others just ordered subs that had been off the menu for weeks after store ran out of the special Quiznos ingredients.
"It was so wonderful to have sales," Lentz said. "That big weight was taken off my shoulders."

Lentz and her crew of three had kept the franchise afloat since November, when the bank account ran dry and one of the principal owners stopped showing up. The other partner, an absentee owner, would check in occasionally but hadn't been seen for weeks, Lentz said.

Lentz used the daily cash flow to buy the necessary food supplies, pay employees, and keep the doors open. She paid employees in cash daily, and made sure that wages were kept up to date as best she could. Most folks would have walked away. Is it any wonder that Quiznos wants to keep her and that others want to lure her away with better job offers?

|| Greg, 08:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Voter Fraud = Political Insurgency

The dilapidated house at 1717 Ohio St. in East St. Louis symbolizes the insurgency that is oppressing this once-great city.

Nine people are registered to vote there, even though it has been vacant for years. Five of those people cast absentee ballots in the March 2004 primary, and one of them voted in person on Nov. 2. This no doubt is just one example of many.

Like the insurgents in Iraq, the political insurgents of East St. Louis don't want democratic elections. Instead of bombs, they use vote fraud to disrupt the process. But in both places, their power comes from fear, not strength.

Yeah, having worked elections in East St. Louis many years ago, I can attest to that. The political movers and shakers will do anything to keep their power – whether it meant vote fraud, running stalking horse candidates, or out-and-out intimidation of folks who challenge the status quo. It has taken years, but the authorities are finally going after the election fraud in that town. Maybe that means that some day there will be meaningful voting there.

The Belleville News Democrat offers some advice to church and community groups that are concerned about fair elections. I think it should be heeded by folks in every community where there are concerns about the integrity of the voting process.

The city's election commission either can't or won't stop the problems. So we encourage church and community groups to start policing the election process. Pick a precinct and walk it to compare the registered voters with addresses, so places like 1717 Ohio St. are detected. Organize impartial election observers to watch at the polls during the next election. Report problems to the U.S. attorney's office, which is working to clean up the mess, and [the local media].

|| Greg, 08:22 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 07, 2005

Reid Whines -- "Quit Telling The Truth!"

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has charted a course of obstructionism ever since he assumed his leadership position from Tom Daschle. He has indicated in interviews that he intends to use whatever methods necessary to block the president and his supporters from implementing the agenda endorsed by the American voters last November.

Now Reid is angry -- and demanding that President Bush silence the GOP.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on Monday urged President Bush to stop the Republican National Committee from calling him an obstructionist and criticizing his Senate record, a tactic the GOP used to help defeat Reid's predecessor.

Bush repeatedly has said he wants work with Democrats, most recently during his State of the Union speech last week, Reid noted in a speech on the Senate floor.

"Why didn't he stand and tell the American people last Wednesday that one of the first items of business we were going to do in Washington is send out a hit piece on the Democratic leader?" Reid said.

The Republican committee plans to send a 13-page document to more than a million people -- including in Reid's home state of Nevada -- analyzing and criticizing his votes and stances before he officially took over as Senate Democratic leader in January.

Now hold on here. What is wrong with analyzing Reid's record? How is it wrong to point out differences between how Reid's position on the issues differs from the GOP? Notice, the senator is not questioning the veracity of the Republican claims. Rather, he is objecting to their being made at all. What has Harry got to hide?

RNC spokesman Brian Jones said Reid is picking up where Daschle left off.

"Harry Reid right now is the leader of the party of 'no,'" Jones said. "He is the party's chief obstructionist, and we're going to continue to talk about this in the months to come."

Bingo. Harry Reid doesn't want the American people to know who he is and what he is doing. He wants to obscure the record, because knowing his record will show that he is nothing more than another left-winger who is out of step with the American people.

Bush can't divorce himself from what the RNC is doing, Reid said.

The RNC "is the president's organization," Reid said. "He can't say one thing to the American people and then ... send out scurrilous letters saying that I'm a bad guy. In great detail. I mean, is President George Bush a man of his word?"

No, the president cannot divorce himself from the RNC -- no should he. There is nothing to be ashamed of in what is being done. He has said he wants to work with the Democrats, but when members of the Democrat leadership have indicated an unwillingness to work with the GOP for the good of the American people it is appropriate to respond in kind.

Tell you what, Harry -- we will stop the briefing letters just as soon as the Senate Democrats allow an up-or-down vote on every single judicial candidate pending whose nomination is currently pending. Call it a sign of good-faith on your part. And if you can't let that vote happen, just remember this simple truth.

The truth hurts.

|| Greg, 07:33 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

All he Wanted Was A Fair Count

The dispute over a Houston area election for state representative is over. Republican Representative Talmadge Heflin withdrew his challenge to the election of Democrat Hubert Vo to represent District 149.

Vo joined Heflin at the conclusion of the afternoon news conference at which Heflin announced his decision. The two shook hands, and Vo said he would seek counsel from the veteran lawmaker on issues in the southwest Houston district.

Heflin's challenge was scheduled to go to a special House committee on Tuesday. He withdrew hours after state Rep. Will Hartnett, R-Dallas, issued a report to the committee saying Vo won the election by at least 16 votes.

Hartnett also concluded that Heflin had produced "no evidence of any intentional voter fraud'' that would have affected his Nov. 2 loss to Vo in District 149. Vo won then by 33 votes.

"We didn't have the data to meet the hurdle," Heflin said of his effort to convince Hartnett and the House that the participation of ineligible voters put the result of the election in doubt. "When you see that you can't meet a criteria that is thrust upon you, it makes no sense to move ahead."

I think the key here is that there was no intentional fraud. While Vo may have benefitted from illegally cast votes, there was no organized attempt to undermine the process. Will Hartnett set a very high standard of proof for Heflin, one that couldn't be met without compelling folks to reveal their votes under oath. So while voters from othr districts (othr counties, in fact) may have voted in the election, proving the impact of those votes is impossible. But the fact that Vo and his campaign were in no way involved in the casting of those illegal votes makes such a high standard proper.

Congratulations, Representative Vo. Do your job and do it well.

Best wishes, Representative heflin. You have my respect, sir, and I wish you well.

|| Greg, 07:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 06, 2005

A Dynasty Is Born

The New England Patriots don't have to proclaim greatness. The NFL record book does it for them. The Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years Sunday, 24-21 over the Philadelphia Eagles, and now they are challenging history.

It was their ninth straight postseason victory, equaling Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. It was coach Bill Belichick's 10th playoff victory in 11 games, one better than the great Lombardi. And it matched Dallas' run of three championships in four years in the early 1990s.

"We've never really self-proclaimed ourselves anything," said Tom Brady, who is 9-0 in the playoffs. "If you guys say we're great, we'll accept the compliment."

This one wasn't overpowering, and at times it was downright ugly. But not even Belichick seemed to care about that.

"To me this trophy belongs to these players," Belichick said. "They met all comers this year, a very challenging year. We're thrilled to win. These players played great all year, their best in the big games and they deserve it, they really deserve it."

What more is left to be said?

|| Greg, 10:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Liberal Looks At Ward Churchill

I'm not a big fan of Professor Paul Campos, the Rocky Mountain News columnist who teaches law at the University of Colorado. But I find his observations on the Ward Churchill case interesting because he teaches on the same campus.

Should a serious research university consider hiring a fascist? This question doesn't have an easy answer.

After all, prior to World War II Europe produced several brilliant political theorists and philosophers who could be characterized as fascists, or proto-fascists, including Joseph de Maistre, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger.

Whether, post- Auschwitz, it's possible even in theory to advocate similar views in intellectually plausible ways is an interesting question.

It is not, however, a question that has any relevance to the case of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, despite the obvious fascistic streak in Churchill's writings and public performances.

An interesting question. I would be inclined to say no -- especially if we are dealing with a taxpayer-funded state university, and even more so if that "scholar" regularly provided intellectual coverage for the enemy during time of war. I mean, should any American college have hired Heidegger or kept him on staff in 1942? The answer should be obvious.

As a political inclination and an aesthetic style, fascism is marked by, among other things, the following characteristics:

• The worship of violence as a purifying social force. This often manifests itself as an aggressive and romanticized militarism, that produces a kind of cult of the warrior, and that advocates violent action as a mechanism for social change, and an appropriate way of crushing dissent.

• A hyper-nationalistic ideology, that casts history into a drama featuring an inevitably violent struggle between Good and Evil, and that obsesses on questions of racial and ethnic identity.

• The dehumanization and scapegoating of opponents, who are characterized by turns as demonically clever conspirators plotting to undermine the possibility of a virtuous society, and soulless automatons mindlessly carrying out the orders of a vast and evil bureaucracy. This dehumanization often leads to demands that the evil in our midst be eradicated "by any means necessary," up to and including the mass extermination of entire nations and peoples.

• The treatment of moral responsibility as a fundamentally collective matter. The supposed virtues and sins of a nation or people are ascribed to all of its individual members, so that, for example, one speaks of "the Jew" (meaning all Jews collectively and each Jewish person individually) being responsible for the decadence of modern culture.

An interesting observation. I wish those on the Left who are constantly throwing around the terms "fascist and "Nazi" -- or invoking the name of Hitler -- anytime the oppose a policy or politician would consider this definition. Generally speaking, it doesn't fit, the rantings of and other left-leaning groups notwithstanding.

Anyone who reads widely in the collected works of professor Churchill, and especially anyone who listens to his speeches, will, if they are not blinded by certain ideological commitments, recognize the essentially fascist tendency of his work. If a white American were to speak of any foreign people or nation in anything like the way Churchill discusses America and Americans, the fascist character of his work would be obvious to everyone.

This point is only underlined by the behavior of Churchill's supporters, who, while not actually wearing brown shirts, did a quite convincing impersonation of fascist thugs at Thursday's meeting of the University of Colorado Regents.

All this was merely par for the course for Churchill, who believes that a Columbus Day parade is an incitement to genocide, and therefore something that he and his followers have a legal right to disrupt.

And, of course, there we have the double standard. Churchill's spewing of hatred is considered as acceptable due to his position on the left-wing of the political spectrum, especially since he claims (falsely) that he is a Native American, and therefore a member of one of the special classes of people protected under the guise of "diversity." Opposition is not permitted, and so we are often treated to the spectacle of progressive pogroms against those who dare to differ with their agenda.

But while the question of whether a brilliant scholar with a fascist streak ought to be considered for a place on a university faculty retains at least some academic interest, it has nothing to do with Churchill, whose writings and speeches feature an incoherent farrago of boundless paranoia, wildly implausible theories, obscene celebrations of murder, and atrocious prose.

The question of whether a serious research university ought to hire someone like Churchill is laughable on its face. What's not so funny is the question of exactly how someone like him got hired in the first place, and then tenured and named the head of a department.

That, in the end, is a more important question than what will or ought to happen to Churchill now. Churchill is a pathetic buffoon, but the University of Colorado is far from alone in having allowed itself to toss intellectual integrity and human decency overboard in the pursuit of worthy goals.

Yeah, it is the moe important question. And the answer is that the academicians of the liberal left have been allowed to dominate the academy for too long. In recent weeks, months, and years, we have heard about the dominance of the liberal left on faculties throughout the country. Such a lop-sidedness has seen the spread of ideas that are celebrated as "cutting edge" but never critically examined, because to do so would be "racistsexisthomophobicandelitist", a charge that will kill an academic career. Churchill was clearly a beneficiary of this trend, and that it has taken decades to recognize the problem and begin to confront it is the surest sign of the decline of higher education in the West.

Speaking truth to power, giving a voice to those who have been silenced, pursuing controversial and unpopular ideas in an intellectually rigorous way - these are all things that the university in general, and this university in particular, has done and continues to do.

That through whatever combination of negligence, cowardice and complicity we have allowed Ward Churchill to besmirch those ideals by invoking them in the defense of his contemptible rantings is now our burden and our shame.

And I agree with Campos here. Colleges and universities should be a place where new, controversial and unpopular ideas can be espoused. But it should also be a place where old ideas have a place of honor, where they meet and interact to truly push back the darkness of ignorance and expand the horizons of mankind. But instead we have seen the college classroom become a place where contempt for our own culture is taught, and where critical thinking has been replaced by propaganda and indoctrination.

Can the academy save itself? I don't know. It may be that the negligence, cowardice, and complicity noted by Campos have allowed the rot to spread too far. It may be that outside forces -- legislators, donors, practitioners -- will have to act to reconstruct the our institutions of higher education. And it may be that the absolutist understanding of academic freedom might be jetisonned in the process, and with it extremists like Ward Churchill.

|| Greg, 04:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hmmm... An Interesting Contrast

I mentioned the case of Professor Hans Hoppe at UNLV in a post yesterday. Here's a situation in which a liberal professor gave offense and not only was not punished, but even filed a counterclaim against the student who complained.
Shane Calchera, a student and military veteran, accused associate history professor David Stowell of harassment, saying the antiwar and anti-Bush administration statements on his office door created a learning environment that is hostile to veterans.

The college cleared Stowell of the charge -- a charge he did not learn of until receiving a letter stating he had been exonerated -- but the professor said that the investigation itself was an attack on his free-speech rights.

He filed a complaint Wednesday with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I was investigated because of my political views because someone objected to them, and that's frightening," Stowell said. "Everyone on campus should be concerned."

Now of course, the statements on his door were typical liberal slogans often seen on the bumpers of Subaru Socialists and Caviar Communists who are in denial that the 1960s are over. And I even agree with the professor -- we should be concerned when a university is inversitgating and sanctioning political or social views. But here is an interesting twist.

Calchera said he took a picture of Stowell's office door late last year, planning to show it to various veterans groups and cite it as evidence that Stowell violated the college's harassment policy.

Calchera said the two talked, and he later tacked a notice about the policy on Stowell's door.

Then Stowell filed a harassment claim, which was later dismissed, though Calchera was ordered not to contact Stowell again, Calchera and Stowell said.

Interesting, isn't it, that the professor engaged in retaliation against the conservative student who filed the complaint -- and that the student was then ordered to stay away from the professor despite the fact that the complaint was dismissed. I guess that freedom of speech only goes one way when you are a liberal. But could you imagine the uproar if Professor Hoppe at UNLV had filed a complaint against his accuser? He would no doubt be facing termination.

|| Greg, 04:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Will This Be Investigated?

The FBI investigated sermons at a Christian church. When will they begin the formal inquiriies into these mosques? Yeah, I know -- never.
The libraries of a number of American mosques feature Arabic-language writings published by the Saudi government or top clerics in the desert kingdom that virulently denounce Muslims from different traditions as well as Christians and Jews, and say devout Muslims should think of America as enemy territory, a new study said.

Freedom House, a conservative-leaning human rights organization based in New York, said in its report released last week that the books and publications in question say, among other things, that Muslims who employ a non-Muslim maid or cook "have to hate her for Allah's sake."

The publications espouse the hard-line fundamentalist views of the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia.

The Wahhabi publications "remain widely available in America, in some cases dominate mosque library shelves, and continue to be used to educate American Muslims," said the report by Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. Freedom House was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941, and its current chairman is former CIA director R. James Woolsey.

The 57 publications discussed in the report "state it is a religious obligation to hate Christians and Jews, and warn against imitating, befriending or helping such 'infidels' in any way," the study said. "They instill contempt for America" as well as "a Nazi-like hatred for Jews."

To read the entire report, click here.

For the press release summarizing the report, click here.

For the main website for Freedom House, click here.

UPDATE: Jeff Jacoby comments on the report, and what those Muslims who reject Wahhabi extremism need to do in response to it.

|| Greg, 03:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 05, 2005

Innocuous Comment, Serious Sanction

Hans Hoppe is a professor of economics at University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He is currently under threat of sanction from the university because ONE anonymous student was offended by a comment he made in the course of a 75 minute lecture and didn't feel that the professor took the concern seriously enough.
Hoppe, 55, a world-renowned economist, author and speaker, said he was giving a lecture to his money and banking class in March when the incident occurred.

The subject of the lecture was economic planning for the future. Hoppe said he gave several examples to the class of about 30 upper-level undergraduate students on groups who tend to plan for the future and groups who do not.

Very young and very old people, for example, tend not to plan for the future, he said. Couples with children tend to plan more than couples without.

As in all social sciences, he said, he was speaking in generalities.

Another example he gave the class was that homosexuals tend to plan less for the future than heterosexuals.

Reasons for the phenomenon include the fact that homosexuals tend not to have children, he said. They also tend to live riskier lifestyles than heterosexuals, Hoppe said.

He said there is a belief among some economists that one of the 20th century's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong, much as President Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Hoppe said the portion of the lecture on homosexuals lasted perhaps 90 seconds, while the entire lecture took up his 75-minute class.

There were no questions or any discussion from the students about the homosexual comments, he said.

"I have given lectures like this for 18 years," said Hoppe, a native of Germany who joined UNLV's faculty in 1986. "I have given this lecture all over the world and never had any complaints about it."

But within days of the lecture, he was notified by school officials that a student had lodged an informal complaint. The student said Hoppe's comments offended him.

A series of formal hearings ensued.

Hoppe said that, at the request of university officials, he clarified in his next class that he was speaking in generalities only and did not mean to offend anyone.

As an example of what he meant, he offered this: Italians tend to eat more spaghetti than Germans, and Germans tend to eat more sauerkraut than Italians. It is not universally true, he said, but it is generally true.

The student then filed a formal complaint, Hoppe said, alleging that Hoppe did not take the complaint seriously.

The school originally threatened a letter of reprimand and the loss of a week's pay. That was rejected by the Hoppe's dean and the University provost. Now the school has said they will issue a reprimand and require that Hoppe forego his next pay increase -- an economic sanction that will follow him the rest of his teaching career at the school and beyond, as it would have an ongoing, cumulative effect on his future salary and retirement benefits.

Frankly, I don't see where there is a basis for action against the good professor. In context, there was nothing wrong with his comments. There is apparently some support for his position among professionals in the field. Other than treading on the over-wrought feelings of some (presumably, but not necessarily, homosexual) student, there is no substance to the entire complaint. Must the entire educational process come to a screeching halt because some member of a class of people deemed by the politically correct to have special rights complains?

I hope the university loses -- and that any litigation names not just the school and the officials involved, but also the offended student. The original complaint was frivolous, and Hans Hoppe has been damaged by this attempt to limit his academic freedom and First Amendment rights.

|| Greg, 02:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

"Cookie Cuties" Find Americans Are Generous

I briefly noted this story about two girls from Colorado who were sued over their anonymous delivery of cookies to a neighbor in my abbreviated post for Friday. Their plight after performing a "random act of kindness" has prompted an outpouring of generosity from people around the country.

The Cookie Defense Fund has swelled to thousands of dollars.

Hundreds of Denver Post readers e-mailed and called to express "shock" and "outrage" that two 18-year-old Durango girls were sued for something they did last summer: drop off a plate of cookies and a paper heart on a neighbor's porch.

Taylor Ostergaard and Lindsey Zellitti lost in Small Claims Court in La Plata County on Thursday. Their impulse to bake cookies and treat neighbors by knocking, dropping off and running away went awry. One of nine neighbors who received a plate of cookies said the pounding on her door about 10:30 p.m. July 31 frightened her into an anxiety attack. A Durango judge awarded about $900 to the 49-year-old woman to cover some medical bills incurred when she ended up at the emergency room the next day.

If the people who called and wrote make good on their pledges, that $900 will be recovered many times over. Several people offered to personally cover the whole amount themselves.

The attention has been overwhelming.

The girls will be appearing on "Good Morning, America", and have an invitation (probably to be rejected) to appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.

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

Embryos=Human Beings

This ruling out of Illinois makes clear the basic scientific and legal truth -- human life begins at conception.

Alison Miller and Todd Parrish hoped to conceive a child with help from the Center for Human Reproduction, but the one fertilized egg the couple created was thrown out "in error" by a clinic worker.

Friday, Judge Jeffrey Lawrence II said "a pre-embryo is a 'human being' ... whether or not it is implanted in its mother's womb" and the couple is entitled to seek the same compensation awarded to other parents whose children are killed.

"Philosophers and theologians may debate," he wrote, "but there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins. It begins at conception."

Hurrah for Judge Lawrence!

|| Greg, 01:34 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Hypocrisy!

In light of the threat by the Mexican government to use all means at its disposal to overturn Arizona's Proposition 200, doesn't this seem to be monumentally hypocritical?
President Vicente Fox's office retorted that Mexico "does not permit judgment from any foreign government about political actions taken to confront its problems."

Hey, Vincente -- roll it in a tortilla and shove it!

Maybe the time has come for us to take Joe Farah's suggestion.

|| Greg, 01:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 04, 2005

Friday Round-Up

I took last night off because I was tired and thought I might be getting the virus that is slowly picking off my colleagues and students. So now that I don't feel like I'm catching the flu, here is a quick round-up of all the items I was too tired to post about.

Assaults on marriage continue, as a New York judge attempts to impose homosexual marriage on the state and the Utah Supreme Court appears poised to strike down the state's ban on polygamy. See what happens when you tinker with the settled definition of a social institution?

The Washington governor's race still continues, as a judge refuses Democrat demands that the outcome of the fraud-tainted election be left to the Democrats in the legislature.

Rocky Mountain News columnist Mike Rosen presents a case (which I don't necessarily agree with) for firing fake Indian, 9/11 apologist and generally anti-American professor Ward Churchill.

Rich Lowry points out that HIV testing for newborns has resulted in more maternal testing during pregnancy -- and helped bring about a decrease in HIV infected babies because their mothers can get on a treatment program that cuts the chances of the child becoming infected.

Archaeology and history geeks (folks like me) might enjoy this article on Raleigh's "Lost Colony". Have historians and archaeologists been looking in the wrong place?

Is it anti-Americanism or support for Catholic teaching? Marquette shuts down College Republican fundraiser to buy equipment to assist American snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then there is the absurd story of the two girls who baked cookies for their neighbors and delivered them anonymously that night -- who were then sued and found liable for the medical bills of a neighbor who had a panic attack.

|| Greg, 11:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 03, 2005

FBI Investigating Christian Sermons -- But Will It Look For Terror Links At Mosques?

The concept of spiritual warfare is a common one in Christian theology. In the evangelical church, the concept is a regular part of preaching and teaching. It is apparently also grounds for an FBI investigation. Just ask Randy Steele, senior pastor at Southwest Christian Church in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He found out that preaching on spiritual warfare regarding abortion and homosexuality will bring the FBI to your door, demanding that you answer questions and show them copies of your sermons.

When two FBI agents arrived at the church, Steele said they traded small talk for a few minutes before the suspense got to him and he asked about the nature of their visit.

Their answer stunned him.

“One guy opened a file,” Steele said. “And he said, ‘This is pertaining to a sermon that you preached on Memorial Day.’”

On Memorial Day 2004, Steele was in the middle of preaching a sermon series he called “Life Issues” dealing with controversial cultural issues from a biblical perspective. One such sermon was about abortion and Steele chose Memorial Day to preach about it.

“I shared the number of people who have died in wars versus the number who had died through ‘legal’ abortion since 1973,” Steele said. “I stated that we are in a different type of war that is being fought under the 'presupposition of freedom.’”

Steele said that he went on to name an abortion clinic in Granite City, Ill., a city just outside St. Louis, and pointed out that they perform as many as 45 abortions per week.

Somebody in the church that day apparently misunderstood Steele’s “different type of war” comment to mean that he was actually calling his congregation to a physical war against abortion clinics, so he or she placed an anonymous phone call to the FBI.

The informant allegedly told the FBI that in addition to Steele calling for a war against abortion clinics, he also said he was willing to go to jail over such a cause.

Steele said that he had spoken about his willingness to go to jail, but that he made those remarks in a different sermon that dealt with homosexuality from the same sermon series.

“I had mentioned a pastor in Canada who had been arrested for speaking about homosexuality in his church,” Steele said. The pastor said he went on to tell his congregation that “if speaking the truth means that we go to jail, then by golly, that’s where I'm going to be and I’m going to save you a seat next to me.”

“That was the major gist of why [the FBI] felt like they could come here and look through my sermons,” Steele said.

Now I know Hope Clinic. I've picketted there, years ago when I lived in the St. Louis area. It is the biggest provider of abortions in the region. Of course it would be mentioned by name. And saying that you are willing to go to jail for preaching the Gospel -- hardly an outrageous concept. It really isn't too different from sermons preached in black churches in the 1960s, if you stop and think about it. The pastor was simply telling his congregation what the Gospel demands of them as Christians.

Steele said he was initially a little irritated that the FBI would ask to see his sermons, especially since he had to take time away from the grieving family in his congregation to answer questions, but he said he has no plans to stop preaching messages that are culturally relevant.

“As a pastor I believe that as Christians we are called to speak the truth no matter what,” Steele said. “And we have to continue to speak that truth in love to all people and to share the message of Christ because it’s the only message that's going to change the lives of people.”

Roger Lipe, senior pastor at Woodlawn Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Convention congregation, in nearby Woodlawn, Ill., agreed with Steele’s position of speaking the truth in love to a culture that isn’t always going to be tolerant of such a message.

“Just look at what’s happening in our society and what’s happening in Canada -- the laws that have been made there -- and the pressure on Americans today to enforce hate crime laws,” Lipe said. “Obviously it’s going to mean that someday when you [as a pastor] get into your own pulpit, your own church, among your own people to preach against subjects like abortion and homosexuality and other biblical things that we’ve got to preach on, then there’s probably going to be a price to pay.”

Yes, the Gospel does call upon us to pay the price for standing up for god and His Word. Many faithful Christians have paid it over the last two millenia, standing up to governments that would force them to live their life according to some philosophy or faith other than that which is rooted in Scripture. Christians have stood up against the manifest injustices and evils promoted by government, and many have paid the ultimate price. What Pastor Steele preached was no different, and meritted not one minute of FBI investigation. I only hope that the poor soul who made that call to the FBI has been given the grace to understand what Pastor Steele was saying in those sermons.

But I have an even bigger concern than the waste of resources on the harrassment of Chistian pastors who ware speaking well-within the bounds of their First Amendment rights. What about Islamist imams? Is the FBI monitoring them, questioning them and demanding to see the texts of their sermons? After all, we in the US are at war with terrorism -- a jihad declared by radical Muslims against the United States. Or will politically correct concerns about the profiling of Muslims stop such investigations, even when the imams and their congregations have a history of supporting terrrorist groups like Hamas, preaching jihad against Christians and Jews, or distributing radical Islamist literature which is supportive of the same philosophies that gave us the September 11 attacks?

In short, will loyal Americans who peacefully dissent from the politically correct liberalism of the American Left be investigated while the Islamist fifth column gets a pass?

|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

British Columbia Courts To Legalize Polygamy?

I seem to recall Senator Rick Snatorum catching all sorts of heat for suggesting that the Lawrence v. Texas decision could open the door to polygamy. That hasn't happened -- yet -- in the US, but it looks possible in Canada, according the the Attorney General of the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Canada's law prohibiting polygamy is vulnerable to a legal challenge and could be struck down because of a conflict with religious freedom, says B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant.

Mr. Plant, whose view is based on confidential legal opinions provided to the B.C. government on two occasions, said he has failed to convince the federal government to amend the anti-polygamy law.

He said the legal opinions have played a major role in the refusal by police over many years to lay charges against polygamists in the B.C. community of Bountiful, where girls as young as 13 have allegedly been forced to become "celestial wives" of much older men.

"There might well be a case where the court would have to deal with religious freedoms arguments, and I think there is at least some risk that those arguments might succeed," Mr. Plant said.

And why shouldn't it succeed, once the legal concept of marriage has become unmoored from its traditional Western definition of a union of one man and one woman?

And as I've said elsewhere, given the trend of using the laws and precedents of foreign countries continues among American judges (confirming conservative judges will hopefully check that trend), we ought to be concerned about the future impact of trends like this in our northern neighbor.

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

Dialogue Or Monologue On Homosexuality?

Should discussion of homosexuality in schools be a dialogue or a monologue? All too often, it is the latter, with only the pro-gay side being heard in school. Attempts to present a different view are labeled as intolerant hate speech which is implicitly and explicitly forbidden by school administrators. Attempts to get "the other side" presented are usually met with fierce opposition.

Which leads us to the case of Fairfax County School Board member Stephen M. Hunt.

In a Jan. 30 letter, Stephen M. Hunt (At Large) asked the principals to host speakers with an "ex-gay perspective" and offer students, teachers and counselors literature provided by the conservative group Concerned Women for America and other organizations.

"Children are being taught that homosexuality is normal and natural. It is neither," Hunt wrote. "To state that it is normal or natural is to promote the myth that accompanies the homosexual activist rhetoric."

Hunt's letter, which was not reviewed by other members of the 12-person board before it was sent, sparked sharp rebukes from some other board members and Superintendent Jack D. Dale.

Several board members said that although the letter was on private stationery, it was inappropriate because principals may have believed it was endorsed by the board. "By signing his name as a School Board member, it calls into question whether he is speaking on behalf of the board, and he is not," board member Jane K. Strauss (Dranesville) said.

Dale said he has written the principals to let them know Hunt's view is not sanctioned by the board or administration. "I very much regret that our principals received this letter, which is not representative of the School Board's views," Dale said in a prepared statement. "We want our schools to be seen as welcoming places for all individuals."

Really? You folks don't sound very welcoming of Mr. Hunt, an elected member of your board. You've chosen to condemn him and his point of view -- expressed in his capacity as a private citizen and taxpayer -- which certainly isn't a very welcoming way to behave. What message does this action send to a student who agrees with Mr. Hunt? Is it one of welcome, or one of condemnation and rejection? Especially given that such beliefs often have a religious component, can you say that your actions are welcoming for individuals whose faiths teach that homosexual behavior is immoral? And what does your response teach your students about their right to practice their faith, to speak about their faith, and to communicate their concerns about public matters with public officials and employees? Are they welcome to do such things, or are they and their beliefs, words, and concerns unwelcome?

Hunt claims he was trying to make sure that such students knew that they and their views are welcome, even as contrary views are presented. And he made it clear that his position was one of inclusion, not of exclusion.

Hunt said yesterday that he is concerned that students who do not support homosexuality may be afraid to speak up in school or labeled as intolerant. Hunt said he is not seeking to ban material or programs in place but believes that other information should be included.

Hunt said his letter specifically notes that students should respect the rights of gay peers. "If a person does choose a gay lifestyle, we should respect their freedom, their safety and their choice," he said.

But in the letter Hunt said students often are exposed to the "Will and Grace version of homosexuality." He contended in the letter that gays often suffer drug and alcohol abuse or physical abuse and that gay men don't live as long as heterosexual counterparts. "There are huge ramifications for people who may make a choice to go into that lifestyle, and we should make sure they are fully aware of the entire issue," Hunt said in an interview.

But probably the most troubling aspect of this situation is the comment from the head of the district PTA.

Lynn Terhar, president of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, said that she's satisfied with the way sexual orientation is handled in the schools and that she hasn't heard concerns from parents. "In my personal opinion, his comments strike me as those coming from a religious point of view," Terhar said. "I don't believe there is any place for that in the Fairfax County school system."

I guess that Ms. Terhar didn't get the memo. She certainly doesn't sound very welcoming of individuals with diverse religious values. Her message to Christians is "Sit down! Shut up! Pay your taxes, but don't you dare try to influence what goes on in the public schools where your children are educated. Be happy you get to ride in the back of the bus."

I wonder when the Board will condemn Ms. Terhar's message of intolerance. Or will it?

|| Greg, 07:05 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Will Texas Keep 10% Law?

Here in Texas, graduating in the top 10% of your high school class gets you an automatic berth at any state college or university. Now there is talk of eliminating or modifying it. That sort of talk is appropriate, as it was adopted to replace affirmative action following a court decision which (temporarily, it turned out) banned such programs. But there have been complaints about inequities in the program, including the problem with using a single measure to determine whether a student is eligible to enter the college of their choice.
Citing the unfairness of the law and the way it forces some students to take a lighter course load or even transfer to a different high school, Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, filed a bill this week to eliminate the rule altogether.

"The top 10 percent law is inherently unfair because it uses only one criteria on which to either accept or reject applicants to institutions of higher education in Texas," Wentworth said. "It would be like saying, 'We are not going to consider anything but your SAT score,' and that would be wrong, too."

The top 10 percent rule was enacted after a 1996 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision made affirmative action illegal in Texas. But last year, a U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, saying race could be used as a factor in admissions for public universities.

Since then, officials at the University of Texas at Austin have said they will consider race, while Texas A&M University officials said they will not.

"The reason we passed the top 10 percent rule in 1997 was in reaction to a federal judge's order," Wentworth said. "But that federal judge's order was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, so we don't need this anymore."

In other words, the very reason for adopting the program in the first place doesn’t exist. That should be reason enough for eliminating it, at least if a campus plans on reinstituting race-based admisions. But then again, this is government. Since when does a program go away because it isn’t necessary? After all, once a program is created, it has a constituency that will fight its elimination tooth-and-nail.

I personally like the proposal to modify the program that has been floated by Rep. Rob Eissler.

Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, has filed a bill that would allow UT and A&M officials to choose what campus to place a top 10 percent student in. For example, instead of being guaranteed admittance to the flagship in Austin, UT officials could admit a student to the San Antonio campus.

That makes sense to me – graduating in the top 10% should guarantee you a spot in the particular system, but not necessarily allow you to pick which campus. If your grades are high but your admissions test (SAT, ACT, or THEA) results in a score below a certain threshold, you probably don’t belong in Austin at University of Texas. This would also solve the problem we’ve had with kids who have a 1560 SAT and a 3.7 GPA from a top high school (such as Bellaire High School in Houston) finding themselves locked out of UT and A&M because they were not in the top 10% of their class because they took AP or IB courses, while others took average classes and graduated higher in the class. The advantage to this would be that students will be better matched to the campus they attend.

There are, of course, objections to any changes being made. But I hope enough members of the legislature will see the sense in Eissler's proposal to make it law.

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

Will "Sheets" Byrd Seek Ninth Term?

Senator Robert Byrd has served in the US Senate since 1958. Now it appears that he plans to seek reelection to the Senate in 2006.
Byrd, 87, has been negotiating with Paul DeNino, one of the Democratic Party’s top fundraisers, to assist his reelection efforts, according to Democratic sources. Byrd’s office confirmed that the senator had been talking with DeNino and other fundraisers but said no contract had been finalized.

Byrd, who maintains a tight circle of political advisers, told The Hill he does not want to talk about his political future now. “Not ready yet,” he said on the way to a Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday.

“He has every intention to seek reelection,” said his spokesman, Tom Gavin, “but he has not made a final decision.” Gavin said Byrd would make a decision before West Virginia’s filing deadline next year.

Byrd hasn’t held a fundraiser in the past six months and has less than $100,000 in his campaign account, although he would have little trouble raising the money needed for a campaign.

Even those close to Byrd said they don’t know his definite plans. Some Senate observers said Byrd, elected to the Senate in 1958, intends to remain in office for the remainder of his life.

Byrd may intend to remain in the Senate for the rest of his life, but that doesn’t mean we have to let him do it. His treatment of Dr. Rice showed the former Klan Kleagle’s unfitness for office. This racist relic should be resisted by every American.

|| Greg, 06:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

"No Class"-ocrats Sully Reagan Resolution

Resolutions honoring distinguished citizens and important dates in history are generally pretty non-controversial. One would think that a resolution honoring the late President Ronald Reagan would make it through a state legislature with little discussion or controversy. But not in Minnesota.

A resolution honoring the former Republican president's birthday caused partisan friction in the state Senate Thursday and passed only after it was retooled to mention the fact he never won Minnesota and tax increases that occurred under his watch.

The Democratic-controlled Senate spent more than 30 minutes debating the Republican-offered resolution, which recognizes Reagan's Feb. 6 birthday. Reagan died in June of complications from Alzheimer's disease at age 93.

Minnesota was the only state Reagan lost in 1984. It went for Democrat Walter Mondale, a native son.

Democrats criticized the original resolution as ideologically skewed. It said, among other things, that Reagan "worked in a bipartisan manner to enact his bold agenda of restoring accountability and common sense to government which led to an unprecedented economic expansion and opportunity for millions of Americans."

The revised version ends that sentence with "not paralleled until the Clinton presidency," a nod to the two-term Democratic president. Democrats also added lines about tax increases under Reagan and hold up his presidency as "a lesson to the current administration in the areas of bipartisanship, economic recovery, and the need for world support in foreign initiatives."

Shame! Shame! Shame!

But then what do you expect of a state and a party that turned Paul Wellstone's funeral into a campaign rally?

|| Greg, 05:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 02, 2005

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Well, we keep hearing from folks that allowing gay marriages won't interfere with our rights if we are opposed to them. We keep hearing that religious organizations won't be forced to participate in what they view as pseudo-marriages.

Well, the same arguments were made up north in Canada, where the courts have imposed gay marriage on most of the country and the Liberal government is seeking to impose it on the rest, regardless of the will of the people. And so you get a case like this one.

Deborah Chymyshyn and Tracey Smith found just the hall they wanted to rent for their wedding reception. It was located behind a church in the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam and managed by the Knights of Columbus, an organization they thought was the same as the Elks.

That mistake -- confusing the Elks with the Knights -- has taken them into the epicentre of the national debate on same-sex marriage, with Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives citing the couple as Exhibit A in the Tories' declaration that government legislation unveiled yesterday permitting homosexuals to marry will result in severe assaults on Canadians' freedom of religion.

Prime Minister Paul Martin defended the bill, insisting that no religious organization will be forced to perform homosexual marriages if their teaching is opposed to them. But he also said that "Canada is a country where minorities are protected" -- a claim the Tories sought to turn against him by saying the debate on same-sex marriage will be all about protecting Canadians' religious freedoms.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has just finished hearing Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith's claim that the Knights, a Roman Catholic men's fraternal and philanthropic society, discriminated against the couple by refusing to rent the hall to them after learning it was for a same-sex wedding reception.

The Knights, adhering to church teaching, which is against homosexual marriage, cancelled a rental contract that had been signed, returned the couple's deposit and paid for both the rental of a new hall and the reprinting of wedding invitations after Ms. Chymyshyn and Ms. Smith complained that invitations listing the hall's address for their reception had been mailed.

That was in September, 2003. In October, the couple complained to the Human Rights Tribunal, which heard the case last week. A decision is not expected for months.

So, religious groups won't be forced to participate against their principles? Then why is this case even being heard? The Knights are clearly a Catholic organization, and are clearly adhering to Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality.

Their case points to what many legal scholars and religious leaders say is a murky area between protection of freedom of religion and protection against discrimination. They say it could lead to religious organizations and individuals by the phalanx heading to courts and rights tribunals once the same-sex marriage legislation becomes law.

"It's going to be endless," said University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman, a specialist in freedom of expression and legal regulation of adult relationships.

The B.C. Knights of Columbus case focuses on whether a church-related organization is the same as a church and whether freedom of religion extends beyond refusing to perform a same-sex marriage to refusing to celebrate one.

Given Canada's dreadful record in cases in which religious believers have asserted their right to publicly dissent on matters involving homosexuality, it is unlikely that the rights of the Knights will be respected here. The ersatz right to enter a same-sex marriage will be allowed to trump the human right to hold and follow one's religious beliefs.

Now folks may attempt to dismiss the relevance of this case because it isn't happening in this country or under American law. But that is a smokescreen. The Texas Sodomy Case, Lawrence v. Texas, was decided in part upon the legal trends and practices of foreign nations. As such, this case from British Columbia could be used to undermine the rights of religious believers in the United States to live out their beliefs.

|| Greg, 10:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Ultimatum To Iraqi Terrorists

We need more of this going on.
The chief of police in the Iraqi city of Mosul has given insurgents two weeks to give up their weapons or face a crackdown by security forces emboldened after the election.

But al Qaeda militants in Iraq issued a new threat to assassinate the northern city's governor.

"Hand over your weapons or we will come and get you," police chief Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed al-Jabouri said in a television address on Tuesday.

The Brigadier claims to know where the terrorists are hiding. While I'd ratehr see a quicker deadline, it is good to see that action is being taken.

Hopefully the election will embolden some folks in authority to take similar action.

|| Greg, 09:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Malkin Rocks Atlanta

Michelle Malkin (EDITED) tells us all that she had a grand old time at Emory yesterday.

Highlights include a column in the campus paper insisting that the College Republicans were irresponsible for bringing such an offensive speaker to campus. Why? Because of her book on the Japanese internment, which was totally unrelated to the topic of her speech.

The College Democrats hastily organized a speaker to rebut her book immediately following the speech, but didn't bother to invite Malkin to defend herself. But the ever resourceful Michelle publicly shamed the Democrats and their speaker into extending an invitation to debate the topic -- and Malkin appears to have cleaned the floor with her opponent, who even had the nerve to suggest that her pregnancy while would prevent her from doing adequate historical research on the subject. Do the critics of Larry Sumner Have anything to say about that charge?

Her little travelogue is certainly worth the read.

|| Greg, 09:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

February 01, 2005

Mama Manis Mania

First she was doing detention with her delayed daughter. Now Susan Manis is doing time for her deadbeat delinquent son.
The arrest warrant was issued after Manis failed to make a monthly payment on fees and fines levied against one of her sons when he was a juvenile.

"I accepted responsibility for them," Manis said. Because her son, now 19, doesn't have a steady job, she agreed to send the court $50 a month to repay about $10,000 he owes from three different convictions of offenses as a juvenile. She said she was unable to make last month's payment.

She said she was handcuffed, put in a patrol car and taken to a holding cell at the Brazoria County Jail.

While the officers and jailers treated her with respect, being in jail wasn't pleasant.

"I just cried at first," she said.

Her husband, Steve Manis, called a judge, who called the jail and ordered her release. She was in court Monday and agreed to make a payment by Thursday.

Frankly, I am not disturbed by this arrest. What does she thinks happens to folks who fail to pay their fines? That her husband was able to get her sprung without a hearing is much more disturbing to me. Why shouldn’t she have to wait in jail like anyone else would? It must be that she thinks that the rules don’t apply to her and her family. Maybe that’s why she has such a difficult time allowing her children to accept responsibility and punishment for their own wrongdoing. I can now certainly understand why the people of Pearland rejected Susan and her husband for school board last year.

I also have to wonder if this is the reason for her failure to complete her reply to my earlier post the other night. She suddenly trailed off, and didn't come back to finish. Maybe it was because she was being "cuffed and stuffed" by her local police.

|| Greg, 10:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

How Should Fans Respond?

Carlos Delgado the newly-signed first baseman for the Florida Marlins, refuses to stand for God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. That is his right. His actions are appropriate in form, time, and place. So says Howard Wasserman of the Florida International University College of Law. And to be honest, I’d have to agree with him.

An essential element of free speech is the right to counter-speak, protest and dissent from the original message. Delgado does that by declining to stand, but he does so in a way that in no way interferes with the ability of the Marlins, his teammates or the fans to make their statements through the song. Nor can it be that Delgado has forfeited his right to protest U.S. policies because he makes $13 million per year. Attaining financial success cannot rob one of the right to criticize government and society.

The other simple answer is that fans remain free to counter-protest Delgado's protest. They can sing God Bless America louder. They can display signs reaffirming their support for U.S. policy and signs criticizing Delgado for his dissent. They can boo him.

In fact, it might be interesting to see what happens when Marlins fans' political passions collide with their passion to root for the home team. On the other hand, many fans may support Delgado, either because they agree with his position or simply because they respect his willingness to take a stand by not standing.
The point is that this exchange of views on weighty matters, initiated by one ballplayer willing to speak out, occurs comfortably in the public forum that is a Major League baseball game.

But fans in Florida are, as Wasserman points out, perfectly within their right to make their voices heard. Or better yet, to not make their voices heard. How about if Marlins fans refuse to cheer, refuse to boo, and refuse to acknowledge anything that Delgado does on the field.

After all, he’s really not all that important, and baseball can and will go on without him.

|| Greg, 09:51 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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