March 31, 2005

Rebel Without A Clue

On Good Friday, Christian Legal Society members at Penn State Law School hide plastic eggs around campus, filled with candy and Gospel messages. This year, they found out someone beat them to it. The unknown culprit hid eggs with blasphemous cartoons inside depicting Jesus questioning his sexuality and calling God an “asshole”.

In a striking stand for the First Amendment, the group did not seek to have the perpetrator punished by the school. Instead, they held a forum to discuss the First Amendment implications of rules and laws against hate speech. Good for them.

The perpetrator finally came forward on Tuesday. He is George Black, a second-year Penn Law student. What does he say about the incident? He calls it a parody, and claims that he was trying to communicate message. The message?

“It's just annoying to me to have these fundamentalist ideas pushed down my throat," Black said in an interview. "It's interference with my education."

Black said he had attempted to voice his opinions through Law School listservs and announcement systems but was not permitted because he did not represent an official student group.

So Black was angry that he is having “fundamentalist ideas pushed down [his] throat.” I’m curious – how are they being pushed down his throat? Are group members tackling and forcing their materials down his throat? Are they hiding their materials in his food, forcing him to consume their literature unaware? Or are they merely engaging in free speech that he dislikes and wants stopped – something they clearly were not interested in doing with his much more offensive speech.

Yesterday, the CLS hosted a discussion about campus free speech led by David French, president of the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, in response to the egg incident. Gebelin said she hoped to foster an open dialogue about Christianity at the Law School. FIRE is an organization that was co-founded by professor Alan Kors in response to a free-speech incident on Penn's campus in 1993.

"If [Black is] interested in having a free exchange, let it be," Gebelin said. "We don't like what he did, [but] we wouldn't want him to be censored."

In other words, they defend Black’s right to speak, even as he uses that right to spew insults their direction and to engage in speech that could reasonably called blasphemy. If he had tried that sort of tactic to mock Muhammad, he would probably have already been banned from the campus for his own safety following the issuance of a fatwa calling for his murder. It seems to me that the CLS has taken a principled stand in trying to create a dialogue, rather than silence their opponent – which seems to be what Black wanted all along. And even after being defended by those he clearly hates, Black doesn’t get it.

Black, however, said the CLS's reaction has been too harsh.

"I thought it was funny," Black said. "I thought it'd be considered offensive, but I didn't think that people would have a stick up their ass about it."

Actually, the thing they have a “stick up their ass about” is freedom of speech, and the tendency in too many public settings to try to limit that speech, at best, to the bland and inoffensive, or, at worst, to the radical polemic of the Left.

(Hat Tip: The Torch)

|| Greg, 04:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Stop This Prudish Farce

Some people are simply artistic Philistines. Take this case in Indiana.

The Venus de Milo had better wear a top and Michelangelo's David should put on some pants if they're going to be seen at a yard art business.

Bartholomew County officials told the business near Interstate 65 that it must move cement copies of the classical statues — and about 10 others — out of public view because they are obscene under Indiana law.

"It's not fair to point out our business, and personally, I don't find them offensive," Ginger Streeval, a co-owner of White River Truck Repair and Yard Art, told the Daily Journal of Franklin for a story Wednesday.

Frank Butler, the county's zoning inspector, disagreed.

"They have nudity ... and that should not be in the view of a minor," he said.
Indiana's obscenity law prohibits the display of nudity where children might see it, he said.

The law also stipulates that such material is harmful for minors if, "considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."

I’m left speechless by this idiocy.

|| Greg, 04:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Muslims Defile Temple Mount

When will Sharon seize control of this holy site from the Muslim barbarians who control it and sweep it clear of the latest defilement by the Ishmaelite horde – and those that they have perpetrated over the centuries?

A carved half-meter tall inscription of the word “Allah” in Arabic was discovered on the Temple Mount’s Eastern Wall, which police suspected had been made by Palestinians construction workers. The laborers had been doing maitenance work on the wall in recent days.

“This breaks the Antiquities Law; these people are supposed to renovate and fix the wall, not commemorate names (on it), and certainly not names that are irrelevant," Eilat Mazar, a spokesman for the Committee to Prevent the Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, told Ynetnews.

Ten months ago, the committee said the site, holy to to Muslims and Jews, was "lawless" and lacked "archaeological supervision.

The Temple Mount is sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but great restrictions have been placed on access to all except Muslims. A Muslim group controls Temple Mount, and has destroyed numerous antiquities while failing to keep retaining walls and other non-Islamic structures in good repair. The time has come for Israel to act, to preserve the religious heritage of both Judaism and Christianity – and those of Islam as well.

|| Greg, 04:51 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What’s Wrong With This Story About Homeless Vets?

Sometimes stories are written with a slant so dishonest that you just have to be appalled. Take this lead from a story on homeless veterans that appeared in the Detroit News.
Everywhere he looks these days, Ron Johnson sees yellow ribbons bearing the words "Support Our Troops." And every time he sees them, he wonders which troops they refer to.

Johnson, a U.S. Army veteran who has been homeless since losing his job just before Presidents Day, has come to believe that concern for soldiers stops as soon as they're discharged.

"It's fake," said the 53-year-old. "As soon as you're out of the service, you're automatically zero."

Advocates for Metro Detroit's homeless say the number of homeless veterans who, like Johnson, are seeking assistance, is on the rise. The state's largest assistance center for former soldiers reported a 36-percent increase in veterans seeking homeless assistance since last year. Nonprofit groups in Wayne and Macomb counties also reported significant increases.

Sounds awful.. This poor guy, just discharged, is out on the streets after being used and abused by the evil US military. How can you not be outraged? I know I was – right up to the point that I got to this part of the article.

While some veterans recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan have appeared at area shelters, most are veterans who have been out of the service or the reserves for several years.

Of the 323 veterans who received transitional housing through the Michigan Veterans Foundation, 54 percent were age 31 to 50 and another 39 percent were 51 to 61. Many are not combat veterans.

At 54, Herman Abila recently found himself in need of housing assistance. From 1980 to 1983, he was in the U.S. Army, stationed in places like Colorado and Germany.

"I enlisted because it was a regular job," said Abila, who was a sergeant when discharged and was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve through 1993. "The only thing you have to do to keep the job is keep your nose clean."

Abila was a mechanic until a workplace accident shattered his right elbow. After three surgeries and physical therapy, finding steady work became difficult.

Two weeks ago, his temp job dried up, leaving him with only his disability check.
"I was staying in a motel room but it was eating up my check," he said. With nowhere else to go, Abila turned to Veteran's Haven, which is providing him with temporary housing.

The problem is not with current soldiers returning from combat and being turned out on the streets by an uncaring country. These are older guys, who served in a peacetime military, who are facing hard times as the Rust Belt economy of the state of Michigan flounders. Mr. Abila is not homeless because the government turned its back on him – he is homeless because of an on-the-job injury that limited his employability. Look at the dates. He hasn’t been a reservist since the first year of the Clinton administration – and when Abila was last on active duty, Demi Moore thought it was cool to date a 27-year-old because he would be an older man.

In other words, they are not playing straight with us here. There may be a problem here, but it isn’t what they are telling us.

|| Greg, 04:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hey! You! Outta The Gene Pool!

Gotta love this story, in a sick sort of way. How stupid can someone be?
A teenage gangster has become the first victim of a craze for miniature "designer" guns disguised as key fobs.

Fabian Flowers, 19, a member of Manchester's Longsight Crew, is believed to have shot himself in the head while trying to test the weapon's apparently faulty firing mechanism.

Friends who were with him immediately fled the lap-dancing club where the test firing took place.

The tiny gun - just over 4ins long and with a barrel extending a mere 1½ ins - has never been recovered.

Dozens of similar weapons have been smuggled into Britain from Bulgaria in the past 18 months. They are sold initially as novelty flare guns but then modified by criminals to fire twin .25 bullets.

The weapons, which change hands for several hundred pounds, are notoriously unstable and lack accuracy. However, at point-blank range they are lethal.

Yeah, that’s right – little keychain guns that don’t look like guns. Here’s what seems to have happened.

On Feb 23 last year a group of youths, including some members of the Longsight Crew, were at the High Society club in Stockport.

At some point in the evening Flowers went to the lavatory with some of his friends. Police sources suggest someone had recently borrowed the key fob gun and was returning it.

An inquest yesterday heard that Flowers's final words to his friends were: "I'm going to put it to the test - watch."

One friend said: "He put it to his head and I heard a bang. I got the impression that he thought the safety catch was on and it was perfectly safe."

The gangster died from a single wound to the head. Police initially suspected he had been the victim of a gangland killing but became convinced that he had died at his own hand.

Let’s just call that one a case of Darwin in action.

|| Greg, 04:44 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Isn’t This Swell Of NYC?

You’ll have to excuse me. I was under the strange impression that the same First Amendment that applies here in Texas also applied up north in New York. What is this stuff about the city “agreeing” to allow freedom of speech on a public sidewalk? I thought that matter was settled law.
NEW YORK — The city has agreed that First Amendment activities including leafleting, petition-gathering, picketing and holding press conferences can occur on public sidewalks in front of schools, a civil rights lawyer said yesterday.

The agreement between the city and lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union was approved March 16 by a federal judge who was scheduled to preside at a trial over a 2003 lawsuit brought by a youth advocacy organization, the Ya-Ya Network, said Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU’s associate legal director.

The lawsuit was brought after students working with the group alleged they were threatened with arrest outside schools for handing out literature telling other students about their rights to keep personal information from military recruiters.
The NYCLU said it was “essential” for such student activities to be allowed to occur outside schools.

Now I will concede that I don’t like the group that is making use of the very rights that the military defends, but we even have to allow losers like these the freedoms that are the birthright of all Americans. And if, as the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. DesMoines, students do not shed their freedoms at the schoolhouse gate, how can anyone argue that they lack those freedoms before they set foot on campus?

It is cases like these that keep me from issuing a blanket condemnation of the ACLU and its affiliates. They do, in many cases, get it right when it comes to basic civil liberties.

|| Greg, 04:42 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Should We Be Frightened Or Comforted?

After all, shouldn’t we already have operational control of our own borders?
The U.S. Border Patrol will more than double its fleet of helicopters and airplanes and bring 534 agents to the Arizona border this summer, in an effort to gain "operational control" of the border at this, its most vulnerable point, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. The term was pounded home; Bonner used the phrase "operational control" four times during an hour-long press conference Wednesday to announce this latest federal roll-out to control the Arizona line with Mexico. He also spoke of living in a "post-9/11 era," and "terrorism" as well as "not overnight" and "cost." Bonner also answered questions that were previously not answered by federal officials. He said nationally, about 300,000 to 400,000 people manage to successfully enter the country illegally each year. He also said that the latest border control effort, the Arizona Border Control Initiative Phase II, will help protect the United States against terrorism, though nobody has been arrested coming in from Mexico on terror-related charges. "Look, the reason we have to get control along the borders of our country is because we have an enemy that is bound and determined to attack us, and that's al-Qaida and its associated terrorist organizations," he said. "We will shut down - and I mean shut down - the West Desert Corridor," Bonner said. "We will gain control … of what is the weakest part of the border with Mexico." The West Desert comprises the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It's a sore point for illegal entry and was the focus of the Border Patrol's efforts last year during the first Arizona Border Control Initiative. The plan this year is to control that area, then turn attention to Cochise and Yuma counties. Gaining operational control of the border can't happen overnight, Bonner said, but will happen over time.

This is great – they are doing something. But it is years to late and not nearly enough.

|| Greg, 04:32 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 30, 2005

Two Blows Against Racism In Government Employment

We've seen two jury verdicts today ripping governemnt employers who use race as a deciding factor in hiring, firing, and promotion. One case comes from New Orleans, the other from Milwaukee.

The New Orleans case involves the mass firing of employees in the district attorney's office. Upon taking office in 2003, DA Eddie Jordan fired 53 of 77 non-lawyers in the office and hired black replacements.

Under U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval's instructions, jurors had to find Jordan liable if they concluded the firings were racially motivated. Jordan has acknowledged he wanted to make the office more reflective of the city's racial makeup, but he denied he fired whites just because they are white. In fact, he said, he did not know the race of the people fired.

The law bars the mass firing of a specific group, even if the intent is to create diversity.

Both sides agree on the facts of the unusual case: eight days into his term, Jordan fired 53 of 77 white workers who were not lawyers — investigators, clerks, child-support enforcement workers — and replaced them with blacks. Some seven out of 10 whites were fired, to be replaced by blacks.

Months later, 44 of the whites sued him, and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission later made a preliminary finding that Jordan had been racially biased. One of the plaintiffs eventually dropped out of the suit.

But Jordan has insisted that he paid no attention to the race of his support staff. He has portrayed himself as more focused on the legal staff than the support staff — keeping, he pointed out, 56 white assistant district attorneys.

Jordan and a top deputy who testified have admitted that experience wasn't necessarily their top consideration. Instead, they have made it plain they were looking to populate the office with loyalists.

The whites' lawyers concentrated on showing that many of those who were fired had far more experience and scored higher in job interviews than blacks who were either hired anew or kept on.

Could you imagine the outcry if, in an agency where minorities are over-represented based upon their share of the population (say the EEOC), there were a mass firing of minorities so that whites could be fired to reflect the ethnic makeup of the country? No administrator would even consider such a move, nor should they. Why, then, did Jordan think he could get away with what is clearly the explicit use of racial criteria as the deciding factor in employment?

And then there is the Milwaukee case. A jury determined that 17 white officers were discriminated against a cummulative total of 144 times in the selection of minority candidates for positions as police captains by former Chief Arthur Jones.

Jones said he was disappointed by the verdict.

"I believe that it is a blow to diversification, and I think that's very important to a municipal police department, especially here in Milwaukee," he said.

Jones also defended his record, saying that his promotions included four white females, three black females, two black males, two Hispanic males and one male Pacific Islander with an "understanding" that more than half his 41 promotions to captain were white men.

"I think the numbers speak for themselves," Jones said. "I don't see where any discrimination against white males took place."

Each of the 17 plaintiffs asked for $300,000, an immediate promotion to captain if applicable - two are now captains, two others are retired - and other punitive damages in the initial lawsuit. Testimony in the damages trial is expected to take three days, Curran said, then, the same jury will deliberate over what each plaintiff deserves.

During the trial, Rettko methodically explored how promotions to captain occurred under Jones' leadership.

Under Jones, as under other Milwaukee police chiefs, a candidate for a captaincy was nominated by the chief, then sent to the Fire and Police Commission for approval. The commission rarely levies criticism of a candidate - only one of Jones' nominations received a single negative vote - but the commission sees only one candidate at a time. Several commissioners testified that their roles were to make sure the chief's nominations were qualified to do the job, not to weigh them against other potential nominees. In his testimony, Jones admitted that he picked his nominees mostly by his personal evaluations of their skills, without consulting résumés, personnel evaluations or the men's permanent records in the Milwaukee Police Department.

Rettko sent each of his plaintiffs to the stand to discuss his credentials at length and his thoughts about how those who were promoted compared. Often times, the comparison favored the 17 plaintiffs, which Rettko underscored by repeating that everyone Jones promoted to captain after less than two years in a lieutenant's job was not a white male.

Incredible. Skin-color and genitalia were mor eimportant than qualifications in promotion to senior positions in the police department. makes you feel safe from criminals, doesn't it.

And the worst part is that it will be the taxpayers, not the guilty parties, who will end up paying for the malfeasance in office on the part of these racial bigots.

|| Greg, 10:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Maybe It WILL Make You Go Blind!

We all have heard the old wive's tale (old spouse-of-indeterminate-gender's tale, for those from Massachusetts) about a the bad effects of various forms of sex -- everything from hairy palms to insanity. One of my favorite ones's was "It will make you go blind!"

Well, check out this study on Viagra, if you can see the screen.

In a new study, US researchers describe seven patients who developed nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), an eye problem that can result in permanent vision loss, after taking Viagra (sildenafil) for erection difficulties. Combined with past reports, this study brings the total number of sildenafil-related NAION cases to 14.

"For years, we've known that some men who take Viagra will experience temporary color changes in their vision and see things as blue or green," study co-author Dr. Howard D. Pomeranz, from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, said in a statement. "NAION is a much more serious condition because it can lead to permanent vision loss."

With the exception of one patient whose symptoms began 24 to 36 hours after using Viagra, the patients developed symptoms within 24 hours of use. In all patients, the initial symptoms were blurred vision and some degree of vision loss. In one patient, both eyes were affected, whereas in the remainder, just one was involved.

All of the patients had one or more heart disease risk factors. High blood pressure was invariably present and most men also had high cholesterol levels. Three patients had preexisting eye problems that may have increased their risk of NAION.

The final vision in the patients' affected eye(s) ranged from perfect vision to only light perception, the investigators note in the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology.

I guess we'll be seeing lots of executives with trophy wives and seeing eye dogs.

|| Greg, 10:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

It's Not Like A Democrat Would Change Much

At least that was my thought upon getting this news.

Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., on Wednesday ruled out a run for the Senate in 2006, saying he could better serve his constituents by staying in the House and serving on the Appropriations Committee.

Kennedy has been in Boston caring for his mother, Joan Kennedy, who was hospitalized with a concussion and a broken shoulder after a passer-by found her lying in a street Tuesday.

In a statement, Kennedy did not cite family responsibilities as a reason for his decision, but he and his brother and sister recently took temporary guardianship of his mother to ensure she receives treatment for her alcoholism. Patrick Kennedy was seeking to become her permanent legal guardian.

"I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received to run for the Senate," he said. "But over the past few days, I have determined that I can make the greatest difference in the lives of Rhode Island families by remaining on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives and fighting for their priorities." The committee controls about a third of the nearly $2.6 trillion federal budget.

Kennedy had been encouraged to run for the Senate against Republican incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee, after Rhode Island's other Democratic congressman, Jim Langevin, decided not to seek the Senate seat.

I mean be honest here -- Chafee is practically a Democrat anyway.

And I would like to add that my prayers are with the Kennedy kids and their mother as they deal with Joan Kennedy's situation. She has been such a tormented soul for years.

|| Greg, 10:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 29, 2005

Mike Rogers Attempts To Silence Another Blogger

This time he went after Richard Shurbet of, for echoing GayPatriot's earlier post calling Rogers a terrorist for his outing campaign.

Shurbert has a number of posts on the matter up on his site, which was briefly shut down by HostingMatters in response to whining by Rogers. Shurbet also offers this banner for folks who want to protest the misdeeds of Mike Rogers.

I'm not gay, and I have many points upon which I differ with both Shurbet and GayPatriot. That said, I don't approve of the tactics and methods used by Rogers to shut down his political enemies. And yes, I freely admit that I hold a particular grudge against Rogers for his outing of an old family friend, Congressman Ed Schrock, last summer.

|| Greg, 11:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Pope Likely To Receive Feeding Tube

It appears the Pope John Paul II is likely to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted into his stomach due to difficulties swallowing.
Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted, an Italian news agency reported today. It stressed that no decision had been made.

The APcom news agency, citing an unidentified source, said the 84-year-old pope might have to have the tube inserted to improve his nutrition since he is having difficulty swallowing with the breathing tube that was inserted Feb. 24.

APcom said the idea of inserting a feeding tube was a hypothesis that was being considered. The procedure involves inserting a tube into the stomach to allow for artificial feeding.

Earlier today, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that the pope's doctors were considering a new hospitalization next week both to perform tests on the breathing tube and to adjust his diet because of problems swallowing.

There was no comment from the Vatican. Nicola Cerbino, a spokesman at Polyclinic Gemelli hospital where John Paul was rushed twice last month, called it media speculation.

Another newspaper, La Repubblica, quoted the pope's Vatican physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, as saying doctors are "reasonably calm" about the frail pope's condition.

This does not sound unlikely to me, given the problems the Pope has had with speaking and swallowing. Inserting the tube is very much in keeping with Catholic teaching on medical ethics, which does not hold feeding tubess to be extraordinary treatment, but rather views the provision of nutrition and hydration as ordinary care which is mandatory unless it causes medical harm to the patient.

|| Greg, 11:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Once Again, Prayers For Falwell

As I said when he was hospotalized some weeks ago, I have a number of points on which I disagree with Rev. Jerry Falwell. That said, my prayers are with him during this new period of critical illness.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell is critically ill but "clinically stable" after being admitted to Lynchburg General Hospital shortly before midnight Monday with respiratory arrest, hospital officials said yesterday.

Falwell, 71, one of the nation's leading religious conservatives, was driven to the hospital by his wife, Macel, after complaining of shortness of breath.

"He lost consciousness just as they got to the hospital," spokesman Ron Godwin said. "He slumped over as they were getting there."

He was immediately placed on a ventilator and quickly stabilized, according to the hospital's statement. Doctors expect more details on his condition today.

A hospital spokesman said physicians are trying to determine if Falwell had a relapse of pneumonia.

Falwell was said to be alert and responding to questions, at times by eye contact or nodding.

May God reach out and touch His son, Jerry, and restore him to health; and may He provide a spirit of peace and comfort to the Falwell family.

|| Greg, 11:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Johnnie Cochran -- RIP

I was shocked to hear the news.
Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., the masterful attorney who gained prominence as an early advocate for victims of police abuse, then achieved worldwide fame for successfully defending football star OJ. Simpson on murder charges, died this afternoon. He was 67.

Cochran died at his home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles of an inoperable brain tumor, according to his brother-in-law Bill Baker. His wife and his two sisters were with him at the time of his death.

My prayers are, of course, with the Cochran family at this time. Whatever disagreements I had with the man (and they were many), I still feel a touch of sadness at his death.

It is also my hope that the US Supreme Court does not use his death as a reason not to decide the case it heard involving an injunction on free speech against one of his critics. While the injunction died with Mr. Cochran, the issue of a complete ban on speech is too important to allow it to be buried with him.

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

Muslim Group Seeks To Muzzle Critics Of Islam

CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, is seeking to punish National Review for daring to publicize and promote books critical of Islam.
A Muslim civil rights group is urging the Boeing Company to stop running ads in the conservative National Review magazine. The Council on American-Islamic Relations objects to the National Review's promotion of books that "attack Islam and the Prophet Muhammad." Those books include "The Life and Religion of Mohammed," which, according to the magazine's review, exposes the "ugly truth about the founder of the world's most violent religion"; and "The Sword of the Prophet," which "gives the unvarnished, 'politically incorrect' truth about Islam -- including the shocking facts about its founder, Mohammed; its rise through bloody conquest; its sanctioning of theft, deceit, lust and murder." In a letter to Boeing CEO James A. Bell, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad "respectfully" requested that Boeing "address the concerns of Muslims worldwide by withdrawing its advertising support from a magazine that actively promotes anti-Muslim hate." Awad said a copy of the letter would be sent to ambassadors of Muslim and Arab nations in Washington, D.C. Boeing does business with Arab-owned airlines.

I've got a better idea. In light of certain unpleasantness in the fall of 2001, why don't we demand that Boeing cease doing business with all airlines in the Arab world. Better yet, why not stop doing business with all airlines based in predominantly Muslim countries. And while you are at it, stop selling military technology to those countries, too. At least until followers of Islam stop engaging in anti-American terrorism.

And while we are at it, when will the IRS, DOJ, and Homeland Security conduct a thorough investigation of CAIR, an organization with numerous documented connections to terrorist supporters, terrorist groups, and individual terrorists?

And as for Muhammad, from what I can tell from my reading of the Koran and various historical material drawing upon Islamic sources it sounds to me like the books have characterized him correctly.

UPDATE: I put something in whilte typing and forgot to delete it before posting. I was politely asked to fix it. Due to the extremely nice manner in which I was asked, I removed it.

|| Greg, 10:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 28, 2005

Whose Side Are Presidents Bush And Fox On?

I have to ask that question in loght of recent statements calling the members of the Minuteman Project "vigilantes" and "racist migtant-hunters."

And I have to ask whether they are comfortable with the fact that they are on the same side as these folks in opposing what is little more than a glorified neighborhood watch group?

Members of a violent Central America-based gang have been sent to Arizona to target Minuteman Project volunteers, who will begin a monthlong border vigil this weekend to find and report foreigner sneaking into the United States, project officials say.

James Gilchrist, a Vietnam veteran who helped organize the vigil to protest the federal government's failure to control illegal immigration, said he has been told that California and Texas leaders of Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have issued orders to teach "a lesson" to the Minuteman volunteers.

Where is the concern about these real vigilantes, gentlemen? You know, the vicious predatory gang-members who are out to injure and kill Americans who just want their nation's laws enforced and their nation's border respected.

The MS-13 gang has established major smuggling operations in several areas along the U.S.-Mexico border and have transported hundreds of Central and South Americans -- including gang members -- into the United States in the past two years. The gang also is involved in drug and weapons smuggling.

Gang members in America have been tied to numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortion, rapes and aggravated assaults. Authorities said that the gang has earned a reputation from the other street gangs as being particularly ruthless and that it will retaliate violently when challenged.

On the otherhand, the Minutemen are going to great lengths to avoid violence -- not that the public an tell that from the overblown statements comming from the two presidents.

"We're not worried because half of our recruits are retired trained combat soldiers," Mr. Gilchrist said. "And those guys are just a bunch of punks." More than 1,000 volunteers are expected to take part in the Minuteman vigil, which will include civilian patrols along a 20-mile section of the San Pedro River Valley, which has become a frequent entry point to the United States for foreigner headed north. About 40 percent of the 1.15 million foreign nationals caught last year by the U.S. Border Patrol trying to gain illegal entry to the United States were apprehended along a 260-mile stretch of the Arizona border here known as the Tucson sector. Many of the Minuteman volunteers are expected to be armed, although organizers of the border vigil have prohibited them from carrying rifles. Only those people with a license to carry a handgun will be allowed to do so, Mr. Gilchrist said. An operational plan calls for teams of four to eight volunteers to be deployed along the targeted 20-mile stretch of border at intervals of 200 to 300 yards, along with observation posts and a command center. Mr. Gilchrist said some of the patrols and posts will be right on the U.S.-Mexico border, while others will be located farther north. The volunteers also have been told to "make lots of noise and burn campfires at night to be very visible." According to guidelines issued to the volunteers earlier this month, organizers said they expect that they will be targeted by various protest groups and others and that some protesters would try to provoke confrontations. "If we are to send the message loud and clear to President Bush and Congress, it is imperative we stay within the law," Mr. Gilchrist said. "If one single person steps over the line for their personal gratification, we are all stained with that irresponsible behavior and labeled forever as a fringe element that embarrasses all who are counting on us to make this historic statement," he said.

In other words, the Minutemen are taking precaustions to avoid violence, while these street-thugs and the usual band of left-wing malcontents are outstop them from engaging in legal activity. And yet somehow the two presidents see the Minutemen as the bad guys in all this, and are united in their opposition to their lawful activities.

Sadly, someone is likely to die during the month of April along the Arizona/Mexico border. Even more sadly, it might be one of the Minutemen, folks out there trying to do the right thing for their country. And the blame will belong on the shoulders of two presidents who have done little to stop the flow of border-jumpers into this country, and have defamed those who think they should.

|| Greg, 11:31 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

War On Foie Gras?

You can abort a baby until birth. You can starve a family member to death. But if legislators in Oregon, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts get their way, it will be illegal to possess foie gras. Laws on the books will already ban the food in 2012 if the industry cannot prove its practices humane.

At issue: the force feeding technique used to produce fattened duck liver.

For the final two weeks of their lives, a stainless steel tube is inserted into the throat of waterfowl twice a day and a measured amount of partially cooked corn is pumped down the esophagus. The technique packs on the pounds quickly, creating a fatty liver.

Some say the protesters -- and now legislators -- are clueless, and scoff at the idea that birds whose livers alone are worth $75 a pound are mistreated.

Now I don't eat the stuff -- it is too expensive and sounds nauseating. Maybe it is just a matter of my having a pedestrian palate. I mean, I have no interest in sushi, either. And my consumptionof veal is rare because of the price tag, not because of any concern about the conditions in which the calves are raised. We are, after all, talking about animals. But others disagree with me.

But Gene Bauston, co-founder of the animal rights group Farm Sanctuary, says the pictures and videos of foie gras farms show force-feeding is a "cruel and unnecessary practice" that should not be legal.

"There are certain things that are beyond the bounds of acceptable," Bauston said.

Yeah, there are, Mr. Bauston, and the force feeding of ducks doesn't even cause a blip on the moral radear-screen for me. How can your moral compass be so out of whack that you would spend one minute on this misguided crusade of yours?

Genocide in the Sudan.

The horrors of abortion.

The starvation of Terry Schiavo.

Those are things that are beyond the bounds of acceptable.

So while I don't like how the ducks are treated and would never consume foie gras myself, I won't be joining your campaign.

But don't call me pro-cruelty-to-animals.

Call me pro-choice.

|| Greg, 10:31 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Silencing Of A Blogger

I didn't agree with GayPatriot on many things, and only wandered on to his website from time to time as a way of seeing what a different type of Republican thought about current issues. Last week, he made a post that may have been ill-advised, referring to two prominent homosexual activists as terrorists due to their outing campaign against Republican homosexuals and their staffers (both are partisan Democrats who conspicuously protect homosexual Democrats and their staffers).

Within hours, the post was gone and GayPatriot disassociated himself from his own site, which he turned over to heis blog-partner, GayPatriotWest.

For the full story, which I will not recount here (because Christian Grantham does a better job than I would), go to this link at Outlet Radio Network. Suffice it to say that one of those he criticized began harrassing GayPatriot, his secretary, and his boss, threatening a national boycott of GayPatriot's corporate employer.

And these people claim they are all about freedom -- I guess that is only the freedom to agree with them.

(Hat Tip: The Central Front)

|| Greg, 09:59 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

You Can't Argue With Some People

I had a conversation recently about the Schiavo case. It went something like this.

"I can't believe how disgusting all you conservatives are! How can you people believe that this is right? The stuff that you and that woman's family are puttingher and her poor husband through! You should all be ashamed. It's just wrong."


"Stop it! Don't say another word! You people are just sick!"

Needless to say, it was over at that point. No place for discussion, debate, or rational presentation of views in any of it. Just a set of exclamations and declarative sentences, and a command that I not even attempt to speak a word on behalf of those who might oppose Michael Shciavo's decision.

Sadly, that is reflective of the state of public dialogue today. Pat Sajak comments on that phenomenon in a column in Human Events.

Recently, for example, I was discussing the United Sates Supreme Court with one of my many Liberal friends out in Los Angeles when she said, without any discernable embarrassment, that Justice Anton Scalia was “worse than Hitler.” Realizing she wasn’t alive during World War II and perhaps she may have been absent on those days when her schoolmates were studying Nazism, I reminded her of some of Hitler’s more egregious crimes against humanity, suggesting she may have overstated the case. She had not; Scalia was worse. As I often did when my parents threatened to send me to my room, I let the conversation die.

Aside from being rhetorically hysterical -- and demeaning to the memory of those who suffered so terribly as a result of Hitler and the Nazis -- it served to remind me of how difficult it is to have serious discussions about politics or social issues with committed members of the Left. They tend to do things like accusing members of the Right of sowing the seeds of hatred while, at the same time, comparing them to mass murderers. And they do this while completely missing the irony.

The moral superiority they bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side. If a Conservative -- one of the bad guys -- complains about the content of music, films or television shows aimed at children, he is being a prude who wants to tell other people what to read or listen to or watch; he is a censor determined to legislate morality. If, however, a Liberal complains about speech and, in fact, supports laws against certain kinds of speech, it is right and good because we must be protected from this “hate speech” or “politically incorrect” speech. (Of course, they -- being the good guys -- will decide exactly what that is.)

Now I will grant that there is plenty of self-righteous superiority on the Right as well as teh Left. I know certain folks on my side of the political fence with whom one cannot have a discussion without being presumend to be morally and mentally defective for disagreeing with them on some point or other. But this characteristic, dating back to the 1960s, seems particularly common among the radical Left -- and it is that segment of the Left that often seems to develop the political memes that dominate debate on the Left. The result is an impoverished public discussion.

The rhetoric has become so super-heated that, sadly, I find myself having fewer and fewer political discussions these days. And while I miss the spirited give-and-take, when Supreme Court Justices become worse than Hitler and when those who vote a certain way do so because they’re idiots, it’s time to talk about the weather.

I miss that spirited give-and-take as well. Not just because I love a good argument, but because I think it ultimately harms the country as a whole.

|| Greg, 09:56 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Outcry Essays

For over half of my teaching career, I taught English. Even now, when I get a summer school assignment I usually end up teaching an English class. That means grading a lot of student writing. It also means learning a lot about your students that you never do in another subject. That is what they are finding as they grade this year's TAKS essay.
Each year, hundreds of students use the essay portion of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test to write about being abused, neglected or raped, education officials say.

Others write about being depressed, or wanting to die or hurt themselves or others.

Such essays fall under the state's definition of an outcry, and school officials have a legal and ethical obligation to report the revelations to law-enforcement officials.

You get those in the classroom, too. One term each year I had students writing about "an event that changed your life." Over the years I was flabbergasted by what I got from my students. I was also heartbroken.

One sweet young lady wrote about being molested by her youth pastor several years before, and I had to report it to the school and CPS. I never did hear what happened to the guy. I lost track of her after she graduated.

Another girl wrote about the death of her father and how she blamed herself for it. She had her best friend over one night for a sleep-over, and her father offered to wait for them to ride along to KFC for a bucket of chicken. They preferred to stay swimming in the pool, and her father was killed by a speeding truck on the way home with dinner. Last I heard, she should finish college this spring, majoring in elementary education. I hope she comes back to the district.

One of my boys told the tale of going straight while being robbed of his drug money. When I challenged him on the veracity, he lifted up his shirt and showed me two entry and two exit wounds. He later became the first kid I wrote a college letter of recommendation for, and the first in his family to attend and graduate.

One guy wrote a chilling paper entitled "The Night I Killed A Man." His father had heard a sound in the living room and had gone to check it out. When the student heard a fight between his dad and a robber, he ran into the kitchen, grabbed a knife from the butcher block, and plunged it through the robbers back, killing him before they could even call the police. He was 16-years old. I know he talked about joining the Marines, to get away from the folks who were threatening revenge.

I read papers about drug rehab, crushing personal losses, and becoming a parent-too-soon in the ninth grade. I learned about the thrill of victory, first kisses, and getting saved one Sunday at church. I exulted in the glories that these kids experienced, and bled over the many hurts they had experienced. It was the assignment I dreaded most, and which took the most out of me. Mandated by my district, it was one of the things that was steadily pushing me to the point of burnout and reinforced my desire to teach in my major field, history. And yet, I sometimes miss that chance to really know my students, something that I don't always get to do now.

That a child or teen would write about something so personal or traumatic on a state test "isn't logical at all when you look at it from the outside," said Catherine Ayoub, an associate professor at Harvard University's Medical School and Graduate School of Education.

But "this is the most anonymous way that you can tell," so it's "absolutely what you would expect," Ayoub said.

And it is also because they know that the essays are going to be read. It is unfortunately way too easy to tell a kid you don't have time for them, even if you want to talk to them about a situation -- the bell just rang and you've got 28 other kids in class to attend to, you've got duty in the cafeteria, or there is a faculty meeting after school that you can't miss. The counselors at my school are nothing more than glorified (at best semi-competent) schedule-makers, each with a case-load of 400 students who they might never meet. The administrative team is made up of some really great people, but their one of their major issues is discipline and so some of the kids who most need them tend to avoid them. But that essay is a chance for them to say their piece and be heard -- they hope -- and so they spill their hearts out on those lines and hope that what is there will be taken seriously. It is true in the classroom, and true on the TAKS test.

You might wonder, how old are the kids who give these "outcry" responses on the tests? How common are they? What are the prompts that give them such freedom?

Texas labeled 688 essays as "outcry" last year and 592 in 2003, a fraction of the pool of more than a million essays.

The writing section of the 3-year-old TAKS is designed to give students flexibility — opening the door for personal essays.

"There are so many things that children are bringing to school" nowadays, said Chuck Hoffman, executive director of student and social services for the Fort Worth school district.

Students in Texas must write an essay for the TAKS in grades 4, 7, 10 and 11. Although the TEA flags outcry essays at all grade levels, most appear at the seventh-grade level.

Students are free to express themselves on the TAKS because the writing instructions are less formulaic than on past achievement tests, including the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills.

The essay instructions are broad: "Write an essay explaining the importance of accepting others as they are" or "Write a composition about an adventure you had."

Students can use any writing approach, such as cause and effect, or problem and solution. Essays can be narrative or philosophical.

The TAKS gives students more latitude in their essay writing than other state tests. For example, last year's test included this instruction for 10th-graders: Write an essay about the impact another person can have on your life.

Frankly, I don't know whether to be shocked by how many such essays the state gets, or how few. In a classroom setting, there is at least a relationship that exists and a level of trust between student and teacher. That doesn't exist on the test, which might be a good thing for some kids or inhibit others.

Do we, as teachers, listen closely enough to what our kids say? Do we take their writing seriously enough? They need us to do so. They have a lot to say. There's so much that they need to have heard. We need to give them a chance to get their message through.

|| Greg, 12:45 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 27, 2005

Welcome To The Blog

The Conservative Party in the UK is starting to get into blogging. One new entry is, which has a very good blog.

The website — — is being started today by Tim Montgomerie, who was political secretary to Iain Duncan Smith when he was Tory leader and was head of the Conservative Renewing One Nation unit under William Hague.

It is independent of the Tory party, though supportive of it, but the website will inevitably be seen as the start of a fresh debate about where the party should move in the event of a third successive election defeat.

The website combines the concepts of a think-tank and online newspaper and its aim is to provide a forum for the revival of Conservative thinking and policies. Mr Montgomerie is an expert on American politics and the way that the Right has used websites to bypass the mainstream media, which is felt to be broadly hostile to conservative ideas. It is funded by donations from private individuals.

I've been, I like, and I'm linking.

Take this entry, for example, just from the first day of operation. It is a tranlation guide from Leftish to English.

As an occasional feature, this blog will bring extracts from the Leftish Phrasebook. Leftish is a confusing and complex language with many variants. It is widely used amongst the political and media classes in Britain and other countries. In recent years Modern Leftish has emerged as the dominant dialect and is the main language of administration, however Old Leftish still lingers on -- especially among the cultural elites. Of course, many terms are common to both forms of the language.

Leftish -- English

Foetus -- Baby

Let Terri Schiavo die -- Starve Terri Schiavo to death

The right to die -- The right of someone else to kill you

A woman's right to choose -- I'm not listening anymore

This shouldn't be an election issue -- This might lose us votes

Investment -- Spending

Tory cuts -- A marginally slower rate of growth in government expenditure

Society -- The state

The community -- The state

Our so-called democracy -- Democracy

You can't impose democracy -- We wish you wouldn't remove dictators by force

International law -- Whatever's fine by Russia, China and France

Secular -- Atheist

Multifaith -- Everything/nothing is true

Rational -- The stuff we believe.

Conservative brothers and sisters in the UK, we welcome you! If this is a sample of what we can expect (along with the much more serious pieces that I just loved), you are a welcome addition to the blogosphere.

|| Greg, 06:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Next -- The Return Of Pogroms?

Anti-Semitism has a long, unsavory history in Russia. Sadly, it looks like it may be back.
About 5,000 people, including former world chess champion Boris Spassky, have signed a letter asking prosecutors to ban Jewish organizations because they believe one of the basic Judaic books professes religious hatred, said a center that monitors religious freedom.

The group sent the letter to the Prosecutor General's Office last Monday, the Sova center said last week.

The signatories claim that "Kizur Shulkhan Arukh," an abbreviated version of a 16th-century book that lays out daily rules for Jews, teaches hatred toward non-Jews, Sova said.

Moscow sculptor and head of the obscure nationalist All-Russian Cathedral Movement Vyacheslav Klykov, a signatory of the petition, confirmed the report, Interfax said.

A Prosecutor General's Office spokeswoman could not immediately confirm Friday that the petition had been received.

You can find what you want in various books about faith and spirituality in any religion. I somehow doubt that these folks are interested in considering things from their own Russian Orthodox religious heritage.

Would they dare to be consistent and support banning the Russian Orthodox Church? I didn't think so.

|| Greg, 06:02 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sex-Offenders In The Classroom

And no, I'm not talking about the teachers. I'm talking about the students.
Police across the state often fail to inform schools officials about young sex offenders in their classrooms because of confusion about Illinois law - confusion that could put students at risk, according to a published report.

An Illinois registry with the names of about 1,100 juvenile sex offenders is largely kept secret, unlike lists of adult offenders that are readily accessible via the Internet, the Chicago Tribune reported in its Sunday editions.

A law adopted in the 1990s requires sheriff's police to inform schools when a juvenile sex offender enrolls. However, with some police interpreting the law differently, that doesn't always happen.

Even when school principals ask some police departments for the names of juvenile offenders who might be attending their schools, the information is not given.

Fortunately we don't face that problem down here in Texas. Juvenile sex-offenders end up on the statewide list that you can access from the Internet. Sadly, I've found former students there. And when a student is charged with such an offense (as with violent felonies), the kid is immediately removed from the classroom pending adjudication and placed in a highly-structured alternative setting where they are under constant supervision.

Sounds like the Illinois situation is absolutely out of control. Take this case.

One East Peoria woman, who was not identified by the Tribune, saw first hand how the notification law on juveniles does not seem to be working as intended. She learned that a boy who was found guilty of molesting her 7-year-old son ended up in a class with her older teenage son.

The 16-year-old was registered as a sex offender. Because of the disarray surrounding the notification rules, however, that information never got to the school.

East Peoria Community High School officials said later that they were thankful the student's mother brought the matter to their attention. They say they are now more vigilant.

Scary, isn't it, that we now have to watch the kids, not just the adults, for convicted sex-offenders.

|| Greg, 05:46 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dangerous Voters

Well, conservative Christians of various stripes are organizing in Ohio. The movement is non-denominational, grass-roots, and based on social issues. GOP leaders are keeping close tabs, and activists in other states are waiting to see if the model is successful. So reports The New York Times.

But my favorite quote comes from one of the most conspicuous voices for "religious liberty" in the country.

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the Restoration Project might have greater impact because it was more homegrown and had ties to a wider array of denominations than previous groups like the Moral Majority.

"This represents a new wave in organizing on the part of conservative evangelicals," Mr. Lynn said. "From my standpoint, as someone who doesn't agree with their conclusions, this is a more dangerous model."

So, citizens getting organized, active and voting is dangerous if you don't agree with where they stand on the issues? Would your preferred model be that of Cuba or the people's Republic of China, where such people know their place is in the catacombs?

|| Greg, 05:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Widow And Children Soldier On

In time of war, we often see the name of a soldier, dead too soon, in the local paper. Perhaps we get funeral coverage if it is a local hero. But rarely to we hear more, about the struggles of those left behind. Today's Houston Chronicle shares one such story.

Karren Warren / Chronicle
Patty Mora Guereca, whose husband, Jose Guereca Jr.,
was killed in Iraq in November, is left with four children,
from left, 5-year-old twins Angel and Nathan, Jose, 2
months, and Rolando, 7.

MISSOURI CITY - Her daily dreams are vivid and always include her husband, Sgt. Jose Guereca. The dreams always end with Guereca not coming home.

The 24-year-old Army sergeant died Nov. 30 in Iraq during his second tour of duty to the war-torn nation. He was the 25th Houston-area service member to die in the war.

"I miss him so much. The kids miss him, too," said Patty Mora Guereca, 23, who was left a widow with four boys younger than 7. When her husband died, Patty Guereca was seven months pregnant with the couple's fourth child.

The past few months for Guereca have been trying, to say the least. The young mother had to bury her husband, move herself and her then three children from Fort Hood to her mother's Missouri City home. She gave birth to her fourth child — Jose Alejandro Guereca III — on Jan. 11.

A month after the baby was born, Guereca headed to Fort Hood to tend to moving issues while her mother-in-law kept the newborn. Guereca ended up rushing back to Houston when the baby's congestion turned into a respiratory infection and pneumonia, and landed him at Texas Children's Hospital for four days.

For now, Guereca and the four children are living with her mother and a younger sister,although she intends to purchase a home in nearby Stafford soon. Life-insurance benefits, aid from the Veterans Administration and generous donations from the public have allowed her to stay home with her children and not have to work.

Even with the generosity of strangers, it won't be easy for Mrs. Guereca. Widowed at 23 with four young children. But she has an outlook that can only be admired -- an outlook she learned from her husband.

Normalcy for Guereca means getting up at 6 a.m. to get 7-year-old Rolando ready for first grade and at his bus stop by 7:10 a.m. She has a little down time in the afternoon after she drops off her 5-year-old twins, Nathan and Angel, for afternoon kindergarten.

"It's been hard," Guereca told the Chronicle. "But I just keep thinking of my husband. He was so positive. He'd say, 'For every problem, there's a solution.'

We have lost over 1500 soldiers in Iraq. I've not been able to locate a figure for those who have died in Afghanistan. I won't even pretend to be able to tabulate the number of those seriously wounded and left disabled in those theaters of war. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude. And we owe it to them to do what we can to help their families.

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

No "Reporter's Privilege" For Bloggers -- Or Reporters

David Shaw takes up one of the more vexing questions facing the blogosphere today – “Are bloggers entitled to the same constitutional protection as traditional print and broadcast journalists?”

His response? As one might expect from a card carrying member of old media, the answer is an emphatic NO!

BLOGGERS require no journalistic experience. All they need is computer access and the desire to blog. There are other, even important differences between bloggers and mainstream journalists, perhaps the most significant being that bloggers pride themselves on being part of an unmediated medium, giving their readers unfiltered information. And therein lies the problem.

Shaw then goes on to explain how the various and sundry levels of filtration his writing is required to pass through before percolating into print entitles him to protections that others, members of an unmediated medium, don’t deserve. Yes, he argues, folks like him in the mainstream media make mistakes, but there are consequences to those errors. We are members of a “solipsistic, self-aggrandizing journalist-wannabe genre” that doesn’t deserve the same sort of protections and deference that Shaw and his fellows believe is theirs by virtue of their special status as journalists.

And therein lies the problem with Shaw’s analysis. He believes that he and his fellow “journalists” are some sort of anointed high-priesthood, granted special exemption from the rules that apply to we mere mortals due to a single clause in the First Amendment. The problem is that he is fundamentally wrong. The Constitution confers upon journalists NO SPECIAL RIGHTS OR PRIVILEGES.

Consider the words of the First Amendment

“Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...."

Do you see some special status for journalists there? I don’t. I see no greater deference given to a reporter or an author that is not there for every person who engages in speech. It isn’t there, unless one wishes to engage in penumbra hunting among the emanations of shadows of the text of the Amendment. But a special status for the press is simply not there in the plain meaning of the text. Thus, any special status exists by statute, not by right. And if this special status exists by statute, it strikes me that it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, in that it creates an inequality in the protection of the laws. Thus, any special status conferred by law is constitutionally suspect.

So I will take my stand right here and right now – no, bloggers are not entitled to any special status reserved for journalists, or any exemptions carved out for them under the law.

But then again, neither are the journalists themselves.

Either the First Amendment provides a right to speak and publish freely to all of us, or it does not. Any other view is at odds with the spirit of the Constitution itself.

|| Greg, 04:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Abortion Outrage

I've hesitated to comment on the this story, but I think it may be time to say something. I've seen it several different places, so I guess I'll add my voice to it.

GRANITE CITY - A southern Illinois woman was arrested last week (March 17) after trying to intervene on behalf of her 14-year old daughter's effort to have an abortion. The girl was allegedly taken to an abortion clinic by the mother of the man allegedly to have impregnated the 14-year old.

According to the girl's mother, her 14-year old daughter was called off from school in Madison County by a woman posing as the girl's “grandmother.” The woman took the girl from her home only minutes before the girl’s mother returned home from work.

It was later determined that the woman who had posed as the "grandmother" to the school authorities was the mother of the male who had fathered the unborn child the 14-year old girl was carrying. The age of the male has not been released.

When the parents were notified their pregnant daughter was not at school, they suspected she had been taken to the Hope Abortion Clinic in Granite City. The parents and grandfather were the only persons authorized to request school absence for the fourteen year old female.

So what we have here is an outrage. Mom and dad were denied the right to even speak to their daughter, despite the fact that the daughter heard her mother AND ASKED TO SPEAK TO HER while waiting for the "procedure".

This is in keeping with stories I have heard from folks who have dealt with Hopeless "Clinic" in the past. The individuals involved in these stories have become active in the prolife movement, and have told them at public events, so I am not violating any confidences in telling them. You see, Hopeless "Clinic" was the facility that "served" the diocese I studied for and the school I taught at when I lived in the area.

One of my friends, whose pro-life activism came after her underage daughter was "treated" at the facility, told me the story of her family. It seems the daughter went to prom, and she agreed to allow her daughter to spend the night at her boyfriend's house because (she assumed) that the kids would sleep in separate rooms. Wrong -- mom and did let the kids share a bedroom, with the not terribly surprising result. The daughter missed two periods, and didn't tell mom because she was afraid and ashamed (sin does that to a person -- read Genesis). Also, boyfriend and his mother were "encouraging" and abortion -- and on what was supposed to be an outing to St. Louis took her instead to the clinic while browbeating her to abort. She was 30 miles from home, sitting in the cab of a pickup between mom and boyfriend, and was driven to the "clinic" for the "procedure." She was coerced into signing and going through with the abortion, and then dumped home when it was all over.

Mom and Dad found out that after noon what happened. They (mom, dad, and daughter) requested the medical records, and Hopeless "Clinic" refused to produce them, then claimed they could not be found. It took a court order to get the records -- and it turned out that the daughter was never pregnant in the first place! That was why Hopeless had fought to hard to "protect a woman's right to privacy" from her own attempts to gain information about her own medical treatment!

And then there was one of my own students. She was pregnant, and wanted to talk to her boyfriend, another one of my students. She wanted to keep the baby, but the boyfriend didn't want the responsibility, and was afraid of losing the chance to go play baseball at a major midwestern university (I hear he is still in the minor leagues). He persuaded her that an abortion was the best thing, though she still wanted the baby. He got her as far as the Hopeless "Clinic" parking lot before she said no. He parked against the fence around the lot, told her she wasn't getting out of the car or going home until she was no longer pregnant. Hopeless "Clinic" staff came out and supported the boyfriend, telling her it was normal to be nervous and doubtful. She went in and was aborted -- even though before the procedure started she told the abortionist that she didn't want the procedure. She tells me the abortionist simply sedated her said "Just you hush, now, you'll feel much better about this when it is all over."

Several months later, during the Senior Class retreat, I mentioned something in passing about the pain of losing a wanted child (my wife and I had our first miscarriage two weeks before). She came to me a while later to talk -- and we talked for a very long time as she poured out her heart. I helped her get counseling, and put her in touch with someone who helped her get legal aid. But it seems that Hopeless "Clinic" and other facilities are immune from liability for performing a surgical procedure once you sign the consent form, because they do not record oral revocations of consent to protect themselves.

So as you might imagine, I am not surprised to read about the case in the story. Hopeless "Clinic" is in it for the money, not to help girls and women. They don't care is consent is real or coerced, so long as they get paid.

|| Greg, 04:49 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 26, 2005

The Easter Proclamation

EXSULTET (RealAudio)

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav'ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev'rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

|| Greg, 04:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Stuff The Starbucks Cup

I don't drink Starbuck's coffee. Heck, if I drink a half-dozen cups of coffee in a year, my consumption is way up. Not that I'm not a caffeine-freak -- my blood is carbonated and if I'm ever hospitalized they'll need to hang a two-liter bottle of Coke Classic from the IV stand.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't necessarily have a dog in this fight.

But it seems that some folks are bothered by Starbuck's "The Way I See It" campaign. They've taken quotes from several dozen scholars, athletes, activists, and other "celebrities" and placed them on their coffee cups. Personally, I think it is a really neat idea. Anyway, the issue that has been raised is that the selectees and quotes, where they have an ideological bent, skew Left.

The quotes aren't all that inflammatory, though several mirror Starbucks' hallmark tall-grande-venti pretentiousness. Take this one from film critic Roger Ebert: "A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it."

The problem, critics say, is the company's list of overwhelmingly liberal contributors, including Al Franken, Melissa Etheridge, Quincy Jones, Chuck D. Of the 31 contributors listed on Starbucks' Web site, only one, National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, offers a conservative viewpoint.

Considering Starbucks sells millions of cups of coffee each day - some specialty drinks at $4 and up - it's no surprise some customers have complained to Starbucks' Web site, labeling the campaign "offensive" and the company a proponent of "the destruction of family values and virtues."

"I want to enjoy your product without having Earth Day Network propaganda thrust at me," wrote Malachi Salcido of East Wenatchee, Wash.

Yvette Nunez, a 27-year-old Republican from Tampa, said she hadn't noticed the quotes on her weekly caramel machiattos. On "tall" cups, the text is obscured by a cardboard sleeve.

"There are a lot of great conservative quotes, but oh well," she said. "I'm not surprised. I'm used to being under-represented."

Now Starbucks claims it is not out to be ideological.

Company spokeswoman Valerie Hwang said the goal is not to stir up controversy. She said the company has lined up 60 contributors with "varying points of view, experiences and priorities" in an effort to promote "open, respectful conversation among a wide variety of individuals."

Each cup also bears a caveat letting customers know that the quote is "the author's opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks."

"The program is such that we're not requiring our customers to read," Hwang said, "but rather the quotes are there for our customers to discover and enjoy."

Now the company claims it is open to suggestions from the public for future quotes. Let's take them at their word. My challenge to you is to find your favorite quote from a living individual, preferably conservative, and submit it to Starbucks. Don't be radical or outrageous -- give them something thoughtful. After all, these are liberals who have never encountered a thoughtful conservative other than Jonah Goldberg. I've got at least two individuals in mind (one conservative, one libertarian) who I think merit inclusion. And yes, liberals, you can play along as well. After all, a good quote that makes one think is always a good thing, no matter what the source. I mean, one of my favorites in the program comes from Al Franken.

"Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from."

-- Al Franken

It will probably end up being used in my classroom. And why not? We conservatives don't have the monopoly on good ideas.

|| Greg, 01:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Tainted Honor

Being AWOL is a serious charge for a Marine. So why did Harpers place a group of Marine recruits reporting for basic training on the cover of their magazine for a story about military deserters?

The cover photo, taken at Parris Island, S.C., shows seven Marines lined up in their T-shirts, shorts and socks. They are not identified in photo credits or in the article. In fact, Harper's says the Marines are not meant to depict people in the article.

"We are decorating pages," said Giulia Melucci, the magazine's vice president for public relations. "We are not saying the soldiers are AWOL. Our covers are not necessarily representative."

A media observer said using real people as "decorations" for a story about deserters might go too far.

"Going AWOL is not a favorable or positive thing," said Kenny Irby, visual journalism group leader at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns the St. Petersburg Times.

Another issue is that the photograph was altered. One recruit's image appears lighter than the others, as if he were disappearing.

Gee, would you "decorate pages" with random photos for a story about sexual predators? Come on, people, think about what you are doing. You are implicitly charging them with a crime on the cover of your magazine. You are accusing them of cowardice in time of war and the betrayal of their oath "to uphold protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic."

And consider how one Marine in particular feels about being depicted as "fading away" from his comrades in arms.

Lance Cpl. Britian Kinder, an active Marine who asked that his base not be identified, is upset.

"It does make me pretty angry that they would do something like this. I'm pretty much upset that they would do this without my consent."

Kinder's father believes the magazine should correct the impression it has made of his son.

"People recognize this picture," said Mickey Kinder of Pinch, W.Va. "Put another picture of him in the magazine and do a retraction. He's not AWOL."

It is bad enough that the magazine decided to publish an article painting cowards and malcontents as sympathetic, even heroic, figures. What is worse is that they decided to tar smear the honorable in the process -- for not one Marine on the cover of that magazine is a deserter.

UPDATE (3/29/05): It appears that Harper's has been stung by the criticism their way. They plan on running a "clarification"
about the cover.

"We're going to print a clarification in our next issue," said Giulia Melucci, a vice president at New York-based Harper's. "We feel it needs to be clarified that these are respectable soldiers defending our country honorably. We regret any confusion it may have caused."

Note, of course, that this isn't quite an apology for defaming those pictured. Nor does it deal with the blatantly anti-military (some would say anti-American) article that the cover promoted. Maybe Harper's would consider doing an article about what is right witht he American military, along with an actual apology for their maligning the good names of "a few good men."

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

Conflict Of Interest

Ward Churchill is now to be investigated for academic dishonesty. But will it be a fair investigation? That is open to question, since three of the twelve panel members have already publicly defended Churchill, and refuse to recuse themselves in the investigation.
Records and news stories show at least three of the 12 members of the committee have come out publicly supporting Churchill's rights or questioning the university's ability to discipline him after he made statements likening 9/11 victims to a top Nazi and calling for other attacks on the United States.

Steven Guberman, associate professor in education, was one of nearly 200 Boulder faculty members who signed a petition last month defending Churchill's right to speak and protesting the preliminary investigation that ended Thursday. The faculty then took out an ad in a local newspaper with the faculty names.

Guberman said he will not recuse himself because he believes he can be independent in judging Churchill's work.

"They are two separate issues," said Guberman, who was appointed two weeks ago to the misconduct committee. "One is about freedom of speech. The other is about research misconduct."

Two other committee members, law professor Richard Collins and physics professor Uriel Nauenberg, were quoted in articles about Churchill.

How biased are the committee members? Collins has already made it clear that only the most outrageous incompetence will do.

Collins recently told the CU faculty newspaper that the university would have to prove that Churchill was unfit for his job. For comparison, Collins said it would take evidence comparable to the hypothetical case of a math professor who repeatedly declared two plus two equals five.

"It's tough to sack him," Collins said.

Not, of course, that it is likely that action will be taken. No one at the university can recall a case in the last 20 years in which the standing committee has disciplined a professor. Given the statements of the members, it is unlikely that there will be any action taken now, despite the overwhelming evidence of academic misconduct that has emerged.

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

March 25, 2005

First The Verdict, Then The Testimony

Remember the whole Wilson/Plame affair? Remember how we were ASURED that there was a crime there somewhere in the administration -- talk of Karl Rove being frog-marched out of the White House and Robert Novak rotting in prison?

Looks like the media has changed its mind on the matter. Funny what holding a couple of reporters in contempt for withholding evidence from a grand jury will do.

A federal court should first determine whether a crime has been committed in the disclosure of an undercover CIA operative's name before prosecutors are allowed to continue seeking testimony from journalists about their confidential sources, the nation's largest news organizations and journalism groups asserted in a court filing yesterday.

The 40-page brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that there is "ample evidence . . . to doubt that a crime has been committed" in the case, which centers on the question of whether Bush administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003. Plame's name was published first by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak and later by other publications.

The friend-of-the-court brief was filed by 36 news organizations, including The Washington Post and major broadcast and cable television news networks, in support of reporters at the New York Times and Time magazine who face possible jail time for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigating the allegations. Those two organizations filed a petition Tuesday asking the full appeals court to review the case.

Let's get this straight -- now they are not sure whether or not there is a crime even though they told us there was? And they want the court to determine whether or not there was a crime BEFORE they will give the evidence necessary to indict someone? Seems to me they have the whole process ass-backwards. The testimony in question is necessary to possibly secure an indictment so that a trial can be held to determine if anyone is guilty of anything in the release of Ms. Plame's name.

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

Quid Pro Quo Leads To School Board Member's Arrest

Leigh Heavin's husband needed a lawyer to represent him in his criminal trial. She called Steven C. Copenhaver, a Round Rock ISD school board member, and told him she didn't have much money but needed someone to represent her husband.

Most lawyers will reduce fees, do pro bono work, or otherwise help a client out. Copenhaver offered Heavin a deal.

Copenhaver told Heavin that they could work something out and asked her if she had any good-looking friends, according to the warrant. He told her that he had fantasized about two women having sex together, according to the warrant.

The next day, Copenhaver came to Heavin's apartment shortly after her sister-in-law, Malinda Tilley, had dropped in, the warrant said. Unknown to Copenhaver, it said, Heavin's mental health caseworker, her mother and her husband were in a back bedroom.

Copenhaver asked Tilley and Heavin to perform sexual favors for him, according to the warrant. When the women asked "what they would get out of this," Copenhaver said he would represent Heavin's husband, the warrant said.

Uhhhhh -- yeeee-ah. Words just fail me. As I'm sure words failed Copenhaver when Heavin's husband, mental heath caseworker and other relatives came out of the back bedroom and called the police.

And you've gotta love the wahoo who is the head of the school board. I imagine he was stunned, but surely he could have come up with something more than a statement that he didn't know how the arrest would impact Copenhaver's service on the school board. Isn't there a zero tolerance policy out there somewhere that might cover this situation?

And then there is this from the state bar association.

Dawn Miller, chief disciplinary counsel for the State Bar of Texas, said exchanging legal services for sexual favors could constitute a violation of rules barring "illegal or unconscionable" fees. Punishment could range from a reprimand to disbarment, Miller said.

Could constitute a violation of the rules barring "illegal or unconscionable" fees? COULD? Ya think?

Copenhaver has been charged with prostitution, and released on $750 bail.

|| Greg, 03:37 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Anybody Else Troubled By This?

I loved chocolate-bunnies when I was a kid. And when i was in seminary, I raised a few eyebrows by giving some of my buddies a humorous product called "Just the Ears" -- a set of molded bunny-ears -- since they are usually eaten first while much of the rest goes to waste (the ears go to waste). I was accused of being disturbed by several of my humor-impaired classmates.

This product, on the other hand, is a bit more disturbing to me.

A symbol of Christianity that sits atop church steeples, dangles from necks and hangs on walls is now ending up in the mouths of the faithful, over the objections of some religious officials.

A mass-produced chocolate cross is being sold this Easter by Russell Stover Candies Inc. in about 5,000 stores nationwide, which experts say is apparently a first for a major American company.

"Obviously they've seen that there's a market for chocolate crosses at Easter," said Lisbeth Echeandia, a consultant for Candy Information Service, which monitors candy industry trends. "I don't see it growing tremendously but I think there would be growth in the Christian market."

However, not all Christians are happy about it. Chomping on a chocolate cross can be offensive to some, said Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Bridgeport, Conn.

"The cross should be venerated, not eaten, nor tossed casually in an Easter basket beside the jelly beans and marshmallow Peeps," he said. "It's insulting."

They claim to be targetting the Hispanic market. The crosses are decorated with a floral bouquet and are filled with caramel made from goat's milk, a popular Latin America treat.

My initial reaction was "what's next -- a chocolate Jesus?" Not to worry, though.

Ward said Russell Stover considered making other traditional images out of chocolate but eventually opted not to.

"A molded Jesus, for example, would not be a good call and a cross with Jesus on it wouldn't be a good idea either," Ward said.

Am I being overly sensitive on this? Or is there really something "not quite right" about this product?

|| Greg, 12:18 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Felons Purged -- After Their Votes Elect Democrat

More proof of vote fraud and election irregularities in the Washington gubernatorial election. It further raises the question of the legitimacy of the Gregoire administration, after Christine Gregoire won in November (on the third count of the ballots) by 129 votes statewide.
King County election officials purged 99 felons from the voter rolls yesterday as prosecutors announced they would challenge an additional 93 felons they claim are illegally registered to vote.

Officials said they will continue to scour the voter rolls for felons. They're acting in light of a Republican lawsuit challenging the validity of the razor-thin election of Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and in response to a Seattle Times investigation that found at least 129 felons in King and Pierce counties had voted in the 2004 general election.

Earlier this month, Republicans released a list of 1,135 registered voters statewide who they said were felons who had not had their right to vote restored by a judge. Hundreds of those felons, however, appear to have been juveniles who did not lose their right to vote once they turned 18. Republicans said they are modifying their list.

Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the county prosecutor's office, said his office is investigating nearly 800 alleged felon voters named by the Republicans.

The 93 challenges announced yesterday came from that list, and additional challenges are likely, Donohoe said.

Prosecutors mailed certified letters to the last known address of each of the 93 yesterday, alerting them to an administrative hearing March 31.

"This represents phase two of our ongoing efforts to remove the names of ineligible voters from the list that was referred to my office," King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng said in a news release. "We will continue this effort until all unqualified voters are removed from the list."

Democrats, of course, don't have anything to say about this clearly fraudulent election, while raising false claims and baseless allegation about the reelection of President George W. Bush. I've not seen Jesse Jackass Jackson out there talking about the disenfranchisement of legitimate voters and stolen elections. But then again, his girl (who worked to keep blacks out of her sorority as a college student during the 1960s civil rights movement) won -- and that's all that counts.

Count every vote -- but only count the legal ones.

|| Greg, 12:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Kay Bailey Hutchison -- Break The Term-Limit Pledge

Let me say it -- I think term limits are a bad idea. While some argue that the current system deprives us of new blood and new ideas in government, I see term limit as depriving us of experienced leaders. I find voluntary term limits to be an even worse idea -- they force a politician to either break his or her word and appear hypocritical, or to abide by it even if that is detrimental to the best interests of their constituents. And that is the situation faced by the senior Senator from Texas, the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Hutchison, back in 1994, promised not to run for a third full term in the Senate.

Hutchison made her promise in television ads and personal statements in 1994, and on election night she said:

"I've always said that I would serve no more than two full terms. This may be my last term, or I could run for one more. But no more after that. I firmly believe in term limitations and I plan to adhere to that."

Seems pretty unambiguous to me. I suspect that she may now recognize the problem of that simplistic scheme. She is now in the best position to benefit her Texas constituents and the nation as a whole with her relatively senior position in the Senate, but her own commitment will deprive the state of her services in the Senate, an institution in which seniority is critical. It's not that she is indispensable (no politician is), but rather than unless the term-limits apply across the board they are an act of unilateral disarmament.

The result is that she may run for governor. That means an ugly primary fight against the incumbent, Rick Perry, and comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a GOP maverick (and mother of White House spokesman Scott McClellan). The winner will face an undetermined Democrat (possibly former Houston Congressman Chris Bell) and an independent, singer and author Kinky Friedman. A difficult GOP primary could mean trouble for the winner. And that would also leave open the possibility of a Democrat winning a Senate seat that would be secure if Hutchison seeks reelection. Currently only San Antonio Republican Congressman Henry Bonilla has publicly indicated interest in running in the event that the incumbent steps down, while no Democrat has stepped forward. That will change by the January 2006 filing deadline.

How ugly might the primary be?

Perry's campaign has been skirmishing with Hutchison and Strayhorn in recent weeks, releasing lists of endorsements and supporters around Texas.

Perry's campaign this week also admitted to having video taped Hutchison with U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Washington speaking engagement in which the Democrat called Hutchison "my partner on so many important fronts."

"Any potential opponent, we're going to research, we're going to follow. Any good campaign would do the same," said Perry campaign manager Luis Saenz. "Any potential opponent should not expect a free ride."

Saenz declined to comment on Hutchison's term limit pledge, saying that was for "her to decide."

Perry is a scrapper, and I don't doubt that he would pull out all the stops to win. He doesn't seem interested in a "seat-swap' with Hutchison, either, running for her current job while she seeks his, in part because Bonilla would be a difficult candidate for him to beat in the primary. Besides, he knows that if he does not seek reelection, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst will file for the gubernatorial nomination, leaving that very powerful position (the Lieutenant Governor makes all appointments to committees in the state senate, including designating the committee chairperson) open for a Democrat challenger.

My preference is to see the Senator stay right where she is. I'd like to see the Governor and Lt. Governor stay right where they are. Jerry Patterson has already said he is staying put as Land Commissioner (a pretty powerful job in Texas, and one elected statewide), and I think the incumbent Railroad Commissioners (again, statewide elected positions with a fair amount of clout) are all staying put. The only person looking to move is Strayhorn, who would likely face a primary challenge after angering most everyone in the GOP the last couple years with her public criticism of budgets and fellow Republicans.

And so I'll say it right now -- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison should break the two-term pledge. I believe that Texans will ratify that decision if she does by overwhelmingly reelecting her to the US Senate. I know this Harris County Precinct Chairman would do so even without the political disarray a decision to step down would engender. Kay Bailey Hutchison is good for Texas and good for America. She deserves another term.

|| Greg, 11:14 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Left's Tainted Money

We hear all the time about the big businesss money that allegedly bankrolls the Right in this country. Now it is true that many entrepreneurs support the side that favors capitalism over the side that favors socialism. It's in their best interest. And it is folks on the Left (who favor socialism) who constantly decry the sins of those evil capitalists.

Unless the money is coming, for whatever reason, into the coffers of the Left.

Which brings me to the major funding source for last year's attacks on George W. Bush -- George Soros. Soros bankrolls Media matters,, and a host of other leftwing groups. That's his right. But what happened to the principles of the left? Why are they not condemning Soros for his illegal and/or immoral financial dealings? Why are they still taking his money, when they insist that the Right forego any such "tainted" money?

The conviction of George Soros, the billionaire investor and former fund manager, on insider trading charges was upheld on Thursday by a French appeals court, which rejected his argument that his investment in a French bank in 1988 was not based on confidential information.

Soros, 74, now retired from money management but active as a management but active as a philanthropist and author, was ordered to pay a fine of €2.2 million, or $2.9 million, representing the money made by funds he managed from an investment in Société Générale. He said the purchase had been part of a strategy to invest in a group of companies that had been privatized by the French government.

Soros, of course, expresses no remorse over his crimes, and plans on keeping it different levels of the French and European court systems until well after his death. But the Leftis financier immediately went into political spin mode.

The ruling upheld a conviction in 2002 and followed an appeals court hearing last month at which the financier testified, saying he wanted the sentence overturned because "my reputation is at stake." While the fine is small relative to his assets, Soros testified then, the conviction is "a gift to my enemies."

See, its all about the politics. He'd gladly pay the money (equal to several times more than most of us will make in our lifetimes) if it were not for the impact on his reputation giving ammunition to his critics.

But this isn't the only time he's been involved in shady dealings.

In 1992, he became known as the man who broke the Bank of England, when his funds were said to have made a billion dollars betting that the British government would be forced to devalue its currency. By contrast, the investment in Société Générale was a very small one for him, a fact his lawyers argued indicated he did not think he had inside information.

This is the first criminal charge he has faced, but not his first run-in with regulators. In 1979, Soros signed a consent decree with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which had claimed he manipulated a company's stock by selling shares in advance of a planned public offering.

But as long as the money keeps flowing to the right Left activist groups, all is forgiven and covered up by the left-wing watchdogs of political donations.

UPDATE: This appeared in The Hill the other day.

House Republicans are taking the offensive in the burgeoning ethics war on Capitol Hill by circulating research that details links among Democrats, George Soros and government watchdog groups that have criticized Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and the House ethics process.

The research shows that members of these groups’ boards have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and political organizations and several of their staff members have previously worked for Democrats. The groups have also accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Open Society Institute, an organization founded by Soros, who spent millions trying to defeat President Bush in last year’s election.

How independent are all these watcher taking tainted cash from a partisan criminal like Soros?

|| Greg, 10:50 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 24, 2005

Why A National AIDS Memorial?

I probably sound insensitive by asking the above question. It isn't meant to discount the tragedy and horror brought about by the disease, nor is it a slam at those who have been its victims or who have triumphed over it. But I have to ask why we have a memorial to a disease?
A design by two New York architects was declared the winner Wednesday in a competition to create a centerpiece for a 7-acre garden in Golden Gate Park, the only federally recognized AIDS memorial in the country.

"Living Memorial," by Janette Kim and Chloe Town, features a stand of black carbon fiber trees, a charred wood deck and a burned, bark-like walkway that in time will sprout greenery - elements borrowed from a fire-scarred forest to evoke a sense of loss and renewal.

"While the design is at first frightening, it is also rich with the eventual triumph of life," said Ken Ruebush, who co-chaired the international contest that drew 201 submissions from 24 countries.

Conceived in 1989 by a group of residents, the National AIDS Memorial Grove originally was designed as a living memorial that relied more on its natural setting than man-made features to send a message.

Its board of directors started talking about installing a more imposing structure once Congress gave the grove national memorial status in 1996, a designation shared by American icons ranging from the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor to Mt. Rushmore, according to Ruebush.

Why not a National Polio Park next? Or a Malaria Monument? Why AIDS? Why ANY disease?

|| Greg, 07:58 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Honor For The Pope

This is just a neat story -- one about an appropriate honor for one of the most beloved men of my lifetime.

The Italian region of Abruzzo said on Wednesday it will name a mountain peak after Pope John Paul II on the pontiff's 85th birthday in May.

The 2 424m peak in the Gran Sasso, a region of jagged mountains in central Italy often visited by the pope, will be named "John Paul's Peak" on May 18th, the committee organising the ceremony said.

"We decided on the Gran Sasso because the pope visited it many times, in order to get some rest as well as to pray," said Monsignor Luigi Casolini, a member of the committee.

"John Paul II chose these mountains not only because they reminded him of Poland," but also because a nearby church often visited by the pope in his stronger days - Saint Peter of the Ienca - "is a place where spirituality is in the air", said Casolini.

"This place always had a special place in the pope's heart. He likes to walk on the paths surrounding the mountains, and therefore a path will also be named in his honour," he added.

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

This Is Scary!

I pity the children who have been in this man’s classroom.
A Bronx teacher who repeatedly flunked his state certification exam paid a formerly homeless man with a developmental disorder $2 to take the test for him, authorities said yesterday.

The illegal stand-in - who looks nothing like teacher Wayne Brightly - not only passed the high-stakes test, he scored so much better than the teacher had previously that the state knew something was wrong, officials said.

"I was pressured into it. He threatened me," the bogus test-taker Rubin Leitner told the Daily News yesterday after Special Schools Investigator Richard Condon revealed the scam.

"I gave him my all," said Leitner, 58, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a disorder similar to autism. "He gave me what he thought I was worth."

Brightly, 38, a teacher at one of the city's worst schools, Middle School 142, allegedly concocted the plot to swap identities with Leitner last summer. If he failed the state exam again, Brightly risked losing his $59,000-a-year job.

Let’s see if you can tell the difference between the two men.

Here’s Bright. He’s the teacher.

Here’s Leitner. He’s the ex-homeless guy with a developmental disability.

Uh – yeah, they could be twins. Just add two decades, 100 pounds and a truck-load of skin-bleaching cream. I guess Bright really is stupid.

And if that didn’t get you to draw the conclusion, try this part of the article out for size.

When The News went to Brightly's Mount Vernon home yesterday, a man who strongly resembled him insisted Leitner took the test on his own. The man, who appeared to be in his late 30s, denied being Brightly - saying he was the teacher's son.

Yep, he sounds like a real winner to me.

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

Angry At The Presidents -- Bush and Fox

Quit sucking up to Pendejo Presidente Vincete Fox, Mr. Bush. You are close to losing the respect of this Texas Republican.
President Bush yesterday said he opposes a civilian project to monitor illegal aliens crossing the border, characterizing them as "vigilantes."

He said he would pressure Congress to further loosen immigration law.
More than 1,000 people — including 30 pilots and their private planes — have volunteered for the Minuteman Project, beginning next month along the Arizona-Mexico border. Civilians will monitor the movement of illegal aliens for the month of April and report them to the Border Patrol.

Mr. Bush said after yesterday's continental summit, with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at Baylor University, that he finds such actions unacceptable.

"I'm against vigilantes in the United States of America," Mr. Bush said at a joint press conference. "I'm for enforcing the law in a rational way."

The Minutemen are not vigilantes, they are much more closely akin to the neighborhood watch groups around the country. How dare you suggest otherwise! They are doing nothing more than looking for lawbreakers and reporting them to the Border Patrol. If that does make them vigilantes, we need more just like them.

And just who does the Mexican Pendejo Presidente think he is trying to kid with his threats against Americans? Does his country protect “migrants” who cross its borders in violation of Mexican law?

The State Department says that the Mexican government, angry that a thousand American volunteers will begin an Arizona border vigil next month, consistently violates the rights of illegal immigrants crossing its southern border into Mexico.

Many of the illegals in Mexico, who emigrate from Central and South America, complain of "double dangers" of extortion by Mexican authorities and robbery and killings by organized gangs.

The State Department's Human Rights Practices report, released only last month, cites abuses at all levels of the Mexican government, and charges that Mexican police and immigration officials not only violate the rights of illegal immigrants, but traffic in illegal aliens.

Although Mexico demands that its citizens' rights be protected when they illegally enter the United States, immigrants who cross illegally into Mexico "are often ripped off six ways until sundown," says George Grayson, a professor at the College of William & Mary and a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

Mr. Grayson, who wrote a report for the center on Mexico's abuses of aliens, says "very little" is being done by Mexico to protect the welfare of the Central Americans and the others who cross into Mexico.

So, cabron Presidente Fox, what’s the deal here? Americans insist that their border be protected and seek to assist the proper authorities, and you make threats. Folks cross the Mexican border illegally and you stand by passively as they face extortion and violence at the hands of both Mexican criminals and Mexican law enforcement personnel. Yet you demand that your citizens have the red carpet rolled out for them, with more rights and better treatment than American citizens. Why don’t you deal with the problems in your own backyard before dealing with the solutions to the problems in ours, hijo de puta Your Excellency? Until you do, this American would prefer that you and the rest of your chihuahuas chingadas government officials quit interfering in our internal affairs.

And President Bush – drop the immigration plan designed to appeal more to the Mexicans than it is to the Americans until after Vincete Fox has fixed Mexico’s problems with illegal immigrants.

UPDATE: The Washington Times went after President Bush's mischaracterization of the Minutemen as "vigilantes" prior to the visit of Mexican hijo de puta President Vincente Fox.


We've reached a very strange moment in the immigration debate. On Wednesday President Bush condemned a group of good American citizens worried about the breaking of U.S. immigration law. He condemned the organizers of Project Minuteman as "vigilantes" even though they have broken no law and pledge not to do so. An hour or two later, Mr. Bush welcomed to his Texas ranch a man who insults the United States for its immigration policy and leads a government that routinely flouts U.S. immigration law.

Mexican President Vicente Fox hit a trifecta of contempt for the United States and its laws over the past week. First, he accused Americans of taking no pride in their country because the government is building fences in San Diego to keep out those who try to enter the country in defiance of the law. Next, he scoffed at the concern of U.S. authorities that terrorists may be crossing the U.S. border. Then, he vowed to stamp out the work of Project Minuteman and other efforts by Americans to protect their country. When Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told Mr. Fox to show "a little less disdain for the rule of law north of the border," he was being only too polite. Nevertheless, Mr. Bush welcomed Mr. Fox to his home.

It's worth reviewing how we got here. First, the Bush administration has failed to do all it could do, and should do, to curtail illegal immigration. The most recent analysis, out this week from the Pew Hispanic Center, suggests that 10.3 million undocumented aliens live in the United States, up 23 percent from the estimated 8.4 million who were here only four years ago. Most are Mexicans. This has happened in large part because Mr. Bush seems not to be concerned about the growing tide of illegal immigration. He declined to provide in his 2006 budget for hiring the 2,000 additional border agents he promised in the intelligence bill he signed in December. Mr. Bush wants to hire only 210.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government has engaged in an unprecedented campaign to encourage the breaking of U.S. law. As we pointed out in January, the Mexican government publishes and distributes pamphlets instructing would-be illegals on how to evade detection at the border, and how to lie low once they're here. All the while, Mr. Fox continues a high-decibel campaign of rhetorical contempt for U.S. law.

Amid this chaos, states, local governments and citizen groups have responded. In Arizona, whose illegal population has grown fastest, a citizen initiative called Proposition 200 passed with a solid majority in November to place curbs on the distribution of public benefits to illegals. Many Hispanic citizens voted for it. Now, Project Minuteman -- a border-monitoring effort slated to begin April 1 -- has swollen to more than a thousand volunteers with 30 private planes to monitor activity on the border 24 hours a day, reporting what they find to the Border Patrol.

Mr. Bush's description of the Minutemen as vigilantes is a misreading of American history. The vigilantes were a lynch mob. The Minutemen are an expanded version of the Neighborhood Watch programs popular in many American cities. It's sad to see an American president roll out a royal welcome to a foreign dignitary so openly contemptuous of U.S. law, while simultaneously condemning Americans who are trying to help duly constituted authorities enforce the law.

Exactly right -- quit pandering to the Mexicans, Mr. President, and start doing the job demanded by the American people -- stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.

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

March 23, 2005

Refinery Explosion

The BP refinery in Texas City, Texas, suffered a serious explosion today. Fourteen are known dead, and at least 100 were treated at area hospitals. Crewa are still searching for other victims at the site, and some plant workers remain unaccounted for.

The refinery, which accounts for about 3% of the nation's gasoline supply, is about 15 miles from my home, and I could make the straight shot down 146 to the site of the explosion in 20-30 minutes, depending on whether or not I made all the lights.

Please offer prayers for the injured and dead, for the missing, for the families, and for all the workers and community members touched by this tragedy.

|| Greg, 10:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Four Plead Guilty To Democrat Vote Fraud In East St. Louis

I've worked elections in St. Clair County. As a graduate student I worked closely with both Gaffner for Congress campaigns in 1988 (special election and general election). We were up on Jerry Costello both times until the East St. Louis vote came in. It was taken for granted that the city vote was not clean.

Some things never change -- except now they are getting caught and prosecuted.

Leroy Scott Jr., 46; Lillie Nichols, 51; Terrance R. Stitch, 43; and his wife, Sandra Stith, 54; pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count each of vote-buying before U.S. District Judge David Herndon on Tuesday morning.

The East St. Louis Democratic Committee held organizational meetings on Oct. 13, 20 and 27, headed by Committee Chairman Charlie Powell and discussed strategy for maximizing the Democratic vote for president, Illinois Supreme Court justice and the St. Clair County Board chairman in the Nov. 2 election, according to the charges.

"During these organizational meeting, the need to pay voters for voting the 'Democratic ticket' during the Nov. 2 general election, and the amount which said voters should be paid, was discussed by Charles Powell and other precinct committeemen," the charges stated.

Powell denied Tuesday he ordered anyone to buy votes, but only to get voters to the polls on Election Day. He also acknowledged there was a chance he could face an indictment.

"Everything is possible," Powell said. "I don't have any judgment on it whatsoever."

Robert Sprague, who heads the St. Clair County Central Democratic Committee, could not be reached for comment.

Two days before the election, the charges allege Scott, Precinct 38 committeeman, received $1,200; Nichols, Precinct 29 committeeman, received $1,500; and Terrance Stith, Precinct 23 committeeman, received $2,000 from the St. Clair County Democratic Committee.

Sandra Stith worked the polls for her friend, Edna Mayes, Precinct 11th committeeman, and received $500, the charges stated.

The Stiths, Nichols and Scott admitted Tuesday that they paid voters between $5 and $10 for favorably casts ballots during the Nov. 2 election.

Here's hoping that this will encourage an honest vote and an honest count in one of the most dishonest election venues in the country.

UPDATE: Looks like there is even more.

The head of the East St. Louis Central Democratic Committee and others bought votes in a 2004 election that included hotly contested races for Illinois Supreme Court justice and St. Clair County Board chairman, according to federal indictments made public Wednesday.

Besides committee Chairman Charles Powell, the accused include Kelvin Ellis, director of regulatory affairs for the city, who was named in an earlier indictment that among other things accused him of trying to arrange the murder of a witness against him in a vote fraud investigation.

U.S. Attorney Ron Tenpas said some of the money used to sway the vote came from the St. Clair County Democratic Party, but he stressed that the indictments didn't indicate that county Democrats were aware the money was used for vote buying.

Wrong thing to say, Ron. The East St. Louis Democrat Party apparatus is almost exclusively black, while the St. Clair County Democrat party is mostly white. You are certainly going to have people start shouting "racism" over the failure to indict folks from the county Democrats, since you've implicitly cleared the white folks while indicting the black folks.

The indicted Democrats are:

The five charged in the indictment with conspiracy to commit election fraud are committeemen [Charles] Powell, 61; Jesse Lewis, 56; Sheila Thomas, 31; Kelvin Ellis, 55; and precinct worker Yvette Johnson, 46. Lewis, Thomas, Ellis and Johnson also are charged with election fraud.

Please note -- Powell is the chairman of the East St. Louis Democrats. The truly sad thing is that, for all their work subborning vote fraud, only one of the favored candidate won.

Only one of the "favored candidates" identified in the indictment was elected. That was County Board Chairman Mark Kern, who trailed Republican rival Steve Reeb by about 4,000 votes in the rest of the county but won by about the same number when ballots in East St. Louis were counted. The city has a separate election authority from the rest of the county.

Talk about your gang that couldn't shoot straight.

And that "down by 4000/up by 4000" move when the votes were counted looks really familiar to me -- the first Gaffner campaign I worked on went into East St. Louis up by 2500 votes and came out down by the same margin, costing us the election.

|| Greg, 09:46 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

So Long, Dolphin!

As some folks who venture into the comment threads might note, dolphin has decided to swim away from my site for good after posting one more of his ever-so-superior comments directing insults my direction. I'm sorry to see him go and feel a certain loss over the sundering of what was once a very respectful and cordial relationship. At the same time, I cannot say I am surprised. Given the accusations made, I feel obliged to respond, and given the limits of Haloscan, I believe it to be prudent to post it here.

If you peruse the comment thread (and others), you will see that the thread in question was somewhat heated right from the beginning. Dolphin, you see, does not like to have anyone question his assertions on homosexual rights (or much else), and took immediate offense at my response to him. He was hostile to anyone who dared to do so, and refused to deal with the assertion that what he proposed in that initial post was nothing short of a eugenics program of the sort implemented and carried out by Southern Democrats and German Nazis during the 20th century. Having set out an untenable position, he simply refused to dialogue with me from that point forward, and spent time insulting folks who dared to characterize his position in a way that he disliked and telling folks to shut up, pouting because I questioned his veracity on an assertion about Justice Scalia (and refusing to back his assertion up), and discussing animal sex with Deb.

In the midst of this, dolphin chose to make a post on his site ridiculing Deb for a statement that she had made. There was no attribution and no linkage. My comment pointing that out (and taking him to task on some issues from my site) was deleted. He also responded to my Gmail account. I post the entire exchange that followed.

dolphin Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 7:33PM

I wanted to make sure you had my email address so next time you wanted
to address a comment specifically to me instead of in response to a
particular post and can't find the "email me" link on side bar of my
site, you will not have to waste my bandwidth with comments unrelated to
my posts.



The Precinct Chair Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 9:35PM
To: dolphin

Actually, dolphin, it was related to your post -- in particular your
uncited use of material from my site.

Link it or remove it.

dolphin Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 10:35PM
To: The Precinct Chair

I will not link to your site. I do not link to websites that frequently post anti-gay hate literature. If you so desire, I will place the name of your site in the post and people can google it if they care to. As for citing you for the quote, I don't see where I'm under any obligation to do so. The quote is not your writing and is not stored on your server so I don't see how you can claim any rights to it. At best, it's simply property of which you have linked to from your site. Let me know if you'd like your site's title added to the post. It would be prudent to note that you authorized my comments to be used on another site without permission, yet I sent you no demands.


The Precinct Chair Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 11:04PM
To: dolphin

I authorized the use of a comment thread from my site, which is well
within my rights, after authorization was requested.

I did not authorize your use of the comment thread because you did not
even have the courtesy to ask.

And I do not post ANY anti-gay hate literature. I challenge you to
find ANY anti-gay hate literature. Unless, of course, you view
disagreement with gay marriage as "anti-gay hate literature," which is
an absurd position. What I have come to discover is that, in your
eyes, "anti-gay hate" means "disagrees with dolphin on an issue
related to homosexuality."

I repeat -- link or delete. The choice is yours.

And yes, the name of my site is expected to be associated with any
material taken from my site or associated comment threads.

dolphin Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 11:20PM
To: The Precinct Chair

I will add your site's name to the post. As for linking, I will not do so, I do NOT link to hate sites (as determined by me), PERIOD. It's not a new policy instituted exclusively against you. It's been policy since I started my blog. The choice is indeed mine, and I will add your site name (though I am not under obligation to do so) however that is the extent of it. Having reviewed the TOS, I am under no obligation to bow to your threats.

The Precinct Chair Mon, Mar 21, 2005 at 11:35PM
To: dolphin

Where was there a threat?

And what on my site makes me a hate site -- other than the fact you
disagree with me?

Or will you avoid these questions, too, as you have the inconvenient
ones in the discussions on my so-called "hate site"?

At that point all communication ended -- and I removed the link to dolphin's website. I mean hey, why would I link to someone in my list of favored sites if they refuse to even link to me when they are taking information from my site on the basis that I run an anti-gay hate site? His conduct and position on the issue made that decision a perfectly reasonable one. Even in his private emails he was condescending and insulting, and made additional false accusations (would someone please point out the threat I am accused of making?). I had planned on leaving it at that, but I wanted to clarify for Amy's benefit that the questions were directed at dolphin and not Ridor. The rest simply flowed out of my frustration over the situation, and I decided that I would post it all as a way of dealing with that frustration and explaining dolphin's absence.

By the way, does anyone note the irony of dolphin stating that "it takes a small man to bash someone on a public website instead of taking his problems up with the individual involved in a polite and non-threatening or confrontational way"? What were most of his comments on that thread but bashing? For that matter, what would you call the item from his site which I objected to? For the record, I am following his precedent by making a conscious decision to neither link nor cite his blog -- I hope he has no objection.

While visiting the neo-con site (yes sometimes it's fun to see what they're up to), I came across this gem of a quote in the comments section and thought I'd share it here.
News Flash. Same sex marriage is not an invention of the gay community. -Deb S

Now she failed to mention WHO invented it, but if it was not gay individuals, the clear implication is that it was straight individuals who first decided they'd like to marry members of the same-sex. I think this is an example of "I just hate gay people so bad that I can't even handle the thought that THEY could want to get married so it must be a decision straight people made for them."

He bashed both Deb and I on his site (calling me a neo-con and not even having the integrity to identify me) on his public site, and tried to do it in a way that she would never know that she had been bashed -- and refused to allow me to respond on his site. So we can add "hypocrite" to the list of titles that he has earned here.

Dolphin says he isn't coming back here again, so I shouldn't respond to him. This isn't a response to him, but merely an explanation of his parting comment. If he does respond, I hope he does so in a "polite and non-threatening or confrontational way." After all, we wouldn't want him to act like a "small man" again.

|| Greg, 07:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

But They Are Just Hard Workers Who Want Jobs

Like we don’t have to worry about enough with the regular border jumpers, now we have to look out for these guys.
Law enforcement authorities in Arizona were on alert yesterday for six convicts who escaped from a prison in Nogales, Mexico, and may have tried to cross the border.

Mexican officials notified U.S. law enforcement agencies after the men overpowered guards at the prison Friday night, U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Jose Garza said yesterday.

Garza and Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said that none of the six had been apprehended as of Monday. Estrada said he had been told that two of the inmates had planned to escape and four others "piggybacked" along.

Guns may have been smuggled in to the prisoners, and Mexican officials arrested some guards at the prison and were questioning them to determine possible involvement, he said.

After the men escaped, "They went on a rampage, robbed a bank, carjacked a couple of vehicles, all on the Mexican side, and apparently injured the husband" of an American consular official in Nogales, Mexico, Estrada said.

They are, of course, fine upstanding Mexican citizens who are just in search of work, whose crimes include robbery, assault, narcotics sale/trafficking and the murder of law enforcement officers. Maybe the Minutemen will spot them, since we've seen how well the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies in the region do with handling border jumpers.

|| Greg, 05:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ban The Sport, Not Good Sportsmanship

The traditional post-game handshake has been banned at high school girls soccer games in San Francisco. It seems that harsh words, insults and hard handslaps and even blows have been exchanged. So now the following rule has been put in place.
Not only that, but "all soccer players will be barred from saying a single word to their opponents, opposing coaches or officials upon the conclusion of every soccer game,'' Donald Collins, the school district's high school athletic commissioner, decreed in an e-mail to all coaches and referees Monday.

So instead of winners and losers exchanging friendly or even perfunctory high-fives, "all soccer players will immediately proceed to their respective sidelines upon the conclusion of every soccer game,'' Collins commanded.

This is precisely the wrong decision. This rule even punishes a student who thanks a referee or tells compliments an opposing player. If there is a problem, the offenders need to be disciplined, including suspensions or even bans. If it is so severe that displays of good sportsmanship need to be banned, then the teams need to be disbanded and the season cancelled. You don’t implement another zero tolerance rule that fails to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate conduct.

|| Greg, 05:43 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

City Recalls Pledge-Sitter

The people of Estes Park, Colorado, have recalled a city councilman who refused to stand for or say the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of council meetings. The final vote tally was 905-603.
Habecker has been a trustee for 12 years, but the issue didn't arise until last year when the town board began reciting the Pledge before meetings. Habecker chose to sit out these sessions, calling the "under God" clause unconstitutional.

The recall election was original scheduled for Feb. 15, but Habecker went to court and had it blocked. Earlier this month, a federal judge lifted the injunction.

"I don't think it's a sad day for me," said Habecker after the votes were counted. "I stood ...or sat.for what I believed in and I still believe that way and the vote of the town of Estes Park isn't going to change my mind."

Habecker said he still plans to attend board meetings and express his opinions. He says he'll probably file a lawsuit over the outcome, claiming he's being denied his "political capacity" because of his religious beliefs.

"What it means is that the people have a voice in their government and that's what the state statute was set up for," said Richard Clark, the recall organizer.

Now I have to tell you that while I understand and agree with the ide of getting him off the council I find the whole situation unsettling. I don’t dispute that Habecker has every right to refuse to stand for or say the pledge. If this were a regularly scheduled election, I know I would vote against him if he disclosed his objection to standing for the pledge. But I don’t know that I would vote to recall him over this issue, preferring instead to wait for his term to end. The reason is simple – Habecker is already threatening to sue over the recall, and it is possible that some judge could find a religious freedom violation in the recall. Waiting for the term to end would eliminate that option, because there is no way that he could challenge a general election.

|| Greg, 05:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Double Standard

Chuck Colson offers this anecdote that raises the issue of a double standard regarding religious expression in the public square.
Ironically, while the Supreme Court was debating the role of religion in American public life and whether the monuments of the Ten Commandments could stand on public property, one group of Americans has settled the question for themselves. Medical students in Boca Raton, Florida, recently filled their classroom with the smell of incense and the sound of ancient chants. They lit candles and spoke about the body being the “temple of the soul.” And they did it all “on a state university campus, in facilities funded with . . . tax dollars.”

Did I mention that all this chanting and candle-lighting was in accordance with Buddhist ritual? You didn’t really think that it would be Christian, did you?
The rites followed the final exam in Gross Anatomy on the Florida Atlantic University campus. Students, led by a professor, used them to pay their respects to the four cadavers they had used in class. What the Palm Beach Post called a “solemn closing ritual” ended with the exhortation to “go out and make a new world.”

The obvious question here is: What if Christian, not Buddhist, rites had been used? As columnist Terry Mattingly asked, how would the university have reacted if “rose incense” and “Byzantine” or “Gregorian” chant had filled the air? What if students had been told to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord”?

Where are the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State? Why is a non-Christian religious activity, led by a professor, acceptable in a classroom at a state university if identical Christian activity is not?

Colson posits that it is because Christianity demands that society be confronted and changed. It demands that people make a choice to live morally and seek to improve the world. Buddhism, especially in America, makes no such demand. As such, the public expression of “diverse” Buddhism is acceptable, while the public practice if “intolerant” Christianity is not.

|| Greg, 05:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Supremes Likely To Slap Down Johhnie

Celebrity lawyer Johhnie Cockroach Cochran appears likely to lose a case before the Supreme Court involving an injunction ordering former client Ulysses Tory to stop picketing him and forbidding Tory (or people acting on his behalf) from even speaking publicly about Cochran.
The Supreme Court appeared roundly unsympathetic yesterday as a lawyer for Cochran tried to defend an injunction issued by a California judge against Ulysses Tory, a disgruntled former client who picketed outside Cochran's Los Angeles office with signs describing him as a liar, cheat and worse.

The injunction bars Tory, along with his agents and representatives, from picketing or even speaking about Cochran in any public forum, apparently forever. A California appeals court upheld the injunction and Tory, backed by numerous press and free-speech organizations, asked the Supreme Court to strike it down in Tory v. Cochran.

Cochran's lawyer, Jonathan Cole, portrayed the injunction as Cochran's only possible remedy for years of verbal abuse and attempted extortion by Tory. Suing Tory for defamation afterward would yield little in damages from Tory, who has few assets.

This injunction is very broad. No speech. Forever and ever. No matter what the context. As Justice Breyer noted, the injunction could be construed in such a way as to prohibit Tory’s attorney, Erwin Chemerinsky, from even mentioning Johnnie Cochran during the course of oral arguments.

The good news is that no justice seemed sympathetic towards Cochran’s position. In light of previous case law, it is almost unthinkable that the justices will uphold the injunction. But that a judge would ever consider such an expansive limitation on speech is pretty scary.

|| Greg, 05:33 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Too Bad It’s Not The End Of A Rope

I’m glad to hear his fight for freedom is nearing the end of the line. If you sell-out the US, you deserve no mercy. I don’t care how noble you allege your aims to be.

Jonathan Pollard is running out of options in his fight for freedom, with his lawyers telling The Jerusalem Post that their current appeal is essentially their last legal venue of challenging his life sentence.

Should the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reject the appeal – a likely event, if the court's chilly reception so far is any indication – Pollard's lawyers would probably petition the Supreme Court. But there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court would even agree to hear their case, much less overturn 20 years' worth of legal and governmental opposition to Pollard's release.

"Once we are out of the judicial system, our only remedy would be political relief in the form of a presidential pardon," said Jacques Semmelman, who is representing Pollard together with Eliot Lauer.

Semmelman and Lauer are trying to convince the court that Pollard's original defense counsel, Richard Hibey, was unacceptably ineffective. Hibey inexplicably failed to appeal the life sentence requested by the prosecution, and imposed by the court, despite the plea agreement that stipulated no life sentence be sought for Pollard.
Hibey and Joseph DiGenova, the lead prosecutor in the original case, refused requests to discuss the case.

And I’ll say it now – any president, Republican or Democrat, who pardons a spy deserves to be impeached.

UPDATE: Pollard's wife writes a vitriolic anti-American piece claiming anti-Semitism is behind her husband's treatment. Mrs. Pollard, who lives off a pension supplied to her by the Israeli government as payment for her husband's treason, insists that justice requires her husband's release.

Maybe I could go along with that.

Release Jonathan Pollard.

From the belly of a bomber flying over the Knesset at 30,000 feet.

I have no patience for those who support Americans who betray their country.

|| Greg, 05:32 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 22, 2005

When Will People Get This Straight?

One of the things that has long bothered me is the accusation made against George W. Bush that the number of executions in Texas during his time as governor reflected a lack of compassion. The charge is absurd, and based upon an incorrect assumption that the media is never willing to correct. The charge has shown up lately during discussion of the Schiavo case. Take this excerpt from a story I read today.
Death penalty opponents said Bush did not give the same presumption (in favor of live) to death row inmates in Texas, where he used his power to grant an execution stay only once while governor from 1995 to 2000.

In 2000, the state set a U.S. record with 40 executions, including that of Gary Graham, whose guilt was hotly contested and became an international controversy.

Yeah, they are right. Bush only used his power to grant clemency (not a stay, for he issued several, but actual clemency and commutation of the sentence) once during his time in office. That looks pretty damning, until you look at the Texas Constitution.

(a) The Legislature shall by law establish a Board of Pardons and Paroles and shall require it to keep record of its actions and the reasons for its actions. The Legislature shall have authority to enact parole laws and laws that require or permit courts to inform juries about the effect of good conduct time and eligibility for parole or mandatory supervision on the period of incarceration served by a defendant convicted of a criminal offense. (b) In all criminal cases, except treason and impeachment, the Governor shall have power, after conviction, on the written signed recommendation and advice of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, or a majority thereof, to grant reprieves and commutations of punishment and pardons; and under such rules as the Legislature may prescribe, and upon the written recommendation and advice of a majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, he shall have the power to remit fines and forfeitures. The Governor shall have the power to grant one reprieve in any capital case for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days; and he shall have power to revoke conditional pardons. With the advice and consent of the Legislature, he may grant reprieves, commutations of punishment and pardons in cases of treason. (Texas Constitution, Article IV, Section 11)

Yeah, you read that right. As governor, George W. Bush could not do any thing about a death sentence without the prior consent of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, other than grant a single thirty-day stay of execution. In the Graham case, he lacked even the ability to do that much, vor his prececessor, Ann Richards, had previously granted one to Graham. Without support from the Board, Bush could do nothing. Any attempt to act would have been an impeachable offense under the Texas Constitution.

Now I realize that the Left never lets the facts get in the way of a good meme, but I would hope that honest and fair-minded people would see that the "blood-thirsty butcher Bush" accusation flies in the face of the facts of the matter.

|| Greg, 05:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sex-Predator Border-Jumpers

And here we keep being assured that they just want to work. Apparently that isn't all they want.
Border Patrol agents have picked up three convicted sex offenders in the past few days in the Sasabe-Arivaca area, south of Tucson.

All three are Mexican nationals and are in federal custody on a felony charge of re-entry of an aggravated felon.

Few details on the arrests and the men's convictions were available, but a Border Patrol news release said:

Two of the men, both from Michoacan state, were picked up Friday in a group of 35 illegal immigrants.

After detaining the group, agents learned one of the 35, Jose Ramos Salmeron, age unavailable, had been convicted in 2001 in Texas of aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child and deported to Mexico after his prison term.

Also in the group, agents found Carlos Avila-Gonzalez, who had been convicted of assault to commit rape in California in 1996. He was sentenced to four years in prison and deported in 1999.

The other man, Nicolas Jacinto-Huerta of Oaxaca state, was in a group of 57 illegal immigrants stopped Wednesday two miles east of Sasabe.

None of their ages was available last night.

Agents learned Jacinto-Huerta had been deported from the United States in 2003 after a 2002 conviction for having sex with a minor.

Since October 1, 2004, Border Patrol agents in the Tucson sector have arrested 166 illegal immigrants with convictions for sexual offenses.

So, in case you missed that number, that is 166 sex-criminals crossing the border in one region in the last six months. That translates to over 300 a year. And if you include all the other regions...

So is it any wonder that those who live along the border are frightened of the flow of border-jumpers across the border and through their property and communities? Is it any wonder that some of them seek to assist the Border patrol, and some have even tried to make citizen's arrests when they catch border-jumpers in the act?

Vincente Fox, el Pendejo el Presidente de Mexico, insists that action be taken to stop Americans from defending themselves from the torrent of immigration criminals. Why doesn't he do something to help them -- perhaps starting by putting some of these rapists and child molesters up in the Presidential Palace and in the homes of his relatives.

|| Greg, 05:43 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

IRS Investigates Church That Hosted Kerry

The IRS is investigating Friendship Missionary Baptist Church for its political involvement in hosting a visit by John Kerry last year that took on the trappings of a political rally rather than a church service – and included words from the pastor that seemed to constitute an endorsement.
The IRS has notified a Liberty City church that it is under investigation for possibly engaging in political activity -- putting its tax-exempt status into question.

The probe is related to an appearance last October by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and several black leaders, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The reason for the investigation, an IRS official wrote in a 10-page letter obtained by The Herald, is that ``a reasonable belief exists that Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status as a church.''

Rev. Gaston Smith took a break from the revelry and worship of Palm Sunday services to inform the congregation about the inquiry. He said visits by political candidates are nothing new, and that the 75-year-old church did not violate U.S. tax code, as suggested in the letter. He has hired former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis to defend the church in the inquiry.

''This is not about politics. It's about principles,'' Smith said. Silence fell over the congregation as he spoke.

The inquiry raises serious questions about whether the predominantly black church can keep its tax-exempt status. If it fails, members and contributors could not deduct tithes and other gifts, upon which churches heavily rely to operate.

Some have raised issues of racism about the investigation, which appears to also encompass other Florida churches that hosted Kerry in the run-up to the presidential election. There have been accusations that the investigation is politically motivated. Others insist that the service was business as usual for the church, and that they did nothing wrong. But was it? You can decide whether the line was crossed for yourself by looking at this CBS/AP article on the visit.

The Democratic presidential nominee attended two church services Sunday, instead of his usual one, worshipping first with Haitian Catholics and then with black Baptists, where the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton tied his election to the civil rights struggle.

"We have an unfinished march in this nation," Kerry said at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, as many congregants waved fans handed out by the campaign with his slogan, "Hope is on the way."

"Never again will a million African Americans be denied the right to exercise their vote in the United States of America," Kerry promised, referring to the disputed Florida recount in the 2000 presidential race. As he often does before black audiences, Kerry said he has a legal team that will aggressively respond to any allegations of disenfranchisement.

Black turnout is key to Kerry's plan for victory in Florida and elsewhere - less than 10 percent of black voters nationally supported George W. Bush in 2000. But Kerry's campaign says there have been efforts to turn religious blacks against him based on his support for abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples.

Jackson told worshippers their political concerns are issues that touch their everyday lives, not gay marriage.

"I see disturbing signs today that some of our churches have been confused by wolves in sheep's' clothing," Jackson said. "How did someone else put their agenda in the front of the line?"

"November 2, the power is in your hands, hands that once picked cotton," Jackson said.

Added Sharpton: "Everything we have fought for, marched for, gone to jail for — some died for — could be reversed if the wrong people are put on the Supreme Court."

Speakers avoided criticizing President George W. Bush by name, since they were in church, but he was indirectly vilified.

Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek said Kerry is "fighting against liars and demons. ... He challenges the man who walks with a jaunty step." She rocked her hips in an imitation of Bush's swagger as the congregation cheered and Kerry laughed from his high-backed seat behind the pulpit.

And lest one think that this is a bit of political payback from the administration, consider this October press release from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State -- not a Bush friendly organization by any stretch of the imagination.

A Miami church that hosted a rally on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry Oct. 10 should be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Americans United today asked the IRS to investigate the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, which hosted a Sunday service that became a rally featuring speeches by Kerry, former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton and other prominent Democrats.

During the service, the church's pastor, the Rev. Gaston E. Smith, introduced Kerry as "the next president of the United States" and told the crowd, "To bring our country out of despair, despondency and disgust, God has a John Kerry."

Sharpton also praised Kerry and attacked President George W. Bush. He criticized the Florida recount of 2000, promising that voters in the state would deliver a "big payback" to the president on Nov. 2.

Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn said the church-based partisan rally seems to be a clear violation of federal tax law that bars houses of worship and other 501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups from intervening in political campaigns.

"Federal tax law is clear on this matter," Lynn said. "Houses of worship may not endorse candidates for public office, and they certainly may not host huge partisan rallies. This was way over the top."

Concluded Lynn, "I urge the IRS to investigate this church's activities. Americans need to know that federal law will be enforced."

So it isn’t a bunch of conservatives raising an issue, it is coming from a group that is generally pretty liberal and aligned with the Democrats. You would be hard-pressed to make the argument that this is a case of political payback. If the media reports are correct, it seems pretty clear that the church crossed over the line and engaged in explicit partisan activity at this event. Perhaps they need to lose their tax exemption. Certainly the strict separationists think so.

|| Greg, 05:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Board Let’s Public Speak After All

It seems that the Hampshire County Board of Education is willing to let the public speak about district employees after all. Following discussions with the state ethics commission, the board decided to unmuzzle the public, provided that the comments did not become “defamatory or slanderous,” as determined by the board president.
Wanda Carney of the education-watchdog group West Virginia Wants to Know urged Hampshire residents to keep attending meetings and demanding action on the man at the center of a scandal that has embarrassed the community.

"You pay Mr. Mezzatesta's salary. You pay Mr. Friend's salary. You have a right to ask these elected officials to fire these two men," said Carney, a Kanawha County resident whose group filed the first ethics complaint against Mezzatesta.

Mezzatesta pleaded no contest in Kanawha County Magistrate Court in December to altering and destroying legislative computer records amid the ethics probe. He is under investigation by a special prosecutor in Hampshire County concerning whether an affidavit that he gave to the Ethics Commission last year was false.

Mezzatesta has declined to discuss his job status and took his family on a vacation out of state this week.

A recent audit by the state Office of Education Performance Audits was highly critical of the county's hiring procedures. The audit prompted the state Board of Education to strip Hampshire of its accreditation and declare a state of emergency.

Carney said she believes the local board will never act against Mezzatesta but the state will take over the troubled district in April, "and they will do this task for you."

Sounds like there is a lot more at work in this than a fundamental disrespect for the rights of citizens. Hopefully the situation will get cleaned up sufficiently to let the district return to a focus on its primary task – the education of its students.

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

March 21, 2005

Do Teachers Get To Decide On The Education Of Their Children?

Yes, folks, that is the question that is to be decided by a jury in Texas. One would have hoped that no one would have even needed to ask that question, but apparently that was not the case in at least one Texas school district. The case involves a teacher, Karen Jo Barrow, passed over for promotion by Greenville Independent School District in favor of a less qualified candidate because of her decision to send her children to a local Christian school.
Barrow, who has had her principal's certificate for ten years and has taught for 15, alleges she was told by Superintendent Herman Smith that she had no future in the school district unless she removed her children from Christian school. But when she explained her religious objections to removing her children from the educational setting she had chosen for them, the teacher was denied the position and removed from the list of candidates. Instead the middle school principalship was given to an applicant who had not been recommended and who had not even completed the certification process.

Frankly, that is an outrageous abuse of power. There are a variety of reasons that one may choose a private school education for one's child. In her case, she felt that the best choice for her children was one that provided both secular and religious education. That is not an unreasonable choice. Using that decision as the basis for denying career advancement is nothing short of religious discrimination. Passing her over for a less experienced, less qualified candidate only highlights the fact that this was not a judgment call about qualifications. Barrow's response was to seek legal counsel, and a suit was filed on her behalf by the Liberty Legal Institute.

What I find even more shocking are the arguments made by the attorneys for the school district. It has been settled law for eighty years that the state may not compel parents to select a public rather than a private education. Unless employment by a school district results in the loss of basic citizenship rights, the school really lacks any firm basis for its actions.

Attorneys for the Greenville School District have attempted to justify Smith's actions by arguing that superintendents are under a great deal of pressure due to competition from charter and Christian schools. However, LLI is arguing that Barrow and other Christian parents have the right to choose religious education for their children without government retribution.

Smith also attempted to claim qualified immunity in the matter, initially arguing that Ms. Barrow's right to select private school education for her children was not clearly established at the time he refused to consider her application for the principal's position. The U.S. District Court in Dallas had ruled against the teacher, declaring that a parent's right to choose private education is not a fundamental right. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed that ruling with a 3-0 decision in favor of Barrow and LLI.

Superintendent Smith must have slept through his class dealing with school law on the evening that they dealt with the seminal case on the issue of parental choice in education, Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 US 510 (1925)) Without going into the entire background of the case, it dealt with the state of Oregon attempting to create an educational monopoly that made it illegal to send a child to other than a public school. The Supreme Court struck down that law with a ringing endorsement parental rights to oversee and direct the education of their children.

"The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."

For the lawyers for Greenville ISD to make the claim that the law was not settled on the matter of Barrow's right to choose a religious education for her children is therefore absurd. She had every right to send her child to the school of her choice, and the attempt by the district to interfere with that choice by making negative decisions in the matter of employment or promotion is a clear violation of that right. When one couples the violation of that right with the religious basis of that decision, it is clear that this right is a fundamental one.

Interestingly enough, the school district seems to have already changed the policy at issue in this case. A quick look at the district website shows that the principal of Greenville High School is. . . Karen Jo Barrow.

|| Greg, 10:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Putting Clouds Into Sunshine Laws

Virtually every state has some form of "Sunshine Law", designed to ensure public access to government meetings and government access. After all, in a representative democracy like ours, the people have to know what's going on, right?

Well, that isn't the position held by some folks down in North Carolina. They want local government and state agencies authorized to sue individuals who file open records requests, so as to block their access to meetings and documents.

Lawyers for local governments and the University of North Carolina are talking about pursuing a measure to allow pre-emptive lawsuits against citizens, news organizations and private companies to clarify the law when there is a dispute about providing records or opening meetings.

On another front, the city of Burlington is appealing a ruling last year by the state Court of Appeals that said the government can't take people to court to try to block their access to records or meetings.

Citizens can sue the government over records, the appeals court said, but not the reverse. The state Supreme Court takes up that case next month and is expected to settle the issue.

North Carolina's League of Municipalities supports Burlington.

"It makes sense to ask a court what the law is when there's a dispute about the Open Meetings Law, just like when there's a dispute about anything else," said Ellis Hankins, the league's executive director.

"We need to have open government," he said. "But governments need to operate. And there are unanswered legal questions."

The cities say they want to use an ordinary tool often deployed in other kinds of legal disputes, called a "declaratory judgment," to let judges settle disagreements about public access to records or meetings.

The problem is that this will make it less likely that the people will attempt to find out about their own government. After all, are you going to go down to the courthouse and request public records if that request could result in the need to hire a lawyer to defend yourself from the very government that the law supposedly requires give you access?

This is a bad idea. Let's hoe the North Carolina Supreme Court and the legislature slap the notion down.

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

Idle Rich Vote Democrat

We know that the poor and those surviving on entitlement program benefits are likely to vote Democrat. But so are non-productive Americans at the other end of the spectrum – those who live of trust fund money and inherited wealth that makes it possible for them to live a life of luxury without lifting a finger to work, according to Michael Barone.

Who are the trustfunders? People with enough money not to have to work for a living, or not to have to work very hard. People who can live more or less wherever they want. The "nomadic affluent," as demographic analyst Joel Kotkin calls them.

These people tend to be very liberal politically. Aware that they have done nothing to earn their money, they feel a certain sense of guilt. At the elite private or public high schools they attend, and even more at their colleges and universities, they are propagandized about the evils of capitalism and globalization, and the virtues of environmentalism and pacifism. Patriotism is equated with Hiterlism.

Their loyalties, as Samuel Huntington explains in "Who Are We?," are not national, but transnational -- they are citizens of the world with contempt for those who feel chills up their spines when they hear "The Star Spangled Banner." They are taught to have contempt for the economic contribution they make to their country as investors and to feel guilty if they make no other contribution. Their penance is that they must vote left.

Barone goes on to point to a number of electoral results in the 2004 race that highlight how trustfunders voted differently from their productive, working neighbors. Barone sums it up thus.

The good news for Democrats is that they have found a new source of votes and money. The bad news is that an important part of their core constituency has the characteristic that the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin ascribed to the press, "power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages."

Maybe we need a special “trustfunder tax.” And after all, how could they, or the party they support, object to making the spoiled super-rich “pay their fair share.” Messrs. Kennedy, Kohl, and Dayton, get your checkbooks ready.

|| Greg, 07:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bishops To Campaign Against Death Penalty

One of the issues raised during the 2004 presidential race was John Kerry’s support for legal abortion in the face of unwavering Catholic opposition to the taking of unborn life. One criticism made by Kerry supporters was that they did not apply the same standard to President Bush on the death penalty. Well, now the bishops are going to take a much more active stand on the death penalty.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, who played a leading role in developing the new campaign, said the bishops sense that public opinion is shifting against capital punishment, partly because genetic testing has proved that scores of death-row inmates were wrongfully convicted.

"I think the DNA evidence has really shaken up people," McCarrick said. "I think this is a moment, a very special moment, where we can talk about this and people are ready to listen."

The campaign will be formally announced today in Washington and then will move to the state and local level, using all the tools of persuasion at the church's disposal, said John Carr, a staff member of the bishops' conference who will play a coordinating role.

"We'll be filing briefs in court cases, talking with the people who publish textbooks in Catholic schools, using church bulletins, encouraging homilies and addressing legislation through state Catholic conferences," he said. "The death penalty will end in this country in several ways -- legislation, judges' decisions and decisions by individual prosecutors and jurors -- and we'll be seeking all of those."

There will be opposition to this from different quarters. Evangelicals tend to support the death penalty, as do many conservative Catholics. Even many of those in the prolife movement who oppose the death penalty consider it to be an issue that needs to take a backseat to the protection of innocent life.

Oh, and one more minor detail for those who chastised the bishops for not attacking Bush on the death penalty.

McCarrick, like Hahn, noted that Article 2267 of the Catholic catechism, an authoritative compendium of church teaching, says the church "does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives" against a criminal. But the catechism also quotes John Paul II as saying that today, cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

Because of the nuance in the church's teaching, McCarrick said, the bishops will not argue that capital punishment is inherently immoral. "Our job is to try to persuade our Catholic people and everybody of good will that the death penalty in America at this time is not necessary, it's not useful and it's not good," he said.

In other words, the teaching on the death penalty is not of a kind with that on abortion, and people of good faith can differ on whether or not it is justified today in America without going against the teaching of the Church. In short, disagreement with the bishops on this point cannot be seen as morally equivalent to support for abortion.

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

Liberal Fraud To Pass McCain-Feingold

They tried to make it look like a grassroots movement for campaign finance reform, but it was really Astroturf.
What Mr. Treglia revealed in a talk last year at the University of Southern California is that far from representing the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, the campaign finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by liberal foundations like Pew. In a tape obtained by the New York Post, Mr. Treglia tells his USC audience they are going to hear a story he can reveal only now that campaign finance reform has become law. "The target audience for all this [foundation] activity was 535 people in [Congress]," Mr. Treglia says in his talk. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot. That everywhere [Congress] looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."

The truth was far different. Mr. Treglia admits that campaign-finance supporters had to try to hoodwink Congress because "they had lost legitimacy inside Washington because they didn't have a constituency that would punish Congress if they didn't vote for reform."

So instead, according to Mr. Treglia, liberal reform groups created a Potemkin movement. A study last month by the Political Money Line, a nonpartisan Web site dealing with campaign funding issues, found that of the $140 million spent to directly promote liberal campaign reform in the last decade, a full $123 million came from just eight liberal foundations. Many are the same foundations that provide much of the money for such left-wing groups as People for the American Way and the Earth Action Network. The "movement" behind campaign-finance reform resembled many corporate campaigns pushing legislation. It consisted largely of "Astroturf" rather than true "grass-roots" support.

But the results were spectacular. Not only did the effort succeed in bulldozing Congress and President Bush, but it might have played a role in persuading the Supreme Court, which had previously ruled against broad restrictions on political speech, to declare McCain-Feingold constitutional in 2003 on a 5-4 vote. "You will see that almost half the footnotes relied on by the Supreme Court in upholding the law are research funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts," Mr. Treglia boasted.

So let’s get this straight. They wanted the measure passed. They funded the movement to back it. The even created a few groups in the process. Then they provided the legal rationale for upholding the law. What we have here is a conspiracy to commit political fraud, with a few wealthy and powerful groups determining the outcome of the process. In short, they did precisely what they claimed to oppose, but justify it on the basis that their motives were pure.

Maybe what we need is not campaign finance reform, but charity reform. Is it time for a little bit of trust-busting, people?

Who are the guilty parties? Pew Charitible Trust, George Soros's Open Society Institute, and the Carnegie Corp., among others. They even bribed National Public Radio to give them favorable coverage with a $1.2 million grant to cover “financial influence in political-decisionmaking,” and paid for the publication of a special issue of American Prospect on campaign finance reform with an undisclosed grant of $132,000.

One more reason to take the Oath of Defiance – the law in question is the result of surreptitious liberal chicanery to silence their opponents.

|| Greg, 07:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Don’t Let The People Speak

The Tennessee Legislature has authorized a vote on a state constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriage. The ACLU of Tennessee has decided that it needs to spring into action.
The proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage that supporters say will keep the issue out of the hands of a judge is likely headed for a courtroom anyway.

Critics say they will sue to stop plans to amend the Tennessee Constitution, a day after the state House overwhelmingly approved the issue with the idea of putting it in the hands of voters in 2006.

The ACLU of Tennessee says it will pursue litigation to stop the gay marriage ban.

Right now, bans in Georgia, Kentucky and Nebraska are being challenged in court. But so far no court has overturned a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Representative Bill Dunn, a Republican from Knoxville who ushered the amendment through the state House, says he isn't surprised the ACLU plans on suing to stop the measure.

He says opponents lost in the Senate, the House and will lose with voters. He says their only recourse is to try a lawsuit.

Notice the difference. They are not going to challenge the wording. They are not going to challenge the procedures used. They are seeking to prevent the people from even voting. The official policy of the ACLU of Tennessee is the disenfranchisement of the citizenry if the ACLU opposes what they are voting on.

|| Greg, 07:37 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 20, 2005

Rice Highlights Religious Rights -- At Puppet Church Service

I'm a little bit disappointed in how Dr. Rice handled this one. I think she was trying to make the right point, but did so in the wrong way.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (attended a church service in Beijing Sunday in a visit that highlighted U.S. concern for religious freedom in the world's most populous country.

The visit to one of China's largest state-approved churches followed Rice's repeated denouncements during a tour of Asia about China's human rights record, and particularly its restrictions on worship.

The top U.S. diplomat drew attention to one of the problems in Sino-U.S. relations on the first night of a two-day trip to China that comes as the major powers are also at odds over Taiwan and Beijing's rapid military buildup.

I'm distressed that an American Secretary of State went to one of the government-authorized churches. I would have preferred that she had attended church with one of the many unofficial religious groups, the house churches, or with one of the persecuted Catholic congregation whose bishops remain loyal to the Pope rather than to the Communist government of China. This visit to a state-controlled church seems to place American support for religious freedom upon the government-run church, not the persecuted church that refuses to submit to government control.

For more information on the persecuted church worldwide, visit The Voice of the Martyrs.

UPDATE: This story contains much more detail on religious freedom and state-run churches in China.

|| Greg, 10:53 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watchers Council Post

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.

Also, a new member of the Watchers Council is needed due to the resignation of Little Miss Attila. Here are the details on how to apply. I already have.

|| Greg, 10:00 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 19, 2005

An Oath Of Defiance

There has been much discussion lately regarding the possibility of the FCC attempting to regulate blogs as political contributions under McCain/Feingold. This would have the effect of eliminating political speech on the internet during the weeks leading up to elections.

Let's set aside the fact that this is blatantly unconstitutional. Heck, the whole McCain/Feingold speech suppression scheme is unconstitutional, but has been upheld by the Supreme Court anyway. In short, the courts are not going to protect us, the Congress isn't going to protect us, and the FEC is part of the executive branch so that tells you the likelihood of help from that part of the government. In other words, all three branches of government are arrayed against the free speech rights in the blogosphere. Ain't no help coming -- the only thing available to us is the personal decision on compliance or defiance, and our mutual solidarity.

Patterico has called upon bloggers to sign on to the following statement.

If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

I wholeheartedly subscribe to it, but find it a bit bland as a rallying cry. Doc Rampage has a much more colorful version of the pledge.

I'll stop blogging when I've got nothing more to say. Or when I move somewhere that I don't have Internet service. Or when I get bored with it. Or if I find something else I like better. Or something like that. But I stand firm on this! I shall not stop blogging just because someone passes a law telling me to. Screw you.

That comes a bit closer to my point of view, and I wholeheartedly subscribe to that formulation as well. My problem with this version is that it is, like so much of the internet, very individualistic. That's great, because we each need to make our decision as an individual, but I still find myself looking at it as being centered on the self and not the greater good. There is not solidarity in either of the two oaths -- each of us is, in effect, a rugged individual going it alone. Unfortunately, that independence makes us easy to pick off. We need to be banded together for mutual support.

That said, I propose the following, and ask others to offer constructive criticism. If you like it, please sign on to it.

We are the blogosphere, brothers and sisters, friends and foes, united together in support of freedom. We are diverse voices united in the pursuit of a multiplicity of goals and ideals, based upon our many divergent sets of beliefs and principles. Despite our differences, we together hold firm to this single unifying principle -- freedom of speech is the cornerstone of liberty, and we reject as tyranny efforts by any entity, be it religious, economic, political, or governmental, to regulate or forbid the free exchange of ideas on the internet. We pledge to resist, to the best of our respective abilities, any regulatory scheme which seeks to inhibit or prevent the publication or dissemination of facts and opinions on any matter of public concern, and promise our support to one another in that resistance. We are the blogosphere, and we will not be silenced.

And don't worry, folks, you will not be assimilated.

|| Greg, 09:52 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 18, 2005

If Homosexuals, Why Not Cousins?

Come on, gay marriage advocates -- what do you say to this one? Do you accept the right of society to apply rules here, just not to you?

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. - A county judge refused to make an exception for two first cousins who want to marry, even though the couple assured the judge they don't want to have children.

Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva on Thursday denied the marriage license application for first cousins Eleanor Amrhein, 46, and Donald W. Andrews Sr., 39, of Logan Township.

The couple say they have been together for several years, but Kopriva said state law bars first cousins from marrying because of an increased likelihood their children will have birth defects.

Don't these folks have the right, as expressed in Lawrence v. Texas, "to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Shouldn't they fall under the same prescription, as written by Justice Kennedy, to "an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." Doesn't this involve "liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions"?

Or is it only in the case of gay sexuality and gay marriage that those rights apply?

|| Greg, 04:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Boxer Admits Democrats Violating Constitutional Confirmation Requirement has the audio of Barbara Boxer's speech to the rally. In it, she admits that the Constitution requires only 51 votes to confirm a judge, but that the Democrats are insisting in going beyond the dictates of the Constitution to confirm Bush appointees.
Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.

She may have a point. Maybe we do need a supermajority to confirm judges. But that isn't what the Constitution requires, by her own admission. To set that standard she needs to get a constitutional amendment passed.

Remember these words -- we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That is the sound of the Democrats pissing on the Constitution.

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

Apologize For Crusades?

Well, now it looks like Muslims are demanding that the Pope apologize for the Crusades.
The principle of demanding apology from the Vatican germinated following Pope Jean Paul II's visit to Syria and Egypt a few years ago, and the apologies the Catholic Church presented to the Jewish and some other Christian doctrines, explained Sheikh Zafzaf. “Al-Azhar is only asking for a similar treatment,” he added.

I agree. The Pope should apologize for the Crusades -- and the fact that Christian Europe did not pursue them to their stated end, the permanent exclusion of Islam from the Holy Land. And I think the apology should come immediately after Islamic authorities apologize for their conquest of the Christian Middle East, their eight oppressive centuries in Spain, the destruction of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and the repeated incursions into Christian Europe. I mean, if we want to get into a game of historical tit-for-tat.

|| Greg, 04:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Police Arrest 5-Year-Old For School Tantrum

This is just outrageous. There need to be multiple firings -- both at the school and the police department -- over this brainless absurdity.

A 5-year-old girl was arrested, cuffed and put in back of a police cruiser after an outburst at school where she threw books and boxes, kicked a teacher in the shins, smashed a candy dish, hit an assistant principal in the stomach and drew on the walls.

The students were counting jelly beans as part of a math exercise at Fairmount Park Elementary School when the little girl began acting silly. That's when her teacher took away her jelly beans, outraging the child.

Imagine that -- a 5-year-old acting silly. I'd love to know what the silliness consisted of, that it would result in the child being denied participation in the academic work of the class. That is not ordinarily appropriate punishment at any age.

Minutes later, the 40-pound girl was in the back of a police cruiser, under arrest for battery. Her hands were bound with plastic ties, her ankles in handcuffs.

"I don't want to go to jail," she said moments after her arrest Monday.

Now, it seems to me that two things are true here. First, the child has an anger management problem and threw a whale of a tantrum. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is not, however, grounds for restraining a child in such a manner or for placing her under arrest. Was there no one in the building equipped to deal with a child having a tantrum? Were there no trained professionals employed in this building? Whoever called the police was just plain wrong -- even the district agrees.

While police say their actions were proper, school officials were not pleased with the outcome.

"We never want to have 5-year-old children arrested," said Michael Bessette, the district's Area III superintendent.

The district's campus police should have been called to help and not local police, he said.

Bessette said campus police routinely deal with children and are trained to calm them in such situations.

So who screwed up here? Find out and fire them. Period. They clearly failed to follow proper procedures laid out by the district. Rather than call in trained professionals to deal with the situation (though one would have thought that the teacher and the AP were trained professionals with a knowledge of how to deal with a 5-year-old having a tantrum), their choice was to have the child arrested, bound hand and foot, and hauled off in a squad car. That doesn't happen often with the 15-year-olds at my school of 2200!

And then there is the cop. Plastic ties on the hands and handcuffs around the ankles? For a forty-pound 5-year-old? Didn't that seem excessive to you as you were putting them on? Couldn't you have handled the situation with less drastic measures rather than how you would have dealt with, for example, a serial rapist or a cop killer?

And as for the district spokesman, I think this may be the most absurd thing he could have said.

Under the district's code of student conduct, students are to be suspended for 10 days and recommended for expulsion for unprovoked attacks, even if they don't result in serious injury. But district spokesman Ron Stone said that rule wouldn't apply to kindergartners.

"She's been appropriately disciplined under the circumstances," he said.

Really? You think that ANY of this was appropriate? You must have been smoking crack before you talked to the reporters about this, because there is nothing I would call appropriate about the discipline administered here.

Mama says that the little girl won't be going back to that school, and that she plans on talking to a lawyer. Good for her. No 5-year-old should be treated this way over a temper tantrum.

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

March 17, 2005

Daley Administration Ignores Minority-Business Contracting Fraud

We've all heard about set-asides for minority-owned businesses. There's always been room for fraud in awarding those contracts, as it is not difficult to set up a front-man as the "owner/operator" of the business. The city of Chicago has ignored one such case for three years -- and the perpetrator is a major contributor to Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Two restaurants at O'Hare Airport have been allowed to rake in millions of dollars, even though the Daley administration learned back in 2002 that the company running them was probably a phony minority "front" for Panda Express and Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich.

Crucial Inc. won the O'Hare concessions in part because it was certified as a minority-owned business. Its largest shareholder was listed as Jabir Herbert Muhammad, son of the late Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad.

But a compliance officer inspected the firm nearly three years ago and was told by Muhammad himself that he was not running the day-to-day operations of the restaurants as required by the city.

"Everything is done by Panda Express," certification officer William Cunniff concluded in a July 31, 2002, report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. "Herbert Muhammad said that he was used to get Panda in the airport."

Crucial "seems to be a front for [minority business enterprise] status for Panda Express," Cunniff continued, noting that Crucial appeared to be operating out of an office for "Rezko Panda Express."

When did they take action on the matter? Tuesday, March 15, 2005.

How big is the apparent rip-off of public dollars? Pretty big.

Crucial -- which at one point also had a concessions deal with the Chicago Park District -- grossed $15.7 million between 1999 and 2002, city records show.

Not bad -- over $5 million a year, for contracts that most businesses could not bid on because they were reserved for minority businesses. All you need is someone to be your face, and you rake in a nice chunk of cash. I wonder how much of this Muhammad got, and how much went to Rezko.

But that may not be the only fraudulent minority business involving Muhammad and Rezko.

A separate company also run by Muhammad and Rezko -- Crucial Communications -- is a minority subcontractor to SBC on the pay-telephone contract at Cook County Jail. Some county commissioners questioned what Crucial does for SBC when the telecommunications giant was awarded the no-bid, $10 million contract two years ago.

Yeah, what would the business be doing for SBC? My guess is that SBC supplies the phones, and we know that they handle all of the wiring and operations. That means that Crucial probably just took a kickback for no work.

But wait, there is more. Apparently Rezko has another minority front-man currently operating Muhammad's restaurant business for him, and this same front-man has a minority business contract himself.

Muhammad, boxer Muhammad Ali's former manager, told the city's compliance officer that Panda does pricing, marketing and contract negotiations for the O'Hare restaurants. When it came to managing Crucial's office, he said he wasn't responsible and that the work was done by Al Chaib, a Rezko business associate who has since won a Subway franchise deal at Illinois tollway oases.

You know, I just love Chicago area politics. The corruption is unbelievable, and usually you can trace it back to some Democrat office-holder. It's that way now, and it was that way in the days of Richie Daley's daddy "Hizzona DaMaya", Richard M. Daley

|| Greg, 12:30 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Voice Of The People Must Not Be Heard!

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is supported by 60% of the residents of the state of Michigan. The only likely way of defeating the measure is to keep the people of Michigan from voting on the measure.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will probably pass if it reaches the 2006 state ballot and most likely can only be defeated by efforts to have it disqualified before the election, said Miranda Massie, lead attorney for the BAMN-led student intervenors in the Grutter v. Bollinger case.

Supporters of the civil rights measure, designed to ban government discrimination and preferences based upon race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, have submitted over 500,000 signatures (they needed around 317,000) to place the measure on the 2006 ballot.

Massie argues that Michigan voters are simply too stupid to know what they were signing or understand what they are voting on.

Although polls show that MCRI has well over 60 percent approval among the Michigan public, Massie attributed its support to confusing language, saying California’s similar Proposition 209 passed for that reason.“The majority of people who voted for Proposition 209 did not know they were voting against affirmative action,” Massie said. “They thought they were voting for an expansion of the civil rights movement.”

Well let's look at what the MCRI actually says, and whether or not the language is too confusing for persons of average intelligence to understand.



Civil Rights.

1. The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

2. The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

3. For the purposes of this section "state" includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the state itself, any city, county, any public college, university, or community college, school district, or other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the State of Michigan not included in sub-section 1.

4. This section does not prohibit action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.

5. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

6. The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party's race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of Michigan anti-discrimination law.

7. This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with the United States Constitution or federal law, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

8. This section applies only to action taken after the effective date of this section.

9. This section does not invalidate any court order or consent decree that is in force as of the effective date of this section.

Seems rather clear to me. Government cannot discriminate against anyone based upon race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Government cannot give preferences based upon race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Certain limited exceptions exist to this rule providing equal protection of the law to all people. What's not to understand? Who do you wish to discriminate against, Ms. Massie? To whom do you wish to give preferences? Why do you not prefer to judge people based upon "not the color of their skin,, but the content of their character," ability to do the job, academic achievement, or other factors that do not consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin?

But that isn't the end of Ms. Massie's outrageous statements.

Also, they will try to convince the courts that MCRI has hired black parolees to administer the petition in order to appeal to minorities.

Really? You mean that minorities are incapable of determining whether or not they support the measure when they sign the petition? Is it your position that they just don't know what's good for them, so they need a smart white lawyer like you to swoop in and protect them from themselves? Or is it that you don't believe that blacks should be allowed to circulate petitions? I'm certain it can't be the use of parolees, since it is an article of faith for liberals that all parolees should be permitted to vote and participate in the political life of their communities. Are you trying to disenfranchise black felons? If so, how does that square with your alleged support for civil rights?

When it comes right down to it, I'm pretty shocked by what appears in the article. In essence, Miranda Massie argues that the people of Michigan should be disenfranchised on a matter of public policy since they are going to vote in a manner she opposes. She argues that the voters are really too dumb to be permitted to dictate the policies of the state, so liberals like her should be allowed to dictate those policies for them. And she argues that minorities are not smart enough to participate in the political process, and that parolees should not be allowed to be involved in political activity despite the massive disenfranchisement of minorities that policy causes.

Now if Miranda Massie were a conservative Republican, say Trent Lott or George Bush, we would be hearing outraged wails about the racist nature of her arguments. We would be treated to throngs of minority activists marching on the University of Michigan campus chanting "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Miranda Massie's got to go! Hey, hey! Ho, ho! BAMN's got to go!" The campus chapter of BAMN would be shut down, and its members would be required to attend "sensitivity sessions" and forced to admit their thought crimes. But none of that will happen, you see, because Miranda Massie is on the right left side of the issue of affirmative action. And the double standard for liberal hypocrites continues.

|| Greg, 11:31 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Liberals Rally For Vote Fraud

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was indicted last week on charges related to vote fraud. Yesterday his supporters turned out to protest the indictment.

"This is a rally for justice; this is a rally for democracy," said Orlando resident Thomas Alston, the former leader of the Orange County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "I'm not saying it is or isn't racist, but all these votes they're taking away from us are black votes."

So if breaking election laws increases the black vote, its a good thing?

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

Call Them What They Are

What's wrong with this lead?
A family of three illegal entrants was taken to Northwest Medical Center to be treated for dehydration and multiple bee stings after Marana police found them in the desert Wednesday afternoon.

"Illegal entrants"? Why do the media insist on coining new and ever more genteel terms for those who break our nation's immigration laws?

|| Greg, 09:52 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 16, 2005

More Proof That Baseball/Steroid Hearings Are A Fraud

Several days ago I noted that I believed that the planned hearing on steroid use in baseball was nothing but a publicity stunt. That my suspicions regarding the fraudulent nature of the hearings were correct is proved by this story.

Less than 24 hours before the start of the highly anticipated session, Jose Canseco's request for immunity was denied by the House Government Reform committee. Canseco's lawyer said the former AL MVP will not be able to answer questions that would incriminate him.

"No witnesses have been or will be granted immunity," David Marin, a spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, said in an e-mail to the AP.

Given that the matter of steroid use is the subject of a grand jury investigation, the failure of the committee to grant use immunity for the testimony given leaves the players and executives abbearing under subpoena subject to criminal indictment and prosecution if they answer any questions. Even Jose Canseco, who has presumably told all in his book, is in danger if he testifies.

Canseco's lawyer, Robert Saunooke, was angry with the decision.

"It begs the question as to what they're convening this hearing for," Saunooke said in a telephone interview. "They effectively cut the legs off from underneath us."

Saunooke has said that without immunity, Canseco would invoke his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions.

"They told me we can't do the Fifth to every question," he said. "It's an absolute right of every citizen to not be compelled to give testimony against themselves. They do not make the decision. We do."

Actually, if Saunooke wants to give his client the best available advice, he will instruct him not to even state his name for the record. There have been cases brought in the past arguing that by answering even such innocuous questions as name and place of residence can be construed as a waiver of Fifth Amendment rights.

So what we have here are hearings being held by a committee that has "anything we want" as its jurisdiction holding hearings at which all those testifying will be obliged to assert their rights under the Fifth Amendment in order to escape a possible indictment for perjury. But it will get face time for the members of the committee on the evening and cable news shows and C-Span And that, ultimately, is what the hearing is all about.

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

Supreme Supermajority?

Democrat political consultant Mark Mellman writes in today's issue of The Hill that Supreme Court nominees should need 60 votes to be confirmed. It is an interesting polemic, clearly set out to justify the current Senate filibuster of Bush appellate nominees as well as the anticipated Democrat obstructionism of future Bush Supreme Court nominees. Mellman, in fact, insists that the 60 vote requirement should be demanded.
Most Americans agree. In a recent poll we conducted, 69 percent said, “A nominee should have to get the support of at least 60 of the 100 senators.” Just 29 percent believe, “When the president nominates a justice to the Supreme Court it should take the votes of only 51 of the 100 senators to confirm the nominee and make them a Supreme Court justice.”

In short, a supermajority of the electorate backs a supermajority to confirm a Supreme Court nomination.

It’s a view shared by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

Supermajorities are appealing because Americans believe in government by consensus. If a nominee can’t muster 60 votes in the Senate, there is not a sufficient consensus to put that person on the Court for life. If the president does not believe a candidate can meet the 60-vote threshold, he should not submit the nomination. If the president finds out during the course of hearings and debate that a candidate will not garner 60 votes, he should withdraw the nomination.

Frankly, I'd love to see that polling data, because I'm suspicious of such in-house polls.

But setting the question of the veracity and reliability of Mellman's poll and the partisan nature of his arguments (including ad hominem attacks on Clarence Thomas, Orrin Hatch, and Bill Frist), there is a bigger question -- is a supermajority really desirable for Supreme Court nominations? It might be, but Mellman fails to make a clear case for them, so interested is he in bashing his political opponents.

What Mellman also fails to do is consider the actual Constitutional requirement for confirmation, as set out by the Constitution in Article II, Section 2, Clause ii.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Right there you have it. The Constitution itself does not set out a supermajority requirement. It in fact does precisely the opposite, excluding the confirmation of "Judges of the supreme Court" (as well as appointments to executive branch offices) from the supermajority requirement set for the ratification of treaties. The standard for confirmation is therefore clearly set by our founding document, the supreme law of the land, as a majority vote. There is no interpretation needed, because the requirement is right there. End of discussion.

Now is there a way to change the number of votes required for confirmation as a"Judge of the supreme Court"? Yes, there is. It is found in Article V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress....

Let Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi propose an amendment to the Constitution to set the bar for judicial nominees at 3/5, or even 2/3, of the Senate. See if it gets out of the House and Senate (which requires one of Mellman's beloved supermajorities) and let's see if 3/4 of the states (another supermajority required by the Constitution) will ratify it. My suspicion is that it won't ever get out of Congress.

And I wonder -- would Mellman be interested in requiring a supermajority of the Supreme Court be required to strike down a law as unconstitutional, since a mere majority of the justices does not represent a consensus of Americans on the matter?

UPDATE: I wonder how Mr. Mellman would reconcile his poll numbers with these poll numbers?

The survey, conducted by the Judicial Confirmation Network, concluded that 67 percent of voters agree that politics should be taken out of the courts and out of the confirmation process.

"It is abundantly clear that the American people are tired of the partisan, political maneuvering and the unwarranted character assassinations against qualified candidates for the federal bench," said Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, in a press release.

Eighty-two percent of voters agree that "if a nominee for any federal judgeship is well-qualified, he or she deserves an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate," the poll found.

"People see through these aggressive and negative attacks waged by some individuals and groups on the left and they want it to end," Long said. She added that voters want senators "to do their jobs" and vote up or down on nominees "based on their qualifications, not the baseless, negative rhetoric of the left."

The survey also found 75 percent of voters agree that "President Bush should keep his promise made during the campaign to nominate a U.S. Supreme Court justice who will apply existing law, not make new law." And by 78 to 12 percent, voters agreed that senators have a "constitutional duty" to vote on judicial nominations.

Now again, I have no access to the actual polling data, so I have the same concerns about this poll as I do about Mellman's. I've been involved in survey research in the past, and know that how you ask the question can determine how respondents answer (we got 75% of our respondents to support legalized abortion in one question, while getting 67% to oppose it on another). But I find it interesting that on the same day we get such diametrically opposed numbers quoted at us.

|| Greg, 09:51 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 15, 2005

Democrats -- Politics Trumps People's Business

Once again, the Democrats have proclaimed their intent to obstruct the business of the American people if a minority is not permitted to exercise an unconstitutional veto over judicial nominees.
n a letter to Majority Leader Bill Frist, Reid wrote that Democrats, who have 44 seats in the 100-member Senate, would refuse to cooperate on any legislation not related to the U.S. military presence in Iraq, national security measures and other "critical government services."

"Beyond that very limited scope, however, we will be reluctant to enter into any consent agreement that facilitates Senate activities, even on routine matters," Reid wrote.

Reid, however, dangles this little gem.

Reid wrote that if Frist would "abandon the nuclear option, I can assure you that Senate Democrats will cooperate with you to consider legislation and nominations."

Hopefully Frist will write back that he will drop any consideration of plans for the GOP to follow the 1975 Democrat precedent of changing filibuster rules by majority vote in mid-session as soon as the nominees who were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee during the last Senate are allowed an up-or-down vote. Absent this immediate capitulation to the dictates of the Constitution, Republicans have no choice but to enforce change the rules in order to ensure that the Constitution is followed.

|| Greg, 05:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Muslims Seek Taj Mahal Land (And Cash) Grab

The Taj Mahal is India's most recognizable symbol. Built as a tomb for the Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal by her husband, Shah Jahan, it is a symbol of the enduring love of a husband for his wife. Now a Muslim group has claimed ownership of the Taj Mahal and its grounds, on the basis that it is a Muslim cemetary.
The Sunni Waqf Board (SWB), a Muslim trust, was given ownership of Uttar Pradesh's Muslim graveyards by the Indian government itself.

The board has issued notices to the Archaeological Survey of India as well as the central government, seeking their reply to its demand by the end of March.

Speaking to the BBC, SWB chairman Hafiz Usman said that other than the graves of the emperor and his wife, several other Muslim graves were also located within the Taj Mahal's boundary.

The presence of a mosque and a tomb within the complex clearly brings it under the board's jurisdiction, he says.

The board has quasi-judicial powers and has threatened to take an ex parte decision if its end March deadline is not met.

Frankly, this action is outrageous. For a private group to attempt to steal this historic site from the Indian people goes beyond arrogance. It is part of the heritage of the entire nation, not a minority religious group.

Later in the story, we get to the heart of the matter -- money.

Mr Usman said once the ownership issue had been decided, the board would demand that 7% of the total earnings from tickets should be transferred to its coffers.

The board also wants the power to regularly audit the accounts of the monuments and ensure that the money is not frittered away but used properly for the maintenance of the building.

He said the board did not stake a claim to the monument earlier as it had not wanted to enter into any controversy.

See, what the group is after is a chunk of the cash that the government makes off of the admission fees. I'm not sure what that would come to, but I think we can presume that we are talking about a hefty chunk of change.

|| Greg, 01:55 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Do ACLU And Planned Parenthood Protect Perverts?

In Indiana, a 12-year-old cannot consent to sex. In Kansas, the age is 16. In both states, the attorney general is attempting to access records of abortions performed on under-age girls so that their abusers can be prosecuted. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are fighting both states.

Why is it that these groups are more concerned about covering up sex crimes rather than the prosecution of sex offenders? Could it be the money?

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

Did Hitler Have The Bomb?

A new book says that the answer is "Yes."
A German historian has claimed in a new book presented on Monday that Nazi scientists successfully tested a tactical nuclear weapon in the last months of World War II.

Rainer Karlsch said that new research in Soviet and also Western archives, along with measurements carried out at one of the test sites, provided evidence for the existence of the weapon.

"The important thing in my book is the finding that the Germans had an atomic reactor near Berlin which was running for a short while, perhaps some days or weeks," he told the BBC.

"The second important finding was the atomic tests carried out in Thuringia and on the Baltic Sea."

Mr Karlsch describes what the Germans had as a "hybrid tactical nuclear weapon" much smaller than those dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

He said the last test, carried out in Thuringia on 3 March 1945, destroyed an area of about 500 sq m - killing several hundred prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates.

I don't know if this is accurate or not. If it was, a few more weeks might have resulted in a very different outcome for WWII.

|| Greg, 01:09 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Can Islam Be Accommodated And How?

Daniel Pipes writes an interesting piece today about accommodating Islam in American society. In it he tries to differentiate between acceptable government accommodations of Islam (those which are generally made for religious groups) and unacceptable ones (special privileges not granted other religions). I find it to be a great analysis, though I might argue against him on certain points.
Throughout the West, Muslims are making new and assertive demands, and in some cases challenging the very premises of European and North American life. How to respond?

Here is a general rule: Offer full rights – but turn down demands for special privileges.

Pipes points to two Canadian cases as exemplars of what to do and what not to do.

By way of example, note two current Canadian controversies. The first concerns the establishment of voluntary Shar‘i (Islamic law) courts in Ontario. This idea is promoted by the usual Islamist groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Canada and the Canadian Islamic Congress. It is most prominently opposed by Muslim women’s groups, led by Homa Arjomand, who fear that the Islamic courts, despite their voluntary nature, will be used to repress women’s rights.

I oppose any role for the Shari‘a, a medieval law, in public life today, but so long as women are truly not coerced (create an ombudsman to ensure this?) and Islamic rulings remain subordinate to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I see no grounds on which to deny Muslims the right, like other Canadians, to revert to private arbitration.

On the other hand, Muslim demands for an exclusive prayer room at McGill University in Montreal are outrageous and unacceptable. As a secular institution, the university on principle does not provide any religious group with a permanent place of worship on campus. Despite this universal policy, the Muslim Student Association, a part of the Wahhabi lobby, insists on just such a place, even threatening a human rights abuse filing if it is defied. McGill must stand firm.

Pipe is spot on in this analysis. What follows is a list of cases in which he sees the possibility of accommodation and others in which he sees the notion of special "Muslim only" privileges. It is in the latter group that I have some concerns. Take this one, as an example.

Changing noise laws to broadcast the adhan (call to prayer) in Hamtramck, Michigan.

Pipes is dead set against this accommodation. I, on the other hand, don't have a problem with doing this, provided that the same regulations apply to other religions. I miss the sound of the local Catholic church tolling out the Angelus at noon. I miss the ringing of bells on Sunday morning. Surely there is a reasonable approach that can let both the bells and the adhan be heard.

Similarly, I disagree with pipes on this matter.

Allowing students in taxpayer-funded schools to use empty classrooms for prayers in New Jersey.

I think there is a way to do this, but it would require the voluntary cooperation of a teacher who would be willing to cooperate. I know this because I have done it. My conference period runs during the lunch period, and one of my Muslim students asked if she could stay and "hang out" in my room during Ramadan. She got herself all oriented and spent the first day in prayer alone. By week's end there were a couple more who I didn't know well popping in and out of my room at lunch time. They were quiet; I got my work done and they got to pray. Call it a win-win situation, and one that I would have been willing to do for members of almost any religious group on a short-term basis (I don't know about letting Satanists sacrifice a goat in my classroom, or about committing to hosting a full-year, student-led Bible Study). But I do agree with Pipes that there shouldn't be an officially designated prayer room.

This is a great column, and a great place for a discussion to start. As religious diversity increases in the United States, we need to figure out what the lines are for accommodation of different beliefs, practices, and sensitivities. I just wish that Pipes hadn't written it, since he is such a lightening rod because of his other writings on Islam..

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

"Kill Israelis" Not Hate Speech In Canada

In Canada, it is illegal to say that it is acceptable to murder Muslims, batter Baptists, or garotte gays. But it apparently is legal to say that it is acceptable for terrorists to kill Jews -- at least if they are Israeli Jews.

Police have decided not to charge a controversial Muslim leader under Canada's hate-crime laws for suggesting on a television talk show last fall that all adult Israelis are "legitimate targets" for Palestinian terrorists.

Investigators with Halton Region police said that while the comments by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry "were described by many as [a] hate crime," they did not meet the legal definition.

"Although the comments would be considered distasteful to many, in this context they do not constitute a criminal offence," police said in a news release. "The comments were made during a free-flowing discussion between subject-matter experts who were encouraged to express their opinions openly on a topic of significant public interest."

Dr. Elmasry, a University of Waterloo professor and president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, drew widespread public condemnation last October for telling a television panel discussion that all Israelis over the age of 18 could be targets for attacks by Palestinians because they are all members of the country's army.

I find it interesting that the Canadian Islamic Congress refused to accept Dr. Elmasry's resignation, which to me indicates that they agree with his support of terrorism. And that the university where he teaches refused to discipline him at all, when a Christian high school teacher in Canada had his career effectively ended for writing a letter to the editor calling homosexuality immoral, again shows the double standard applied in the Soviet Canuckistan.

I'm disgusted that Canada is willing to allow advocacy of a new genocide against Jews a mere six decades after it helped stop the last one.

|| Greg, 11:42 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Shooting The Messenger

Most politically aware Americans know about the massive vote fraud in King County that resulted in the selection of a Democrat to fill the Governor's mansion after a Republican won the election. Well, yesterday King County election officials admitted that at least six-hundred provisional ballots were counted without verifying that they were cast by qualified voters, in addition to the nearly four-hundred extra ballots that exceeded the number of votes cast in the county. That alone is nearly eight times the margin of victory for the selected Democrat.

The response of members of the King County Council? Shoot the messengers.

The dialogue remained civil. In contrast with strong Republican rhetoric in the past about King County goofs in the election, the toughest talk yesterday came from Democrats.

Councilman Dow Constantine, D-Seattle, referring to comparisons made to Chicago's reputation for election fraud, said he had heard enough "loose talk about Cook County — hyperbole about taking names off tombstones and whatnot."

Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, took "hot talk" radio stations to task, saying, "If there is anything that will undermine people's trust and confidence in our election system, it's those radio stations continuing to lie about fraud in King County."

Yeah, that's right -- the problem is all those conservatives out there talking about vote fraud and the failure to follow the basic requirements of state law. Not the fraud, not the errors, not the fact that King County's vote totals included more votes than ballots cast and unverified voters. The problem is people talking about the problems, not the problems themselves.

Any wonder that most of us view the Democrats as the party of vote fraud.

|| Greg, 11:30 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 14, 2005

Sounds Like A Good Case For Eminent Domain

The UAW has allowed Marines from a local reserve center to park in the lot of "Solidarity House" for some time. The union is now placing restrictions on that policy -- banning Marines who drive foreign cars or have pro-Bush bumper stickers on their vehicle.

"While reservists certainly have the right to drive nonunion made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn't mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW," the union said in a statement released Friday.

The Marines of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines are not taking that lying down. The commanding officer of the unit has banned all use of the UAW lot.

"You either support the Marines or you don't," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commanding officer of the battalion's active duty instructors. "I'm telling my Marines that they're no longer parking there."

At a time when U.S. armed forces are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, quibbling over parking privileges is "silly," Rutledge said.

Sounds to me like there is a serious need for parking at that reserve center. That would certainly be a public purpose, and so I hope that the Department of Defense will consider using the power of eminent domain to take the property and tear down the union facility, converting the whole place into parking lot for the Marines.

And I am particularly fond of this little reminder from Lt. Col. Rutledge.

"I don't know what a foreign car is today anyway. BMWs are made in South Carolina now."

I had the same thought as I read the article, having gone to school in Illinois only a stone's throw from a plant that makes Mitsubishis using UAW labor. And Chrysler is now a foreign-owned nameplate, a subsidiary of Daimler.

What I do know, though, is that when I buy that new truck in the next couple of months, I'm going to try to find one that wasn't made with UAW labor.

UPDATE: Blackfive (via Michelle Malkin) reports that the president of the UAW, Ron Gettelfinger, has intervened and overturned the unAmerican actions of those union thugs who banned Marines from a UAW parking lot for exercising their First Amendment rights or driving the vehicle of their choice. Gettelfinger, a former Marine, issued the following statement.

"I made the wrong call on the parking issue and I have notified the Marine Corps that all reservists are welcome to park at Solidarity House as they have for the past 10 years,"

The Marines, for their part, have told the UAW (UnAmerican Auto Workers) to pound sand.

"I talked to Ron; I let him know that I understand he has rescinded his decision," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commander of the battalion. "However, I've made my decision -- either you support the Marines or you don't."

You know -- that Toyota Tacoma looks better all the time.

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

Lights! Camera! Inaction!

While folks are currently trying to blame the female deputy who was required to escort Brian Nichols un-handcuffed to his trial, I think that we need to look a different direction.
A surveillance camera captured Brian G. Nichols' surprise attack on a Fulton County sheriff's deputy, but no one in the control center noticed the assault and sent help, said a law enforcement official who viewed the security tape.

The camera, one of more than 40 stationed in the Fulton County courthouse, showed the 6-foot-1 Nichols assaulting Deputy Cynthia Hall and escaping with her gun. Hall was escorting Nichols to a holding cell before his rape retrial resumed.

No one noticed the assault?????? What was the purpose of the cameras? What was the purpose of having them monitored? Why weren't the cameras adequately monitored? Two people doing the monitoring hardley seems adequate. It strikes me that the number should be at least double that.

The article also goes on to detail how it was poorly designed holding cells and flawed security procedures that seem to have enabled this tragedy, not Deputy Hall's gender or size, that enabled this tragedy to take place. At best, the size differential only made the escape easier, but it wasn't the major factor.

|| Greg, 10:12 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The "Free Speech Hero" Who Wasn't

Dalton Trumbo was one of the so-called "Hollywood Ten" -- a group of Communists subpoenaed to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1947. His refusal to testify resulted in his blacklisting in Hollywood by a motion picture industry that (at that time) did not wish to be associated with an evil ideology bent on the destruction of America. The Left in America usually depicts these men as victims, martyrs for freedom of speech and association. That is a lie, as Trumbo's own actions show.

As a senior member of the Communist Party in Hollywood, Trumbo was a member of the committee which enforced ideological discipline on Party members. Take, for example, the case of Albert Maltz.

Trumbo was part of the Party's inquisition against the screenwriter Albert Maltz in 1946, for Maltz's published statement that artists should be free to say what they feel, and that literature should be judged by its human and humane quality, not the politics of its author. Trumbo and his fellow communists browbeat Maltz for publishing this heresy, until Maltz finally issued a humiliating public recantation. Maltz, who also later was brought before HUAC (and went to jail for refusing to testify), told Gerda Lerner that his appearance before HUAC in 1947 was simply nothing compared to the real and psychologically-destructive trauma of his criticism/self-criticism sessions before the Communist Party in 1946.

Yeah, that's right -- saying the wrong thing resulted in Maltz being subject to discipline for daring to engage in free speech, led by a supposed defender of freedom of speech. Ideological purity was to be the standard by which "art" was judged, not its quality. And failure to toe the party line would become grounds for persecution.

But then again, this man who would later denounce people who "named names" to the FBI or HUAC was a government informant against those who differed with his politics. His great work, Johnny Got His Gun, was strongly anti-war at a time when the CPUSA insisted that the US should not join England and France in fighting Stalin's ally, Hitler. Once the pact broke down and the CPUSA line (dictated by Moscow) became one of support for an "anti-fascist war", Trumbo sought to suppress his own book. When people opposed to the war contacted Trumbo seeking copies of the book, Trumbo took action.

"Johnny Got His Gun" became a big hit with right-wing isolationists, as well as sincere pacifists, after Dec. 7, 1941 and the entry of the USA into the world war. A number of such people--some real fascists and anti-Semites, who saw the war as a plot perpetrated by Jews, but also some sincere isolationists and pacifists--wrote to Trumbo between 1941 and 1944, asking where they could buy copies of his book. In 1944, Trumbo voluntarily invited FBI agents to his house, showed them the letters he had received, and turned those letters over to the FBI. And not only did he "name names." He followed up the invited FBI visit with a letter to the Bureau, urging that the people who had written him asking for copies of his book be dealt with. Trumbo was acting here in conformity with then-current CPUSA policy, which was--since the Soviet Union was under attack--to denounce to the U.S. government anyone who opposed the war. Needless to say, Trumbo did not notify the people whose names he had named to the FBI of what he had done; nor did he tell them that the FBI was now in possession of their letters to him (The information on this unlovely incident can be found in Dalton Trumbo, ed., "Additional Dialogue: Letters of Dalton Trumbo, 1942-1962" (New York, 1970), pp. 26-31).

Thus, even before he was ever called before HUAC to testify truthfully about the attempts by a foreign power to impose ideological conformity on one of the major forms of mass media in the United States, Trumbo was already a government informer against those with whom he differed politically -- a "rat", to use his description of those who spoke freely to HUAC and the FBI about Communists. Ironically, when the great historian and social commentator Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. stated in 1949 that he believed that Trumbo did not support freedom of speech for all (including those on the right with whom he disagreed), but only for those whose speech conformed with Trumbo's communist view, Trumbo denounced him as a fascist. His letter to "The Saturday Review of Books" responding to Schlesinger included the following statement.

"I deny the right of any agent of government to call American citizens to account for their political affiliations or sympathies."

However, Trumbo was already a party to doing the exact same thing five years previously when he contacted the FBI to initiate investigations designed "to call American citizens to account for their political affiliations or sympathies."

I cannot help but notice that the slinging of the term "fascist" against political opponents and the demand that certain conservative political positions be investigated and banned is still a part of the Left's ideology today. Political freedom should not extend to those on the Right, as their views are oppressive while those of the Left are liberating. That Trumbo and others of his ilk, pawns of a foreign power that sought to undermine American freedom through its puppet political party, are today seen as heroes by the Left proves the Left's historical ignorance, their political cluelessness, and their ideological bankruptcy. The true heroes of the era are those who fought against the communist influence in Hollywood -- Reagan, Wyman, Kazan, and many others -- in the face of a political machine which was hostile to American values.

|| Greg, 09:19 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 13, 2005

Morrison Tape Discovered

When I was 11 years old, my father's commanding officer was Admiral G.S. Morrison. I met he and his wife several times. It was only a couple of days before he left the command that I found out that he and his wife had lost their son a few years before.

His name was Jim.

And he was the lead singer of a rock band.

It was called The Doors.

You may have heard of them.

And now there has been a new videotape found of him, the earliest known tape of Jim Morrison. It dates to before he went to film school in Los Angeles.

It was discovered when the Department of State went through 1,000 films in its archive and may have gone unnoticed if Jaime Madden hadn't noticed a familiarity in the way young Morrison was standing in part of the brief clip.

"He said, 'Oh my god! This is Jim Morrison!'" said Jody Norman, supervisor of the Bureau of Archives and Records Management. "It really tells a lot about an archivists' duty to pay attention to detail."

In the FSU promotional film, Morrison is seen walking to a mailbox and opening a letter. He stops suddenly with his leg thrust forward as a voiceover says, "We regret to inform you that we are unable to accept your application."

A little while later, Morrison is in a university office, dressed in a jacket and tie and questioning authority.

"We would like to accept you," Morrison is told. "Indeed, we'd like to offer more courses, more sections, but we just don't have the space that together with the lack of professors."

"But what happened?" Morrison asks. "How come my parents, and the state and the university didn't look ahead?"

Morrison later dropped out of FSU to attend the University of California Los Angeles film school.

The clip was discovered last year among films WFSU a PBS station operated by the university donated to the state in 1989 and was recently posted to the state's film archive Web site after being digitally converted. It will air on VH1 this Friday.


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

A Story Of Faith

Dr. Earl Tilford of Grove City College presents and interesting story of simple faith. It involves a trip to Jerusalem and a visit to Golgotha. I won't ruin it by excerpting the story. Read it for yourself.

|| Greg, 08:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Science Geek Story

When we moved back Stateside from Guam in 1976, our family drove across country from San Francisco to San Diego, on to Washington, DC, north to Rhode Island, and finally on to Great Lakes, Illinois. The reason for the circuitous trip was to visit family members around the US, and also to allow we boys to see something of the US. One of my favorite stops was the Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona. I was fascinated by the site of that big hole in the ground, and have kept track of articles about it over the years.

Now we have some scientific speculation on why the crater is the size it is, and why it didn't melt much of the rock in the area when it struck.

Using computer models for how such objects would interact with the atmosphere, Melosh and astronomer Gareth Collins of Imperial College London concluded that the 300,000-ton, 130-foot-diameter meteor fractured before it hit the ground, with about half of it dispersing into small fragments.

The remaining half struck the ground at a speed of 26,800 mph, about 10 times the velocity of a bullet fired from a high-powered rifle, but not fast enough to melt large quantities of rock, the scientists reported this week in the journal Nature.

The intact fragment exploded with the energy of at least 2.5 megatons of TNT, they said.

I'll have to get that copy of Nature magazine to read the article.

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

Not Running?

After much speculation over her future plans, US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice stated that she will not run for president.
Rice told The Washington Times last week, "I have never wanted to run for anything," although she seemed to leave the door open to the possibility.

She closed the door in appearances on Sunday talk shows, telling NBC's "Meet the Press," "I will not run for president of the United States."

"I won't run," she told ABC's "This Week." "I won't. How's that? Is that categorical enough?"

Actually, I don't consider the statement to be an obstacle to a run in 2008, and certainly not to a run in 2012. After all, it is only March of 2005, and there is a lot of time for her to be persuaded to jump into the 2008 race, especially if Dubya urges her to do so. But right now, any talk of running for president would only hurt her ability to serve as Secretary of State. If she indicated that she planned on running, her every action would be looked at for potential political ramifications. And given that she may need to do some housecleaning at State, a statement that she would be a candidate would enable her opponents within the department to simply lie low and await her departure in mid-2007. This way she avoids that scrutiny and that covert opposition..

In other words, we have time to get Dr. Rice to change her mind and see that she is the best candidate we have for 2008. After all, as the article reminds us, "a poll conducted in February, 42 percent of voters said Rice should run for the White House." If her nation calls her to serve, I believe that Condoleezza Rice will answer that call.

|| Greg, 04:03 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rodeo Reflections

Today's Houston Chronicle has four letters to the editor about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. While I don't usually comment on letters, I think these four deserve some commentary. My wife and I have found this year's RodeoHouston to be wonderful.
Kindness everywhere a thrill My wife and I attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last week and were thrilled, not only with the way the rodeo is operated with great efficiency and attention to its quests, but also how we were treated by complete strangers and the rodeo staff.

With my wife in a wheelchair, we had never experienced kindness like this before displayed by complete strangers.

The parking accommodations for the handicapped were close to the stadium and kind police officers guided us so we could quickly and easily enter the rodeo arena.

Everywhere we turned there were people who were sensitive to our needs.

When it got close to time for the show, we got in line. A young man came over and guided us to a different gate where we were first in line. He made the effort by searching the gates for the best one. That spontaneous gesture will long be remembered as reflective of the spirit of respect shown to us by so many of the youth we encountered.

After the show, we were again assisted to the elevator, given priority for entering it and guided to the proper exit. What a wonderful experience this town gave us.

We have not lived here long and it was with some anxiety that we even went to the rodeo, considering the crowds and all the excitement. But we certainly will come back, thanks to those who went out of their way to assist us.

This event proved for us to be another reason to take pride in being Texans and Houstonians.


I cannot help but echo Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley. The on-going health problems my wife faces finally caused us to get handicapped plates a couple of months back. We have been quite pleased with the parking situation which has cut her walking significantly. We've even been pleasantly surprised as we've discovered that they have implemented a wheelchair service for those who have difficulty with the ramps and escalators at Reliant Stadium. She has been whisked onto an elevator and straight to her seat at each of the performances we've attended, and back out again after the concert is over. All the staff has been great, and most of the other folks attending have been accommodating when they have seen her getting around with her walking cast and cane (the latter a permanent feature, the former only temporary). The Rodeo has made some giant strides over the last few years in dealing with handicapped individuals, and has responded to suggestions from the public.

Help kids without the cruelty

I was disgusted with the picture of the calf shown in the paper this week. The fear shown in the animal's eyes as a teenager threw and wrestled the animal to the ground made me extremely sad.

Isn't there some other way we can help these kids without making the animals suffer?

There's got to be a better way to get these kids to college rather than having them raise an animal from birth, to love, feed and tend it daily, only to have to sell it to the highest bidder for slaughter!

We should not make these kids choose between an education and an animal they love. That's just cruel.


A couple of points, Ms. Broaddus.

1) The local Humane Society has keeps close tabs on rodeo animals and ensures that they are not being mistreated. So do the stock contractors, because their living depends on these animals. So rest assured that what you saw was not cruel treatment.

2) The kids involved in the calf scramble are 4-H and FFA members. Most of them plan on being involved with animals in some way or another as a career, whether in agriculture or veterinary medicine. They have been raising animals for years (chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs) and are well aware of what happens to the animals they raise. It isn't a shock to such kids what happens to the Grand Champion Steer -- as a former teacher of the girl who raised last year's Grand Champion Steer, I can assure you of that fact.

3) The sale of the Grand Champions and other animals is a major source of the scholarship money. Yesterday they sold this year's Grand Champion Steer for $340,000. After the girl who raised it gets her cut, that is still $265,000 that goes for scholarships. The Reserve Grand Champion (second place) went for $250,000, and put $210,000 in the pot. In real terms, that means that 38 students will be receiving the $12,500 rodeo scholarships from the auction of those two animals. My only regret is that this year's prices were a bit low compared to some past years.

4) Do you have any better suggestions on how to raise that money, or are you only going to complain? After all, I don't think that it would be nearly so much fun to watch the kids wrestle animal rights activists to the ground, nor is there enough meat on their bones to make a reasonable barbecue when they are grown. I certainly know that animal rights activists would not bring much money at auction.

Not the place for a war tribute

While attending the rodeo last weekend, I was taken aback by the tribute given the U.S. military. Although it was touted as "support for our troops," it was apparent that the real purpose was to generate support for the failing war policies of the Bush administration.

I don't believe the rodeo is the appropriate place to try to bolster support for an unjustified war that more and more people are realizing is not worth the great loss of life that has been experienced by our troops and by the Iraqi people.

The rodeo chairman gave a speech preceding the tribute and claimed we should show our support for the troops because they are "fighting to protect our freedom." This is bunk!

The war in Iraq has nothing to do with the freedoms that we so cherish in this nation.

I tire of the politicians and others who support this war and claim that it protects us in America.

If they wanted to support our troops, they would bring them home.

The Woodlands

I don't know whether I should be bored or outraged by Ms. Cortina's letter.

Ms. Cortina, I've only been to the rodeo eight times this year, but I've noticed that at every single one of the performances the crowd has jumped to their feet to applaud the serving members of the armed forces who are being honored when they march in. I think that indicates that most of us disagree with you about the propriety of honoring the troops -- as do most Texans. We also tend to disagree with you about the war. If you don't agree with us, sit down, shut up, and let us have our moment of honoring the troops. And if you cannot do that much, might I suggest that you stay home from future performances so you are not offended by the three minute video accompanied by the singing of "God Bless America" by which you are so troubled. After all, we have just as much right to our belief as you do.

No returning, rain or shine

A March 8 Chronicle report on the rodeo had a headline that said, "Numbers down despite concert crowds," and blamed the recent rain for lower attendance. Let me tell you the real reason for attendance decline: poor transportation and parking policies.

My husband and I took two of our grandchildren to the Houston Livestock Show last week. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. to find the yellow cash parking entrance closed. We had to go out and back to South Main and around to enter at the purple lot entrance and then drive back to the yellow area to park, seemingly miles from where we needed to be.

After making our way to the tram station, we found it operates only after 4:00 p.m., so we had to walk around the Texans' training facility and over the road to get to the Reliant entrance.

This was an incredibly long walk with two small children. The rain was just a small part of our troubles. We would have taken a shuttle bus from a Park 'n Ride facility, but they only run after 5 p.m. on weekdays!

We decided not to take our other two grandchildren as planned, nor are we likely to attempt this "adventure" in future years.


Mrs. Sweet, all you had to do was plan in advance and you would not have had that problem. If you had bothered to plan, you would have known that there is very little paid parking on the grounds of Reliant Park. That is why they advise you to take the Rodeo Shuttle. And no, they do not run only from 5:00 AM -- there is the Reed Road lot about three miles from Reliant Park that operates from 5:00 AM. Had you gone there (like HLSR advises), you would have found plenty of parking on a day during the middle of Spring Break when the star performer for the rodeo was going to be Kenny Chesney, one of the hottest stars in country music. You really can't blame the event planners for your failure to check out the situation in advance.

Anyway, that's how I see the letters about the Rodeo in today's Houston Chronicle. We still have one more week of rodeo left, and there are still tickets available for most of the performances. Come on down if you can!

|| Greg, 01:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Surreal Campus Politics

Were the implications not so scary, I would find this story quite funny. But while I do find some dark humor in the situation, it leaves me wondering about the future of Israel and any state that the Palestinians ever manage to set up. I'm guessing that this is simply a microcosm of things to come.
Hundreds of student supporters of the Hamas group clashed with supporters of Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah party, throwing punches, sticks and stones during a Hamas campaign rally for student council elections.

Hospital officials said at least nine people were injured, including an Agence France Press photographer who received five stitches in the head.

The massive brawl erupted when several hundred Fatah supporters at Hebron University in the West Bank started shouting their own party's slogans in the midst of a large Hamas rally. Harsh words erupted into a fight, sending photographers and cameramen at the scene running for cover.

Student supporters of the Islamic Jihad intervened, acting as a buffer and eventually ending the violent fight between the two parties.

Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad running candidates for STUDENT COUNCIL?????

|| Greg, 12:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hiding Vote Fraud In Wisconsin

There seem to have been a lot of irregularities in the November 2004 election in the state of Wisconsin. That should come as no surprise, as there was wel-documented vote fraud there during the 2000 presidential election as well. But there is one difference. Changes in election laws in 2003 make it much harder for the public to get their hands on the information needed to prove that such fraud took place.
In the United States, your ballot is secret, but almost everything else about an election is part of the public record: Who voted and at what ward. Where they live. How old they are. Even what number they were in line.

Until recently, that is.

At least in Wisconsin, where a 2003 change in state law put the birth dates of voters off limits to the public, making it nearly impossible to determine whether someone voted twice, a felon voted improperly, or someone voted as a dead person.

So if Mr. John Smith, born January 24, 1908,up and passed away in March, 2004, there is now no way to tell if the John Smith who voted in his precinct was him or another John Smith, because the public cannot check the birtdate to find out if we have "dead man voting."

What is even more disturbing is that after the Milwaukee Journal-Star discovered some 7000 unaccounted for votes in Milwaukee, the city cut off their access to the records because of a federal investigation into vote fraud -- an investigation that was prompted by the newspaper's own investigation! Apparantly discovery of potential voter fraud significant enough to cause an investigation is grounds for denying the public access to records that might allow them to find more fraud.

Read the entire account of the obstruction of access to public records. The informationa vailable shows pretty clear evidence of vote fraud, and the denial of access shows how far some in government will go to keep people in the dark.

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

Do Saudis Support Terrorism Against Israel?

Adel al-Jubeir is the official spokesman for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In that capacity, he recently addressed the issue of Saudi involvement in the war on terrorism. His response was interesting, though quite telling on one point.

Now, however, al-Jubeir wants Americans to believe that Saudi Arabia is remaking itself that what it has been is not what it will be. As he puts it, "The bottom line is that no Saudi citizen will be able to escape the clear message that intolerance, violence and extremism are not part of our Islamic faith, or of Saudi culture or traditions.”

Asked how Saudi Arabia defines terrorism, al-Jubeir said that the kingdom had adopted the UN’s formula, which defines terrorism as an act that causes victims among civilians, “anywhere.”

Sounds good, doesn't it? Saudi Arabia opposes terrorism, and rejects the notion that it is acceptable under the teachings of Islam. We should all celebrate and honor the Saudis as full partners in the war on terrorism, and those Saudis (including Osama and most of the 9/11 hijackers) were acting outside of the acceptable norms of Saudi religion, culture, and history.

And then came the ever so inconvenient question from an Israeli reporter from the Israeli business news website, Globes.

"Globes’" reporter, who identified himself as an Israeli journalist, wanted to hear how Saudi Arabia defines Palestinian organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other like them. Are these terrorist organizations? Does Saudi Arabia support them, and will it continue to do so? The reporter also asked whether the Saudi Arabian royal family would agree to diplomatic relations with Israel after implementation of the disengagement plan.

Without blinking, al-Jubeir answered, “Let’s wait a minute with that. Let’s finish with the subject of terrorism.” He turned to two other reporters, unexpectedly stopped the press conference, and quickly left the room. Several people, apparently employees of the Saudi Arabian embassy, physically blocked access to the retreating spokesperson. A group of Arab journalists began to shout, “What about the briefing in Arabic that you promised us?”, but al-Jubeir was already out of hearing.

In other words, al-Jubeir chose to cut and run rather than offer an answer that legitimized Israel or condemned the many acts of terrorism committed against it by Palestinian terrorist groups. He refused to say that the use of terrorism against Israel is "intolerance, violence and extremism [that] are not part of our Islamic faith, or of Saudi culture or traditions." One can only presume, then, that his original answer was a lie, and that terrorism is a part of Saudi tradition, culture, and religion -- at least if the victims are Jews. And if terrorism is acceptable against Israel, why should we believe his assurances that terrorism is unacceptable elsewhere. After all, al-Jubeir chose not to disclose the "Israeli exception" in his initial answer. Why should we presume that there is not also a "US exception" or a "Christian exception" to the Saudi condemnation of terrorism?

In any case, before his tactical retreat, al-Jubeir demonstrated amazing command of the art of spin. Imams giving poisonous sermons against the West? In the US, al-Jubeir says, the Ku Klux Klan delivers poisonous messages ostensibly based on the principles of Christianity. Would anybody say that the US is a racist country, or that Christianity spreads hatred? The Ku Klux Klan hijacked Christianity, and uses it for its own ends. Extremist Muslims in Saudi Arabia have hijacked Islam, and are using it for their own ends.

”We won’t let deviants distort our religion,” al-Jubeir said, “We’re overhauling our educational system to instill the true values of our religion.”

Except, of course, that imams in Saudi Arabia are paid by the government, and preach only with government approval. That isn't true of clergy in the US. The extremist teachings of the imams are common in Saudi Arabia, while those of the Klan are the exception and nearly universally condemned in the US and by Christians generally. When the Klan holds an event, they are usually outnumbered 10-to-1 by their opponents, while that is not the case with the extremist imams in Saudi Arabia.

So when will the US pressure the Saudis to condemn all terrorism, including attacks against Jews intended to force Israeli concessions to the Palestinians? When will we pressure them to recognize Israel? Or will we continue to pretend that the Saudis are really our allies in the war on terrorism, rather than the source of the problem?

|| Greg, 11:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Somebody Finally Gets It!

The St. Augustine Record recently started carrying Ann Coulter's column. While I disagree with that decision (I may be conservative, but I don't like Coulter -- give me Michelle Malkin any day), I think that the goals of having a balanced editorial/opinion page is a good one.

Needless to say, there have been protests over the decision. Some point to Coulter's recent ethnic slur against Helen Thomas and use of the term "injun" in another as part of the coarsening of politics in this country. They object to Coulter's rudeness and condescension towards her opponents. The editors of the Record, on the other hand, refer to her style as refreshing. I disagree, but only because I believe she goes too far, into an unrelenting arrogance that does more harm than good.

But that said, I found refreshing this analysis of the history of American journalism.

Their brand of journalism is not new. It was common in the 1800s and into the early part of the last century. Back then it was the norm for newspapers to practice "advocacy" journalism in which newspapers deliberately slanted their news to a particular point of views. Communities had many newspapers, some took the labor perspective, others business, some supported Protestants, others Catholics. At one time, New York City had 17 newspapers, each espousing a political tilt.

I've made the same point many times. Go back to the election of 1800. Look at the articles that appeared in print. Those papers supporting Jefferson savaged John Adams. The writers for Federalist newspapers relentlessly abused Jefferson. It was presumed that a paper was publishing the opinions and points of view of its publisher. The notion of "objective journalism" was nowhere to be seen. The result was a print media market not unlike the blogosphere today, with a multiplicity of views and voices contributing to a healthy discussion of the events and ideas of the day.

So what if Fox News is tilted right, and CNN slants left? Provided that Americans actually look at all sides, that diversity of viewpoints is good for America. It forces Americans to think critically, to question what they hear on both and to do a litte closer research. No longer do we have to accept an anchor's assurance that "that's the way it is" at the end of a newscast -- we can flip the channel, pick up a paper or magazine, or surf the Net to see what other voices are saying.

And THAT'S the way it should be.

|| Greg, 10:24 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 12, 2005

Zero Tolerance Idiocy Down Under

Stories like this one make my blood boil!

The bashing of a teenage boy has been filmed by a gang of bullies – and the incident has rocked one of Victoria's top government schools.

Several senior students from Balwyn High School were suspended over the attack at a park near the school and the victim's mother is considering legal action.

Principal Bruce Armstrong confirmed that the students had recorded the attack using a camera on a mobile phone.

Mr Armstrong said it had been the school's most serious incidence of bullying since he became principal.

The school also suspended the Year 11 victim because he retaliated during the attack.

Let's see if I have this right. The attack took place off school grounds. The kid has been attacked more than once. The attack went on for 45 minutes and the kid couldn't even get up off the ground when it was over. The kid was targeted because of his speech impediment. Students stood around and watched the fight, recording it for distribution to others. The kid and his mother have been threatened by the mother of one of the attackers for contacting the police and pursuing the matter through the legal system. The the attackers had kick-boxing training. And yet the victim, because he attempted to defend himself, was suspended just like his attackers.

This case, my friends is horrific. The attack didn't happen at school and, I assume, happened outside of the course of the school day, so I don't see where the school has any jurisdiction over the matter. Apparently the school believes it does, so I'll set that matter aside. But to punish the obvious victim for exercising his basic human right to defend himself is obscene. I'd love to know if the spectators, especially those filming the attack, were punished as well.

I always understood that Australia was a nation of rugged individuals. Apparently it has degenerated into one more namby-pamby nation of wusses. Now it is training its children to be good little Frenchmen, prepared to surrender at the first sign of aggression in the hopes that the enemy won't hurt them too bad.

|| Greg, 09:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

PC Bunnies

Easter is coming -- surely the local shopping mall has an Easter Bunny, right?

Not if your mall has gone PC.

The Easter Bunny is a vanishing breed.

Not that there's a shortage of 6-foot white rabbits carrying baskets of colored eggs. It's just that Mr. Shopping Mall Bunny is becoming more politically correct.

The bunny at The Gardens mall Easter egg hunt last weekend — oops, make that just plain "egg hunt" — was called Garden Bunny.

"The name just complemented The Gardens of the Palm Beaches," mall Marketing Director Jeannie Roberts said.

Saturday, Baxter the Bunny is available for photos at the Mall at Wellington Green. At Town Center in Boca Raton, Peter Rabbit will hand out goodies and pose for pictures.

"Because we're such a multicultural community, it's good just to remain neutral," mall General Manager Sam Hosen said.

Some stick with tradition. The Easter Bunny still appears at the Boynton Beach Mall and at Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach. The Palm Beach Mall has no bunny at all.

"I suppose the name Easter Bunny is fairly unusual. We have Easter eggs too," Boynton Beach Mall Manager Andrea Horne said. "I know it's probably not the popular thing to call it."

Give me a break! The bunny, like Santa, is a holiday symbol associated with a Christian holiday. That is the only reason the tradition of having the bunny during the spring started. If the name of the holiday is offensive, then get rid of the symbol, too. Don't just neuter the symbol by changing thename. After all, seeing the symbol might freak out that small minority of religion haters that would object to the use of the name of the holiday.

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

March 11, 2005

Posts Of Note

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Southern Appeal, that incredible blog by a group of Southern lawyers and professors who blog from several conservative points of view. A recent post there by the blog's founder, feddie (AKA Steve Dillard, Esq.), defends Scalia's dissent in Roper v. Simmons (the teen death penalty case) from an attack by Publius from Law and Politics. I urge you to read feddie's post, and also the original by Publius (if you can spare the time). They are both excellent expositions of their points of view, with feddie advocating originalism and Publius supporting the concept of an evolving Constitution.

Also, look at the comments on these threads over at Americablog. John's commenters have managed to turn the black rapist who killed three folks in an Atlanta courtroom into an automaton conned by the right-wing religious and political extremists. I guess the point of these nutjobs is really simple -- EVERYTHING is a direct result of the creeping fascism supported by Bush backers. I can only imagine what is going on at the Democratic Underground. This reading is not for the faint of heart.

|| Greg, 10:19 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Do Democrats Fear Photo ID?

Democrats in the Georgia Senate have walked out over the passage of a bill mandating photo identification for all individuals casting a bllot in an election.
ATLANTA - The state Senate's Democratic caucus, led by the chamber's black members, walked out of the Legislature Friday after an emotional vote on voting rights. Immediately after a 7 p.m. vote that would eliminate 12 of the 17 forms of identification that may be used at Georgia polls, a majority of Senate Democrats, including all black members, left the chamber.

"This is wrong!" Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, shouted before the exit. "We will not go back."

All but one other member of the Democratic caucus left shortly afterward. Most Democrats returned to the chamber about 25 minutes later.

"We wanted to at least show them we support them," said Sen. Michael Meyer Von Bremen, D-Albany.

Republican sponsors of the bill said it was an effort to cut down on voter fraud.

You need a photo ID to cash a check most places. You need one to get on a plane. Why shouldn't our polling places and ballot boxes be at least as secure?

Democrats -- especially members of the Black Caucus -- are claiming that the bill is designed to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. The bill, however, allows anyone without a photo ID to obtain a state photo ID from the department of motor vehicles. Those who can't afford one may obtain one for free. Those two provisions mean that there is no reasonable basis for a voter not having an acceptable form of identification on election day.

So I ask again -- why do democrats fear photographic identification of voters? Is it simply victim politics run wild? Or is it because they know that their party will lose fraudulent votes cast by folks who go to different polling places to vote under different names using non-photographic forms of identification?

|| Greg, 09:57 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Are You Hiding, Howard?

For all that the Democrats claim to be the party of the people, it seems they are hell-bent on keeping the people from knowing about the workings of government.

At least in Vermont.

And at least if the government official that the people want to know about is a former governor named Howard Dean.

More than a year after the collapse of his presidential campaign, the fight over public access to Howard Dean's gubernatorial records goes before the state's high court next week.

The state is appealing a ruling from Superior Court Judge Alan Cook in February of last year saying that 86 boxes of records sealed by Dean when he left office in 2003 are presumed to be open.

Cook ordered that Dean and the state had to identify each of the hundreds of thousands of documents in the boxes and say why each should be covered by executive privilege.

Dean had asked as he left office that the records be sealed for ten years. The Washington-based group Judicial Watch sued to gain access to them.

So what do you have to hide, Howard?

|| Greg, 09:19 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Is THIS Enough To Fire Him

Let's ignore Ward Churchill's statements comparing the 9/11 victims to Nazi war criminals. Let's ignore the irregular process through which he obtained tenure. Let's ignore his retaliation via a lowered grade against a student journalist who wrote an unflattering article about him. Let's forget his acts of violence against others. Let's forget his deficient scholarship. Will something as clear and straightforward as plagiarism be sufficient to fire Ward Churchill?
University of Colorado officials investigating embattled professor Ward Churchill received documents this week purporting to show that he plagiarized another professor's work.

Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

"The article . . . is, in the opinion of our legal counsel, plagiarism," Dalhousie spokesman Charles Crosby said in summarizing the report's findings.

Churchill did not return calls to his home or office Thursday seeking comment.

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn't pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Cohen still declines to talk publicly about her experience with Churchill, but she agreed the Dalhousie report could be shared with CU officials, Crosby said, because "whatever concerns she may have about her safety are outweighed by the importance she attaches to this information getting out there."

Crosby declined a request for a copy of the report but said it does not contain information about the alleged threat from Churchill.

It is not clear if CU officials are aware of the alleged threat. A CU spokeswoman said officials there would not comment on any matter related to an ongoing review of Churchill's work.

Academic and intellectual dishonesty, confirmed by qualified academics from another university, should be sufficient -- especially when one considers his threats against the victim of his scholarly theft.

Ward Churchill -- do not pass go, do not collect $10 million. You're fired!

|| Greg, 08:49 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Florida Vote Fraud

I've taken up dolphin's challenge of finding vote fraud in Florida. Today I found an article about the indictment of a public official and members of his campaign apparatus for felony charges related to their illegal collection of absentee ballots.
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Mayor Buddy Dyer, a judge and two campaign workers surrendered Friday on a felony charge of paying for the collection of absentee ballots in last year's election.

Dyer, Judge Alan Apte and Dyer's campaign manager Patti Sharp declined comment to reporters as they left the Orange County Jail after booking. An attorney for Ezzie Thomas, a campaign consultant to Dyer and Apte, said only that Thomas' indictment doesn't guarantee he will prosecuted.

The indictments had been issued a day earlier by a grand jury that was looking at whether Thomas had illegally collected absentee ballots in predominantly black neighborhoods before the March 2004 electio

For reasons that aren't clear, the article fails to mention the party affiliation of this high profile public official. I pursued the matter a little bit further and checked with Google. Sure enough, he is a Democrat -- one more example of why that party must always be recognized as the largest perpetrator of vote fraud in the United States.

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

Sarbanes Retiring -- Who Will Replace Him?

Another liberal Democrat announces his retirement.
Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a liberal Democrat who is the longest serving senator in Maryland's history, announced Friday that he won't seek a sixth term next year.

"It was not my ambition to stay there until they carried me out," Sarbanes said during an afternoon news conference at his Baltimore office. "It was just the right time. We think we've served long and well and honorably and we're very comfortable with this decision."

Sarbanes, 72, was elected to the Senate in 1976. He said health was not a factor but added he did consider his age in making his decision.

This raises some interesting questions. Will Gov. Robert Ehrlich seek the nomination for Senate. or will he seek reelection? Will Lt. Gov. Michael Steele run for Senate, or will he seek the gubernatorial nod if Erlich runs for Senate? A Steele Senate run could be quite interesting, as scandal-plagued former NAACP Chairman Kwesi Mfume is widely expected to run for Sarbanes' now vacant seat. That prospect of two African Americans battling it out for the US Senate in a high profile race could result in more blacks returning to the GOP fold as they recognize that Steele is more reflective of their values than Mfume.

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

Another One For The Archaeology Geeks

Well, here's another one of those archaeology stories that fascinates history teachers like me.

A chariot burial site uncovered in West Yorkshire could be the final resting place of one of Britain's ancient tribal leaders, archaeologists say.

The well-preserved remains, found by road contractors near Ferrybridge, are thought to be about 2,400 years old.

But evidence suggests that people were still visiting the grave during Roman times - 500 years after his burial.

Experts believe that native Britons may have used the site as a shrine to re-assert their national identity.

Archaeologist Angela Boyle said the site, uncovered during the £245m upgrade of the A1, was "one of the most significant Iron Age burials ever found".

Pre-Anglo-Saxon. Pre-Roman. This dates back to the original Celtic peoples of Britain. And the fact that it remained a center for religious/political veneration for centuries after the burial took place does raise questions about the identity of the man in the grave. Who could be so important that the spot of his burial would be remembered for centuries?

This one has the potential to fascinate historians and others for decades.

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

An Interesting Question

Pro-life activist jeff White is currently on trial in Washington, DC. The charge? Keeping and exposing a dead body or body part during a demonstration on a public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood "clinic".

But wait. There may be a serious flaw with the charges.

Now, nearly a year later, White, 47, is on trial in D.C. Superior Court, being prosecuted by the District's attorney general in a case that White's attorney says underscores the contradictions in U.S. law over the legal standing of a fetus.

The argument of abortion rights advocates has long been that a fetus is nothing more than a cluster of cells and is not a human being, White's attorney, Brian Chavez-Ochoa, said in an interview.

"If that argument is correct," he said, "then how can somebody be charged by the District of Columbia with displaying a human being" when it was a fetus?

"It's a contradictory argument," Chavez-Ochoa said. "If it's not just a clump of cells, is the attorney general willing to concede that a . . . fetus is in fact a human being?"

Now if a fetus is a human being, then there it is crystal clear that a fetus is a "person" under the protection of the US Constitution. And if a fetus is a person, it has an undeniable right to life, one which must be protected under the Constitution and laws of the United States. That would mean that Roe v. Wade, a decision that has never had much in the way of constitutional, legal, scientific, and medical foundation, would have to be overturned as inconsistent with the Constitution. On the other hand, the charges cannot stand if the fetus is not a human being.

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

March 10, 2005

Committee Hearings About PR, Not Steroids

I was struck by this quote from an AP article about the subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Government Reform to Major League Baseball officials and players.

Asked why Bonds wasn't invited, a spokesman for the committee chairman, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said, "Barry Bonds, to be frank, brings a whole crowd and we're not interested in the story being Barry Bonds."

Yeah, the congressmen are interested in the story being about them, not about Barry Bonds. That shows that the hearings are window dressing intended to make members look like they are “doing something,” not about actually doing something. After all, Bonds is the hottest thing in baseball today, and stands accused of using steroids. Why shouldn’t he be invited, especially given this comment by the Davis spokesman?

Asked why [Mark] McGwire was asked to appear, White said: "For some, this is an opportunity to come here and clear their names."

Why shouldn’t Bonds appear, if you really want to offer folks the chance to clear their names of Jose Canseco’s charges? After all, he is the reigning homerun king. Is it that you are afraid that the focus will be on him, and not the committee members, if he and a press entourage march up the steps of the US Capitol Building and into the committee room? Are you afraid that Bonds, and not your boss, will be the central figure in the media reports?

And by the way -- would you mind explaining to me how steroid using baseball players are a matter for the Government Reform Committee?

|| Greg, 11:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Historic Sail Displayed

I’ve been reading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels for the last several months, so I finally know what a topsail is. To see one that is two centuries old, and from Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory no less, would be so fascinating.
Members of the public will be given the chance to view the only surviving sail from the Battle of Trafalgar to mark its 200th anniversary celebrations.

The 3,618 sq ft fore topsail from Nelson's HMS Victory will be displayed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, as part of this year's bicentenary event.

It is recognised as the largest single original artefact from the battle.

Pock-marked by some 90 shot holes, the sail would have been one of the main targets for French and Spanish guns.

Look at the size of that thing. It is more than twice as big as my house!

|| Greg, 11:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

When Will American Muslims Do The Same

After all, there has never been a formal declaration from Muslim religious leaders condemning terrorism as incompatible with the teachings of Islam.
Spain's Islamic Commission, which groups the nation's Muslim community, said it was issuing a fatwa against Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

'We are going to issue a fatwa (religious decree) against Bin Laden this afternoon,' Mansour Escudero, who leads the Federation of Islamic religious entities (Feeri) and co-secretary general of the Spanish government-created Commission told AFP.

The Commission invited Spanish-based imams to condemn terrorism at Friday prayers, when the whole country will be remembering the 191 people who were killed in the train blasts and the 1,900 injured a year ago.

The attacks have been blamed on mainly Moroccan Islamic extremists loyal to Bin Laden.
'We have called on imams to make a formal declaration condemning terrorism and for a special prayer for all the victims of terrorism,' Escudero said.

The Commission has also drawn up a document designed to 'thank the Spanish people and the government for their attitude towards Muslims' since last March 11, in particular for not taking 'disproportionate' measures similar to those which the Sept 11 attacks sparked in the US.

The Commission called on Muslims to take part in Friday's commemorative programme being organised by Spanish authorities and community groups and to work with them to ensure terrorism was defeated.

Interesting, isn’t it, that American Muslim groups are more interested in suppressing the free speech rights of other Americans, complaining about negative portrayals in the entertainment industry, and preventing scrutiny of the most likely terrorist suspects. Could it be that the major Muslim organizations in the United States are not working with our government to ensure terrorism is defeated?

|| Greg, 11:39 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Racist Seeks Mayoral Nod In Detroit

This woman appears to be quite a loon. Why is it that white folks are expected to denounce such race-baiting tactics, while African-Americans embrace them?
It's hard to say whether Sharon McPhail is a racist or just plain stupid. But for sure, she's a liar.

Harsh words, yes. But there's no way to sugar-coat the Detroit councilwoman's character lapses. To do so would be a disservice to the voters of Detroit, who will see McPhail's name on their mayoral ballot this fall.

McPhail participated in a recent dinner sponsored by the Call 'Em Out Coalition, a racist hate group dedicated to divisiveness and separatism. Specifically, she helped hand out the group's Sambo Sell Out awards, given to black officials whom the group decides are too cozy with whites.

This year's top award went to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Also dishonored at the dinner were Detroit businessman and National Basketball Assocation Hall of Famer Dave Bing, apparently for his efforts to give Detroit's schoolchildren a brighter future; schools chief Kenneth Burnley, who has poured his soul into the thankless task of reviving the city's school system; and McPhail's fellow council member, Lonnie Bates, who received the "I Talk Black but Vote White" award. We can think of a number of dubious awards for which Bates might qualify, but that one escapes us.

Councilwoman McPhail, as someone who is supposed to represent the entire city, all races and ethnic groups, had no business at a dinner sponsored by a group whose mission is rooted in racism. This goes beyond poor judgment and into the realm of gross stupidity.

Her explanation that the dinner was a good-natured "roast" of politicians doesn't fly. Bing is not a politician; he's a businessman trying to do something positive in the city.

This episode caps a bizarre career for McPhail in which she repeatedly has had to explain away goofy and inappropriate behavior.

The editorial goes on to recount Councilwoman McPhail’s history of “unusual” behavior, including her accusations against the editorial board of the Detroit News for reporting comments she had made in a meeting with them.

Sounds like she is a real nutjob, on top of being a liar and a racist. I hope the people of Detroit have the common sense to reject her in favor of a more stable candidate.

|| Greg, 11:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jersey Muslims Seek To Suppress Free Speech

At first glance, many Coptic Christians believed the murder of the Hossam Amranious family in Jersey City was a case of religious violence. Given the persecution of Copts in Egypt by the Muslim majority, that wasn’t unreasonable – especially given death threats received by family members for their proselytizing of Muslims on-line and at school.

Now members of a Muslim group want criminal charges against those who dared to raise the spectre of Muslim violence against dhimmis who didn’t keep to the subordinate place required of them under Islamic shari’a law.

Sohail Mohammed, the lawyer for the American Muslim Union, wrote to Attorney General Peter Harvey Wednesday seeking an investigation of comments made by some in the Coptic community in the days following the slaying of the Armanious family in January.

Mohammed said those comments might have been designed to dissuade Muslims from attending the funeral, and could have been intended to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment.

He noted that many Muslim leaders stayed away from the funeral. The handful who did attend were greeted with abuse and several had to be escorted by police officers from the church hall where the funeral was being held for their own safety, he said.

"We are concerned that those comments were deliberately intended to incite the public," Mohammed said. "If it was intentional, we want Mr. Harvey to do an investigation and determine if it was a bias crime. If there was bias related to it, it becomes a bias crime."

Wait just a minute here. Speech is not a crime. It is not a crime to incite the public to hold negative views about a group, unless immediate violence is intended. Telling the truth about Islam is not a crime, and stating that you believe a hate crime has been committed (as many did in the case of the Armanious killings) does not constitute a hate crime.

What we have here is simply one more case of a Muslim leader trying to make it unacceptable to raise any question about Islam or Muslims. Let’s hope that Peter Harvey has the guts to stick to his guns and defend the First Amendment rights of Arab Christians against this attack by the American Muslim Union.

|| Greg, 11:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Care To Guess The Party?

Six members of the Taxachusetts Massachusetts Legislature are on the state list of tax evaders. Care to guess their party?

Six current state representatives are listed by the Department of Revenue as having failed to file state income tax returns for recent years.

Rep. Byron Rushing, second assistant majority leader 12th-term Democrat from the South End
Didn't file for 2002
Rushing previously apologized for failing to file for the years 1990 to 1995.

Rep. David P. Linsky, 4th term Democrat from Framingham, former prosecutor openly discussing a run for Middlesex district attorney
Didn't file for 2002 and 2003

Rep. Colleen M. Garry, 6th term Democrat from Dracut, chairwoman of the Personnel and Administration Committee
Didn't file for 2002 and 2003

Rep. Anne M. Gobi, 3rd-term Democrat from Spencer
Didn't file for 2002 and 2003

Rep. Matthew Patrick, 3rd-term Democrat from Falmouth
Didn't file for 2003

Rep. Sean Curran, freshman Democrat from Springfield
Didn't file for 2000

I guess that means that taxes are only for the little people, not for the power elite in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.

|| Greg, 11:30 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Is Liberalism A Mental Disorder?

Seems to me that we are seeing more and more articles about deranged Democrats engaging in acts of violence against Americans who dare to disagree with their bankrupt views of the world. Here’s another one from, this one from Florida.
This week, a Tampa woman learned that simple Bush-Cheney bumper sticker can bring trouble, if not danger, from a total stranger.

Police say Michelle Fernandez, 35, was chased for miles Tuesday by an irate 31-year-old Tampa man who cursed at her as he held up an anti-Bush sign and tried to run her off the road.

His sign, about the size of a business letter, read:

Never Forget Bush's Illegal Oil War Murdered Thousands in Iraq.

"I guess this was a disgruntled Democrat," Tampa Police spokesman Joe Durkin said. "Maybe he has that sign with him so he's prepared any time he comes up against a Republican."

Police arrested Nathan Alan Winkler at his home on N Cleveland Street near Hyde Park within an hour of the incident.

After finding the antiwar sign in his car, they booked him into the county jail on one count of aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, Durkin said.

He posted his $2,000 bond and was released early Wednesday, jail records show. This was Winkler's first arrest in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

I see folks I disagree with on the road with their bumper stickers proclaiming their political ignorance. I avert my eyes and drive on. So do most Republicans I know. We don’t chase them for miles, honking the horn and trying to run them off the road. After all, we recognize that the First Amendment protects their right to express dumb sentiments.

I guess that is what differentiates conservatives from liberals – we believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we disagree, while liberals seek to hurt or kill those they can’t shut up through force of law.

Or maybe it is just that they are insane, and that insanity sometimes shows itself in acts of violence.

|| Greg, 11:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Uh, Whose Meeting Is It?

Sometimes elected officials fail to understand that they are SUBORDINATE to the voters and taxpayers they serve. Such is clearly the case in Levels, West Virginia. The school board and its attorney there have muzzled parents who wish to address the board about their concerns regarding the district superintendent and another administrator.
Former House of Delegates Education Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta may be the most talked-about man in Hampshire County — but not at meetings of the school board that employs him.

Board attorney Norwood Bentley successfully muzzled people demanding that Mezzatesta be fired from his $60,000 administrative job earlier this week, and Bentley said he's likely to do it again.

Speaking is a privilege offered by the board, not a public right, Bentley argues.
"You can't take an employee of a school board to task in an open session," Bentley told the Associated Press after stopping a handful of residents from identifying Mezzatesta or Superintendent David Friend by name or job title.

"It's not the public's meeting," he said. "It's the school board's meeting."

More than 100 people packed into a school cafeteria on March 7 when resident Robert Lee began calling for Mezzatesta's and Friend's dismissal. Lee and others had signed a list to speak, identifying their topics as required by board rules.

Uh, whose meeting is it? It is the people’s meeting. Since you have forgotten that, here’s hoping that the people remember this and vote out every member of the board and elect new members who will replace Mr. Bentley with an attorney who is competent in the area of First Amendment law.

|| Greg, 11:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

And I Thought Ex-Lax Brownies Were Evil

This is just sick.
A teenager has agreed to admit to three counts of disturbing the peace after anonymously sending semen-frosted brownies to a fellow student. The recipient shared the treat with two other teens, police said.

They said the 17-year-old Coeur d'Alene High School student was upset after a prank in which the other student put peanut butter in his cheese sandwich days before. He told a school resource officer that "he hated peanut butter and it made him more mad than he could explain," according to the police report.

Talk about your overreaction to a trivial joke! And the sad part is that the maximum sentence is only 90 days on each charge.

|| Greg, 04:33 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 09, 2005

Chris LeDoux -- RIP

Chris LeDoux started out as a bareback rider on the rodeo circuit, won the gold buckle at the National Finals Rodeo, and then turned to music when his career was over, developing a fan-base that included mega-star Garth Brooks. He died today from complications related to liver cancer, one of the many illnesses he has battled over the last decade.
LeDoux, known little outside the rodeo circuit until country superstar Garth Brooks paid tribute to him in a song, described his music as a combination of "Western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."

He and Brooks teamed up for the Top 10 hit, Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy, in 1992.

In November, LeDoux canceled several tour dates while undergoing treatment for cancer of the bile duct. He had undergone a liver transplant in 2000 after a lengthy illness.

LeDoux (pronounced luh-DOO) had been playing guitar and harmonica and writing songs since his teens, and he used his musical skills to help pay for his rodeo entry fees.

He recorded songs about cowboys, the ups and downs of the rodeo circuit and his adopted home of Wyoming. In 1976, he became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's world bareback champion.

By 1989, LeDoux had released 22 albums. They were mostly cassettes produced by his parents, which he sold at concerts and rodeos. He had a loyal, if limited, fan base.

But that all changed that year when Brooks had a hit with Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old), which included the line: "A worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze/seem to be the only friends I've left at all."

The song came at a time when LeDoux's career was sputtering with an independent label and no marketing.

"And here he comes along and mentions the worn-out tapes in his song," LeDoux said of Brooks in an interview with The Associated Press in 2001. "To me, Garth, he's kind of like my guardian angel. It's like every time I need some help, he's there."

I'm one of those who was introduced to LeDoux's music by the song. I understand why he was such a fan. Chris LeDoux had a style and a genuinness that you don't often find in country music today. I don't know that we will find his like again, given the current plague of pop-disguised-as-country that has been in vogue for the last decade or so.

They held a moment of silence for the great champion and talented singer at RodeoHouston tonight. The prayers of thousands were offered up for LeDoux and his family.

Rest in peace, Chris.

Cowboy up!

|| Greg, 09:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Link To Racist Leader In Murder Of Judge’s Family

Initial speculation in the murder of the husband and mother of US District Court Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow pointed to white supremacist Matthew Hale as the culprit. The question was, how did he get orders out to his followers? Well, it seems that he and his mother may have taken a page from the Lynne Stewart playbook.

An attorney for jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale said Hale's mother asked him to relay an encoded message from Hale to one of his supporters, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Hale, who awaits sentencing for soliciting the murder of a federal judge, has been a focus of the investigation into last week's shooting deaths of the judge's husband and mother.

Lawyer Glenn Greenwald said Hale's mother, Evelyn Hutcheson, asked him a few months ago to pass the message to a Hale supporter.

"She said she didn't know what the message meant, but she was going to read it to me verbatim because Matt made her write it down when she visited him," Greenwald told the newspaper. "It was two or three sentences that were very cryptic and impossible to understand in terms of what they were intended to convey."

He said he declined to deliver it.

Hale’s visitation privileges were cut off last week, and he has been held under anti-terrorism provisions implemented during the Clinton administration -- the same ones that were in use with the blind sheik in the Lynne Stewart case.

Having met Hale during his days as a law student at Southern Illinois University -- Carbondale during the late 1980s, I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear he is involved. He was a malignant, hateful individual back then, and time apparently has not improved his character.

|| Greg, 09:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ain’t Sarcasm Fun?

How would you answer the question often posed by animal rights lunatics terrorists activists about how you can “kill and eat such a beautiful creature with a clean conscience”. Dr. Mike Adams has a great answer in his column today.
First, you need to decide whether venison is right for you. I would suggest starting with a rack of deer ribs that can be thrown on the grill the next time you decide to Bar-B-Q some chicken. Just douse the ribs with some KC Masterpiece Sauce and sprinkle them with Lowry’s Seasoning Salt. By the time you lay them all out, it will be time to flip them over. After you do, just pour any excess sauce on the ribs and cover them long enough to extinguish the flames. They should be ready within a few minutes. Just don’t overcook them and remember the following rule, Antonio: charcoal only, no gas grilling!

The column includes a recipe for a wonderful marinade, as well as some pointed comments about unsavory actions taken by PETA and other animal rights nutjobs supporters.

|| Greg, 09:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Ice Cap Melt Part Of A Cycle?

We keep hearing folks rant on about global warming. Those who suggest that it might be a normal phenomenon are dismissed as loons. But then again, could it really be a cyclical process?
The melting of sea ice at the North Pole may be the result of a centuries-old natural cycle and not an indicator of man-made global warming, Scottish scientists have found.

After researching the log-books of Arctic explorers spanning the past 300 years, scientists believe that the outer edge of sea ice may expand and contract over regular periods of 60 to 80 years. This change corresponds roughly with known cyclical changes in atmospheric temperature.

The finding opens the possibility that the recent worrying changes in Arctic sea ice are simply the result of standard cyclical movements, and not a harbinger of major climate change.

The amount of sea ice is currently near its lowest point in the cycle and should begin to increase within about five years.

As a result, Dr Chad Dick, a Scottish scientist working at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromso, believes the next five to ten years will be a critical period in our understanding of sea ice and the impact, if any, of long-term global warming.

The article is fascinating, with lots of good historical observations and explanations of what could happen if mankind has disrupted the cycle.

|| Greg, 09:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||


Let’s forget about the issue of bloodborne pathogens – this is just sick!

The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission is investigating a Central Linn High School teacher and coach accused of licking the bleeding wounds of his student athletes.

The commission is expected to take up the case of Scott Reed in a closed session Thursday in Salem. Its investigation began after a district parent filed a complaint in July, claiming "a pattern of willful, repeated inappropriate behavior, which has threatened student safety and health."

Reed remains a dean of students, science teacher and head football coach at the high school after being disciplined last year for licking the bleeding knee of an athlete. He acknowledged the May 2004 incident during school district and police investigations of another parent's complaint that he had licked blood from several students.

The Linn County sheriff's office found no basis for criminal charges in what Sheriff Dave Burright called "bizarre" conduct. The school district placed Reed on probation and required him to take a "bloodborne pathogens" course - a response some parents considered inadequate.

Am I the only person who thinks there may be a “kink-factor” in this?

|| Greg, 09:30 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Is There To Investigate?

I guess I'm trying to figure out why a negative comment about lawbreakers would prompt an investigation.
Officials at Colorado State University at Pueblo are investigating a student's allegation that a professor complained about illegal immigrants during an anthropology class last week.

Victoria Watson filed the complaint against Dan Forsyth over remarks she contends he made during a class last Thursday.

Neither Watson nor Forsyth could be reached for comment Tuesday.

However, in a statement, CSU-Pueblo President Ron Applbaum described the investigation into the allegation as "active and ongoing."

"We want to assure both the public and the student population that the university takes seriously such incidents that may hamper a student's ability to express themselves freely or to gain the broadest possible perspective on an issue or a topic."

The investigation is being conducted by academic affairs officials and the university's affirmative action officer.

They plan to interview Watson and Forsyth, as well as other students who attended the class.

Imagine that -- someone might comment negatively on a group of people who illegally cross our nation's border and consume taxpauyer funded service to a degree that puts cities, counties and states in a huge financial bind. Assuming we are not talking about the use of an ethnic slur here, I don't see any grounds for there to be an investigation, much less punishment.

And I'm curious -- when will we hear all the Lefties who are defending Ward Churchill coming to the defense of Dan Forsyth? Is this investigation an example of a new McCarthyism? Does it violate his academic freedom?

Or are only America-hating Leftists entitled such support and protection?

UPDATE: This story contains more details.

Two students claim professor Dan Forsyth called Mexicans "lazy and bitter people." Forsyth also allegedly blamed illegal immigrants and Mexicans for filling up U.S. prisons and argued that they "raped the system."

Forsyth said the allegations are false. He said he gave students only an after-class reminder about an upcoming campus appearance by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who is an outspoken advocate for tighter immigration controls.

"I don't know why anyone would lay these falsehoods at my door," Forsyth said.

Freshman Victoria Watson filed a complaint with the university's affirmative action office Friday.

Watson, and the second student who did not want to be identified, said Forsyth became emotional and angry as he talked about illegal immigrants. During his speech he allegedly told students he would be willing to pay higher prices for food to keep illegal immigrants from working on U.S. farms.

"After listening to this for 10 or 15 minutes, I'd had enough and got up and walked to the door," Watson said.

Now hold on. When liberal professors go on political rants unrelated to their subject, it is almost never investigated, and even less often punished. Why should these remarks receive any harsher treatment. And I say this especially since the remarks are not nearly so outrageous or untrue as the usual rant of anti-American Leftist professors.

I gusess the attitude of the administration is that the expression of social and political opinions by professors is only wrong if they are Right.

|| Greg, 07:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 08, 2005

Citizen’s Arrest Brings Lawsuit

Illegal immigration advocates have sued an Arizona rancher for apprehending border-jumpers on his property, and the county sheriff for failing to stop his actions in support of US law.
Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever is being sued for a share of a $32 million lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court. The suit alleges the sheriff has done nothing to stop a Cochise County rancher from apprehending illegal entrants on his own property east of Douglas. Filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the suit alleges rancher Roger Barnett held a group of illegal entrants at gunpoint on his property one year ago , shouted obscenities at the group, kicked one of the women twice and threatened to shoot anybody who tried to leave. It also lists 10 un-named co-conspirators who have known of Barnett's actions in the past and did nothing to prevent them. Calling the group "racist liars," Barnett says he doesn't recall the incident ever taking place and said he hasn't been served with a lawsuit. Dever has not been served with a lawsuit and therefore had no response, said Cochise County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carol Capas. The suit alleges that on March 7, 2004, 19 illegal entrants were resting in a wash near Douglas when Barnett pulled up on an all-terrain vehicle with a large, barking dog. It claims that Barnett waved his cocked gun at the group, and yelled obscenities at them. Barnett then walked up to one of the women and kicked her in the leg, then tried to kick her again, the suit alleges. He then called his wife, who arrived with a truck and summoned the U.S. Border Patrol. The entrants allegedly tried to tell the Border Patrol agents what had happened but were menaced by Barnett.

Even if we assume the incident happened as described, what we see here is a citizen’s arrest of a group of people who were manifestly breaking state (trespassing) and federal (immigration) law. That mkes the arrest, and any associated coercion, legitimate in my book.

And by the way, don’t call Barnett a vigilante – the new conservatively correct term (as pointed out by Michelle Malkin) is “undocumented Border Patrol Agent.”

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

Mexico Demands Protection For Border-Jumpers

This just hacks me off to no end.
The Mexican government has asked U.S. officials to ensure illegal-immigration protesters patrolling the Arizona border next month do not abuse Mexican nationals caught illegally entering the United States.

In a diplomatic note to U.S. officials, Geronimo Gutierrez, undersecretary for North American affairs at Mexico's Foreign Ministry, suggested it was "very probable" the protesters could violate the rights of illegal aliens, and that they must be monitored.

"What there is concern about is that some of these actions that could be taken could be in violation of federal and state laws to the detriment of Mexican citizens," Mr. Gutierrez said. "Mexico doesn't want the rights of its citizens transgressed, especially if those actions are in violation of federal and state laws."

You know what, Geronimo? If you folks are so concerned about the welfare of these folks, deploy your army along the border to stop them from crossing our border in the first place. If you won’t do that, then quit complaining about American citizens doing the job instead. And the same goes for the folks in Washington, from George W. Bush on down, who won’t get serious about the issue of border security.

|| Greg, 11:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Price Of Honor

Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh of East St. Louis, Illinois, took on one of the most corrupt Democrat political machines in the country. He volunteered to go undercover for the FBI in order to help investigate and end the corruption there.
Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh said he had no regrets about aiding the FBI even though the agency told him that he and his family would be at risk. He said the investigation that has led to the indictment of five so far would result in several more arrests.

Kelvin Ellis, the city's former regulatory affairs director, was arrested Jan. 21 on charges that he tried to have a federal witness killed. He is being held without bail.

The heart of the case against Ellis is a series of conversations the two men had while McIntosh was wearing a wire. The two men are precinct committeemen, and McIntosh sought Ellis' advice on climbing the political ladder. McIntosh, 45, is running for East St. Louis Township supervisor in the election April 5.

In his first public comments on the investigation, McIntosh said Monday that he was able to work his way into the city's political power base and then use what he had learned against those who trusted him.

"They let an honest man into a corrupt circle," McIntosh said, referring to some in the city's powerful Democratic Central Committee. "That was the biggest mistake they could make."

McIntosh has been threatened, maligned, and suspended from his job because of his courage. Let’s hope that his sacrifice is worth it, and that the people of East St. Louis, like the people of Iraq, will one day be permitted to vote in an honest election.

|| Greg, 11:56 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cover Unveiled

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is coming out this July. It is the sixth book in the blockbuster series by J.K. Rowling. The cover for the book has been unveiled. Illustrator Mary GrandPre speaks extensively about her work on the art for the books.

|| Greg, 11:54 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Somehow I Can’t Bring Myself To Feel Sympathy

Rudy Michael Romero used to have it all in prison. He had plenty of cash in his prison account, friends and family on the outside, and respect as a tough guy from his fellow inmates. He was just a short time from parole last year for his string of robberies. Then his world came crashing down – because of a DNA sample he was required to give while in prison.

You see, Romero was the Parkway Rapist, the long-unidentified perpetrator of a series of 13 Salt Lake City area rapes. His victims were mostly teenagers, but included one 9-year-old girl.

"They took away everything": Romero's father still speaks with his son. "It's my duty as a father not to abandon him," Michael Romero says. But most other members of Romero's family have ended their support.

A longtime girlfriend cut off contact when she learned of the DNA match. She even offered to aid police in the investigation.

Rudy Romero's square jaw trembles and his hands shake when he speaks about his children. There are eight in all, and he doesn't even know where most of them are.

"They took away my family," he says. "They took away everything - every last bit or respect I had."

Somehow, this piece of filth doesn’t understand that he doesn’t deserve any respect. He is one of the lowest of the low – a sexual predator who preys on children. Those who have turned their backs on him are better off for putting him out of their lives.

And then there is this complaint, one which made my blood boil.

With each move, he has been strip-searched - his body probed for contraband. The searches are unwelcome, invasive, emasculating. Prisoners who resist are searched by force.

"It's sexual assault," he cries, noting that he has never been caught with any contraband. "It's rape. Don't you understand? I don't deserve this."

Suddenly, silently, the man accused of sexually assaulting 13 females - most of them not even old enough to drive - raises his shaved head and wipes the tears from his eyes.

Somehow I just can’t find it in me to find a bit of sympathy. Part of me would really like to see him put in the general population, where he could mix with fellow inmates like the one quoted in the article, though my better nature knows we don’t punish people in this manner.

"Now he's getting a taste of the world he created for his victims," says one inmate who was incarcerated for several months in the same unit as Romero at the Utah State Prison. "He still tries to act tough, but he's no more liked in here than he is on the outside."

Unfortunately, Romero can never be charged with his crimes. The statute of limitations ran out long ago. Fortunately, he was back in prison after a parole violation when the DNA match was made. That meant that the parole board could take note of the match and stop his release – and set a 25 year date for his next parole hearing on the five-to-life sentence he is serving for robbery. Civil libertarians are, of course, outraged.

But I’m not, nor should any other person with a sense of decency.

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

Royal Death Not Murder

Results from a CT scan show that King Tut, the XVIII Dynasty boy-king whose tomb was the premiere archaeological discovery of the twentieth century, was not murdered. Instead, it appears he may have died from another, altogether more natural cause.
Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced the results of the CT scan about two months after it was performed on Tut's mummy.

Hawass said the remains of Tutankhamun, who ruled about 3,300 years ago, showed no signs that he had been murdered - dispelling a mystery that has long surrounded the pharaoh's death.

"In answer to theories that Tutankhamun was murdered, the team found no evidence for a blow to the back of the head, and no other indication of foul play," according to a statement released Tuesday by Egyptian authorities.

"They also found it extremely unlikely that he suffered an accident in which he crushed his chest."

Hawass said some members of the Egyptian-led research team, which included two Italian experts and one from Switzerland, interpreted a fracture to Tut's left thighbone as evidence that the king may have broken his leg badly just before he died.

"Although the break itself would not have been life-threatening, infection might have set in," the statement said. "However, this part of the team believes it also possible, although less likely, that this fracture was caused by the embalmers."

So instead of the more fascinating story of royal intrigue, we have a different sort of tragedy ending the life of the young king. I’ll have to admit – I’m disappointed.

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

Faith Of Our Founding Fathers

Christopher Levenick and Michael Novak provide a great overview of the religious lives and beliefs of the Founding Fathers. In the process, they demolish a recent piece in The Nation by Brooke Allen. I couldn’t summarize the column a way that does it justice, so I will simply encourage you to read it for yourself. It’s a keeper.

|| Greg, 11:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Prayers For Bill Clinton

There seem to have been a few complications following the former president’s surgery last year. He will be having surgery to deal with these issues.
Former President Clinton will undergo a medical procedure this week to remove an unusual buildup of fluid and scar tissue from his chest, six months after he underwent quadruple bypass surgery, his office said Tuesday. "I feel fine," Clinton said in Washington.

The low-risk procedure will take place Thursday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Clinton will remain hospitalized for three to 10 days and is expected to make a "full functional recovery," doctors said.

Clinton, who planned to play a golf tournament in Florida on Wednesday with former President George H.W. Bush for tsunami relief, said doctors discovered the condition during a recent X-ray. He called the surgery a "routine sort of deal."

"I feel fine," Clinton told reporters following a visit to the Oval Office with the former president. "And we're going to go play golf tomorrow."

The procedure, known as a decortication, will remove scar tissue that has developed as a result of fluid buildup and inflammation, causing compression and collapse of the lower lobe of the left lung, doctors said. The surgery will be done either through a small incision or with a video-assisted thoracoscope inserted between ribs.

It sounds like a relatively uncomplicated procedure, but any time you are messing with the heart there is the potential for trouble. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

|| Greg, 11:25 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 07, 2005

The Ebb And Flow Of Consensus

Jeff Jacoby makes a great point about the recent Supreme Court decision on the execution of killers who were 16 & 17 at the time they murdered.

The Roper majority purported to ground its ruling in the nation's "evolving standards of decency," which it says have led to a "national consensus" against the execution of juvenile murderers. Even if there were such a consensus -- and there clearly is not -- there is no reason to believe that it is chiseled in granite.

But by deciding that public opinion has moved decisively on this question, then grafting that decision onto the constitution, the court has stripped lawmakers of the right to someday change their minds. Yet when has legislative support for capital punishment ever been static? As Justice Antonin Scalia notes in his dissent, it "has surged and ebbed throughout our nation's history."

In the years after World War II, for example, there was a dramatic fall-off in executions, as many states went through a phase of abolishing or restricting capital punishment. For several years beginning in 1968, in fact, executions came to a halt.

By the logic of the Roper majority, the Supreme Court could have declared back then that "evolving standards" had reached a "national consensus" in favor of eliminating the death penalty once and for all. In hindsight, we know that any such declaration would have been ludicrous -- within a few years, support for the death penalty had soared. "But had this court then declared the existence of such a consensus, and outlawed capital punishment," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a 1988 opinion quoted by Scalia last week, "legislatures would very likely not have been able to revive it. The mistaken premise of the decision would have been frozen into constitutional law."

And so there we have it. One of the myriad flaws of the decision in Roper v. Simmons is that it forever freezes into place an alleged consensus on the juvenile death penalty (one which I would argue does not even exist). By making its decision on constitutional grounds, the issue of the existence of a national consensus is hereafter moot. Bound by stare decisis, any future court would be bound to strike down any law purporting to legalize the death penalty for juveniles, regardless of the will of the people and their representatives in government. The “evolving standards of decency” to which Justice Kennedy refers will not be allowed to evolve the other direction. In short, the position of a minority of death penalty states (a mere 47% of them) against executing 16 & 17 year olds has been incorporated into the sacred language of the Bill of Rights, and it will be virtually impossible to undo the result.

|| Greg, 09:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

One Tough Deer!

I don’t think there are many Americans alive today who have not seen the movie Bambi. Walt Disney chose a six-year-old named Donnie Dunagan to be the voice of the little deer way back in 1942. But few Americans know what became of Donnie when he grew up – he became Major Donnie Dunagan, USMC.
Dunagan made eight movies as a child after being discovered at a Memphis, Tenn., talent show. They included 1939's Son of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff and Tower of London with Basil Rathbone. But his career ended when his family fractured. He wound up in boarding homes, then joined the military as a teen.

"I adopted the Marines, and the Marines adopted me," Dunagan said.

Dunagan distinguished himself in the service. The curly-haired lad with the Southern drawl whom Karloff had hoisted on a monster's shoulder became the youngest Marine drill instructor ever. A boxer and devoted Harley rider, Dunagan served three tours in Vietnam and was wounded several times.

Like I said – one tough deer.

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

Too Conservative To Be Protected

While professors at University of Colorado rally around a hack and liar like Ward Churchill wailing about McCarthyism and academic freedom, they’ve been strangely silent about the refusal to rehire a conservative professor, Dr. Phil Mitchell.

He teaches. He doesn't preach.

His reward? After more than 20 years, Mitchell may be out at CU.

Mitchell isn't as alluring as Churchill. He doesn't hold tenure - or a plastic AK-47. Only bachelor's and master's degrees in education, as well as a doctorate in American social history from CU.

He began teaching history in 1984, and in 1998, Mitchell won the prestigious SOAR Award for teacher of the year.

Recently, William Wei, director of the Sewall Academic Program, let Mitchell know that CU would not be renewing his contract after this year because "his teaching was not up to the department standards."

What is the basis for such a judgment? Why has Mitchell been ousted from his non-tenured position? It would appear to relate to a couple of recent incidents in which he introduced “diverse ideas” into his classes.

Mitchell taught at the Hallett Diversity Program for 24 straight semesters. That is, until he made the colossal error of actually presenting a (gasp!) diverse opinion, quoting respected conservative black intellectual Thomas Sowell in a discussion about affirmative action.

Sitting 5 feet from a pink triangle that read "Hate-Free Zone," the progressive head of the department berated Mitchell, calling him a racist.

"That would have come as a surprise to my black children," explains Mitchell, who has nine kids, as of last count, two of them adopted African-Americans.

Then, Mitchell had the audacity to use a book on liberal Protestantism in the late 19th century. So repulsed by the word "god" was one student, she complained, and the department chair fired him without a meeting, he said.

Apparently the failure to remain politically correct is grounds for termination at Colorado. So in all likelihood the outcome is that Mitchell will be fired for being a scholar who introduces mainstream academic material into his classes – and a bomb-throwing, lying America-hater like Churchill will be retained. What a shame that it isn’t the other way around.

|| Greg, 09:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

The Bitch Is Back

Theresa Heinz Kerry crawled out from under her multi-million dollar rock this weekend and took her private jet out to Seattle to help raise money for Rep. Adam Smith. Here is a sampling of her comments, with a few observations of my own thrown in.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: A practicing Catholic, as is her husband, Heinz Kerry remains outraged at attacks by bishops on her husband's pro-choice views. "You cannot have bishops in the pulpit -- long before or the Sunday before the election -- as they did in Catholic churches, saying it was a mortal sin to vote for John Kerry," she said.

Heinz Kerry gave no examples. Last year, a few ultraconservative prelates said they would not allow the Democratic nominee to receive communion in their dioceses. The bishop of Colorado Springs declared that Catholics voting for pro-choice candidates were not welcome at the communion rail.

"The church has a right and obligation to teach values," Heinz Kerry declared. "They don't have a right to restrict freedom of expression, which they did."

Actually, the bishops restricted no one’s freedom of expression. They refused to allow Church property to be used by your abortion-promoting husband’s campaign, and they exercised their teaching authority to impose a legitimate Church sanction against your husband. But your husband was nowhere prevented from speaking or getting his message out.

COUNTING THE VOTES: Heinz Kerry is openly skeptical about results from November's election, particularly in sections of the country where optical scanners were used to record votes.

"Two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States," Heinz Kerry said. She identified both as "hard-right" Republicans. She argued that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines."

"We in the United States are not a banana republic," added Heinz Kerry. She argued that Democrats should insist on "accountability and transparency" in how votes are tabulated.

"I fear for '06," she said. "I don't trust it the way it is right now."

The reality is that your husband did about as well as the polls showed he would do in the closing days of the campaign. More votes were cast and counted than any election in US history. And despite all your concerns about high-tech voter fraud, you failed to notice the low-tech voter fraud committed by Democrats in the very state in which you were speaking, which put a fraud-tainted Democrat into the Governor’s mansion. There is also the question of LACK OF EVIDENCE to support your innuendo.

A SECOND KERRY RUN: Heinz Kerry won't stand in the way of a second presidential bid by her husband. She tersely summed up emotions at the end of November's long election night: "No tears, some sadness."

"I think we should focus on '06: If '06 doesn't work out, '08 will be impossible," she argued. "If it were right for John to do it -- and he felt right -- he would do it again (in 2008). If he didn't feel it right, he wouldn't."

Oh please, oh please, oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaazzzzzzeeeeeee! Urge him to run. We Republicans won’t even need to do any opposition research. By the way, when will he be signing that DD-180?

Well, there you have it – the woman is every bit as loony as she seemed on the campaign trail..

|| Greg, 03:49 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Giving The Watcher His Due

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, 05:41 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 06, 2005

One Reason To Respect Bill Clinton

I never thought that Bill Clinton had a sense of decency. I wished him well during his heart surgery because I would offer sucha wish to any person facing such surgery, not because I had any affection for him. I'll concede that his actions on behalf of tsunami relief have served to raise him somewhat in my esteem, but not much. On the other hand, this story makes me wonder if I haven't been too harsh on the man, and if there might be more than a remnant of human decency still lurking in his soul.
On their tour of tsunami damage in Southeast Asia, former President Bill Clinton once allowed his predecessor, former President George H.W. Bush, to sleep on the plane's only bed while he stretched out on the floor.

The government plane in which the presidents toured the disaster area had one large bedroom and another room with tables and seats, according to an interview with Bush in this week's Newsweek.

Bush, 80, said Clinton offered ahead of time to give the older former president the bedroom so he could lie flat and avoid paining his body. Clinton, 58, decided to play cards in the other room that night.

The next morning, Bush said he peeked in and saw Clinton sound asleep on the plane's floor.

"We could have switched places, each getting half a night on the bed, but he deferred to me. That was a very courteous thing, very thoughtful, and that meant a great deal to me," Bush said.

Bush said he and Clinton are not close, but have been compatible on the tour, partly because Clinton respects his age

Why do I respond this way to a story like this? Because this isn't a "for public consumption" action on his part. Who was going to find out that Clinton did the decent thing by giving Bush the bed for the entire night? The likely answer is that nobody would have known were it not for 41's recounting of the tale. That is reason enough for me to believe that his actions were based upon something other than a desire for good press.

|| Greg, 09:55 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

But SCOTUS Says He Was Too Young To Understand Right From Wrong

On the night of Nov. 12, 2003, Robert Aaron Acuna murdered my parents in their Baytown home as they were getting ready for dinner.

My father, 76, was in the garage sitting in a chair, listening to talk radio. Evidence indicates that he was forced to kneel, then shot once through the back of the head with a .38 caliber handgun. His wallet, with credit cards, car keys and cash, were stolen.

My mother, who was 74 and unable to move around without her walker, was in the house, sitting at the kitchen table. She, too, was forced to kneel, and shot twice in the face. The first shot was not fatal. Enough time passed between the first shot and the second shot for her to actually grab a roll of paper towels and wipe some of the gore off of her face. Then Acuna shot her again, this time fatally.

On the morning of Nov. 13, 2003, Acuna was due to appear in court on charges of aggravated robbery. He was charged with, and later confessed to, pulling a knife on an elderly man in the parking lot of the San Jacinto Mall in Baytown.

He did not show up that morning in court. He had stolen my father's car after the murders and had driven to Dallas. On Sunday, Nov. 16, Acuna was arrested at a hotel in Dallas for the murders of James and Joyce Carroll. He had in his possession their credit cards, my father's wallet, car and several personal items, which had been taken from the Carroll house. He was also found to have three shell casings consistent with the murder weapon.

Fortunately for Robert Aaron Acuna, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that he and others like him lacked the capacity to determine whether or not such actions were right or wrong. As a result, Acuna will be spared the lethal injection the crime described above so richly merits.

And Tim Carroll and his family will be denied the justice they so richly deserve. They will have to pay to house and feed Acuna for at least the next forty years, at which point Acuna may be released under a provision of Texas law which declares that a life sentence equals forty years for purposes of parole.

|| Greg, 09:43 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Voice Against Zero Tolerance

One of the most disturbing trends in education during my time in the classroom has been the trend towards zero tolerance policies. Born of a desire to avoid litigation over disparate treatment of students for misconduct that on the surface seems identical, these policies decree draconian punishment for school disciplinary infractions.
A 15-year-old girl decided to die. She took three bottles of prescription medication and proceeded to school. Later that day, her mother received a phone call from a school administrator causing her to rush to the emergency room not knowing whether her daughter was dead or alive.

Upon entering the hospital, the mother was met, not by a doctor, but by a school administrator. There were no condolences, just an administrator informing the mother that, because of school policy, her daughter would be suspended and then remanded to the district's disciplinary alternative school for a mandatory 60 days. She served her suspension in a hospital bed.

Such policies, of course, leave no room for nuanced decision-making, individual differences, or examination of the totality of the facts. Rather, they take a harsh and legalistic approach that allows for no deviation from a harsh standard that gives no consideration to motive, intent, or outcome. Thus the use of pills on the suicide attempt described above was treated no differently than kids passing a joint under the bleachers, and receive exactly the same sanction. A rational approach would have instead seen the girl referred for counseling and returned to class when she was ready, not put into a disciplinary program with the worst kids in the district.

I think back to a case on a campus in my district, involving a student I knew very well. He was an honor student, and one of the leadership cadre in the ROTC program on the campus. That position made him one of the handful of kids on campus to have access to the email system. One day he received a pornographic picture from a student at another school in another district. He immediately sent it to the trash folder, but didn't empty the trash before logging off the program. The other kid was caught by his school sending porn from his school account, and his principal sent an email to the principals of the students who received the emails. The email was found in the trash folder, right where the receiving student had put it -- and as a result that student received a month in the district disciplinary school and (as a consequence) lost all of his rank in the ROTC program. Rather than considering the fact that the email was in the trash folder as evidence of his intent to get rid of the porn, its presence was viewed as evidence of his intent to keep the picture.

Ask any teacher you know -- they will be able to tell you any number of stories about a student who received a disproportionate punishment under zero tolerance policies. So can many parents. That is why parents in one local district have formed Katy Zero Tolerance, a group devoted to restoring the rights of students and parents to reasonable treatment in school discipline situations and to ending the nonsensical application of zero tolerance policies. The example above comes from a column in today's Houston Chronicle by the group's president, Fred Hink. He's promoting Texas Senate Bill 126 and Texas House Bills 442 and 461, which will rein-in some of the abuses cause by zero tolerance policies. These proposals deserve some consideration, and I encourage you to look at the group's website for further information.

|| Greg, 09:10 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Liberals Protest Abortion -- Of Lambs

One of the hottest fashion trends is the use of astrakhan -- the wool of newborn or fetal karakul lambs -- by top designers and their imitators. Animal rights terrorists activists are outraged, and engaging in various forms of protest.
It is already provoking a backlash. Anna Wintour, the British editor-in-chief of American Vogue, was attacked when she turned up at a Lagerfeld show in a lamb’s wool jacket dyed pink. A woman shoved food in her face and shouted: “That’s for all the little animals.”

The week before, activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) took over a window of Prada’s flagship store in Milan, smearing themselves with blood and carrying slogans declaring “Death for Sale”.

Yeah, those are certainly productive activities. Assaulting someone because you don't like their clothes is a crime. So is trespassing and vandalizing private property.

And then there are the agonized words of this UK Humane Society official.

Rick Swain, an investigator for the Humane Society of the United States, visited a karakul farm in Uzbekistan posing as the owner of a chain of boutiques, making a video of what he saw. “I insisted on seeing the slaughterhouse,” he said.

“We could hear what sounded like the cries of lambs as we were led into this 20ft by 20ft building with hooks in the ceiling.

“The floor was covered with blood and there were carcasses of dead baby lambs.”

And then there are the complaints of this PETA staffer.

Sean Gifford, Peta’s director of European campaigns, said: “The fur trade is a violent, bloody business but these skins are particularly gruesome.

“Upwards of 4m lambs are slaughtered every year for these coats. A ewe can usually have four births in a lifetime. The first three lambs are slaughtered after they are born.

“But the mother is butchered 15 to 30 days before giving birth to the fourth lamb. The unborn lamb is then ripped from her belly. Its skin has not had a chance to develop so it is softer and more highly valued.”

You know, I'm not a big one for fur. I love animals. But I just can't get too outraged by this -- especially when liberals refuse to add their voices against the cruelty found in this sort of outrage.

A pliers-like instrument is used because the baby’s bones are calcified, as is the skull. There is no anesthetic for the baby. The abortionist inserts the instrument up into the uterus, seizes a leg or other part of the body, and, with a twisting motion, tears it from the baby’s body. This is repeated again and again. The spine must be snapped, and the skull crushed to remove them. The nurse’s job is to reassemble the body parts to be sure that all are removed.

Or maybe this one would trouble them.

According to nurse Shafer, the baby was alive and moving as the abortionist “delivered the baby’s body and arms - everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby’s head just inside the uterus. The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp.”

But somehow I doubt that they will join the chorus of condemnation of these activities. After all, the latter two only result in the death of human babies, not the much more imporant and morally valued karakul lambs of Uzbekistan.

|| Greg, 04:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Purple Heart-Warming Story

Howard Watters lost his father when he was six months old. Sgt. 1st Class Cecil H. Watters of Company K of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, was killed in action near Kunu-ri Pass on Nov. 29, 1950. His Purple Heart went missing during a family move some nine years later.

Last month, Howard Watters received a delivery via UPS. It was his father's Purple Heart.

"I am excited that the distinguished award is now in the right place. I know it means a great deal to you and your family," read the Feb. 12 letter from Allen Boyd of Weatherford, Okla.

Said Watters: "I still get goose bumps when I think about it sometimes."

Boyd said he bought the medal for $1 at an estate sale while on a summer vacation four years ago in Gunnison, Colo.

In an interview last week, he said as a patriotic gesture he wanted to find relatives of the man whose name was inscribed on the back: Sgt. 1st Class Cecil H. Watters.

"I'm the kind of guy who gets choked up when we have Veterans Day assembly," said Boyd, a math teacher whose father was a Korean War veteran.

You know, it would have been easy to keep the medal. I mean, there are plenty of folks out there who collect such things. They turn up in estate sales, garage sales, and pawn shops all the time. To try to actually return the medal is a difficult task. It would be hard to find who the proper family members would be. But Allen Boyd did.

His search for Watters began in Colorado, on the Internet.

"That was an enormous task," he said. "I didn't know what war it was from. I thought maybe it was World War II ... and then I got to thinking, if this person was awarded the Purple Heart for being killed in action and didn't have a son, there might not be anybody left."

His online sleuthing at a temporary dead end, he sought help from the Pentagon. That too, brought no success.

Then one day he found a Web site he'd never seen before. It listed a Cecil H. Watters from Mahaska County, Iowa, as being killed in action in 1950.

"I didn't know anything about Iowa so I went to a map," Boyd said.

Through phone calls he located William Watters, Howard's cousin from Oskaloosa, Iowa, who put him in touch with another relative. That relative, an uncle, got on the phone to Howard Watters and told him the medal had been found.

Having gown up in a military family, I know how important medals are. They tell the stories of valor, of sacrifice, and of day-to-day acts of courage that are the stock in trade of the soldier, sailor, and airman. Whenever possible, they belong in the hands of those whose sacrifices earned them, or the hands of their family members. Allen Boyd understands that, too. The reaction of Howard Watters explains why that is so.

For Watters, 54, having the medal back is a priceless experience. He said he owes Boyd a debt of gratitude for the effort he made to track him down.

"The odds of me ever seeing this again were astronomical. It's like me hitting the best lottery I could ever hit," he said.

He got "misty-eyed" when he opened the package, his wife, Glenda, said.

"I really don't know how to explain it," Watters said. "It's something I never thought I'd ever see again. I've got something now that belonged to my dad that I wouldn't have had otherwise."

Sadly, we live in a day when men and women of our nation are again being asked to make sacrifices that will leave children without a parent, parents without a child, and groups of siblings one member short. Medals like these are a tangible reminder of the heroism and self-sacrifice of that missing loved one. How many families are missing that reminder because it has been lost or stolen? How important would its return be?

In his letter to Howard Watters, Boyd wrote, "Your dad's Purple Heart was displayed in our home where we were asked many questions about its origin. I continued to periodically search for the owner's family. I knew someone, somewhere was looking for it."

Thank you, Sgt. 1st Class Cecil H. Watters, for your sacrifice for your country.

Thank you, Mr. Boyd, for doing the decent thing.

And to anyone else out there who has a Purple Heart or other military decoration that doesn't come from your family -- consider trying to locate the survivors of the man who earned it. It would almost certainly mean more to them than it ever will to you.

|| Greg, 10:46 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Illegal To Complain About Public Officials & Employees?

Sometimes I think we need a minimum competency test for legislators. If Nevada had one, there wouldn't be legislation pending that would make it illegal to complain about public officials and employees. The genesis of this legislation and its unsavory pedigree appear in an editorial by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
In 1999, a misguided Legislature passed a bill that made it a crime to make a false allegation of misconduct against a police officer.

It didn't take long for the law to claim its first victim. In 2000, Washoe County resident Robert Eakins griped about Reno police in a letter to the city's mayor. The mayor forwarded the letter to police, who used the law's vague language to label the correspondence a formal complaint. Mr. Eakins was jailed for 14 hours.

In 2002, a federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional for many reasons, among them its exclusive application to law enforcement officers and not other public officials.

Last week, Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, introduced Senate Bill 150. To revive the unconstitutional law, this bill would make it a crime -- you guessed it -- to lodge a false allegation against any public official. If this bill is passed, most every taxpayer who has put into writing his frustration with the Legislature's inaction on property tax increases could end up incarcerated.

The public has a guaranteed right to criticize government and public officials. The 1999 law belongs in a distant, unmarked grave where it can never be unearthed for reconsideration.

Now mind you, I don't favor false misconduct claims against cops. My brother is a sergeant with an Oregon police department, and we watched in horror some years back as the district attorney and her ex-con boyfriend used her office to pursue a false charges against two of the cops on the department because they had caused his parole to be revoked. But when filing a legitimate complaint against a police officer can result in criminal penalties against a citizen because of a good-faith disagreement on what is proper police conduct, the law is no good.

To expand it to include complaints against any public official or employee is even worse. Consider this -- does claiming that a member of the legislature is a "tool of special interests" (as opposed to claiming he is a tool) constitute an allegation of bribery? What about a letter to the editor saying that he is dishonest? And we won't get into the dozens of he said/she said conflicts that happen every day between citizens and public employees -- would those be fodder for criminal charges? And what of the right to petition government for redress of grievances if the government can decide that such petitions citizens are wrong and subject them to criminal charges?

Here's hoping that Nevada voters will remember that Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, is opposed to their right to complain about government, and exercise their right to
express their disapproval by voting her out of office.

|| Greg, 10:18 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 05, 2005


You may have noticed that my blogging has been erratic the last few days. My darling wife and I are in the midst of that annual celebration of western heritage that is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. So far we've seen Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, and Alicia Keys, in addition to the many marvelous cowboys and cowgirls and spectacular animal performers who are part of the entertainment.

Folks, HLSR and RodeoHouston are a charity. They raise money for scholarships for students throughout Texas, and also for teacher training programs. Reliant Stadium is a big place, and only Alicia keys has sold the place out this year (she set a new Rodeo attendance record last night). I'd like to encourage people who are close enough to attend to come out for a night of great entertainment to help a great cause. It runs through March 20, so pick a night and come out for some fun!

|| Greg, 12:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Does This Mean I've Made It?

I opened my Gmail this morning and discovered an request by MSNBC to contact them if I wanted to appear on "Connected" on Monday. The topic will be "Filibuster Blogging". I've not written much on that topic, so I declined -- though the fact that I already have a commitment with my lovely wife for that evening weighed very heavily in my consideration.

Hopefully they will give me another call, especially if the subject is education.

|| Greg, 12:36 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Apocalypse Nigh -- Precinct 333 & TPRS Agree

My blogging-buddy Northstar/Jack over at The People's Republic of Seabrook are separated by about 3/4 of a mile and the entire range of the political spectrum. That means we don't often agree on things, but we do on this one. How on earth did this Matt Taibbi column about the death of Pope John Paul II (who is still very much alive) make it into print? An example of the "humor" it contains follows.
The 52 Funniest Things About The Upcoming Death of The Pope

52. Pope pisses himself just before the end; gets all over nurse.

51. After death, saggy, furry tits of dead Pope begin inexorable process of melting away into nothingness, like coldest of Sno-cones under faintest of suns.

While that might be horrible, I am distressed to say that it gets worse from there.

William Donahue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights offered the following statement on the about the abuse of one of the great spiritual, moral, and political leaders of our era.

“There are many in our society who have long been threatened by the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially those which address sexual ethics. Take the New York Press, for example. Its celebration of libertinism leaves it squarely at odds with the sexual reticence favored by Catholicism. It also leaves it squarely at odds with nature, which explains why attending funerals is not an uncommon experience for those who work there. But like a dopey dog who doesn’t recognize his master, they plod along never learning from the wisdom the Catholic Church has to offer. And, of course, they hate the pope. Which makes sense: he is the one man whose commitment to the truth has literally driven them over the edge.”

I have to agree. Clearly these folks are driven to extreme hatred by the fact that some would dare to follow the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth rather than Dr. Kinsey and his horde of sexually deviant followers. Given what we know about the two, I'll take Jesus and John Paul over the hate-filled nihilism of Matt Taibbi and the New York Press.

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

March 04, 2005

Bad Decision!

In another one of Anthony Kennedy?s opinions declaring constitutional law based on extra-constitutional sources, the Supreme Court handed down a

5-4 decision declaring that the Constitution bans the execution of individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed a murder. While the case only changes the fates of about 70 or so individuals, it is distressing because it continues a number of trends in recent SCOTUS legislation from the bench.

"The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

But that line is not absolute. For example, there is no lower age for exercise of the so-called ?right to choose? to kill one?s unborn child. Why do the justices conclude that teens have sufficient maturity, stability and intellectual capacity to make that decision? After all, their impulsiveness and willfulness is obvious in the poor choices made which led them to become pregnant in the first place. But I sincerely doubt that the Supreme Court will suddenly declare that the execution of innocents under the age of 18 must stop by those who have not reached the ?line... between childhood and adulthood.? As Justice Scalia points out, that is the opposite of what the Court has held in the past.

In other contexts where individualized consideration is provided, we have recognized that at least some minors will be mature enough to make difficult decisions that involve moral considerations. For instance, we have struck down abortion statutes that do not allow minors deemed mature by courts to bypass parental notification provisions. See, e.g., Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U. S. 622, 643.644 (1979) (opinion of Powell, J.); Planned Parenthood of Central Mo. v. Danforth, 428 U. S. 52, 74.75 (1976). It is hard to see why this context should be any different. Whether to obtain an abortion is surely a much more complex decision for a young person than whether to kill an innocent person in cold blood.

So it seems that the law, as it stands now, is that the very simple moral question of whether or not to commit cold-blooded premeditated murder is beyond the ability of those under 18, but those same individuals are deemed capable of the more complex moral calculus involved in taking the life of an unborn child absent the consent (and often even the notification) of their parents. This patently absurd situation springs directly from the twin liberal desires to avoid taking human life by government (a laudable, if unrealistic, desire which results in giving the killer a greater moral weight than the victim) while casting abortion as a feminist sacrament.

But it gets even worse. Consider this Kennedy gem.

"It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime," he wrote.

Actually, no it isn?t proper that you acknowledge ?the weight of international opinion against the death penalty.? It is irrelevant to the issue of constitutionality. Your decision is supposed to be made based upon the laws of the United States, not those of any other country. What does OUR Constitution say? That is the question that should be asked. Even if one considers issues of treaty law, one need to respect the fact that failure to ratify the treaty means the terms of the treaty are irrelevant to your deliberations. That is why the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child cannot be used as a basis for this decision ? it was never ratified by the United States Senate, that body charged by the Constitution with ratifying treaties to make them binding. Similarly, the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) includes a specific reservation, binding under US and international law, in which the US rejects the provisions cited by the court related to the death penalty.

[T]he United States reserves the right, subject to its Constitutional constraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.

In other words, the body with the constitutional duty to ratify treaties did so in a manner that gives specific sanction to the application of the death penalty to minors, but the majority of the justices in this case have declared that exercise of authority under the Constitution to be of no effect! So what we have is a court not only assuming the role of a legislature, but taking charge of American diplomacy as well.

And then there is the federalism question. Kennedy notes that "18 states -- or 47 percent of states that permit capital punishment -- now have legislation prohibiting the execution of offenders under 18.? As a result, that is sufficient grounds for telling the other 19 states with the death penalty ? 53 percent, if my math is correct ? that they cannot execute those under 18. The minority is going to dictate to the majority? And even if one includes all 50 states in the calculus, making it 62 percent refusing to execute 16 & 17 year olds, is that sufficient grounds for striking down the practice? After all, doesn?t each state have a sovereign right to formulate its own criminal code? Or is it now constitutional doctrine that the actions of the state legislature of Texas must be in conformity with those of the state legislatures of a majority of other states? The majority has implicitly driven a stake through the heart of federalism if this will be the standard.

What is the practical result of this decision? Well, for starters, it means that Lee Boyd Malvo, who participated in the multistate spree of sniper murders a couple of years ago, will not be tried for the remaining eight murders beyond he and his companion, John Muhammad, committed in 2002. Since he is currently serving two life sentences, there is no point in continuing with prosecutions that cannot achieve a death sentence for Malvo.

It also means that Christopher Simmons, who attorneys challenged his death sentence, will get to live. What had he done to deserve a sentence of death? Justice Kennedy outlines it well.

At the age of 17, when he was still a junior in high school, Christopher Simmons, the respondent here, committed murder. About nine months later, after he had turned 18, he was tried and sentenced to death. There is little doubt that Simmons was the instigator of the crime. Before its commission Simmons said he wanted to murder someone. In chilling, callous terms he talked about his plan, discussing it for the most part with two friends, Charles Benjamin and John Tessmer, then aged 15 and 16 respectively. Simmons proposed to commit burglary and murder by breaking and entering, tying up a victim, and throwing the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends they could ?get away with it? because they were minors.

The three met at about 2 a.m. on the night of the murder, but Tessmer left before the other two set out. (The State later charged Tessmer with conspiracy, but dropped the charge in exchange for his testimony against Simmons.) Simmons and Benjamin entered the home of the victim, Shirley Crook, after reaching through an open window and unlocking the back door. Simmons turned on a hallway light. Awakened, Mrs. Crook called out, ?Who?s there?? In response Simmons entered Mrs. Crook?s bedroom, where he recognized her from a previous car accident involving them both. Simmons later admitted this confirmed his resolve to murder her.

Using duct tape to cover her eyes and mouth and bind her hands, the two perpetrators put Mrs. Crook in her minivan and drove to a state park. They reinforced the bindings, covered her head with a towel, and walked her to a railroad trestle spanning the Meramec River. There they tied her hands and feet together with electrical wire, wrapped her whole face in duct tape and threw her from the bridge, drowning her in the waters below.

By the afternoon of September 9, Steven Crook had returned home from an overnight trip, found his bedroom in disarray, and reported his wife missing. On the same afternoon fishermen recovered the victim?s body from the river. Simmons, meanwhile, was bragging about the killing, telling friends he had killed a woman ?because the bitch seen my face.?

This is the animal that gets to live. Christopher Simmons said that he and his friend would ?get away with it? because they were minors. It seems he was right. Three hots and a cot for life, courtesy of the taxpayers of the state of Missouri ? including the family of Shirley Crook, who received no mercy, due process, or protection from cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of Christopher Simmons and Charles Benjamin.

But beyond that, there is the principle that the Constitution means what it says, not what today?s majority says it means. These are five justices who are drawing a line based upon their own policy preferences, not upon constitutional principle. Justice Scalia, the intellectual giant of the Rehnquist Court, sums up my position well in his dissenting opinion.

The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.

|| Greg, 03:18 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 03, 2005

Railing Against Biological And Cultual Norms

Biologically, heterosexuality is the norm. After all, the primary purpose of sex is reproduction. To deny that fact is to deny a self-evident reality.

Biology has a big influence on culture. That means gender roles have some connection to biology. While masculinity and femininity may be a social construct to one degree or another, much of it has a basis in the sex roles assigned by nature.

That is why I find the current uproar at Harvard to be somewhat stunning. No, not the Larry Summers thing. I mean the controversy over a speech given by Jada Pinkett Smith at an event sponsored by the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations. Pinkett Smith 's talk included a long section on how to be successful in relationships, and in doing so talked about how men and women relate to one another as spouses/partners. In doing so, she made members of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Supporters Alliance (BGLTSA) "uncomfortable."

BGLTSA Co-Chair Jordan B. Woods ’06 said that, while many BGLTSA members thought Pinkett Smith’s speech was “motivational,” some were insulted because they thought she narrowly defined the roles of men and women in relationships.

“Some of the content was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA members feel uncomfortable,” he said.

Calling the comments heteronormative, according to Woods, means they implied that standard sexual relationships are only between males and females.

“Our position is that the comments weren’t homophobic, but the content was specific to male-female relationships,” Woods said.

Uh, dude -- standard sexual relationships ARE only between males and females. That is why the hetero/homo ratio is something like 90/10 (if you take the high estimate) or even 95/5 or less. That isn't a put-down, that is simply an acknowledgement of reality. If something takes place 90% or more of the time, then it IS the norm. That isn't a value judgement, that is simply reality.

My suggestion is that you folks get lives and worry about a real issue, not imaginary slights.

|| Greg, 12:23 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 02, 2005

Language Makes A Difference

Deroy Murdock makes a great point today about language related to our war with Islamofascist terrorists. How we say what we say can either makes a difference in how we think about that conflict. He offers some good examples.
September 11 was an attack, not just a string of coincidental strokes and heart failures that eliminated thousands of victims at once.

Recall some of the words that soon followed the September 11 atrocity. Kinko's stores, for instance, installed placed with the Stars and Stripes emblazoned across the lower 48 states. That graphic included this regrettable caption:

"The Kinko's family extends our condolences and sympathies to all Americans who have been affected by the circumstances in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania."

Circumstances? That word describes an electrical blackout, not terrorist bloodshed.

Similarly, September 11 was tragic, but far more, too. "The September 11 tragedy" misses the point: Tornadoes cause tragedies, but they are not malicious, as America's enemies were that day, and still are.

Victims of terrorism do not "die," nor are they "lost." They are killed, murdered, and slaughtered.

Likewise, many say that people "died" in the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon. No, people "die" in hospitals, often surrounded by their loved ones while doctors and nurses offer them aid and comfort.

The innocent people at the World Trade Center, the Defense Department, and that field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, were killed in a carefully choreographed act of mass murder.

Just like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 was not a natural disaster. It wasn't a tsunami. Let's make the distinction.

|| Greg, 03:46 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bad Decision!

In another one of Anthony Kennedy’s opinions declaring constitutional law based on extra-constitutional sources, the Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision declaring that the Constitution bans the execution of individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time they committed a murder. While the case only changes the fates of about 70 or so individuals, it is distressing because it continues a number of trends in recent SCOTUS legislation from the bench.
"The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

But that line is not absolute. For example, there is no lower age for exercise of the so-called “right to choose” to kill one’s unborn child. Why do the justices conclude that teens have sufficient maturity, stability and intellectual capacity to make that decision? After all, their impulsiveness and willfulness is obvious in the poor choices made which led them to become pregnant in the first place. But I sincerely doubt that the Supreme Court will suddenly declare that the execution of innocents under the age of 18 must stop by those who have not reached the “line... between childhood and adulthood.” As Justice Scalia points out, that is the opposite of what the Court has held in the past.

In other contexts where individualized consideration is provided, we have recognized that at least some minors will be mature enough to make difficult decisions that involve moral considerations. For instance, we have struck down abortion statutes that do not allow minors deemed mature by courts to bypass parental notification provisions. See, e.g., Bellotti v. Baird, 443 U. S. 622, 643.644 (1979) (opinion of Powell, J.); Planned Parenthood of Central Mo. v. Danforth, 428 U. S. 52, 74.75 (1976). It is hard to see why this context should be any different. Whether to obtain an abortion is surely a much more complex decision for a young person than whether to kill an innocent person in cold blood.

So it seems that the law, as it stands now, is that the very simple moral question of whether or not to commit cold-blooded premeditated murder is beyond the ability of those under 18, but those same individuals are deemed capable of the more complex moral calculus involved in taking the life of an unborn child absent the consent (and often even the notification) of their parents. This patently absurd situation springs directly from the twin liberal desires to avoid taking human life by government (a laudable, if unrealistic, desire which results in giving the killer a greater moral weight than the victim) while casting abortion as a feminist sacrament.

But it gets even worse. Consider this Kennedy gem.

"It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime," he wrote.

Actually, no it isn’t proper that you acknowledge “the weight of international opinion against the death penalty.” It is irrelevant to the issue of constitutionality. Your decision is supposed to be made based upon the laws of the United States, not those of any other country. What does OUR Constitution say? That is the question that should be asked. Even if one considers issues of treaty law, one need to respect the fact that failure to ratify the treaty means the terms of the treaty are irrelevant to your deliberations. That is why the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child cannot be used as a basis for this decision – it was never ratified by the United States Senate, that body charged by the Constitution with ratifying treaties to make them binding. Similarly, the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) includes a specific reservation, binding under US and international law, in which the US rejects the provisions cited by the court related to the death penalty.

[T]he United States reserves the right, subject to its Constitutional constraints, to impose capital punishment on any person (other than a pregnant woman) duly convicted under existing or future laws permitting the imposition of capital punishment, including such punishment for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age.

In other words, the body with the constitutional duty to ratify treaties did so in a manner that gives specific sanction to the application of the death penalty to minors, but the majority of the justices in this case have declared that exercise of authority under the Constitution to be of no effect! So what we have is a court not only assuming the role of a legislature, but taking charge of American diplomacy as well.

And then there is the federalism question. Kennedy notes that "18 states -- or 47 percent of states that permit capital punishment -- now have legislation prohibiting the execution of offenders under 18.” As a result, that is sufficient grounds for telling the other 19 states with the death penalty – 53 percent, if my math is correct – that they cannot execute those under 18. The minority is going to dictate to the majority? And even if one includes all 50 states in the calculus, making it 62 percent refusing to execute 16 & 17 year olds, is that sufficient grounds for striking down the practice? After all, doesn’t each state have a sovereign right to formulate its own criminal code? Or is it now constitutional doctrine that the actions of the state legislature of Texas must be in conformity with those of the state legislatures of a majority of other states? The majority has implicitly driven a stake through the heart of federalism if this will be the standard.

What is the practical result of this decision? Well, for starters, it means that Lee Boyd Malvo, who participated in the multistate spree of sniper murders a couple of years ago, will not be tried for the remaining eight murders beyond he and his companion, John Muhammad, committed in 2002. Since he is currently serving two life sentences, there is no point in continuing with prosecutions that cannot achieve a death sentence for Malvo.

It also means that Christopher Simmons, who attorneys challenged his death sentence, will get to live. What had he done to deserve a sentence of death? Justice Kennedy outlines it well.

At the age of 17, when he was still a junior in high school, Christopher Simmons, the respondent here, committed murder. About nine months later, after he had turned 18, he was tried and sentenced to death. There is little doubt that Simmons was the instigator of the crime. Before its commission Simmons said he wanted to murder someone. In chilling, callous terms he talked about his plan, discussing it for the most part with two friends, Charles Benjamin and John Tessmer, then aged 15 and 16 respectively. Simmons proposed to commit burglary and murder by breaking and entering, tying up a victim, and throwing the victim off a bridge. Simmons assured his friends they could “get away with it” because they were minors.

The three met at about 2 a.m. on the night of the murder, but Tessmer left before the other two set out. (The State later charged Tessmer with conspiracy, but dropped the charge in exchange for his testimony against Simmons.) Simmons and Benjamin entered the home of the victim, Shirley Crook, after reaching through an open window and unlocking the back door. Simmons turned on a hallway light. Awakened, Mrs. Crook called out, “Who’s there?” In response Simmons entered Mrs. Crook’s bedroom, where he recognized her from a previous car accident involving them both. Simmons later admitted this confirmed his resolve to murder her.

Using duct tape to cover her eyes and mouth and bind her hands, the two perpetrators put Mrs. Crook in her minivan and drove to a state park. They reinforced the bindings, covered her head with a towel, and walked her to a railroad trestle spanning the Meramec River. There they tied her hands and feet together with electrical wire, wrapped her whole face in duct tape and threw her from the bridge, drowning her in the waters below.

By the afternoon of September 9, Steven Crook had returned home from an overnight trip, found his bedroom in disarray, and reported his wife missing. On the same afternoon fishermen recovered the victim’s body from the river. Simmons, meanwhile, was bragging about the killing, telling friends he had killed a woman “because the bitch seen my face.”

This is the animal that gets to live. Christopher Simmons said that he and his friend would “get away with it” because they were minors. It seems he was right. Three hots and a cot for life, courtesy of the taxpayers of the state of Missouri – including the family of Shirley Crook, who received no mercy, due process, or protection from cruel and unusual punishment at the hands of Christopher Simmons and Charles Benjamin.

But beyond that, there is the principle that the Constitution means what it says, not what today’s majority says it means. These are five justices who are drawing a line based upon their own policy preferences, not upon constitutional principle. Justice Scalia, the intellectual giant of the Rehnquist Court, sums up my position well in his dissenting opinion.

The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our Nation's moral standards--and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five Members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.

|| Greg, 03:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

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|| Greg, 12:34 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

March 01, 2005

Good For Them!

I’m not a fan of much that comes out of Berkeley, California, but I must admit I like the tactic adopted by teachers there to protest the lack of pay raises and or a new contract with the district over the last two years. No, they did not go on strike. Their solution? Adhering strictly to the terms of the old contract. That means no grading papers outside of school time, no calling parents outside of school hours, and no volunteering for activities outside of the school day. A Black History program had to be cancelled, and parents had to staff the science fair.

"Teachers do a lot with a little. All of a sudden, a lot of things that they do are just gone. It's demoralizing," said Rachel Baker, who has a son in kindergarten.

Teachers say they don't want to stop volunteering their time.

"It's hard," said high school math teacher Judith Bodenhauser. "I have stacks of papers I haven't graded. Parents want to talk to me; I don't call them back."

The action was organized by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, which wants a cost-of-living increase next year.

Asking for a cost-of-living increase isn’t unreasonable. If Ms. Baker wants the teachers back, all she needs to do is get together with other parents and pressure the school board to get with the program and give the rather modest raise that the teachers are seeking.

That is, of course, assuming that you really do value all those things that teachers usually do.

|| Greg, 09:55 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

They Honored Riefenstahl, But Not Van Gogh

This seems to be an almost baffling case of political correctnes run wild in Hollywood.

One of the controversies from last year’s Oscars was the decision to honor Leni Riefenstahl, whose work celebrated Hitler and National Socialism in the 1930s, as part of the obituary segment. This year the Academy failed to honor Theo Van Gogh, the iconoclastic Dutch filmmaker murdered by Islamofascists last fall. K.J. Lopez, in National Review Online’s “The Corner,” noted this fact on Monday, only to receive the following email.

"If you are murdered by Islamists because they do not like the movie you made about the way they treat women you do not get recognized by the academy. If you are Hitler's propagandist you do. What does that say about Hollywood?"

What, indeed?

|| Greg, 09:50 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watchers Council Post

Each and every week, Watcher of Weasels sponsors a contest to see what are the most link-worthy posts from the conservative side of the Blogosphere. The winning entries are determined by a jury of 12 writers (and The Watcher) known as "The Watchers Council." The Council has met and voted on this week's submitted posts. Congratulations to all the nominees that received votes!

Council Entries:

Little Red Blog won top honors this week with their thoughtful post called, "Waiting."

Non-Council Entries:

Gates of Vienna garnered first place with their entry, "Co-opting Jihad."

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

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NAME: Greg
AGE: 50-ish
SEX: Male
OCCUPATION: Social Studies Teacher
LOCATION: Seabrook, TX
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