May 31, 2005

The Right Decision

I can't believe it was unanimous.

The law "does not elevate accommodation of religious observances over an institution's need to maintain order and safety," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said from the bench in announcing the decision.

Ginsburg said judges who handle inmate cases should give deference to prison administrators.

So what we have here is a vindication of the ability of prisoners to worship freely, provided that doing so does not undermine prison security. Hardly an outrageous proposition -- especially since we give such accommodations to the terrositst ad Gitmo.

|| Greg, 08:59 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

May 30, 2005

Do I Understand This Correctly?

I don't know that I want to comment too extensively on the arrests of Rafiq Abdus Sabir and Tarik Shah on charges arrested on charges of conspiring to aid terrorists. I'd like to wait for a little more information to come out before forming an opinion.

But I am concerned about one paragraph I read in this article.

As recently as May 20, during a meeting at a New York City apartment, Sabir indicated he would travel shortly to Saudi Arabia to treat the wounds of jihadists at a Saudi military base, prosecutors said. Travel records showed he was scheduled to leave Thursday.

Now, was the whole "jihadists at a Saidi military base" just a ruse by the FBI to reel these guys in? Or are we being told, ever so obliquely, that the Saudis are providing medical care for wounded jihadis on their military bases? I guess what I'm really asking is if this should be seen as evidence of the Saudis playing both sides of the street.

Thoughts, comments, and reactions?

|| Greg, 08:52 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

May 29, 2005

The Problem Of The EU Constitution

It appears that both France and the Netherlands will reject the proposed EU Constitution before the end of the current week. That would, one would imagine, kill the much maligned document. After all, those two countries are founding membrs of the EU, and represent large chunk out of a united Europe. The political leaders of Europe, though, are seeking to impose the document over the objections of the people.

There remains a remote chance that the people of France and the Netherlands will confound the opinion polls and endorse the constitution. But it is far more likely that, by the end of this week, two of the union’s founding members will have rejected the 474-page tome that was cobbled together after years of wrangling and which, our leaders would have us believe, paves the way for a more democratic and more accountable European Union.

However, it does not take a Eurosceptic to notice that at the first sign that their constitution might get thrown out, Europe’s politicians and bureaucrats take flight from democracy and seek refuge in the more comfortable world of inter-governmental negotiations. The constitution that is trumpeted as a triumph in democracy will not be allowed to suffer defeat at the hands of the people.

That is, of course, emblematic of the problem of the political Left in most parts of the world. So certain are they that their prescriptions for a better society are right and righteous, they will go to great lengths to implement their schemes over the objections of those that the plans allegedly benefit. Anything that stands in their way -- including the people themselves -- is simply dismissed as an obstacle to democracy. But let's be clear about one thing. Any further movement towards implementing the EU Constitution if either of the two countries ratifies it is a blow to real democracy.

What is the problem with the document? Why haven't people embraced it? I think this is the problem.

Above all, though, it is a document that few Europeans will actually read, even if they are determined to. And therein lies its central problem: a constitution, whose supporters claim will bring the institutions of Europe closer to its people, will forever be distant, unloved and largely unread

A 447 page document, written in legalese by lawyers and bureaucrats, will not gain the support of the people. The average European will never understand it. In short, it will not be a social contract. It will be the antithesis of the US Constitution.

Consider our Constitution. It is short, written in language that the average American can understand, and delineates functions and limits that the people embrace. That is what makes the government legitimate in the eyes of most Americans. We may disagree with the policies and practices of the government, but it is the Constitution that renders those things legitimate in our eyes.

Americans accept court decisions that they dislike when they are rendered in accord with that document and are rooted in it. It is only when the roots of a decision are not clearly and firmly planted in Constitutional soil that large segments of the people stand in opposition. That was the problem with Dred Scott, with Roe v. Wade, and with Lawrence v. Texas. That was the reason for the outcry over the recent Simmons case and its use of foreign law. It is the problem with the current cases moving towards a judicially created "right" to homosexual marriage. We Americans are familiar enough with our Constitution that we will not accept when it is transgressed.

What do the Europeans need to do to make an acceptable Constitution? Go back and make it shorter, less complex, and more accessible. Keep it simple and clear. Make it a document that the people of Europe can know and love. Only then will the people of Europe embrace it.

UPDATE -- France rejects the EU Constitution.

» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: French Voters Reject First EU Constitution
» Watcher of Weasels links with: Submitted for Your Approval

|| Greg, 04:52 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments

Ending The Schism Between East And West

Pope Benedict XVI, on his first trip away from Rome, has spoken about his desire to work for reconciliation between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

In his homily at a Mass that closed a national religious conference, Benedict referred to Bari as a "land of meeting and dialogue" with the Orthodox Church.

"I want to repeat my willingness to make it a fundamental commitment to work, with all my energy, toward reconstituting the full and visible unity of Christ's followers," he said to applause from the estimated 200,000 people at the Mass.

Benedict told worshippers words were not enough, and that even ordinary Catholics needed to make concrete gestures to reach out to Orthodox Christians.

"I also ask all of you to decisively take the path of spiritual ecumenism, which in prayer will open the door to the Holy Spirit who alone can create unity," he said.

There is much to work on for the split to heal, but there is significantly more in common between the two branches of Christianity than between the two ancient branches and Protestantism. May we see the breach healed in our lifetimes.

|| Greg, 02:57 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments

What The Court Fight Is All About

Columnist John Leo provides one of the most insightful explanations of what is at stake in the current battle for the courts. I've tried to say this many times, and wish that I had put it as well.

Democrats try to frame their case by saying that Republicans are attacking the independence of the judiciary. Not true. They are attacking the process by which the policy preferences of the left are removed from the democratic process and written into the Constitution. The current moment may be the one historic opportunity that the Republicans will have to halt and reverse this severe damage to the courts. If they blow this chance out of timidity or bipartisan niceness, many of us will conclude that the GOP is not really a serious party entitled to our support.

The GOP is trying to save the judiciary -- really the entire American system. Will they have the intestinal fortitude to do it?

|| Greg, 02:44 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

Attack Of The Dishonest And Intellectually Deficient Left

I really don't mind if someone comes after me based upon something I have written. I put my thoughts, reflections, and analysis out into the blogosphere for anyone to read and comment upon. That means some will love what I say, some will hate it, and most will simply not take the time to comment at all.

Probably the only thing that bothers me (though not on a particularly deep level) is when someone makes an attack that is clearly dishonest. No, I don't mean Ridor's attempt to tar and feather me for not writing about something that I never read about in a little town somewhere in Texas. That sort of stuff is just pathetic, and is merely a part of his "charm".

No, I'm talking about when someone engages in hack-job editting to twist the meaning of my words into something other than what was clearly intended. You know, sort of like they do in movie ads, where "If you have the intellect of a golf ball, you'll love this film" becomes ". . . you'll love this film."

That leads me to the case at hand, involving a fellow who goes by the handle "dolphin".

Continue to be enlightened while reading "Attack Of The Dishonest And Intellectually Deficient Left" »

|| Greg, 12:27 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (53) || Comments

May 28, 2005

Half-Truth Harry Breaks Filibuster Deal

There is no need for any Republican to feel bound by the shameful bargain made last Monday to prevent use of the Constitutional Option to break the judicial filibuster. Harry Reid broke it Monday night

In the privacy of his Capitol office last Monday night, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked for commitments from six Democrats fresh from the talks. Would they pledge to support filibusters against Brett Kavanaugh and William Haynes, two nominees not specifically covered by the pact with Republicans?

Some of the Democrats agreed. At least one, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, declined.

Details of Reid's attempt to kill the two nominations within minutes of the agreement, as well as other events during this tumultuous time, were obtained by The Associated Press in interviews with senators and aides in both parties. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing confidentiality pledges.

The conversation in Reid's office was among the final acts of a drama that played out unpredictably over several weeks. It culminated in a deal that cleared the way for votes on some nominees long blocked by Democrats, left other nominees in limbo and averted a bruising fight over the Senate's filibuster rules.

Now let's look at this. Reid exacted commitments from some of the Democrats who signed on to filibuster certain judges. That goes against the "extraordinary circumstances" pledge, as well as the "own discretion and judgement" provision. That goes against the clear understanding that had been reached.

The deal is therefore dead -- and when Half-Truth Harry got several of the Democrat signatories to break it Monday night.

|| Greg, 06:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (42) || Comments

British Court: "Hitler Wins -- Screw The Jews"

In 1939, the home of Chech lawyer Arthur Feldmann and his wife, Gisela, were looted by a Nazi mob. Among the items taken were a set of four Old Master drawings. Both Feldmanns died during the Holocaust -- Arthur tortured to death by the Nazis, and Gisela at Auschwitz. In 1946, the drawings were obtained by the British Museum for a pittance at an auction. Their heirs have been seeking their return, but a British judge has ruled that the Museum is barred by law from returning the stolen property to the family.

During the case, lawyers for Attorney General Lord Goldsmith argued that a decision in favour of the Feldmann family could open claims to other art works in British museums, including the Elgin Marbles.

"Once the principle is established, then it could apply to any objects whatever their provenance," Will Henderson, a lawyer for Lord Goldsmith, told the court. "Whether they were looted during the course of the Holocaust or whether they were acquired in unseemly circumstances at any other time. What if the moral claim were very different — if it were a cultural claim rather than a proprietary claim? ... The door would be open."

In his ruling, [Vice-Chancellor Andrew] Morritt said no moral obligation can justify the British Museum trustees departing from the law protecting objects forming part of the collections.

"In my judgment, only legislation or a bona fide compromise of a claim of the heirs of Dr. Feldmann to be entitled to the four drawings could entitle the trustees to transfer any of them to those heirs," Morritt said in his 13-page ruling.

The Commission for Looted Art in Europe, a group that represents the Feldmann family, criticized the decision.

"The ruling is significant for all claimants of looted art from the Nazi era, setting aside any possibility of restitution being achieved in this way, and showing that the government ought now to legislate in order to achieve clarity for all claimants," the commission said in a written statement handed out in the High Court.

So out of fear that the treasures of the British Museum obtained during the colonial era might be vulnerable, the court rules that the British Museum can obtain and keep stolen property.

Congratulations, sir, for giving Hitler a victory from the grave. You would have made a good guard at the camp where Mrs. Feldmann died.

|| Greg, 05:48 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Judge To Parents -- You May Not Pass On Your Religion To Son

In one of the most arrogant, anti-constitutional decisions made by a judge that I have ever encountered, an Indiana judge has forbidden a pair of Wiccan parents from teaching exposing their son to their religious faith as a condition of the child custody provision of their divorce decree.

A Wiccan activist and his ex-wife are challenging a court's order that they must protect their 9-year-old son from what it terms their "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

Thomas E. Jones and Tammy Bristol of Indianapolis are fighting a Marion Superior Court stipulation that they shelter the boy from their religion. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union has taken on the case, appealing the December decree to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Jones, a Wiccan activist who has coordinated Pagan Pride Day in Indianapolis for the past six years, said he and his ex-wife were stunned when they saw the language in the judge's dissolution decree on Feb. 13, 2004.

"We both had an instant resolve to challenge it. We could not accept it," Jones said.

Neither parent has taken their son to any Wiccan rituals since the decree was issued, he said.

"I'm afraid I'll lose my son if I let him around when I practice my religion," he said.

Now I disagree with Wicca. I have some very firm beliefs on what fate eternity holds for those who practice Wicca. But when you have two parents who both practice the religion, it is unreasonable and intolerable for a judge to tell them that they cannot pass their religious values on to their child. For that matter, I have a problem if a judge were to order that one parent not pass on any or all of their religious beliefs to their child. Short of an immediate demonstrable harm to the child's well-being, it just is not a matter for the court to be involved in. It is the fundamental right of parents to oversee the religious upbringing of their children.

What was the basis for the ruling?

A court commissioner wrote the unusual order into the couple's dissolution decree after a routine report by the court's Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau noted that both Jones and his ex-wife are pagans who send their son, Archer, to a Catholic elementary school.

"Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon Archer as he ages," the report said.

The dissolution decree said "the parents are directed to take such steps as are needed to shelter Archer from involvement and observation of these non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The splitting parents challenged that section of the decree, but Judge Cale Bradford, who reviewed the commissioner's work, let it stand.

Uh, I thought that "diversity" was a good thing. I guess not in the eyes of these people. If the issue was the "confusion" that would be created by having the parents teaching one thing and the school something else, why not order the child removed fromt he Catholic school? After all, the kid is not Catholic, and everyone at the school knows that -- and have known that since he enrolled. The decision of the court simply does not make sense.

Additional commentary from Dolphin & Watching the Watchers.

|| Greg, 04:58 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

First Amendment Protects Religious Groups, Court Rules

I wish that I didn't have to write an entry with such a title. After all, that the First Amendment protects religious citizens should be crystal clear to everyone. Unfortunately, it isn't clear to many public officials.

Take this case in Contra Costa County out in California, where any group of citizens can reserve a room for public meetings on any topic, free of charge -- except for religious groups, which were forbidden to use the library at all.

A federal judge has ordered Contra Costa County to let religious groups use its public rooms for meetings in a case involving the Antioch Library.

The county says use of its public spaces for religious purposes violates its policies and it will continue to fight a lawsuit demanding access.

Last year it banned a religious group from the community meeting room at the Antioch Library and the group went to court to assert its free speech rights.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White ruled this week that when the county makes available a room in a library, it cannot enforce a policy that bans religious purposes. His preliminary order issued Tuesday remains in effect while the parties continue to litigate the case.

The ruling affects libraries with meeting rooms managed by county library staffers. Libraries with meeting rooms managed by cities, such as Danville, San Ramon, Moraga and Orinda, are not affected, said Kelly Flanagan, a Contra Costa deputy counsel.

So let's be real clear here -- the reason for exclusion from the rooms was the religious content of the speech that was going to take place. That is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment rights of the group that sought to reserve teh room, and of every other religious group that sought (or might have sought) to use the library. In effect, it establishes atheism as the official religion of the library system.

Even the God-haters agree with that position.

The government cannot exclude groups "simply because they have a religious viewpoint," said Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that opposes religion in government.

"They had a policy from the get-go that discriminated against religious groups," he said. "We don't often agree with Alliance Defense Fund, but in this case, they have a point."

The fact that the library system plans on appealing this common sense ruling shows the depth of their bias. I wonder if the judge can be persuaded to order "sensitivity training" for library empoyees.

|| Greg, 08:32 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

May 26, 2005

And To Think We Meant It As A Joke

For years, those of us who believe that the Second Amendment means what it says have joked about the possibility of "knife control" to deal with the issue of knife crime.

We thought that we were kidding, and that the idea was too absurd to be considered by rational people.

Maybe we were wrong -- or these people are not rational.

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase - and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

The researchers said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault - but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs.

Kitchen knives can inflict appalling wounds

In contrast, a pointed long blade pierces the body like "cutting into a ripe melon".

Some thoughts.

1) I don't care if such knives are "essential" -- it is my preference to use such knives.

2) The use of such knives for defensive purpose is a matter of fundamental right. Having already effectively disarmed the British populace, now it appears that these doctors wish to deprive them of the next most effective weapon. What next -- suggest that those being assaulted stand around and wave daisies at their attackers?

3) You'll get my long, sharp, pointy jknife from me when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

4) What's next -- pointed sticks?

» Dangerous Dan links with: If Knives are Outlawed...

|| Greg, 11:00 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

Don't Apply At This School

East Lynne School District in Cass County, Missouri had ten teachers an one principal/superintendent this year. Right now, they have two teachers and one principal/superintendent. The events that happened there this year are a classic example of what happens when the person in charge is an idiot who is more concerned about being obeyed than about the safety of his students and the input of his staff.

Seven of 10 classroom teachers in a tiny school district resigned after a colleague was fired for helping an 11-year-old girl who was left alone in a playground to pick up rocks as punishment.

The fourth-grader in the East Lynne School District in Cass County was assigned the task last September for refusing to do her schoolwork, but she was unsupervised except for a security camera. The playground was near a road but inside a fence.

The fired teacher, Christa Price, went to the principal — who is also the district superintendent — and asked him to reconsider the punishment, but he wouldn’t. So on her free period, Price helped the girl pick up rocks. Other teachers watched the girl the next day.

At contract time in March, Superintendent Dan Doerhoff recommended firing Price, a popular teacher who had had good performance evaluations, for insubordination. Seven other teachers then chose not to return their contracts.

“If a teacher who advocates on behalf of safety of a student is not fit to be a teacher at East Lynne or anywhere in Missouri according to this administration, then none of us are fit to teach at East Lynne,” the teachers who resigned said Tuesday in a statement.

Now let's look at this situation. The punishment is one that served no particular educational purpose, and the nine-year-old student was left unattended by a road with only a security camera observing her. That is great if you want to have a grainy tape of an unidentified man shoving a struggling child into the back of a non-descript van with an obscured license plate. On the other hand, it doesn't do much to protect the child from possible abduction or a car hitting her.

The fact that this administrative idiot then chose to fire the teacher, who he had given high evaluations over the course of four years, is absurd. He apparantly doesn't like being challenged or questioned -- even if they involve genuine issues of student safety.

But it gets even worse. Not only did he make sure she would not be back at the school, he also has tried to make sure that Ms. Price would never be permitted to teach anywhere ever again.

Doerhoff also refused to sign the certification renewal that Price needs to get another teaching job, saying doing so would have been inconsistent and “could put me in a pickle.”

Yeah. It might make people realize that you are an absolute asshole -- but since everyone already knows that, so why not just sign it as a sign of your good will.

Fortunately, the appropriate state agency is taking notice, and doing its best to see that justice is done.

Jim Morris, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the department’s Kansas City-area supervisor has offered to speak to certification officials on Price’s behalf.

My advice to teachers -- stay far away from this district.

My advice to the school board -- fire this administrator.

My advice to the citizens of the district -- vote out the board if they don't.

|| Greg, 08:00 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

May 25, 2005

One Good Outcome

It is about time that Priscilla Owen, that fine justice of the Texas Supreme Court, has finally been confirmed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Senate on Wednesday approved Judge Priscilla Owen for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, more than four years after President Bush first nominated her.

The vote was 56-43.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist congratulated Owen and praised her as gracious, patient, bold and courageous.

"The fact that she is willing to put herself forward and has been beaten up mercilessly on the floor of the United States Senate but has stood tall ... says a lot for her," Frist said.

But Lincoln Chafee gave us one more reason to toss him from the GOP Caucus. He voted with the Democrats, in another cowardly betrayal of his party and his president.

» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Gonzales qualifies criticism of Owen dissent in Texas abortion case

|| Greg, 06:22 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments

Some Folks Really Don’t Get It

Now I understand that the two police chiefs in New Hampshire who have filed trespassing charges against illegal border jumpers have engaged in creative interpretation of the law that could be called “constabulary activism”.

And I’ll even concede that there is a question of whether state and local law enforcement officials have the jurisdiction to enforce federal laws (for example, a friend’s former roommate held her mail hostage after she moved out in a dispute over a phone bill, and the city cops rightly pointed out that they generally lacked jurisdiction over cases of tampering with or stealing mail).

But surely there is no dispute that those in this country in violation of our nation’s laws and borders are NOT citizens.

But then again, maybe there is.

LouAnn Fornataro had harsh words for the police. “The people of New Hampshire ought to be outraged,” she said. “These chiefs of police have become vigilantes. The fact that they wear badges does not make them less than vigilantes. A law-enforcement officer has the responsibility to protect citizens from vigilantes. At the moment the vigilantes in New Ipswich and Hudson are wearing badges.”

Uh, Lou Ann – they aren’t citizens. That is precisely the problem. They are foreign criminals and invaders who are breaking American law, and the police departments in those two towns are trying to see to it that the laws of this country are enforced by the proper authorities. That isn’t being a vigilante – that is being a good cop and a good citizen.

And if you think being a border-jumping illegal invader is the same as being a US citizen, then you are clearly either nuts or stupid. Which is it?

And by the way, you will love this absurd quote, too.

Before stopping in Hudson with a petition signed by over 100 people, the task force went to New Ipswich, where they presented a similar petition to Chamberlain. Mark MacKenzie, a spokesman for the task force, said the citations sent the wrong message to the rest of the country. “And the message is not receiving a lot of support. Immigration is a complicated issue. People are in different phases of the immigration process trying to become legal citizens of this country,” MacKenzie said.

Uh, immigration may be a complex issue, but let me clarify something for you. Those who are actually in the immigration process trying to become legal citizens are not what the issue is here. They are not being cited. The folks getting the citations, and objected to by most Americans, are those who are NOT in the process of trying to become legal citizens, who are NOT here legally, and are therefore VIOLATING THE LAW. Until you and your fellow advocates of open borders deal with that minor detail, you won’t get very far with most of us.

|| Greg, 06:17 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

Clearly Outside The Mainstream

Would somebody tell me how these folks missed 9/11, al-Qaeda and the rest of the reasons behind the War on Terrorism?

Conservative bias in the American news media is "not simply a matter of taste, but of life and death," a panel of liberal radio talk show hosts and representatives of leftist organizations told a group of Democrats on Tuesday.

"There is no more urgent problem facing America today," stated Mark Lloyd, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), one of 10 panelists who spoke on "Media Bias and the Future of Freedom of the Press."

Gee, the fact that you folks don’t control the media any longer is a greater threat than those who hijack planes and crash them into buildings, a greater threat than those whose avowed aim is the destruction of the United States and its liberties. Seems to me that you have a really confused set of priorities.

And what is even more disturbing is that this little shindig was sponsored by a senior Congressional Democrat, John Conyers. I love this minor detail.

No individual or group dedicated to the monitoring of liberal media bias was invited to the event, though Conyers said he might invite "an independent or a Republican" at a similar forum in six months.

So, you want to talk about media bias without inviting those who might dispute your preconceived biases. After all, allowing conservatives to dispute the assertions of folks like Randi Rhodes, an Air America host who has twice been responsible for threats against the life of the President on her show, would certainly have created a different picture than what you people wanted to set forth. What you have explicitly and intentionally done is set up a biased forum (which you claim is wrong when it is done by the media – how much worse is it when done by a government official?) and plan on doing so again in the future, with perhaps a token representative just to give a patina of fairness.

And it was Rhodes who set out the agenda of the Left – a regime of politically based censorship targeted at the conservative media, explicitly designed to prop up the Democrat Party.

She had three recommendations for addressing media bias. The first was for Congress to adopt standards for labeling a broadcast as news instead of opinion or commentary.

"Second, I think we need to bring back the Fairness Doctrine, which served this country well from 1949 through 1987" by guaranteeing "competing viewpoints on issues of public importance."

Rhodes' final suggestion was "to protect our journalists," who "must be free to report and never be penalized with lost access to the people they cover or with retribution from partisan employers.

"If you fail to act," she told the liberal U.S. representatives in attendance, "I will be a member of a minority party for a very long time. That is, if the two-party system can survive this new propaganda machine called the news."

Let’s look at this scheme, which Rhodes tells us is designed to help the Democrats and hurt the Republicans. She wants the government to decide what constitutes news and what constitutes opinion in the media – never mind that much of the “objective” news coming out of the mainstream media has an explicitly anti-conservative spin to it, despite the fact that Rhodes and her fellow Leftists view it as too conservative because it doesn’t tip far enough their direction. She wants the government to tell the broadcast media what they must broadcast by reimposing the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” – something that would be anathema if applied to the print media. Lastly, she wants the government to control hiring and firing decisions in the media, and to force people to talk with reporters against their will – thereby giving members of the media greater rights to access to public officials and document than an ordinary citizen.

But I do think we owe the participants in this little hate-fest a debt of gratitude. After all, they have shown us just how hostile the American Left is to American values. They have shown us how stupid they believe the American public to be – after all, we cannot be trusted to sift fact from opinion or falsehood, and so they want the government to do it on our behalf, just like in Cuba, China, and North Korea.

|| Greg, 06:15 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Up To Their Old Tricks

Looks like the Left in this country are up to their old tricks again, trying to define “extraordinary circumstances” in such a way as to be understood as “any Republican nominee with ethics.”

Within minutes of the deal's announcement Monday night, NARAL Pro-Choice America announced that "extraordinary circumstances" should include any nominees who don't state their positions on Roe v. Wade, the court case that made abortion a constitutional right. Other liberals have defined "extraordinary circumstances" as any vacancy on the Supreme Court.

It seems clear, then, that the Left is insisting that the “deal” to end the filibusters was no deal, but instead a complete capitulation by the GOP. If the seven Democrats who signed on to this deal do, in fact, follow the lead of these outside the mainstream extreme left-wing groups, then it will be necessary for some of the GOP Senators who betrayed the GOP to admit that they were chumps who got rolled by their own dishonorable colleagues. Will they have the courage and integrity to do so? The fact that they made this bargain in the first place makes me doubt that they will have the courage to admit their mistake.

|| Greg, 06:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (14) || Comments

Motley Who?

Since when do the federal courts have any jurisdiction over network “talent” booking decisions? After all, the First Amendment does not apply to private businesses.

In the latest twist in the broadening battle overdecency standards, the glam-metal band Mötley Crüe filed suit against NBC yesterday. The suit states that the network violated the group's free-speech rights and weakened its sales by banning it after Vince Neil, the lead singer, used an expletive on the air in a Dec. 31 appearance on "The Tonight Show."

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, accuses the network of censoring the band to mollify a Federal Communications Commission that has been increasingly quick to levy steep fines for broadcasting indecent material on television and radio. The lawsuit says the network, which banned the group after Mr. Neil inserted an expletive into his New Year's greeting to Mötley Crüe's drummer, Tommy Lee, added insult to injury by promoting a summer reality series featuring Mr. Lee.

The band, known for 1980's hits like "Shout at the Devil" and "Girls, Girls, Girls," is requesting a ruling that NBC's ban is unconstitutional, a court order forcing the network to lift it, and unspecified financial damages tied to the band's reduced media exposure.

You have no case. Now just go away.

|| Greg, 06:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 24, 2005

Texas Legislature Disrespects Teachers

Well, the Texas Legislature has done it. They have once again kicked the teachers in the teeth and said we don't mean squat to them.

Look at this story about the future of teacher retirement benefits.

Legislation aimed at stabilizing the $91 billion Teacher Retirement System won tentative House approval Monday, despite some claims that it pits active teachers against retired teachers.

Rep. Craig Eiland, the House sponsor of the measure, said if lawmakers do nothing to change the system, retired teachers won't be able to get a retirement payment increase for the next 12 to 15 years.

They haven't had one since 2001, he said.

It's also important to preserve the system as a defined benefit plan as opposed to a defined contribution plan, said Eiland, D-Galveston.

The system covers about 850,000 employees and about 240,000 retirees. The fund has $11 billion of unfunded liabilities and is 88 percent funded.

The bill would increase the retirement age to 60 from 55, although the change would affect only teachers who start working on or after September 2007.

It also attempts to stop incentives for early teacher retirement.

"We cannot afford it," Eiland said. "The whole purpose of this bill is to change retirement patterns, retirement behavior."

The proposal would change the base of retirees' benefits to the highest five years of their salary instead of the highest three.

Rep. Jim McReynolds, D-Lufkin, tried unsuccessfully to change that provision of the proposal.

"These are tough votes," McReynolds said. "It kind of pits us between our active teachers and our retired teachers." But in the end he voted for the bill, which tentatively passed 115-16. Some others who criticized parts of the bill abstained from voting.

Senators approved a similar proposal last week. If the Senate does not agree with changes made on the House side, a committee of a few lawmakers from each chamber will meet to work out the differences.

Later retirement. Lower benefits. A continued refusal of the state to make up the state contributions that were reduced more than a decade ago, creating this fiscal shortfall. We are still paid below state average, and the one "perk" that has been discussed this year will not start until after many teachers quit the classroom and will not benefit childless teachers or those who enter the classroom later in life or with older children.

Consider this retirement plan change, for a group of part-timers who make only $7200 a year plus their per diem when they meet in odd number years.

Senators and representatives earn $7,200 a year for their part-time jobs. They receive $128 per day for expenses during the 140 days they meet every other year.

The low pay is a result of Texas founding fathers' desire for citizen-legislators who would bring their real world experience to their law-writing duties.

But while the pay is low, the benefits can be good. The state pays for health insurance for lawmakers and their families.

Retired lawmakers can begin collecting pensions at age 50 if they serve for at least 12 years. Under SB 368, a retired official with 12 years' experience would get $6,431 more a year for a total pension of $34,500. Benefits increase with each year of service.

So the legislators, with their fully funded health insurance (like other state employees -- except teachers, who would be "too expensive to include" despite being promised equivalent benefits over a decade ago), will see an increase in their pension nearly equivalent to their entire annual salary. That will push their annual benefit above what many teachers get from TRS, and their retirement age and years of service are both lower than those of teachers.

Yep, you folks really have showed what great value you place on teachers.

|| Greg, 05:38 AM || Permalink

May 23, 2005

Take The Patterico Pledge

After this dastardly sell-out of the Constitution and the President's judicial nominees, I join Patterico.

The next time John McCain runs for any elective office, I pledge to support his opponent. I will use my blog to encourage others to vote for his opponent.

I am singling him out because of his fascist campaign finance law, which will not stop me in any way from using this blog to oppose John McCain for the rest of his days.

That is my solemn pledge to you.

I urge others to take the Patterico Pledge!

(Hat Tip -- Michelle Malkin & Martin America)

UPDATE: Patrick Carver over at Southern Appeal posts the following information about the "moderates" who conspired to deliver the unkindest cut of all in the Senate.

For those of you wondering when the Gang of Seven GOPers are up for re-election and think they deserve a primary battle with a true conservative, here's a list:

Chafee (RI)
DeWine (OH)
Snowe (ME)
Graham (SC)
Collins (ME)
Warner (VA)
McCain (AZ)

Keep in mind Warner and McCain may not run for re-election, so replacing with consistant conservative should be easier but those elections are a long way off.

Have they smeared their hands and arms with the blood of their victims, clear up to the elbows? Do we now hear them cry "Peace, freedom and liberty!" as they go about proclaiming themselves the boldest and best hearts of Rome America?

These seven must be made to pay for their betrayal. Can the caucus strip them of their chairmanships? Will the President cut them out of any role in nominating judges in their own states? In short, does the GOP have the will to do something about those who would undercut their own party and president?

Text of the crooked, backroom bargain at GOPBloggers.

Live blogging at Blogs For Bush.

» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Deal reached to avert U.S. showdown on judges
» Mover Mike links with: Republicans Assume the Position!
» Mover Mike links with: Republicans Assume the Position!

|| Greg, 09:38 PM || Permalink

Sold Out!

Time to dump McCain and the rest of his moderate crew. We get less than half of our nominees, the Democrats keep the filibuster, and the Constitution is raped again by those who have no fidelity to it.

Averting a showdown, centrists from both parties reached agreement Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation votes on many of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable Senate filibuster rules.

"In a Senate that is increasingly polarized, the bipartisan center held," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

"The Senate is back in business," echoed Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of 14 senators who signed the two-page memorandum of agreement, which cited "mutual trust and confidence."

Under the terms, Democrats would agree to oppose any attempt to filibuster - and thus block final votes - on the confirmation of Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. There is "no commitment to vote for or against" the filibuster against two other conservative nominees, Henry Saad and William Myers.

As for future nominees, the agreement said they should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

"In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement," Republicans said they would oppose any attempt to make changes in the application of filibuster rules.

And no doubt "extraordinary circumstances" means any time half-Truth Harry, Ted the Drunk, Leaky Leahy and the rest of the lackies of the hard Left tell them to support a filibuster.

Hat Tip -- Michelle Malkin, Scared Monkeys , Ace of Spades & Buzz Blog.

Text of the crooked, backroom bargain at GOPBloggers.

Live blogging at Blogs For Bush.

|| Greg, 07:51 PM || Permalink

An Important Note On The Red Cross

The Wall Street Journal editorializes today on the International Committee of the Red Cross and certain statements made by one of its officials.

The first concerns a story we heard first from a U.S. source that an ICRC representative visiting America's largest detention facility in Iraq last month had compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany. According to a Defense Department source citing internal Pentagon documents, the ICRC team leader told U.S. authorities at Camp Bucca: "You people are no better than and no different than the Nazi concentration camp guards." She was upset about not being granted immediate access shortly after a prison riot, when U.S. commanders may have been thinking of her own safety, among other considerations.

A second, senior Defense Department source we asked about the episode confirmed that the quote above is accurate. And a third, very well-placed American source we contacted separately told us that some kind of reference was made by the Red Cross representative "to either Nazis or the Third Reich"--which understandably offended the American soldiers present.
We called the ICRC last Wednesday for its side of the story, and a spokesman in Geneva confirmed that "there was a serious misunderstanding between the ICRC's team leader and [Coalition] authorities during our last visit to Camp Bucca." The ICRC also confirmed that "the team leader subsequently decided to leave the Iraq assignment."

The spokesman added, however, that he "can categorically say that the team leader did not in any sense compare the detention regime in Iraq to what happened in the Third Reich." Pressed as to whether he could rule out those terms having been used, the spokesman declined, citing the ICRC's practice of confidentiality when it comes to relations with the governments with which it works.

Now it seems that the alleged quote is at least as well sourced – better sourced, in fact – as those in a certain recent Newsweek piece. And as the Journal notes, the so-called confidentiality policies of the ICRC didn’t stop the organization from commenting on allegations against the US by unlawful combatants at Gitmo. The organization is only willing to use its confidentiality policy to protect itself from charges of bias.

Of particular concern, though, is this little tidbit.

Which brings us back to the "Nazi" reference by that ICRC official at Camp Bucca. We wouldn't normally report the remarks, however offensive, of a single official. But after we started asking about the incident, we began to hear from other sources that someone was attempting damage control by alerting the ICRC's friends in the media and State Department about what we might report. One media proponent of the "torture" allegation against the U.S. warned on the Internet that we were out to smear the ICRC (which, we should add, is not the same as the American Red Cross).

So I guess that the ICRC not only views the US as the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany, but also considers any negative coverage by the press to be a smear.

Has the day come for the US to shut out the ICRC, in the hopes that some other organization might do a better job of monitoring the rights of prisoners?

|| Greg, 05:06 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments


I continue to be appalled that our putative allies, the Israelis, keep attempting to liberate an American traitor.

First Lady Gila Katzav, wife of Israeli President Moshe Katzav, gave her American counterpart, Laura Bush, a letter signed by 13 Members of Knesset demanding the release of Jonathan Pollard from federal prison. ***

Just prior to her visit to the Temple Mount, the two First Ladies spent a few moments together at the Western Wall. Mrs. Bush placed a note in a crevice of the holy site, an undisclosed message which she reportedly wrote on the plane on her way to Israel.

As she approached the Wall, Bush encountered a group of young female demonstrators calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard. Pollard is a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy who risked his career and freedom to pass sensitive security information to Israel. Since his conviction in a plea bargain arrangement in 1986, Pollard has been serving a life sentence in federal prison.

As she entered the wall area, the girls chanted, “Free Pollard Now.” At the same time, a group of men held a similar demonstration in the plaza opposite the Wall.

The letter demanding Pollard’s release that Gila Katzav gave to Laura Bush was initiated by MK Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party). “We’re happy that Katzav did not act in the manner of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, and did not forget to hand over the letter,” said Finkelstein.

Israel needs to understand that further attempts to liberate the traitor Pollard will not be looked upon favorably by the American people. My forgiveness of Israel for its betrayal of the US is grudging at best, as I have explained in the past. Much of the material Pollard stole for money ended up in the hands of America’s enemies. Any deal that allows for Pollard’s release is, in my opinion, grounds for impeachment.

|| Greg, 05:01 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

But Isn’t This Theocracy?

I’m confused. When Conservative politicians and Christians use churches to host political gatherings, the Left starts yammering about “theocracy.” What, then, is this political gathering in a church sanctuary to discuss political matters, sponsored by and featuring pastors and politicians?

After the Sunday service at Antioch Baptist Church, the pastors turned their pulpit over to opponents of President Bush's proposals to change Social Security.

Nearly 100 congregation and community members attended an afternoon meeting in the church's main sanctuary, where they heard from Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a Cleveland Democrat; Cleveland AFL-CIO Executive Secretary John Ryan; and Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Stanley Miller, among others.

But wait – there’s more to it.

The Rev. Marvin McMickle, the church's pastor, later said that he was one of more than 100 clergy who met with Tubbs Jones in February, when she urged them to discuss Social Security with their congregations.

He said he agreed to do so because the issue affects the lives of his church's members.

So I have to ask the question – is the stand against “theocracy” taken by the Left based upon principle, or is it simply that they don’t want Christians who might vote Republican to participate in the political process?

|| Greg, 04:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

Watcher's 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.

|| Greg, 01:40 PM || Permalink

May 22, 2005

Whitewashing A White Supremacist

My gag reflex got a good workout while reading this report on the completion of a hagiographic work on the life and career of Senator Robert Byrd -- The Soul of the Senate.

Four years in the making, the first documentary about the life of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., will premiere Saturday at the Clay Center in Charleston.

In its 58 minutes, “The Soul of the Senate” blends photographs and vignettes from Byrd’s early life as a boy and young state legislator to his role on the national and world stage today. It offers comments from many of his present and former colleagues.

Produced by MotionMasters and the West Virginia Humanities Council, the film is billed as “a story of strength and fortitude. A story of the orphan who became orator. The produce clerk turned statesman. A coal miner’s son who rose, with a bow and fiddle in hand, to be a giant in the United States government.”

Some historic shots were discovered in the massive television video archives WSAZ-TV has given to the Cultural Center in Charleston and Marshall University in Huntington.

“It was a treasure hunt,” said Diana Sole of MotionMasters.

“We had to pry some of those old [video] cans open. We found one film of Senator Byrd a week before he was sworn into the Senate.”

Sole also used footage taken by Bill Drennan and Mike Willard. In the mid-1980s, they worked on, but never finished, a documentary they planned to call “A Day in the Life of Senator Byrd.”

Photographs show Byrd playing his fiddle, leading Appropriations Committee hearings and walking with Erma, who married him nearly 68 years ago in 1937. A particularly colorful clip shows Erma watching her husband play fiddle on the television show “Hee-Haw.”

“Soul of the Senate” highlights moments in Byrd’s life from his graduation as valedictorian from Mark Twain High School in Stotesbury in 1934, to being congratulated by President John F. Kennedy as he received his law degree at American University in 1963, to chairing major committee hearings in the U.S. Senate.

Actor James Brolin adds an effective narration to the documentary, which also boasts an original musical score.

I've no doubt that this will leave out his time as an active Klansman, his filibuster of civil rights legislation, his record of voting against every black man ever nominated for the US Supreme Court., and his repeated public use of racial slurs. Sadly, a copy will be placed in every secondary school library in West Virginia, where future generations of West Virginians will be misinformed about this great blemish on the history of their state.

And may I be permitted to say that if Robert Byrd is truly the soul of the Senate, the institution is a shriveled, dessicated piece of excrement which deserves to be repudiated by every supporter of freedom, equality, and American patriotism.

Michelle Malkin and HundredPercenter News also comment.

|| Greg, 09:49 PM || Permalink || Comments

One Of My Favorite Authors Makes An Appearance

I never particularly enjoyed teaching English, though I did it for six years of my teaching career. The thing I most enjoyed, though, was the literature that I got to deal with on a recurring basis, teaching it year after year. Closest to my heart each year were the weeks I spent walking my student's through Harper Lee's great novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. I always asked them, after the first reading assignment, to tell me what the narrator says the story is about in the first chapter. If you can't remembr, I'll tell you at the end.

My students were always fascinated that Ms. Lee became a recluse, rarely speaking to the press or making public appearances -- or even leaving her apartment -- while I am intrigued by the reports that the dear lady has completed several other manuscripts, which will be duly shipped off to publishers after her death. So it is with great interest that I saw this article -- photo included! -- about one of Ms. Lee's rare public outings.

Harper Lee, who has been dodging publicity for decades since she published her only book, To Kill a Mockingbird, made a rare step into the limelight to be honored by the Los Angeles Public Library.

Lee, 79, stopped giving interviews a few years after she won the Pulitzer Prize for her 1960 coming-of-age book exploring racial prejudice in the South. She has turned down most requests for appearances.

But she couldn't refuse an invitation from Veronique Peck, the widow of actor Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his starring role as lawyer Atticus Finch in the 1962 film version of the book and became a lifelong friend with Lee.

Mockingbird co-star Brock Peters, who played the black man falsely accused of rape in the film, presented the award to Lee.

After Veronique Peck whispered in her ear, Lee gave her only remarks of the evening: "I'll say it again. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart."

Maybe this isn't the most significant piece of news I will ever write about. Maybe no one will give a rip at all about my affection for this woman. And perhaps many of you hated reading her one published book during your high school years. But I have to agree with Mrs. Peck's words about the woman who created the character who became her husband's greatest role.

Veronique Peck said Lee is "like a national treasure."

"She's someone who has made a difference with this book," she said. "All the kids in the United States read this book and see the film in the seventh and eighth grades and write papers and essays. My husband used to get thousands and thousands of letters from teachers who would send them to him."

By the way, does anyone remember what that long story was ostensibly about? As I always reminded my students at the end of the novel, it was the story of how Scout's brother Jem broke his arm.

And so much more -- so very much more.

|| Greg, 09:31 PM || Permalink || Comments

PC Euro-Weenies Dishonor Trafalgar Victors

As we approach the bicentenial of the British naval victory over Napoleon's forces at Trafalgar, someone in the British bureaucracy has seen fit to dishonor Lord Nelson and his men at the official commemoration.

Instead of the British taking on a French/Spanish fleet at next month's event to mark the battle's bicentenary a "red" force will take on a "blue".

Navy organisers fear visiting officials may be embarrassed at seeing their side beaten, The Sunday Times reported.

Portsmouth MP Mike Hancock said an event which did not acknowledge who the enemy was is "absolute twaddle".

The Lib Dem MP said: "If we are going to re-enact it we should do it properly. I am sure the French do not pull any punches when they celebrate Napoleon's victories.

"The French will be there - let's not rub it in but at least be accurate. I see no reason why we should not be out there proud as punch proclaiming it."

He said it was unlikely the decision was made by a serving naval officer and concluded it must have been "a faceless bureaucrat somewhere who thinks their next posting might be in Paris."

One event sponsor said: "Surely 200 years on we can afford to gloat a bit."

"Not even the French can try and get snooty about this."

Official literature for the event refers to "an early 19th-century sea battle" instead of the Battle of Trafalgar, The Sunday Times said.

You must be freakin' joking. Not offend the French? Why commemorate the battle at all, if you don't want to note its name and the respective sides that took part in it. That would have been like commemorating the end of WWII without noting who won, who lost, and who committed a genocide second only to that perpetrated in the name of Communism.

What next? Signs by the roadside that say "On this site, on thus and such a date, something really interesting happened, but we don't dare tell you what it was for fear of offending someone."

Nelson's exploits, including this last battle, made him the model for generations of British naval officers. If you cannot accurately commemorate one of his greatest victories -- the one in which he gave his life for his country -- then why bother with the commemoration at all.

Besides -- the French have been getting their asses kicked regularly since at least the Battle of Agincourt. I'm sure they are used to being reminded of it by now.

|| Greg, 08:55 PM || Permalink || Comments

Steele For Maryland!

Maryland Republicans want Lt. Gov. Michael Steele to run for Senate. They are likely to get their wish.

Prominent national Republican leaders are pressuring Mr. Steele to run. He has gotten entreaties from President Bush's top political strategist, Karl Rove, from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and from Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina, on behalf of the party's senatorial campaign committee. The story is the same at the state level.

"I certainly am urging Lt. Gov. Steele to run," said John M. Kane, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. "He would be a fresh choice, a fresh face for Maryland."

Mr. Kane believes Mr. Steele will run and if so does not expect other prominent Republicans will challenge.

Mr. Steele was mostly unknown outside Republican Party circles until Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. asked him to join the party ticket for the 2002 election. Since then, Mr. Steele has gotten a lot of press exposure, including national attention as the party's top elected black official.

Mr. Steele declined to be interviewed but said he is seriously considering the race. Pollsters and political analysts think he would be a strong candidate.

"The Republican Party at all levels would be well served to persuade Michael Steele that he ought to carry the Republican banner," said Keith Haller, president of Potomac Survey Research. A poll taken last month by the company showed Mr. Steele running about even with three Democrats -- U.S. Reps. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume.

Mr. Cardin and Mr. Mfume, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, have announced they're seeking the Democratic nomination, while Mr. Van Hollen is considering a bid.

Steele is a solid conservative on social issues, though he is not a supporter of the death penalty. While some analysts think his positions to the right of Gov. Erlich might hurt him, they also note that he will likely have a $15-18 million warchest with which to bolster his campaign.

Some on the Left are already attacking him, using two of the favorite strategies of Democrat bigots, the Catholic card and the Uncle Tom card. Here's hoping that a majority of Maryland voters are wiling to do what a majority of Maryland Republicans have long done -- set aside hate-based politics and give this well-qualified man their votes.

|| Greg, 10:50 AM || Permalink

Run, Kay, Run -- For The Senate

Bill Clements was elected governor of Texas -- the first Republican since Reconctruction -- because of a split among Democrats which was exacerbated by an ugly primary challenge to a sitting governor. The result, over the next two decades, was the rise of the GOP juggernaut in this state that we know and love, one which provided the launch-pad for the career of the current president. What does that bit of history have to tell us about the threatened primary fight between Governor Rick Perry and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison? Clements himself provides us with the answers.

Make no mistake, if Texas Republicans have a blood bath in a primary battle between Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Gov. Rick Perry, we Republicans are providing the Democrats an opening for them to make a speedy comeback to political prominence. Further, we risk dividing our party for decades to come. This is serious business, and Republicans should take heed.

Some observers point out that Republicans have had contested gubernatorial primaries. It is true. I've been in several, including 1978. But those were tame. Every indication suggests a Perry-Hutchison primary would be something very different. Something no one but partisan Democrats would enjoy.

Discipline, focus and teamwork have been at the foundation of Republican success in recent years. Texas Republicans are the majority. We are elected to run the state government, and we win more and more local seats every year. In Harris County, important gains have been made locally. If we lose our focus, if we fight each other, we may end up with a result few experts believe is possible. Believe me, I have a unique perspective on this subject.

Clements then goes on to heartily endorse the reelection of both Perry and Hutchison to their current positions. I cannot help but agree with him. The seniority Hutchison has in the Senate is beneficial to both Texas and the United States as a whole. Perry has been, on balance, a good governor, providing fiscally conservative leadership for the state despite the back-stabbing betrayal of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and a host of anti-homeowner legislators such who have steadfastly opposed property tax relief.

Nearly three decades ago, the Democrats gave Texas Republicans the opening they needed to become the governing party in this state. We Republicans must not do the same for the Democrats today. It is important that we heed the words of a man who we put in the Governor's Mansion for eight of the 27 years since the Democrats imploded, lest we fall victim to the same sort of internal conflict.

|| Greg, 10:27 AM || Permalink

Half-Truth Harry Reid Trashed By Home State Paper

Nevada, like all 50 states, has two senators. John Ensign is a Republican in his first term, while Harry Reid, a Democrat, is the Senate Minority Leader. Which one do you suppose the Las Vegas Review-Journal is praising for being reasonable, and which is accused of engaging in paranoid hysteria?

If Nevadans wanted an accurate, abridged version of the Senate's debate over filibusters and judicial nominations, they needed only to watch their two senators on Wednesday.

Admittedly, John Ensign, a Republican, and Harry Reid, a Democrat, have decidedly different roles in the showdown. Sen. Ensign, in his first term in the upper house, is a rank-and-file member of the majority, while Sen. Reid, the minority leader, is the obstructionist left's commander in chief. But their comments on the Senate floor provided a defining contrast amid the blustery arguments.

Majority Republicans want to change Senate rules to prevent Democrats from taking the unprecedented step of blocking President Bush's judicial nominations with the unlimited debate of a filibuster. The president and majority leaders believe that because these nominees have majority support in the Senate, each should be entitled to a confirmation vote.

At the root of this confrontation is Democrats' lingering bitterness over another election defeat. They simply can't get over the fact that a majority of Americans have given Republicans control of both the White House and Congress. So Sen. Reid and his dwindling number of followers, desperate to hand some kind of defeat to a president they despise, have characterized a handful of judicial nominees as right-wing extremists. Their rhetoric comes across as paranoid hysteria.

"If Republicans roll back our rights in this chamber, there will be no check on their power," Sen. Reid said in his speech. "And not just on judges. Their power will be unchecked on Supreme Court nominees, the president's nominees in general ... and legislation like Social Security privatization."

Unchecked power? That's how it's described when Republicans simply exercise the majority status bestowed upon them by the American people?

Sen. Ensign delivered measured, reasonable remarks. He lamented that qualified jurists are increasingly uninterested in federal appointments because of the nasty games played in Washington -- for example, when Sen. Reid said that one nominee's confidential FBI file contained troubling allegations. Sen. Ensign urged that both parties come together and devise a system in which every nominee -- whether put forth by a Republican or Democratic president -- gets the courtesy of a vote.

"It is important for the American people and for our justice system that the Senate be allowed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to give these nominees an up or down vote," Sen. Ensign said.

Sen. Ensign's arguments win this debate.

The issue here is clear -- a minority cannot be allowed to keep a majority from confirming judges because it is unwilling to accept the results of the last four American elections, in which the American people have placed the GOP in power. The time has come to slap-down the unAmerican element of the Left which refuses to allow the the President elected by the American people and the Senators elected by the American people to carry out their constitutionally prescribed duties.

|| Greg, 10:10 AM || Permalink

May 21, 2005

Saying What Needs To Be Said!

I cannot begin to express my level of admiration for Marc Epstein, Dean of Students at Jamaica High School in New York. He has come out and said to the public what many of us on the frontlines of the education wars have been saying privately for years -- bring back vocational education, and dump the notion that a college education is appropriate for every student.

In the old days, dropouts were an unfortunate-but-accepted part of school life. It was assumed that some kids didn't want to go to school, no matter what the authorities tried to do to keep them in.

But unskilled jobs were plentiful back then, and anyone willing to put in a hard day's work could find employment. Today, we can't expect that a class of illiterate hard-working ditch-diggers will make their way successfully through life in these United States.

Now I would have to differ with Epstein on that last point. There are plenty of such jobs out there -- why do you think we have 12 million border-jumping mexicans living and working in this country without legal documentation. They are here because there are those jobs out there, and people can work at them and make something of a living. It is a lousy way to get by, but these people are proof that you can get by that way. Of course, they have a work ethic, and the students who are not coming to school don't, believing that they can hustle their way on the streets to be the next Scarface or Snoop Dogg.

It's not unusual for our large high schools to have upwards of 300 students over the age of 17 who are still classified as freshman. If you add the 15- and 16-year-olds who are on that same treadmill, as much as one third of a 2,500-student enrollment is making little or no progress.

Many enter school late and leave early. It is left to the NYPD to round them up and bring them to truancy centers. Rarely do any of them reform.

I teach on a campus that has only grades 9 & 10 -- grades 11 & 12 are on another campus (this way we qualify as one 4000 student 5A school in football). I cannot begin to tell the problems I have with students who call themselves "freshmores". I would guess that we have about 200 of them at my school. They are in their second year of high school, but started that second year with fewer than the six credits required to be classified as grade 10. We spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to keep these kids in school -- "credit recovery" labs where they can do the on computer the alleged equivalent ofwhat they wouldn't do in class, a special school program for them that keeps a very few in school only half a day, and other programs that keep our drop-out rate lower than 5%.

But the real problem is that these are kids who, for the most part, are not academically inclined. They need a high school diploma and some marketable job skills. Sadly, our career education program has only a limited number of slots, so acceptance into the classes is with teacher approval only. That eliminates from consideration any student with an attendance, grade, or discipline problem -- the very students who might most benefit from being in such classes. I suspect the same is true at Epstein's school, which leads him to the following conclusion.

So what is to be done? For starters, small technical-training programs that point kids towards acquiring a trade, a state license and a GED are in place. But at present there are few seats, limiting the large numbers who might thrive in this setting.

Bill Clinton stated, "College isn't for everyone." The time for tracking kids based on interests and abilities is long overdue.

It shouldn't be viewed as discrimination. We're warehousing tens of thousands of kids until the age of 21, when they have made no progress since coming to high school. This breeds crime, wastes valuable education dollars and in the end leaves these kids with the same skills they'd have had if they'd dropped out after the eighth grade.

We've spent the past four decades killing these kids with kindness. Enough is enough.

Yes, indeed. Enough is enough. Let's make the commitment to track such students early (their behavior is generally evident before they enter high school) and put them into programs that fit their needs. We do that with special education students as a matter of law, even when they are mainstreamed into regular classes. Why not do the same for those who have clearly demonstrated that they need something other than a college prep program and a university education? It isn't leaving children behind -- it is getting them to success by a different route.

|| Greg, 12:44 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

Honor The Heroes

When Charles Bieger, a St. Louis trunk salesman, died in 1930, he was buried beneatha family headstone that bore only his last name. Nothing more indicated that this man was decorated for heroism during the Civil War.

There is now a new tombstone on his grave.

Charles Bieger
Medal of Honor
Pvt, Co D 4 Mo Cavalry
Civil War

I encourage folks to read the article, as it talks about some fine people who work to make sure that every Medal of Honor winner has his heroism commemorated. It also provides a really interesting bit of history about the award.

But the most interesting part of the article is this.

Descendants of Bieger don't know why his grave wasn't marked. The Post-Dispatch obituary on Bieger mentions the medal in its headline and says he was buried with military honors.

Surviving evidence also suggests that Bieger was modest about his bravery. An article on his exploits that was published in 1927, when he was 83, notes that the reporter had to keep directing the interview back to the fateful battle. Bieger wanted to talk about how he helped police crack open an old trunk that was used to hide a body in a notorious murder downtown.

"It required about 27 direct questions to worm this interesting information out of the veteran," reporter Robertus Love noted in his article in the old St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

Bieger, a native of Wiesbaden, Germany, immigrated to St. Louis with his family in 1857 and joined the Union cavalry in 1862. He was 19 when he accompanied an unsuccessful thrust from Memphis, Tenn., into Mississippi in February 1864.

The column was supposed to meet Gen. William T. Sherman's infantry at the rail junction of Meridian, Miss. But halfway there, the cavalry ran into a force led by the wily Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.

On Feb. 22, 1864, the two sides fought a series of galloping clashes near Okolona, Miss. At Ivey's Hill, nine miles northwest of town, Capt. Frederick Hunsen was unhorsed and surrounded.

Bieger rode through gunfire, offered his horse to Hunsen and steadied the captain's wounded mount. Together they fled to safety.

The fight was a Confederate victory. The cavalry limped back to Memphis, forcing Sherman to withdraw from Meridian.

"Forrest licked us that day. Licked us good and plenty," Bieger said in 1927.

He returned to St. Louis after the war ended and eventually opened a trunk shop at Broadway and Market Street. (Forrest returned to Tennessee, where he briefly served as the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.)

In 1895, Hunsen wrote a letter detailing Bieger's exploits. Congress awarded him the Medal of Honor in 1897.

T learn more about the Congressional Medal of honor and the heroes whose actions are honored with the nation's highest military honor, visit the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

|| Greg, 11:01 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Where Are The Feminists?

Out complaining that Bush Administration is the focus of evil in the world, no doubt. Certainly too busy to be concerned about this new report from Freedom House.

Women face a pervasive lack of freedom in the Arab world and no country in the region meets international standards for protecting their rights, human rights activists charged on Saturday.

Freedom House, a U.S.-based group, said a study of countries in the broader Middle East and North Africa had found that women were disadvantaged in nearly all areas of society, including justice, the economy, education, healthcare and media.

The study, which was distributed at a World Economic Forum regional meeting in Jordan, called for Arab governments to eliminate discriminatory laws and remove barriers to women participating in politics and business.

Sameena Nazir, editor of the report, said such moves were necessary both as a matter of principle and in order to make moves towards democracy in the region meaningful.

"Women are half the population of the Middle East," she told Reuters in an interview. "If they are not part of the democratisation process in a full capacity, the process will be incomplete.

The study ranked 16 Arab countries, the West Bank and Gaza on various areas such as access to justice, economic rights and social and cultural rights.

Only three countries -- Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria -- scored at or above a level described as reflecting "imperfect adherence" to universally accepted rights standards in more than one category.

Many countries, notably Saudi Arabia and some fellow Gulf states, had very low scores.

So while the supposed crusaders for women's rights are out here complaining that there are folks here who want a minor child to get parental consent before an abortion (just like she would need for any other surgical procedure), women in Saudi Arabia cannot even get medical treatment at a hospital for life-threatening emergencies without the consent of a male relative.

But I guess the NOW hags have their priorities -- consequence-free sex for children matters so much more than the lives and health of women.

|| Greg, 10:42 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments

It is "Freedom Of", Not "Freedom From"

I don't know if I should weep over this story, or whether I should engage in encourage massive rioting in the streets over the disrespect shown to my religious faith. In either event, I know I should be outraged over the rape of the First Amendment by both the school district and the judge in this case.

A public school prohibited a second grader from singing a religious song at a talent show, prompting a lawsuit Friday alleging violation of the girl's constitutional rights.

A federal judge declined an emergency request to compel Frenchtown Elementary School to allow 8-year-old Olivia Turton to sing "Awesome God" at the Friday night show, but allowed the lawsuit to go forward.

School officials in the western New Jersey community had said the performance would be inappropriate at a school event. A message seeking comment from a school board attorney about the judge's ruling was not immediately returned.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler in Trenton to consider the case later came just hours before Olivia had hoped to sing the pop song by the late Rich Mullins.

One verse has these lyrics: "Our God is an awesome God/He reigns from heaven above/with wisdom, pow'r and love/Our God is an awesome God."

It is implicit in the nature of a talent show that the students, not the school, select their songs. Therefore there is no question of the school "imposing" or "endorsing" anything. There is nothing "inappropriate" in the song -- unless one accepts the warped notion that allowing someone to acknowledge their religious beliefs is inappropriate. However, such a position would put you directly in conflict with the Constitutional prohibition on "prohibitting the free exercise" of religion.

What makes me saddest is that I somehow doubt that the school would have stopped this little girl from getting up on stage and parading around dressed like a whore and singing "Bootylicious". And as the story points out, the school has no problem allowing in a witchcraft ceremony during the talent show, drawn from Macbeth, despite the fact that witchcraft is ALSO a religion.

Such situations sometimes stir in me a disturbing thought. Maybe the Islamists have it right -- maybe we Christians need to take to the streets and leave a path of death and destruction through the cities of this country in order to get the respect from government that our numbers merit and the First Amendment supposedly grants us. But I know that is Satan -- and my own sinful nature -- talking.

We Christians follow the Prince of Peace. He has commanded us to turn the other cheek. He has warned us that we will be reviled by those who reject him, and will be persecuted for the sake of his name. So while we will fight in the halls of governemnt for our rights, and pursue them in the courts, true Christians will not engage in the savage behavior we have seen of late from the intolerant practitioners of a certain false religion.

For Jesus Christ is our Lord.

And Our God IS An Awsome God!

|| Greg, 10:36 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (32) || Comments

Molester Marries Victim

This story makes the best case in the world for reviving the old practice of shunning.

Mary Kay Letourneau and her former sixth-grade student were married Friday night in a tightly guarded ceremony, nearly a year after she was released from prison for raping him.

Letourneau, 43, and Vili Fualaau, 22, have been in the spotlight since she was imprisoned in 1997. But when she was released last August, the couple — who have two daughters together — reunited.

I've read, watched, and written my last about this tawdry situation. It is my hope that Vili turns out to be an abusive spouse, and that some night he gives to her the sanction that all child molesters deserve.

» links with: Mary Kay Letourneau Weds Her Former Student

|| Greg, 09:58 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (12) || Comments

May 20, 2005

Religion Of Peace Watch

Once again, we see just how peaceful your typical Islamist is.

Muslim protesters today called for the bombing of New York in a demonstration outside the US embassy in London.

There were threats of "another 9/11" from militants angry at reports of the desecration of the Koran by US troops in Iraq.

Some among the crowd burned an effigy of Tony Blair on a crucifix and then set fire to a Union flag and a Stars and Stripes.

Led by a man on a megaphone, they chanted, "USA watch your back, Osama is coming back" and "Kill, kill USA, kill, kill George Bush". A small detail of police watched as they shouted: "Bomb, bomb New York" and "George Bush, you will pay, with your blood, with your head."

Demonstrators in Grosvenor Square, some with their faces covered with scarves, waved placards which included the message: "Desecrate today and see another 9/11 tomorrow."

The demonstration as not organized by extremist groupt -- it was set up by some British groups that I understand are quite mainstream, the Muslim Council for Britain and the Muslim Parliamentary Association of the UK.

Of course, they brought in a guy who should not have been permitted to leave Gitmo before receiving his 72 virgins.

Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Martin Mubanga told the crowd he had seen a copy of the Koran "desecrated" during his time at Camp Delta.

He said: "This was one of the methods they used, throwing the Koran, my Koran, on the floor in my cell."

How many Bibles -- heck, how many Korans -- were desecrated and destroyed on 9/11? That didn't seem to stop your heroes, so I don't particularly sympathize.

More at GOPBloggers.

» Indigo Jo Blogs links with: Not an average Muslim demo

|| Greg, 08:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments

Death Of A Storied Warship

They've sent the USS America to the bottom.

The Navy sent the retired USS America aircraft carrier to its final resting place at the bottom of the sea Saturday, in a closely guarded series of explosions that the Navy didn't announce until days later.

The 84,000-ton, 1,048-foot warship, which served the Navy for 32 years, thus became the first U.S. carrier to be sunk since 1951, and the largest warship ever sunk.

"Explosions were internal to the ship and allowed a controlled flooding," said Pat Dolan, a spokeswoman with the Naval Sea Systems Command. She declined to say where the ship now sits, except that it was 50 nautical miles - or about 58 miles - off the coast, and more than 6,000 feet below the surface.

The Navy previously said the final explosions would be off North Carolina.

Before it sank, it also served as a target for a series of explosions over 25 days designed to help in the making of the of the Navy's next generation carrier, the CVN-21, now being designed at the Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard.

It is always a sad thing to see such vessels go into the great beyond. Not every ship can be saved as a museum, though there was hope for USS America. I have to say I agree fully with this former member of the ship's crew.

"Very depressing," said Lee McNulty, a New Jersey resident and president of the USS America Foundation, which wanted to turn the ship into a museum. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about it. I just can't believe that she sunk. She's gone. Of all the carriers, that one should have been saved, just for the name of the America."

Before she the last explosions were detonated, the ship was given an appropriate farewell.

"A solemn moment of silence was held as the aircraft carrier ex-America slipped quietly beneath the waves," Dolan told the USS America Carrier Veterans Association on Monday. "We thank and honor all the veterans of the USS America who lived and fought for freedom and democracy aboard this majestic vessel."

Farewell, USS America. We honor you, and those who served aboard you.

USS America Museum Foundation

USS America Carrier Veterans Foundation

|| Greg, 08:26 PM || Permalink || Comments

Revenge Of The Atheocrats

And here I thought they claimed to be persecuted by all of us awful Christians.

"Still, it's a great time to be an atheist," said Fitzgerald, who was raised a Baptist in Fresno. "Five hundred years ago, we'd be burned for what we were thinking. Fifty years ago, we'd lose our jobs. But today, we're free to be atheists.

|| Greg, 08:14 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 19, 2005

Let's Kill Us Some Saudis For Jesus!

Well, since there seems to be a consensus among the press that the riots over reported Koran desecration were understandable and the fault of the US, I think it is important that we apply the principle to the holy texts of all faiths when they are abused or disrespected as a matter of official government policy.

As such, I am starting the "Slay a Saudi for the Savior" campaign, and expect the support of every liberal and Muslim out there. This is simply a proportional response to this report.

Bibles found in the possession of visitors to Saudi Arabia are routinely confiscated by customs officials, and in some cases copies allegedly have been put through a paper shredder, according to religious rights campaigners.

Reports from the Islamic world of the abuse of Bibles and other items important to Christians emerge from time to time, but generally have little impact - in contrast to the wave of Muslim anger sparked by a Newsweek report, since retracted, of Koran desecration by the U.S. military.

"The Muslims respect the Koran far more than Christians respect the Bible," says Danny Nalliah, a Sri Lankan-born evangelical pastor now based in Australia.

During the 1990s, Nalliah spent two years in Saudi Arabia, where he was deeply involved with the underground church.

"It's a very well-known fact that if you have a Bible at customs when you enter the airport, and if they find the Bible, that the Bible is taken and put in the shredder," he said in an interview this week.

"If you have more than one Bible you will be taken into custody, and if you have a quantity of Bibles you will be given 70 lashes for sure - you could even be executed."

And since there are constant complaints about the abuse of Muslim women, how about this Saudi abuse of a nun?

A friend of his, a fellow Christian in Saudi Arabia, told him of witnessing a particularly unpleasant incident involving a Catholic nun.

The man had been in the transit lounge at the airport in Jeddah - the gateway to Mecca, used by millions of Hajj pilgrims each year - when a nun arrived at the customs desk.

"Some fool [travel agent] had put her on a transit flight in Jeddah. You don't do that to a Catholic nun, because she's going to be tormented."

"They opened her bag, went through her prayer book, put the prayer book through the shredder ... took the crucifix off her neck and smashed it, tormented her for many minutes."

Eventually another Muslim official objected to their conduct, came across and "rescued" her, pointing out to the customs officials that she was not entering the country but only in transit and would be leaving on the next plane.

I demand that the Muslim pigs involved suffer death by beheading for their abuse of this woman of God – right in the middle of Saint Peter’s Square.

I declare a Crusade against the infidels who would dare defile crucifix or shred a prayer book or Bible. We must avenge these insults to the Christian faith.

Death to the Islam!

Death to Mecca!

Death to Saudi Arabia!


Uh -- anyway, now that I've recovered my sense of proportion, I hope folks realize that this is not my actual belief. The above is a satirical piece. Unfortunately, the outrages committed by the Saudis are not something I've made up out of whole cloth. They are real.

That is why I urge the State Department to impose serious sanctions against Saudi Arabia and any other Muslim country that violates the rights of Christians. After all -- Christianity deserves at least as much respect as Islam.

And to the Islamist fifth-columnists working at CAIR --you'll get my support for your resolution when you get Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world to apply the same standard to Christian practices and beliefs.

UPDATE -- 5/20/05: Just in case folks didn't like my sources, here is a piece from today's Wall Street journal on the same Saudi policy regarding the Bible -- including this anecdote.

The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible.

I wonder what Ms. Azza Basarudin (from the post below) feels about such cases?

More at GOPBloggers.

UPDATE -- 5/23/05 -- More on Saudi Bible desecration here.

UPDATE -- 5/26/05 -- Don't look now, but it isn't just Bibles that the Islamist Horde wants to ban and destroy -- now they want to confiscate Webster's Dictionary for defining anti-Semitism in a way that they don't like.

The latest edition of the dictionary "Webster" identified "anti- Semitism" as opposing Zionism and sympathizing with Israel's enemies, which showed "the racial trend and scientific distortion," officials of the Office of the Arab Boycott of Israel (OABI) were quoted as saying.

Ignorant cretins!

» Watcher of Weasels links with: Submitted for Your Approval
» Alarming News links with: Carnival of the Vanities #140

|| Greg, 07:47 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (10) || Comments

Amazon.Com Quran Controversy

Am I the only one who is skeptical about the report of a Muslim woman receiving a defaced Quran in the mail? After all, the entire thing is entirely too coincidental., in light of the recent newsweek fraud.

Azza Basarudin, 30, said she received the Quran by mail on May 5 after ordering it through a used books division of that allows customers to order directly from third-party sellers approved by the company.

When she opened the Quaran, Basarudin said she found profanity and the phrase "Death to all Muslims" written on the inside page in thick black marker.

Basarudin, a graduate student in women's studies at UCLA, said she was overwhelmed by fear similar to what she felt after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when her sister and mother were the target of anti-Muslim slurs.

"I dropped the book because I didn't know what to do," she said at a news conference at the Islamic Center of Southern California. "I was paralyzed after 9/11 — I couldn't leave my house for a couple of weeks — and I realized that fear was coming back."

A Muslim women’s study major? This woman sounds like a professional hysterical victim, ready to take offense at any perceived slight to her gender or religion. That she would be “overwhelmed with fear” seems to be a bit of an extreme reaction – until you consider that she claims she was left so stricken by a few harsh words directed at family members following the MUSLIM ATTACK ON AMERICA on 9/11 that she couldn’t even leave her home. That sounds like more padding for the impending lawsuit, rather than anything grounded in reality.

Of course, the professional victim groups in the Muslim community are already swarming, making demands.

Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said his organization wants a public apology and investigation from, as well as the firing of those responsible for mailing the desecrated book. He would also like to fund educational programs that foster religious tolerance.

If you cut through Salam’s baloney, you will realize that what he really means is “I want Amazon to make a big fat donation to our group.” Never mind that the book didn’t ever pass through Amazon’s hands – it came directly from a little used bookstore in Pennsylvania. The owner claims not to know how this happened. Both companies have made an effort to make amends.

Richard Roberts, owner of Bellwether, said he doubts the book was defaced by his employees. The company buys used books at bargain prices from individuals, other book stores and libraries and then resells them through and other outlets.

He said before this incident, his six employees gave each book a cursory check before shipping and didn't look inside the pages.

Roberts said Bellwether has since instituted a more stringent quality control check. Bellwether is also suspended indefinitely from selling Qurans through, Smith said.

"I feel awfully bad about it. It's really a shame," Roberts said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Bellwether apologized to Basarudin by e-mail and offered to replace the book. also apologized, reimbursed her for the Quran's cost and mailed Basarudin a gift certificate, Smith said.

Of course, that isn’t nearly enough for the offended Basarudin, who is already making noises that sound suspiciously like she is planning to file a lawsuit.

"I couldn't even go near this book for a couple of days," she said. "I feel like I'm being violated all over again because I'm a Muslim."

I hate to say it, but I suspect that it is actually the folks at Amazon and Bellwether Books who are being violated because you are Muslim. After all, there is a pattern to many of the claims of “hate” directed against Muslims – they are often false reports perpetrated by the alleged “victim”. Until and unless there is more evidence to support Basarudin’s claim, I’m going to suspect that she is the person who wrote these nasty comments in the Quran.

And I’m going to hope that Amazon and Bellwether stand firm against the demands to assume dhimmi status.

|| Greg, 07:43 PM || Permalink || Comments

Prosecutorial Misconduct?

I can’t help but wonder what would have been said if Ken Starr had made speeches raising money for GOP-related groups during the Whitewater and Lewinsky investigations. Even though he was scrupulously fair and honest in the investigation, the Left screamed bloody murder. So is it any wonder that I am highly suspicious of a speech by Tom DeLay’s nemesis, Ronnie Earle, to a group with ties to Howard Dean at a time when Dean is declaring DeLay guilty of criminal offenses that should put him in jail?

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who denies partisan motives for his investigation of a political group founded by Republican leader Tom DeLay, was the featured speaker last week at a Democratic fund-raiser where he spoke directly about the congressman.

A newly formed Democratic political action committee, Texas Values in Action Coalition, hosted the May 12 event in Dallas to raise campaign money to take control of the state Legislature from the GOP, organizers said.

Earle, an elected Democrat, helped generate $102,000 for the organization.

In his remarks, Earle likened DeLay to a bully and spoke about political corruption and the investigation involving DeLay, the House majority leader from Sugar Land, according to a transcript supplied by Earle.

"This case is not just about Tom DeLay. If it isn't this Tom DeLay, it'll be another one, just like one bully replaces the one before," Earle said.

"This is a structural problem involving the combination of money and power," he added. "Money brings power and power corrupts."

The crowd of 80 to 100 Democratic activists responded by making donations that exceeded the event's fund-raising goal.

Governor Rick Perry needs to act NOW to remove Ronnie Earle, an outrageously partisan official conducting an outrageously partisan investigation, from this investigation. Even if one accepts Earle’s claim that the investigation is not a partisan witch hunt, the appearance of impropriety, such as the misuse of investigative and prosecutorial powers, is every bit as serious as an actual abuse, as it undermines faith in the justice system.

Especcially since Earl admits that his speaking at this fundraiser demonstrates that he is a corrupt politician -- since, as he himself says, "Money brings power and power corrupts."

UPDATE 5/20/05 -- Looks like I'm not the only one who sees Earle's speech as unethical.

"Ronnie Earle's unabashed partisanship in speaking at a Texas Values in Action Coalition (TEXVAC) fund-raiser proves Earle's motivations have nothing to do with truth or justice, and everything to do with electing Democrats and attempting to bring down the most effective House majority leader in modern history," said Tina Benkiser, chairwoman of the Texas Republican Party. "He is tainted and he should resign," she said.

And by the way, guess who was in the crowd at the fundraiser, and wh i would presume was one of the donors.

Former House Speaker Jim Wright.

That should give you an idea about the sincerity of Ronnie Earle and these Howard Dean Democrats when it comes to fighting corruption.

And I love this comment from one of the attorneys involved in the current case -- well-known Houston defense attorney Rusty Hardin.

According to Hardin, he told Earle in a courtroom conversation that "you have a history of indicting people whose conduct you don't approve of and you want to stop. You leave it to your assistants to worry whether there's a criminal case involved."

More at GOPBloggers.

UPDATE 5/21/05 -- Another good article is found here.

|| Greg, 07:25 PM || Permalink || Comments

Don’t Homogenize Students!

In an attempt to raise the overall scores of students at Lincoln Middle School in Vista, California, the principal plans to end the district’s last remaining program for gifted students in the hopes that placing those students in regular classrooms will result in improved performance overall. Parents of the gifted students are concerned about the special needs of their students being sacrificed and ignored, while parents of Latino students object to the possibility that the gifted program might survive in some form or fashion.

"All students should be treated equally," Latino parents said in a letter to the board and district administrators. "We believe that the school should not create differences between students who know more and students who know less."

Doesn’t anyone recognize the absurdity of that statement? Why shouldn’t we treat our best and brightest to an education that meets their needs, just as we do those in special education programs? On what basis do we hold back the top kids and dragoon them into providing free tutoring for their slower classmates in the hopes that it will raise the other students’ scores. Especially when you consider what the source of the problem is.

The student body at Lincoln is 63 percent Hispanic or Latino. Of the school's 1,293 students, 437 are English-learners, and 99 percent of those speak Spanish.

That group has pulled down test scores, putting Lincoln on "program improvement" status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

So what this really comes down to for these Latino parents is that they want THEIR children put first, not some other parents’ children. I guess it is a simple case of Leave No Latino Child Behind – and screw the rest.

When are we going to get rid of the notion that helping our brightest kids reach their potential is a bad thing?

|| Greg, 07:22 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments

May 18, 2005

Battleship Texas Must Be Saved!

I can just make her out in the distance, a gray hulk in the mist, as I drive to and from school each day. She is a presence – a reminder of what once was.

I would certainly hate to lose this beautiful old lady.

This old warship was at the surrender of the German fleet during World War I and withstood torpedoes at Omaha Beach in France on D-Day. Long moored in a berth at the Houston Ship Channel, the Battleship Texas is now a floating tourist attraction, and a badly leaking one at that.

Time and corrosive saltwater are slowly destroying the vessel once called the world's most powerful weapon, and cash-strapped conservators are scrambling to secure funding for an overhaul before it's too late.
"It's been rusting for 90 years," ship curator Barry Ward said. "It isn't going to fall apart tomorrow, but the longer you avoid a major repair, the harder it will be to repair the damage that's already been done."

A proposal to use $16 million in federal highway funds for ship repairs passed through a conference committee of the state Legislature this month. If lawmakers vote to approve the funds, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which maintains the vessel, will start work on a dry dock that could feature a cradle capable of lifting the 34,000-ton ship out of the water permanently.

"However [the dock] is designed, this ship is part of our cultural history and it deserves to be saved," said Steve Whiston, director of the parks department's infrastructure division. "There's not another one like it left."

The Texas, commissioned in 1914, is the last surviving dreadnought battleship — a ship design that features large weapons of the same caliber, allowing for more concentrated blasts of fire. It is the only remaining U.S. battleship to survive two world wars, and is a microcosm of the technology of the era, Ward said.

"Her career spans the earliest days of flight through the nuclear age," he said.

Decommissioned in 1948, the ship was brought here by "Texans who couldn't stand the thought of a warship with the name 'Texas' on it being sunk as fodder during nuclear testing," Ward said.

It was docked south of Houston at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, the location of an 1836 battle that led to Texas' independence from Mexico.

As a result, numbers of confused children have asked whether Sam Houston fought Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna from the bow of a battleship. "We inherited the location," Ward said. "We don't do public monuments that way anymore. It's up to educators to teach students that the ship wasn't at the battle of San Jacinto. Otherwise it's just a jungle gym to them."

It's unlikely the Texas will be moved elsewhere, in part because conservators are unsure whether the fragile ship can withstand a sea voyage. "It's risky because of the stress of the tow, the cross currents and the waves," Ward said.

The ship was last towed to a dry dock in 1988 for a $12-million renovation of the hull — the first in 40 years. State lawmakers later approved an additional $12 million in bonds for ship maintenance but did not provide the money to issue the bonds. Ward hopes the federal highway money tentatively approved this month will lead to badly needed repairs.

The hull should be repaired every 10 or so years for damage caused by water, Ward said. "It's like changing the oil in your car — it's something that should be done regularly. But I would advocate getting her out of the water permanently so the state of Texas would never have to pay for that kind of cyclical repair again. We're going for a cure, not a Band-Aid."

Floating next to refineries and oil storage tanks, the 573-foot dark blue battleship looks startlingly out of place, but it is a popular field trip destination. Last week, a busload of seventh-graders climbed aboard and quickly scattered into nooks and crannies.

"I love ships," said Ariel Barron, 13. "You can read about them in a book, but it's better to see with your own eyes how things used to be."

Cheyenne Dutton said he was on his third field trip to the battleship. Each time he visits, he said, "something else is closed off. I wish they'd fix everything so we can see all of it."

Cheyenne nimbly climbed a ladder and stopped in front of a locked door. "See, we can't go in there," he said. "I think it stinks."

I’m with you, Cheyenne. We need to save this grand old ship, the last of her breed.

You can help.

|| Greg, 06:31 PM || Permalink || Comments

Just A Reminder Of the Pernicious Bigotry Of The Senate Democrats

The Washington Times reminds us today that the Senate Democrats outlined their filibuster plans in a memo four years ago.

Remember this quote?

"They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous because he had a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment."

Dangerous because he is a Latino. If this had been a white nominee, he would have sailed through – but they blocked him because of his ethnicity.

And don’t forget – the decisions on who to filibuster were made based upon whether or not liberal advocacy groups would sign off on them – in particular homosexual rights groups and abortion advocates, who were concerned that certain nominees might hold religious beliefs that did not conform with the groups’ agenda.

So remember – this filibuster is based, in large part, on race, ethnicity, and religion – not on the Constitution, and not on legitimate matters of principle.

|| Greg, 06:29 PM || Permalink || Comments

The Posadas Case

Now I understand the need to arrest terrorists, even if they are going after a tyrant like Castro. However, there is a minor detail in this story from the Washington Post that leaves me concerned about turning Luis Posada Carriles over to Venezuela.

He was twice acquitted in Venezuela in the airliner bombing. In 1985, still jailed while prosecutors appealed, he escaped a Venezuelan prison and began a two-decade odyssey through Central America.

Tried and acquitted twice. Not once, but TWICE. And yet Luis Posada was still in jail.

This case reeks of injustice, especially since extradition will mean turning him over to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, who has gutted the Venezuelan justice system, or – indirectly – to his close ally, Fidel Castro. At what point do we reach the point where we must declare that we find complying with this extradition request is, in and of itself, an injustice.

I don’t know – and am glad I am not faced with making the decision.

|| Greg, 06:27 PM || Permalink || Comments

Stupid Leftist Sentenced For Threats

Some people just hate America and the fact that the American people elected George W. Bush as president TWICE.

A former Iowa woman who pleaded guilty to two counts of threatening President Bush was sentenced Monday to 21/2 years in prison, U.S. Attorney Charles Larson Sr. said.

Catherine M. Guertin, 25, formerly of Independence and more recently of Denver, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on two counts of threatening the life of the president.

Judge Linda Reade ordered Guertin to be on three years of supervised release after her prison time. In addition, Guertin will not be permitted to be within one mile of the president or his immediate family.

A grand jury indicted Guertin on Aug. 18. She was arrested Sept. 17 in Colorado.

The indictment alleged that Guertin made the threats against Bush on May 3 and May 16 while she was living in Independence.

One count charges that she threatened Bush by saying, ''If I ever have a gun, I will shoot him between the eyes.''

The second count claims that on May 16 Guertin wrote statements threatening the president.

Guertin repeated the threats in court when she pleaded guilty in December.

A pity that the sentence is so short. And even sadder is the fact that she has not been charged and convicted for the December threat.

No doubt Err America will be ready with a job offer when she is released – assuming they have any listeners left by then.

|| Greg, 06:26 PM || Permalink

School Makes Proper Decision

I don’t usually support a school giving a punishment for statements made off school grounds and outside of school hours. But in this case, I think the nexus between a school event, the statement in question, and illegal conduct is such that the punishment is appropriate in this case.

A senior at a Frederick's Governor Thomas Johnson High School has been barred from attending her prom this Saturday because she told a newspaper she planned to drink alcohol on prom night.

Shawnda Lawson, 18, told The Frederick News-Post earlier this month that she had refused to sign a pledge that she wouldn't drink -- and she told the paper she likes drinking.

After the story was published, Lawson said she was told by her principal she was banned from the prom and told she was an embarrassment to the school.

County schools spokeswoman Marita Loose said school dances are a privilege, not a right.

Another student, Nicole Taylor, also told the newspaper she planned to drink on prom night. There is no word if she also faces punishment.

We lost a girl from my school several years ago when a drunk hit her boyfriend’s car on the way to his prom. We had several students injured – including one with a broken neck that could have left her paralyzed – in a wreck on the Galveston Causeway the year before that, but alcohol was not a factor. In reality, we have managed to dodge the tragedy of a car full of kids dying in a fiery wreck after getting liquored up. But when it is our turn to face such a prom tragedy, it will be the school (not the parents) that everyone expects to put a stop to the drinking – despite the fact that kids are searched by constables going in to prom and cannot leave the cordoned-off area of the hotel during the dance.

Therefore, I think this is a good, proportionate response to the statement made by Ms. Lawson to the newspaper. She may go out and get loaded, but no one will be able to complain that the school “should have done something”.

|| Greg, 06:21 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

Religious Persecution In India

The liberty to worship and believe according to one’s conscience is a fundamental human right. When will India stop the violation of these rights by some of its provinces?

The police have arrested four persons who were distributing copies of the Bible and biblical literature to the people in Rajnagar Block, Orissa, May 13. The police action comes in the wake of the alleged conversion of 300 Hindu families to Christianity in Rajnagar. An angry Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has threatened to launch an agitation if the police fail to take action against “those responsible for violating the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act.” “The area is already tense, and at such a time open distribution of the Bible could add fuel to the fire,” said Mr. Sistikantha Kanungo, officer in charge of the Rajnagar police station. “That is why we arrested the four young men and detained them,” he added. The arrested are Ashok Namalpuri (28) of Chalakamba village in Nayagarh district, Gorachand Pal (22) of Gaeba village in Gajapati district, Siddheswar Nayak (29) and Bimal Wilson (22) from Koraput. They had come to Rajnagar in January last and were allegedly involved in conversions by distributing leaflets and pamphlets about Jesus Christ and Christianity and trying to influence school children, the officer added. For the last five months they were also teaching at two primary schools without charging any remuneration. Says Mr. Subhranshu Sutar, a social activist, “These young men were often seen distributing biblical literature and copies of the Bible in at least fifteen villages in Rajnagar Block alone.” Meanwhile, Mr. Hemant Sharma, the district collector of Kendrapara, has ordered an inquiry into the conversion of 300 Hindu families. The superintendent of police and the Rajnagar tehsildar will investigate the charges and submit a report within a week. “OFRA demands that a convert or a re-convert should inform and obtain permission from the district administration before converting to another religion. But nobody has taken any permission in this case. So once the report is filed and someone is found guilty, they would be booked. The law will take its course,” said Mr. Sharma.

No government has any place granting or denying permission to change one’s faith. No government has any place prohibiting the distribution of religious texts to willing recipients.

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

Liar! Liar! Liar!

You can claim to be an Indian, Professor Churchill – but you can’t make the Indians claim you.

The statement, issued May 9 in the name of the tribal leader, Chief George Wickliffe, and posted on its Web site Tuesday, does not mince words:

"The United Keetoowah Band would like to make it clear that Mr. Churchill IS NOT a member of the Keetoowah Band and was only given an honorary 'associate membership' in the early 1990s because he could not prove any Cherokee ancestry."

The tribe said that all of Churchill's "past, present and future claims or assertions of Keetoowah 'enrollment,' written or spoken, including but not limited to; biographies, curriculum vitae, lectures, applications for employment, or any other reference not listed herein, are deemed fraudulent by the United Keetoowah Band."

That should settle the matter for anyone with a shred of integrity – though Churchill and his apologists will probably still make the fraudulent claim. His attempt to assert “Indian-ness” based upon an honorary membership in the tribe is like trying to claim the title of “Dr.” based upon an honorary degree.

The matter is very clear, according to the tribe.

"Mr. Churchill was never able to prove his eligibility in accordance with our membership laws," the statement said.

The chief said his tribe had decided to honor Churchill with the associate membership because Church-ill had promised to write the tribe's history and had pledged "to help and honor the UKB."

"To date Mr. Churchill has done nothing in regards to his promise and pledge."

So, to settle the matter once and for all – Ward Churchill’s claim to be an Indian is as fraudulent as his scholarship.

Comment on Churchill's claim -- SCSU Scholars

|| Greg, 06:19 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

So, I Guess It Was An Assassination Attempt

This report out of the Republic of Georgia.

The FBI said on Wednesday a grenade thrown at President Bush during a visit to Georgia last week had been a threat to the American leader and had only failed to explode because of a malfunction.

In a statement, a Federal Bureau of Investigation official at the U.S. embassy said the grenade, thrown while Bush made a keynote speech in Tbilisi's Freedom Square on May 10, had been live and landed within 30 meters (100 feet) of the president.

"We consider this act to be a threat against the health and welfare of both the President of the United States and the President of Georgia as well as the multitude of Georgian people that had turned out at this event," said the statement from C. Bryan Paarmann, the FBI's legal attache at the embassy.

"This hand grenade appears to be a live device that simply failed to function due to a light strike on the blasting cap induced by a slow deployment of the spoon activation device," said the statement.

Paarmann said a reward was offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator.

And to all my anti-American Leftist readers, I have two words for you consider before you make comments lamenting the failure to murder the commander-in-chief.



|| Greg, 06:17 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

May 17, 2005

Note To Kenny Chesney


You just married a woman you have adored from afar for years in a top secret tropical beach wedding less than a week ago.

Tonight you go to a big awards show without her, presumably because of her work schedule.

Then you win the big plum award of the night -- Entertainer of the Year.

When you gave your acceptance speech, who is the one person you should NOT have left out?

Bad form, dude. I suggest LOTS of roses -- and probably jewelry.

|| Greg, 10:30 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Lest The Left Forget Who The Real Theocrats Are

This is the latest from terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose forces are killing American troops and Iraqis who want to be free.

"Our Sunni faith stipulates that the sword and bullets be the only dialogue between us and worshippers of the cross."

Now, are you Leftists really sure you want to whine about Christian conservatives? Or are we your target of choice precisely because you know that we mean you no harm?

(Hat Tip -- Lone Star Times)

|| Greg, 10:15 PM || Permalink || Comments

I Guess Only One Type Of Anti-Americnaism Is Extreme

Fairleigh Dickinson University saw fit to treat its graduating seniors to the anti-American rantings of so-called journalist Seymour Hersh -- who proceeded to outrage a large number of them.

Journalist Seymour Hersh described U.S. soldiers in Iraq as "victims," eliciting jeers and cheers from an audience of about 6,000 people at a college commencement on Monday.

Hersh, speaking to graduates of Fairleigh Dickinson University and their families, said American soldiers are "doing an admirable job under terrible conditions" but don't know much about the war they are fighting.

"They are as much victims as the people they are sometimes forced to kill," Hersh said.

The comment was greeted by a loud expletive from one member of the audience. Booing and more swearing followed, but other audience members stood and cheered.

Now I'm sorry, but I've long had a problem with the concept that a commencement address is a forum to engage in a political speech. The event isn't about the speaker -- it is about the graduates, and when it gets abused by the speaker for some other purpose I take offense. I think that's why so many folks objected to Hersh's anti-American comments -- especially when he dishonored the warriors fighting in the War on Islamofascism that began only a few miles from the campus during the first weeks of the graduates' college career.

And I am particularly taken aback by Fairleigh Dickenson's decision to bring in the anti-American Hersh given their actions earlier in the semester. Yeah, I am referring to the firing of a professor because of his un-American beliefs.

[Professor Jacques] Pluss said he was dismissed in March because university officials learned of his involvement in the National Socialist Movement, which bills itself "America's Nazi Party." School officials said he was let go for missing too many classes.

The 51-year-old professor bristles when he is called a white supremacist or racist.

"The world is made up of different cultures, all of which have a place, all of which have a direction and all of which should have a say in determining their own futures," he said.

University officials declined to elaborate on Pluss' ouster. It was unclear what role -- if any -- Pluss' political views played in the decision.

Pluss, who had taught at the university since 2002, said he joined the neo-Nazi group in February but kept his views a secret on campus.

Yeah, I guess that there is a double standard on campus -- un-Americans on the right get fired, but un-American Leftists get honored. Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't go whole-hog and just invite Ward Churchill, the poster child for un-American college faculty who get to keep their job in the name of "academic freedom."

|| Greg, 09:23 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

Tolerant, Peaceful Leftists Injure 66-Year-Old Woman

Police are searching for the pro-border jumping Leftist thug who injured a 66-year-old woman with a water bottel thrown at her head during a rally opposed to the so-called Danza Indigenas monument, which some claim is un-American, racist and seditious.

Baldwin Park police Sgt. David Reynoso said police have a videotape of the incident and are still reviewing it to see if the culprit can be found.

Investigators also are looking to the public for answers. Anyone who saw the person who threw the bottle could come forward and remain anonymous if they wish.

"We understand people have the First Amendment right to assemble and free speech. We don't discourage that,' Reynoso said. "What we do discourage is acts of violence, such as throwing water bottles. We ask people to keep calm, respect everybody and obey the laws.'

Police say the bottle came from the roughly 300 counter-protesters who showed up.

Save Our State had about 25 supporters at the site, police said.

Hey, it takes a lot of courage to assault an old lady when you outnumber her group six-to-one. I mean, you wouldn't want a conservative to think that they had the right under the Constitution to actually speak on public property -- especially if they might offend one of your precious "protected classes".

And then there is the response from this arrogant politician who has no respect for the rights of Americans.

Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano said he blames Turner for the woman's injuries because he took senior citizens to an event that could have become dangerous.

He contends Turner is preying on senior citizens to market "himself to make a big organization and spread his hatred throughout the region.'

"I was literally outraged,' Lozano said. "He should be held accountable for using senior citizens in that capacity.'

I bet this Leftist politician wouldn't be taking that line if it had been a bunch of border jumpers brought to an "open borders" rally. Too bad he has no res[ect for the First Amendment -- or any other part of the Constitution.

I know, love and respect many liberals who are good Americans -- but have to say that this sort of Leftism is a disease. Hopefully there are enough good Americans of all political stripes left to erradicate it.

For a description of the rally from the organizer -- The Wide Awakes

|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Comments

Utter Stupidity!

Just when I thought that Zero Tolerance stupidity couldn't get any more extreme, I encounter this little gem from the Atlanta area.

Two seniors at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. High School will miss their baccalaureate -- but make their graduation -- after a stink that started over a cake knife.

Because of the school's zero tolerance policy on weapons, Ashley Pickens and Candace Grier, both honor students, were suspended from school for 10 days and told they would not be allowed to attend their baccalaureate ceremonies. The DeKalb school superintendent upheld that punishment but decided to allow the girls to walk with their classmates during graduation.

The trouble started when the girls brought a cake to school and looked for a knife to cut it. They say they found a butter-type knife in the school's band room and tried to return it, but the door had since been locked.

One of the girls put the knife in her book bag. Then a teacher saw it.

"He said it really didn't matter [that it was used for a cake]," Pickens said. "[He said] it's a knife on school grounds, and you have to be written up for it -- you ought to be glad we didn't have you arrested."

Now let me get this straight -- they used a school utensil and for that have been punished. Someone must be out of their mind!

But there is some hope.

School officials claimed they enforced clearly written codes of conduct. Wednesday, a school tribunal will hear the girls' appeal to attend baccalaureate ceremonies.

Maybe someone will recognize that a butter knife is not a weapon, but is instead a tool that they were using appropriately.

|| Greg, 08:07 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

May 16, 2005

Better Yet, Disinvite Her!

Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (Demagogue-Houston), has asked Governor Rick Perry to "disinvite" the Minuteman Project from the state of Texas.

"I urge the governor to disinvite the Minuteman Project. Ask them not to come here," Jackson Lee said Sunday.

The group has posted volunteers in Arizona to alert authorities to illegal immigrants crossing the border.

Organizers have expressed an interest in recruiting in Texas and beginning patrols along the Rio Grande in October.

Given that the governor did not invite the Minutemen, and given that any American citizen has the right to travel, visit, or reside anywhere in this country that they please, i don't particularly see where it is the governor's place to "disinvite" the group.

However, if "disinvitations" are to be issued, I'd like to suggest that Rick Perry extend one to Queen Sheila. She is an embarassment to the state of Texas, and the further away she stays from here the better.

|| Greg, 07:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

When Will They Offer Whites-Only Classes?

The University of Oregon has a policy of offering special small section classes in the Math & English departments, limited to 18 students, with the first 10 slots reserved for African-American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Chicano/Latino, Native American or multiracial students.


University Senior Instructor Michel Kovcholovsky, who teaches the OMAS's math classes, said the classes were created to foster a comfortable environment for minorities. "That was the basic idea, so that they don't feel afraid to raise their hand and ask something."

The school does no favor to students by allowing them this sheltered environment. Furthermore, it violates the law by limiting access based upon race or ethnicity.

And I’m curious – would the university consider a special “white’s only” section to create a comfortable environment for white students who are afraid ask questions in front of minorities? I think we all know the answer to that.

|| Greg, 05:36 PM || Permalink || Comments

NY Times To Charge For Online Content

So, The New York Times is about to start charging for access to the editorial page and the archives.

The New York Times Co. on Monday said that, starting in September, access to Op-Ed and certain of its top news columnists on the paper's Web site will only be available through a fee of $49.95 a year. The service, known as TimesSelect, will also allow access to The Times's online archives, early access to select articles on the site, and other features. Home-delivery subscribers will automatically receive the service, the NYT said.

Am I correct in understanding that this is a signal that the former “paper of record” is failing to make enough off of on-line advertising and other marketing strategies directed at online consumers that it must start charging for access to formerly free material? Or has the paper circulation dropped so much that the online content must support it? Either way, sounds to me like one more step towards irrelevance.

(Hat Tip – Michelle Malkin)

» My Echo Chamber links with: Market pulse

|| Greg, 05:35 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

May 15, 2005

Million Man (sic) March II -- To Denounce Or Not?

The Jerusalem Post discusses today whether Jews (and, I would presume, others) should urge black leaders and others to disassociate themselves from Louis Farrakhan's second Million Man (sic) March given the racist history of Louis Farrakhan, co-organizer Malik Zulu Shabazz, and the Nation of Islam as an organization.

Among the black leaders who turned out for the Farrakhan news conference were: Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams and Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women. Not present, but reportedly backing the event, were Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC's delegate in Congress and NAACP chairman Julian Bond, as well as Coretta Scott King, widow of Rev. Martin Luther King.

Referring obliquely to the Jewish community, Farrakhan told the gathering: "There are those who... are threatened that we are all here together. And so, one by one, they will come to pick us off."

But the presence of Farrakhan's co-organizer and, some suggest, heir-apparent, Malik Zulu Shabazz, sent an even more sinister message. At a July 2003 news conference, Shabazz declared: "If 3,000 people perished in the World Trade Center attacks and the Jewish population is 10 percent, you show me records of 300 Jewish people dying in the World Trade Center... We're daring anyone to dispute this truth. They got their people out."

In advance of the press club announcement, the ADL's Abe Foxman sent letters to black leaders, imploring: "When will someone in the African-American community stand up and say the Million Man March has a positive message but the pied piper is a racist and anti-Semite?" Merely asking that question strikes rap impresario and black power broker Russell Simmons, who dialogues with liberal rabbis and does big business with Jewish and Israeli Hollywood, as "disrespectful" and likely to "spread anti-Semitism."

I'm sorry, but arguments like those put forward by Simmons are wrong-headed. Would he support a "Faith and Family Rally organized by David Duke? Would it be "disrespectful" and likely to "spread racism" if black leaders spoke out against such an event? Hardly -- and those who urged black leaders to be silent in such a case would be guilty of disrespect and the perpetration of racism for blaming the victim in such a case. So while iI may disagree with Abe Foxman on church-state issues, I applaud him for being on the side of angels in this situation.

The article ends as follows.

It's a tough call. Our challenge is to decide whether Jews' experience with a fruitcake Austrian painter has anything to teach us about the rantings of a black American calypso performer.

My response is to urg Foxman and other Jewish leaders to speak loudly and forcefully -- silence didn't work in Germany, and will do nothing to stop anti-Semitism today.

|| Greg, 07:35 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

Jihad Threat Over False Newsweek Report

Listen up, you Islamist pigs. Don't make the US come back and kick your Taliban-loving asses again.

A group of Afghan Muslim clerics threatened on Sunday to call for a holy war against the United States in three days unless it hands over military interrogators reported to have desecrated the Koran. The warning came after 16 Afghans were killed and more than 100 hurt last week in the worst anti-U.S. protests across the country since U.S. forces invaded in 2001 to oust the Taliban for sheltering Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. The clerics in the northeastern province of Badakhshan said they wanted U.S. President George W. Bush to handle the matter honestly "and hand the culprits over to an Islamic country for punishment". "If that does not happen within three days, we will launch a jihad against America," said a statement issued by about 300 clerics, referring to Muslim holy war, after meeting in the main mosque in the provincial capital, Faizabad.

Even if the charges are true, -- which appears unlikely, based upon the way Newsweek is backpeddling from this story -- we will turn US military personnel over to some Muslim backwater tribunal to be tried under rules set by your false prophet Muhammad sometime about a millenium after Hell freezes over.

Oh, and before any Muslim comes here asking me to tone down the level of contempt -- please note that this IS the toned-down version

|| Greg, 06:28 PM || Permalink || Comments

Philly Inquirer Hides Sources' Partisanship

I don't mind that out of town papers are writing about my congressman, Tom Delay. I don't even care that they are writing pieces that reflect negatively on him, and which seem to paint those of us who are backing him as blind to ethics questions. What I do object to, though, is the hiding of the political affiliations of those who criticize him. Take this Philadelphia Inquirer piece as an example.

Maybe DeLay's diehards are needlessly worried, because plenty of local Democrats doubt that he can be beaten. Karl Silverman, a NASA weather forecaster for the space shuttle, stabbed at his salad the other night and said: "So many people here wear blinders. They see politics as just another negative, so they ignore it, because they already have enough negatives in their lives. And they're ideologues anyway, so they figure, 'He's a Republican, he must be OK.' "

"Yeah," said John Cobarruvias, another NASA man. "They keep coming back for more. At the office, I keep asking people, 'How much more are you going to take?'"

The funny thing is, I recognized those two names. The thing is, I didn't recognize them in the context of their work for NASA (I live about 5 miles from Johnson Space Center and know a number of NASA employees and contractors.). No, I recognized the name because they are two of the leading Democrat activists in the area!

Yeah, you read that right. They are are not a couple of NASA employees who happen to be registered Democrats -- they are high-profile local Democrat activists.

Karl Silverman is the founder of the League City Neighborhood Democrats and sits on the Texas Democrat State Executive Committee as the Committeman for Senatorial District 11.

And John Cobarruvias -- you might have a very different perception of him if you had been informed that he is a frequent contributor of articles to the Democratic Underground, as well as being head of the Bay Area New Democrats, the group that sponsored last year's protest in front of Swift Boat Vet John O'Neill's home. Among his classier recent stunts was calling Tom DeLay a "bastard" in one of the local papers.

Now you will never get me to believe that Dick Polman, the Inquirer's political analyst who has over a decade of experience covering national political news, didn't know who these guys were. He would, in fact, have had to pick them precisely because they are two of the top Democrat voices in the area. To fail to identify them as anything but Democrat activists -- especially as humble, hard-working employees with NASA -- is rather disingenuous. It would be like quoting Howard Dean and identifying him as a Vermont physician! This was clearly an attempt to deceive the reader.

UPDATE: After this information was posted at Oh, That Liberal Media, one commenter pointed out that one of the sources cited was a former elected official with GOP connections. I therefore went back and found the following information.

Brian Gaston was a city council member in Sugar Land -- which I believe has a non-partisan form of government.

And I've since discovered that Therese Raia (a name I didn't recognize, despite being a Harris County precinct chair) is the SD17 Committeewoman.

Pat Baig, on the other hand, is an ersatz Republican who gave money to DeLay's opponent in last year's congressional race, Richard Morrison. That might have been an important detail, along with the fact that she never votes in GOP primaries.

Beverly Carter is a precinct chair in Fort Bend County, but is better known for running a local paper that has been at odds with DeLay for over a decade. She was censured by the Fort Bend County GOP when she endorsed Morrison last year.

Dean Hrbacek is another former Sugar Land city official -- a former mayor, whose defeat was partially orchestrated by Ms. Carter's paper and a local radio host who also wrote for her paper (before the host/columnist was convicted of exposing himself to a neighbor girl).

But, if anything, this shows that Polman wants to have folks think he has the pulse of the common man -- but all he does is talk to the same old local officials and politicos that everyone else does.

And as for why I pointed out the two Democrats, that is easy -- they are both local to me, rather than 30 or so miles away in the Sugar Land area, on the other side of the 22nd District.

» Safety For Dummies links with: DeLay Loyalists and Lividity

|| Greg, 01:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

Howard Dean -- The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Once again, we get a reminder that former presidential candidate and current DNC chair Howard Dean is not just a loose cannon. He is the best gift that we on the Right could have ever asked for. After all, he and Harry Reid are guaranteed to shoot their mouths off at least once a week, giving the American public a reminder of why it is importan to keep the Democrats as the minority party -- and make them even a smaller minority next election cycle.

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Party, said yesterday that the US House majority leader, Tom DeLay, ''ought to go back to Houston where he can serve his jail sentence," referring to allegations of unethical conduct against the Republican leader.

Now just set aside the fact that DeLay has not been accused of anything actually criminal, merely technical violations of rules that he may have been unaware of (and which a dozen Democrats have copped to by updating their ethics paperwork to fix the exact same sort of problems). When you get this sort of response from one of your party's senior members, you have gone too far.

''That's just wrong," [Massachusetts Congressman Barney] Frank said in an interview on the convention floor. ''I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don't like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don't think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence."

Well, Barney, you guys went and made him party chair, and you are going to have to live with this sort of comment up to and through the next presidential election.

Thank you, Democrats!

» New Leadership Blog links with: Howard Dean: Open Mouth Insert Foot, Again!

|| Greg, 12:52 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 14, 2005

Racist Fox

Vincente Fox seems to think that blacks are fit only for the lowest forms of labor.

"There is no doubt that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States," he said in a speech broadcast in part on local radio and reported on newspaper web sites.

Given the skin-color hierarchy that is found in Mexico, with darker-skinned Mexicans on the lower rungs of thesocial scale and lighter-skinned at the top, i'm not surprosed by such comments. I even hear such comments from my students from Mexico, and even from some of the US natives whose parents are originally from Mexico. These are the kids who tell me that their parents would be thrilled for them to date a white bly/girl. but not one who was black.

» Another Smith links with: What was that?

|| Greg, 10:02 PM || Permalink || Comments

Abortion Harms Women And Future Babies

One more reason not to have an abortion -- other than the fact that it is the murder of another human being.

The research leader, Dr Caroline Moreau, an epidemiologist at the Hôpital de Bicêtre in Paris, said the results of the study, which appear in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, provided conclusive evidence of a link between induced abortion and subsequent pre-term births.

Last night anti-abortion campaigners seized on the evidence to demand that all women seeking a termination be warned, routinely, that they are jeopardising the well-being of future babies. A series of earlier, smaller studies had failed to provide clear evidence of a link and so women currently opting for an abortion are not warned of the risk.

Dr Moreau said: "Clearly there is a link. The results suggest that induced abortion can damage the cervix in some way that makes a premature birth more likely in subsequent pregnancies."

Of course, the folks who make their money off of killing babies are not keen on the notion that they should inform women of the risks of the procedure. To them, informed consent (which is standard for every other surgical procedure) is something that interferes with "the right to choose".

|| Greg, 09:10 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

The Complaining Begins

The Pentagon has submitted its list for base closures and realignemnts. Already, the complaining begins. A host of articles and editorials have already appeared around our country, explaining why THIS base or That one should remain open -- often with very little basis in military necessity.

Take this piece, for example, about the impending demise of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The proposed closure was a blow to some of Walter Reed's workers and neighbors. "It's mind-boggling," said Navy veteran Harold Thompson, 25, who lives across the street from the hospital, where he visits his doctor. "It will be a real issue for me and other people in the neighborhood if Walter Reed shuts down."

Yes, Mr. Thompson, it would be an issue if you have to go all the way out to Bethesda to the hospital there. But it would be an issue of convenience, not one of national security or dire need. It would mean that you might have to spend a little more time, getting to and from your appointments. That is not, sir, a national security issue.

Ultimately, the whole concept of realignement is about budgets, military efficiency and national security, not jobs or the local economy. Let's remember that as the process moves forward.

|| Greg, 06:03 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

May 13, 2005

A Swift Path To Canonization?

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he has waived the ordinary five year waiting period for the beginning of canonization proceedings for his predecessor, Pope John Paul the Great.

The pope made the announcement during a meeting with the Roman clergy at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, first telling the assembled priests, "and now I have a very joyous piece of news for you."

Immediately following Pope John Paul's death on April 2, there were calls from faithful for his sainthood. At his funeral Mass, pilgrims held up banners saying "Santo Subito" ("Immediate Sainthood").

The announcement came on the anniversary of an 1981 assassination attempt by a Turkish gunman against John Paul in St. Peter's Square (search).

The pope read a letter in Latin in which the Vatican official in charge of sainthood, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, announced that Benedict himself had authorized the beginning of John Paul's path to sainthood. The announcement drew a standing ovation from the Roman priests.

Benedict, who had been seated, stood up to join the clergy in applauding the major tribute to his predecessor.

This is clearly a response to the calls of the faithful to begin the process now. At the funeral for the late pontiff, cries of “Santo Subito” were heard throughout the crowd. In my eyes, this is akin to the practice of the early church, where sainthood was often determined by the people themselves, and then recognized by the institutional Church. Perhaps the bestknown example is that of St. Thomas a Becket, whose tomb became a place of pilgrimage immediately after his death, and whose holiness and martyrdom led to his recognition as a saint within three years of his death in acknowledgement of the popular acclamation that he was a saint.

Soon, very soon, I expect that we will be hearing of his beatification and canonization.

|| Greg, 05:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Bravo To Charles Krauthammer

Krauthammer absolutely demolishes the argument that doing away with the filibuster of judicial nominees is at odds with tradition. His conclusion is masterful.

Democrats are calling Frist's maneuver an assault on the very essence of the Senate, a body distinguished by its insistence on tradition, custom and unwritten rules.

This claim is a comical inversion of the facts. One of the great traditions, customs and unwritten rules of the Senate is that you do not filibuster judicial nominees. You certainly do not filibuster judicial nominees who would otherwise win an up-or-down vote. And you surely do not filibuster judicial nominees in a systematic campaign to deny a president and a majority of the Senate their choice of judges. That is historically unprecedented.

The Democrats have unilaterally shattered one of the longest-running traditions in parliamentary history worldwide. They are not to be rewarded with a deal. They must either stop or be stopped by a simple change of Senate procedure that would do nothing more than take a 200-year-old unwritten rule and make it written.

What the Democrats have done is radical. What Frist is proposing is a restoration

The traditions of the Senate have been abused and broken by the Democrats in their campaign of obstruction. It is up to the majority to reclaim and redeem the practices and rules of the worlds greatest deliberative body.

|| Greg, 05:54 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

What Were They Thinking?

I understand dissection in a classroom. I mean, it is a legitimate tool for study of biology. But when it comes right down to it, you are working with a dead crature that will in no way feel pain or be harmed – and generally are using a frog, which is not one of the higher creatures on the intellectual/emotional ladder.

But vivisecting a dog in a high school class is something else entirely.

A biology class lesson in Gunnison, Utah involving the dissection of a live dog has outraged some parents and students, according to a report.

Biology teacher Doug Bjerregaard, who is a substitute teacher at Gunnison Valley High School, wanted his students to see how the digestive system of a dog worked.

Bjerregaard made arrangements for his students to be a part of a dissection of a dog that was still alive.

The dog was still alive, but the teacher said it was sedated before the dissection began.
With the students watching, the sedated dog's digestive system was removed.

"It just makes me sick and I don't think this should go on anywhere and nobody's learning from it," student Sierra Sears said.

The teacher said the lesson would allow students to see the organs actually working.

"I thought that it would be just really a good experience if they could see the digestive system in the living animal," Bierregaard said.

The school's principal, Kirk Anderson, said notifications went to parents explaining the dog was going to be euthanized and that the experiment would be done with the dog's organs still functioning.

The teacher is standing by his decision and calls it the ultimate educational experience.

Principal Anderson said he supports the lesson and it will be allowed to continue because the students are learning.

The dog used in the experiment was going to be euthanized despite the class project.

I’m sorry, but this is inappropriate – not while the creature was alive. I’m reasonably confident there is some animal cruelty law being violated by this.

» The Education Wonks links with: Was This Educational, Outrageous, Or Something Els

|| Greg, 05:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

Half-Truth Harry's Unethical Judge Smear

So, Half-Truth Harry, you are now going to make unsubstantiated charges based upon evidence no one is allowed to see – and against which your victim, a sitting state judge, cannot respond?

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid prompted outrage from Republicans on Thursday, when he criticized one of those stalled judicial nominees on the Senate floor.

"Henry Saad would have been filibustered anyway," Reid said. "He's one of those nominees. All you need to do is have a member go upstairs and look at his confidential report from the F.B.I., and I think we would all agree there is a problem there."

Doesn’t such an accusation of wrong-doing like that constitute a threat to the independence of the judiciary? Why don’t you grow a pair and actually make the charge you hinting at? Could it be that doing so would be a violation of the ethics rules and a misuse of the FBI report? And doesn’t making the charge in this manner constitute exactly the same sort of violation? Especially since, under Senate rules, the only Senators with access to that confidential FBI report are members of the Judiciary Committee and the nominee’s home state senators. Who gave you access to that confidential material?

Resign now – from the Senate, not just your leadership position.

And Senate Republicans, if he does not, you need to file ethics charges and drive him out of the Senate.

Harry Reid Delenda Est -- Half-Truth Harry must be destroyed!

UPDATE: Assitional commentary at Michelle Malkin, Blogs for Bush, Jackson's Junction, PoliPundit, Ace of Spades, Vote for Judges and Musing Minds.

» Kokonut Pundits links with: Senator Reid Borrowed

|| Greg, 05:51 PM || Permalink || Comments

DeLay Gets It Right

My congressman nailed one last night in talking about the Democrats.

"No ideas. No leadership. No agenda. And, just in the last week, we can now add to that list, no class," DeLay said, a reference to Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's remark to school children that President Bush was "a loser.

And we can include the comments of Howard Dean, Ken Salazar, Ted Kennedy and a number of other Democrats in that category as well.

|| Greg, 05:48 PM || Permalink || Comments

Elections Officials Seek To Silence Mayor’s Show

Up in Rhodes Island, Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey has been directed to give up his talk-radio show by state elections officials. Seems that they have decided that allowing the mayor to do the show constitutes an “in-kind” corporate contribution by WPRO, the station on which Laffey has appeared. Laffey is not paid for the show, which runs on Sunday morning, and it was seen as public affairs programming by the station.

Oh, did you wonder where the initial complaint originated?

The complaint to the elections board was made by Cranston City Council President Aram Garabedian, a Democrat defeated by Laffey in 2002. Outside the courthouse on May 11, Laffey said he was being singled out for taking a stand against corruption spawned by the state's Democratic political machine.

"When you speak out against special interests in Rhode Island, they'll try to shut you down," he said.

So it seems clear that this is political sour grapes by local (and state) Democrats against a candidate who helped disrupt their political control of a large suburb of Providence (isn’t the entire state a suburb of Providence?) that had been a traditional Democrat stronghold.

But I am also struck by a comment in the article from Boston University communications professor Tobe Berkovitz, who doesn’t recognize the absurdity of his statement.

"He looks like he's fighting the good fight over the First Amendment," he said, "and in fact he's fighting a bare-knuckle fight to keep his political platform."

Uh, I thought the purpose of the first Amendment WAS to prevent the government from preventing someone from engaging in political speech. Seems to me that the two things the professor is talking about are, in fact, one and the same.

|| Greg, 05:47 PM || Permalink || Comments

May 12, 2005

Faith And Politics

I've intentionally stayed out of the discussion of the pastor in North Carolina who effectively excommunicated members of the congregation for their voting behavior. I"ve stayed out for several reasons. First, i've not been at all clear on what exactly happened -- reports have left me with enough of a fog factor that I don't want to do anyone an injustice.

But beyond that, I've had a second reason for staying silent. While I think that the man's actions are counterproductive in the contemporary world, I do not believe that they are wrong as a matter of principle. Quite bluntly, I believe that a church does have an obligation to discipline members who have strayed from its teachings, even if the misconduct is in the realm of political activity -- and i believe a fair reading of the First Amendment forbids the government from interfering in or punishing a church for doing so.

Before folks start tearing their hair out, i ask that you read this excerpt from Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

During the 2004 presidential election, leaders of the Roman Catholic Church debated whether Catholic candidates who support abortion rights and same-sex marriage should be denied Communion. There was no corresponding debate among Evangelicals. The virtual disappearance of church discipline among Evangelicals--a symptom of a larger loss of biblical ecclesiology--left many Christians simply scratching their heads. Now, the controversy in Waynesville, North Carolina emerges as a flashpoint of confusion. What should we think of this?

In the first place, we should quickly assert the autonomy of the Church as the Body of Christ. Though missiologically located within the secular world, the Church knows only one Sovereign--the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, the church is located within a political context--a context it cannot deny. For most of U.S. history, this has not been an issue of difficulty for the church. This is no longer the case. At first blush, the actions of the East Waynesville Baptist Church appear to be out of bounds. A political judgment of this apparently partisan nature does not seem to be justified by the political context--at least not yet.

Honesty compels me to state that I could foresee a political context in which such a decision, made in extremis, could well be both justifiable and necessary. The church has faced this before. In the context of Nazi Germany, it was an unavoidable issue. Writing to Christians in France, Karl Barth lamented the sin of the German Christians who allowed the Nazi Party to assume power (through democratic elections, we should be reminded). Looking back to the political passivity of the German church, Barth reflected: "At the time and in Germany it implied a retreat of Christianity from responsibility in ecclesiastical and political spheres to the inner sphere of a religious attitude which, in order to maintain itself, no longer concerned itself with, or at least was not willing to fight and suffer for, the right form of the Church, let alone that of the State."

The right form of the church requires a common commitment to certain shared convictions. These commitments are irreducibly theological, but come with inevitable political consequences. Until recently, our domestic political debates have failed to reach a point of crisis with regard to these consequences, but crisis cannot be rejected as a possibility. In such cases, the church must maintain its witness and convictional commitments. A church should exercise discipline against a member who, while claiming to be a Christian, would vote for Adolf Hitler--or David Duke.

Now Mohler, like me, doesn't see the actions alleged in North Carolina as appropriate in today's context. But at the same time, he recognizes that a proper understanding of the nature of the Church mandates that this sort of action be done in the proper situation. Mojhler talks about voting for Hitler or David Duke -- I think of the excommunication of opponents of school desegregation by the Archbishop of New Orleans in the 1960s after they used their political offices and courtroom litigation to attempt to achieve a political result (school segregation) contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. The acceptance of limits on speech on matters of faith and morals that intersect with politics cannot be accepted by a true Christian -- or a true believer in any other faith. Gvernment is not God.

Now I will concede that America is not a theocracy. I've yet to meet a Christian who wants it to be, despite the hysterical claims of outraged liberals any time a conservative Christian dares to exercise his or her rights as a citizen. The Church, however, IS AND MUST BE a theocracy by its very nature, no matter how much or how loudly the lukewarm may object. We may be obliged to accept the separation of church and state, but we must never give in to demands for the separation of church and church.

|| Greg, 10:52 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Circuit Court Confirmation Rate -- 53%

I've been looking for these numbers, desiring to shove them back in the face of anyone who claimed that Bush's 95% judicial confirmation rate made him remarkably successful in getting judges confirmed and that any complaints about the unprecedented unconstitutional filibuster of circuit court appointees was nothing but sour grapes. Fortunately, the Washington Times supplied the figures today.

During the first complete two-year Congress of their presidencies, postwar presidents achieved the following confirmation rates for their circuit-court nominees: Truman (80th Congress; 3/3: 100 percent); Eisenhower (83rd; 12/13: 92.3 percent); Kennedy (87th; 17/22: 77.3 percent); Johnson (89th; 25/26: 96.2 percent); Nixon (91st; 20/23: 87 percent); Ford (94th; 9/11: 81.8 percent); Carter (95th: 12/12: 100 percent); Reagan (97th: 19/20; 95 percent); G.H.W. Bush (101st; 22/23: 95.7 percent); Clinton (103rd: 19/22: 86.4 percent); G.W. Bush (107th; 17/32: 53.1 percent).

Thus, for the first complete two-year Congresses of the 10 postwar presidencies preceding George W. Bush's, the circuit-court confirmation rate averaged 91.2 percent. For Mr. Bush, it was 53.1 percent. Moreover, before George W. Bush, no president's confirmation rate during his first complete Congress fell below 77 percent, which is nearly 50 percent (and 24 percentage points) higher than Mr. Bush's confirmation rate. It is also worth noting that the three nominees returned by Mr. Clinton's first Congress were confirmed during his second, effectively raising his first-Congress rate to 100 percent. And if we exclude Mr. Bush's two circuit-court nominees who were appointed to the federal judiciary by Mr. Clinton and nominated for the circuit-court bench by Mr. Bush as an unrequited, magnanimous gesture to the Democrats, then Mr. Bush's first-Congress confirmation rate falls to 50 percent (15/30), which is half Mr. Clinton's first-Congress effective rate.

Let's now aggregate the data for a president's first four-year term, while making minor, necessary adjustments (e.g., folding the 79th Congress into the first term of Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt in April 1945; using 1965-1968 as Johnson's first term; and ignoring Ford, who served less than 2.5 years). Then, the first-term confirmation rates are the following: Truman (10/11: 90.9 percent); Eisenhower (23/26: 88.5 percent); Kennedy/Johnson, 1961-1964 (24/29: 82.8 percent); Johnson, 1965-1968 (37/39: 94.9 percent); Nixon (38/41; 92.7 percent); Carter (56/61: 91.8 percent); Reagan (33/42: 78.6 percent); G.H.W. Bush (42/54: 77.8 percent); Clinton (30/42: 71.4 percent); G.W. Bush (35/66: 53 percent).

Thus, since World War II, for the nine four-year, first-term presidencies that preceded George W. Bush's, the circuit-court confirmation rate averaged 85.5 percent. For Mr. Bush's first term, the rate was a relatively dismal 53 percent.

Finally, throughout the same nine postwar, first-term, four-year presidencies that preceded George W. Bush's, Congress returned a total of 46 circuit-court nominations to the president upon adjournment. Those 46 averaged five per four-year term over 36 years. During Mr. Bush's first four-year term, 30 circuit-court nominations were returned by Congress.

So, Democrats and other liberals -- stop the lying.

(Hat Tip -- Blogs For Bush)

|| Greg, 09:04 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments

Product Placement

Noting that product placement deals have moved from television and movies into live theater, Bruce Kluger and David Slavin have tried to slip a few discrete ads into the works of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare.

Here are a couple of my favorites, plucked from the column.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. Then it's Miller time!'
— Henry VI, Part 2 (4, 2)


"Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog. Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion on a sesame seed bun."
— Macbeth (4, 1)


"To be or not to be, that is the question. For everything else, there's MasterCard."
— Hamlet (3, 1)

|| Greg, 08:34 PM || Permalink || Comments

PETA Kills Puppies – And Kitties, Too!

PETA wants to take away your chicken nuggets and ban your perfume and drugs because of animal testing, but guess what – they kill most of the pets left at their animal shelter. Yeah, that’s right – it isn’t a no-kill shelter.

Between 1998 and 2003, PETA put to death over 10,000 dogs, cats, and other creatures that the group publicly calls “companion animals.� Not counting those that PETA held only temporarily -- for spaying or neutering -- the group killed over 85 percent of the animals it took in during 2003.

That’s right – the $29,000,000 they took in last year wasn’t enough for the “animal cruelty/animal rights� organization to make sure the animals went to good homes.

Look at the numbers – they are shocking.

Fortunately, the Center for Consumer Freedom is blowing the whistle on them with a Times Square billboard.

» Snooze Button Dreams links with: Donate to PETA, kill fuzzy animals!

|| Greg, 08:33 PM || Permalink

Am I The Only One Who Thinks This Is Outrageous?

I don’t see a single good reason for bringing charges to begin with in this case.

Lloyd Jamal Whitaker Jr.'s departure on Sept. 29 from the home he had shared with Carolyn Taylor did not go smoothly.

He had made several trips to his car with boxes of belongings from the house in the 1300 block of Enfield Avenue.

But Taylor, 33, told police that he had choked her during one of his trips back to the dwelling, and she had locked the door behind him and put a .22-caliber pistol in her pocket.

When Whitaker, 28, kicked in the door and choked her again, she fired a shot downward to get him away from her, she said. The bullet lodged in Whitaker's pelvis, and he bled to death from what appeared at first to be a superficial wound.

Taylor pleaded guilty in January to involuntary manslaughter, and Richmond Circuit Judge Richard D. Taylor sentenced her yesterday to serve three years and four months in prison.

Let’s go back over that one more time.

When Whitaker, 28, kicked in the door and choked her again, she fired a shot downward to get him away from her, she said.

In other words, she engaged in her HUMAN RIGHT to defend herself from a violent attacker. In a civilized society, what she did is called justice.

I love the comment from this idiotic prosecutor.

Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Diane Abato told the judge that Taylor could have left the apartment or called police to keep the confrontation from escalating. "But as so often happens in this city, people arm themselves and think that solves the problem," she said.

Yeah, she could have. Doing so would have relegated her to the status of victim, if not corpse. Instead she stood up on her own two feet and decided to be a human being, possessed of the right to be secure in her home. For that she is going to jail.

Ms. Abato, Carolyn Taylor did solve the problem. She put down a violent animal before it could harm her again. She deserves the thanks of society, not its condemnation. You should be ashamed of yourself for contributing to her victimization. And if you are ever attacked, I hope you have made yourself as defenseless as believe Ms. Taylor should have been -- and that you are lucky enough to survive unharmed until help arrives.

» Willow Tree links with: Law and Disorder

|| Greg, 08:32 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

The Second Amendment Secures The First

Go Condi!

In an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live," Rice said she came to that view from personal experience. She said her father, a black minister, and his friends armed themselves to defended the black community in Birmingham, Ala., against the White Knight Riders in 1962 and 1963. She said if local authorities had had lists of registered weapons, she did not think her father and other blacks would have been able to defend themselves.

Birmingham, where Rice was born in 1954, was a focal point of racial tension. Four black girls were killed when a bomb exploded at a Birmingham church in 1963, a galvanizing moment in the fight for civil rights.

Rice said she favored background checks and controls at gun shows. However, she added, "we have to be very careful when we start abridging rights that the Founding Fathers thought very important."

Rice said the Founding Fathers understood "there might be circumstances that people like my father experienced in Birmingham, Ala., when, in fact, the police weren't going to protect you."

"I also don't think we get to pick and choose from the Constitution," she said in the interview, which was taped for airing Wednesday night. "The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment."

One more reason I’m ready to back you in 2008, Dr. Rice!

|| Greg, 08:31 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments


But I thought the Democrats were the party of the common people, and that the GOP was the party of the rich.

The financial chieftains of the far-left of the Democratic Party met recently to discuss ways to win back the majority of American voters.

The elite group, comprised of several dozen millionaires, dubbed itself the "Phoenix Group," and is led by billionaire George Soros. Details of the group's deliberations were closely guarded, but reports indicate that the liberal financiers plan to fund multiple left-of-center groups in order to formulate a "new" party message.

This from the folks that think money corrupts the political process.

|| Greg, 08:30 PM || Permalink || Comments

Rush To Judgement?

Michelle Malkin notes that Teddy Kennedy is complaining about the “rush to judgment� on the nomination of Bill Pryor to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. She then supplies the following timeline regarding Pryor’s consideration by the Senate.

3/12/2003 Pryor nominated to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit by President Bush

7/23/2003 Passed out of Senate Judiciary Committee with favorable recommendation

7/31/2003 Democrats refused to allow vote on nomination (cloture denied 53-44)

11/14/2003 Democrats refused to allow vote on nomination (cloture denied 51-43)

2/20/2004 Given recess appointment to 11th Circuit (expires end of 109th Cong; 1st Session)

Two years. It has been over two years since the nomination was made, and nearly two since the nomination was sent to the Senate floor. How much more consideration does it need?

But maybe this desire for deliberate speed explains his decision not to engage in undue haste in attempting to rescue Mary Jo Kopechne or reporting the accident in which she was killed.

|| Greg, 08:28 PM || Permalink

May 11, 2005

Reflections On Yalta

I’ve taken heat in a number of forums for agreeing with President Bush that the agreement to permit/accept (you pick the word – it’s a difference that makes no difference) Soviet domination of Eastern Europe that was wrong.

Setting aside those who call me a blind right-wing ideologue (usually blind left-wing Alger Hiss-wannabes who would have supported Stalin), I’ve been accused of not accepting the fact that Eastern Europe was already in Soviet hands at the time, or wanting to fight another war that would have been long, drawn out, and possibly nuclear.

Those who say that are wrong.

Jonah Goldberg quite clearly sums up my attitude in today’s column.

It's ironic: Liberals celebrated Bill Clinton's numerous apologies for America's Realpolitik "mistakes" during the Cold War as a sign of great statesmanship. But when an apology reflects poorly on the mistake that basically launched the Cold War, they bang their spoons on their highchairs about any attempt to tarnish FDR's godhood.

This raises the larger moral point. After a war to end one evil empire, we signed a piece of paper accepting the expansion of another evil empire. And it happened at Yalta.

When all is said and done, we can debate forever the practicality of Roosevelt and Churchill’s decision to ally with Stalin, Hitler’s former ally, after he was betrayed in the summer of 1941. We can debate whether it was proper to allow Stalin to achieve every bit of what he was promised in his treaty with Hitler and more. But what cannot be debated by anyone with a love for freedom is that the result of these decisions was half a century of oppression by Stalin and his heirs. Isn’t that alone worth a few words of regret?

|| Greg, 05:59 PM || Permalink || Comments

Give Them Their Wish

The Washington Post has a wonderful story about Marines fighting the foreign forces of terror in Iraq. It is one of the more moving things I’ve read on the subject.

I’m particularly struck by this line from one of the Marines.

"They came here to die," said Gunnery Sgt. Chuck Hurley, commander of the team from the 1st Platoon, Lima Company, of the Marines' 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, that battled the insurgents in the one-story house in Ubaydi, about 15 miles east of the Syrian border.

"They were willing to stay in place and die with no hope," Hurley said Tuesday. "All they wanted was to take us with them.''

Notice the clear evidence that these are not Iraqis that shows up later in the article.

The costly equipment, as well as body armor later recovered from the bodies of dead insurgents, suggested that the fighters were foreigners, the military said.

Crying “Allahu Akbar,” these foreign fighters are out to kill as many Americans as possible before they die. Godspeed, Marines, in giving them the death they desire – sending them to burn in hell with the false god they serve.

|| Greg, 05:59 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments

More Evidence On Behalf Of Justice Janice Rogers Brown

We keep being told by the Democrats (who are carrying water for a host of liberal special interests) that Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California Supreme Court is an extremist. I’ve written about that before, but would like to share a little more based on another column I’ve encountered. It seems that one of the problems with Brown is that she is capable of making common sense judgments.

The author, David Reinhard, offers three of the cases cited against her as evidence of the specious nature of the attacks on the justice. They are Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car, People ex. rel. Gallo v. Acuna, and Kasky v. Nike.

In the Avis case, Justice Brown rejected the notion of a court imposing prior restraint on the use of words by all employees in every context. As a rule, that is not permitted under the First Amendment, and so, consistent with a civil libertarian view of the First Amendment, she dissented from a decision upholding such prior restraint. But she did not do this out of love for the individuals who had engaged in racist speech in the workplace.

"Today, this court holds that an idea that happens to offend someone in the workplace is 'not constitutionally protected' . . ." she wrote. "Why? Because it creates a "hostile . . . work environment" . . . in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) . . . [T]he court has recognized the FEHA exception to the First Amendment." Now, it's possible to reject her view, but to say she's blind to discrimination or indifferent to its remediation ignores all she wrote. She called the speech "offensive and abhorrent" and favored a "middle ground" that "preserves both the freedom of the speaker and the equal dignity of the audience." Workers can sue for damages from bosses who tolerate such speech.

Think about it. Can a mere statute create an exception to free speech rights? The answer is obvious. On the other hand, it can impose a duty on the employer to stop racially abusive speech. Justice Brown offered an approach that did the least damage to the Constitution – and for that she is excoriated as an enemy of the Constitution.

On the other hand, in the Gallo case Justice Brown was unwilling to allow the First Amendment to be used as a shield for actual criminal activity. A violent street gang had made a neighborhood in Rocksprings, California unlivable. Residents were subjected to street crime, drug dealing and gunfire, among other ills. The city sought to do something about the problem, getting an injunction banning the offending gang members from the neighborhood – an injunction that was upheld by the California Supreme Court. Writing FOR THE MAJORITY, Justice Brown dismissed the First Amendment claims of the gang-bangers to continue their illegal activities in the neighborhood. She noted that their actions were antithetical to the notion of peaceable assembly.

"To hold that the liberty of the peaceful, industrious residents of Rocksprings must be forfeited to preserve the illusion of freedom for those whose ill conduct is deleterious to the community as a whole is to ignore half the political promise of the Constitution and the whole of its sense."

The Nike case is particularly interesting. Justice Brown sided with Nike in a case involving whether errors in a press release could be grounds for a lawsuit against the company by an activist group. The case eventually reached the US Supreme Court, where it was dismissed on a technicality. But while some argue that Justice Brown’s opinion was out of step with Supreme Court jurisprudence on commercial speech, it is interesting to note that the justices themselves did not think so.

The high court dismissed the case on a technicality and an out-of-court settlement has since been reached, but Justice John Paul Stevens' majority opinion for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter argued that the case raised important constitutional questions. And Stephen Breyer, joining Sandra Day O'Connor in dissent, wrote that if the case was decided on its merits, Brown's view would likely prevail.

Which two justices definitively agreed with her? That would be liberal Justice Stephen Breyer and swing-voter Sandra Day O’Connor – hardly folks the Left wants to label as out of the mainstream. And notice which other justices were at least open to her position – Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg, who constitute with (with Breyer) the remainder of the Court’s liberal wing! If she is outside the mainstream on this case, I hope that Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and Charles Schumer will have the integrity to introduce articles of impeachment against those five justices so that we can get some mainstream folks to take their places.

I guess the best way to put it is to say that the arguments against Janice Rogers Brown are hogwash – no insult to hogs intended.

|| Greg, 05:59 PM || Permalink || Comments

Just A Question

If liberals believe that questioning judges and their rulings is an attack that threatens the independence of the judiciary, why are their attacks on Justice Priscilla Owen, Justice Janice Rogers Brown, Judge William Pryor, and other sitting judges who have been nominated to the Circuit Courts of Appeals and their rulings acceptable? After all, don’t such attacks threaten the independence of the judiciary?

|| Greg, 05:58 PM || Permalink || Comments

But Of Course, They Aren’t Doing The Same Thing They Condemn

Crackpots. American Taliban. The Gestapo. Reactionary. Religious zealots. Extremists.

Those were some of the constructive, positive terms applied by supporters of Senator Ken Salazar to religious people and groups who oppose his position on judicial filibusters. Those supporters denied their language was derogatory.

"Some individuals (here) feel that way, and that's their right," said Denver's former director of public safety, Butch Montoya.

So I guess it isn’t the right of people who disagree with them to do so. Disagreement makes one a member of the crackpotextremistreactionaryreligiouszealotAmericanTalibanGestapo, and merits abusive language from these “mainstream” religious and political leaders.

The language of these folks was so extreme that Salazar even rejected their support.

"Obviously, people on all sides of this issue have strong feelings," Cody Wertz said. "But I can say for sure that Senator Salazar would not associate himself with those remarks."

A spokesman for Focus on the Family noted the intellectual vacancy of the arguments presented at the press conference.

"Holy smoke, I'm glad they didn't call us the Antichrist," said Tom Minnery, vice president of Focus on the Family. He was referring to a slur Salazar directed at the organization earlier but has since said he was sorry for. "If they had an intellectual argument, they'd use it, but the left is without argument, so they resort to name-calling. That demeans the process."

Probably the most damning quote of the day came from former state senator Polly Baca. She meant it as praise for Salazar, but it just indicates how unprincipled that he and his supporters are.

"Ken has a very deep-seated faith that grounds his values and that drives his behavior," Baca said. However, that doesn't mean one's faith should necessarily drive one's public life, she said.

In other words, none of them believe in anything strongly enough to act upon it. Some might call that being a hypocrite, but I believe the term that Christ used was “lukewarm.”

|| Greg, 05:54 PM || Permalink || Comments

Stay In School. Get A Job. Get Married. Have Kids. In That Order.

I posted this Walter Williams column outside my classroom today. No response from kids yet. The real heart of the piece is found here.

The Children's Defense Fund and civil rights organizations frequently whine about the number of black children living in poverty. In 1999, the Bureau of the Census reported that 33.1 percent of black children lived in poverty compared with 13.5 percent of white children. It turns out that race per se has little to do with the difference. Instead, it's welfare and single parenthood. When black children are compared to white children living in identical circumstances, mainly in a two-parent household, both children will have the same probability of being poor.

How much does racial discrimination explain? So far as black poverty is concerned, I'd say little or nothing, which is not to say that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated. But let's pose a few questions. Is it racial discrimination that stops black students from studying and completing high school? Is it racial discrimination that's responsible for the 68 percent illegitimacy rate among blacks?

The 1999 Bureau of Census report might raise another racial discrimination question. Among black households that included a married couple, over 50 percent were middle class earning above $50,000, and 26 percent earned more than $75,000. How in the world did these black families manage not to be poor? Did America's racists cut them some slack?

The civil rights struggle is over, and it has been won. At one time, black Americans did not have the same constitutional protections as whites. Now, we do, because the civil rights struggle is over and won is not the same as saying that there are not major problems for a large segment of the black community. What it does say is that they're not civil rights problems, and to act as if they are leads to a serious misallocation of resources.

If I get any interesting responses, I’ll let you know.

|| Greg, 05:53 PM || Permalink || Comments

I’m Not Sure What I Think

This story has some interesting issues in it, but I’m not sure what I think.

Kerry Lofy figures that girls get to wear dresses to the Lake Geneva Badger High School prom, so why couldn't he?

But now that he has been suspended from school for three days, is being forced to miss his last track meet (and a chance for the school's pole vaulting record) and has to pay a $249 ticket for disorderly conduct, Lofy's not so sure he picked the right battle to fight.

"Things got a little crazy," Lofy said Tuesday from home, where the 18-year-old senior is serving the suspension after Saturday night's antics.

High school officials are not returning calls for comment on the case, but to hear Lofy tell it, this is a classic case of the price you pay for fighting for your rights of self-expression.

Lofy said he thought it would be funny to show up at his senior prom Saturday wearing a dress. Lofy went to the prom with Victor Anderson, a friend. Lofy says the school did not have any problem letting two males attend prom together, but school officials who had heard of Lofy's plan to wear a black dress warned him that he would not be allowed in the dance if he showed up dressed as a woman.
Lofy says he is not gay. He says he agreed to go with Anderson, who is gay, because Anderson is his friend and he wanted to go to the prom but didn't have a date. Anderson confirms this. Lofy concedes that he was uneasy going to prom with another male, and wearing a dress was a way to deflect other people's suspicions.

Are girls permitted to wear traditionally male attire – such as a tuxedo?

Would the dress have been acceptable if it had been wore by the gay student?

What about if the gay student self-identified as a “transgendered” individual?

Does any of that matter?

Like I said, there are issues here, and I don’t even begin to know where to begin to address them.

But I was struck by this sentence at the end of the article.

Lofy plans to go to Colorado Mountain College in the fall and major in ski hill management.

Ski Hill Management is a major?

» Zero Intelligence links with: Gag dress gets student suspended

|| Greg, 05:52 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments

But I Thought He Apologized?

Last time I checked, a sincere apology usually implies that you believe you did wrong. Did Half-Truth Harry Reid lie last week?

If Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada still feels remorse for calling President Bush a loser, he didn't show it on Tuesday.

In a news conference, Reid was asked if his comment about Bush would make it more difficult to negotiate with Republicans.

"I tell people how I feel about things. I don't try to hide how I feel," Reid said.

"Maybe my choice of words was improper, and I have indicated that maybe they were, but I want everyone here, I repeat, to know I'm going to continue to call things the way that I see them, and I think this administration has done a very, very bad job for this nation and the world."

So, Harry, were you lying when you called the president a loser, or when you apologized -- or both?

|| Greg, 05:50 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 10, 2005

Beckwith Defines Irony

Some jabs are too good to ignore. This one from Francis J. Beckwith over at Southern Appeal is one of those.

According to the Washington Times: "Republicans were particularly outraged when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, referred to Justice Owen and other Bush nominees as 'neanderthal.'" In order to extend the irony, perhaps Kennedy should have called her fat, ugly, the son of a bootlegger, and that she once drove drunk and left the occupant of her car to drown in a body of water adjacent to the bridge into which she crashed. Look, if Ted Kennedy gave a California condor a ride home it would consistute a violation of the endangered species act.


|| Greg, 06:41 PM || Permalink || Comments

Speech Suppression In Georgia School

Let me get this straight – a principal found a shirt with these two messages offensive and disruptive?

A teenager was back in class on May 6 after receiving a one-day suspension for wearing a T-shirt with slogans including “freedom of expression” and “don’t drink and drive” that school administrators considered disruptive. Hanna Smith, 18, a junior at Tift County High School, said Principal Mike Duck told her that if she wore the shirt again she would be suspended for the remainder of the year.

The principal was arrested six years ago for DUI and running a stop sign, The Tifton Gazette said May 6 in a story on Smith’s suspension. Duck made a public apology for the DUI and was himself suspended for five days.

Smith’s mother, Tracy Fletcher, said she would defend her daughter’s right to express herself, even if it meant hiring an attorney and taking the case to court.

“They want everyone to fit into a mold, and there’s no room for individuality. These kids are our future, I think they should be treated with a little more respect. Their opinions count. Their thoughts count,” Fletcher said.

The principal confirmed that Smith was back in class on May 6 without the banned T-shirt, which also had a peace symbol on the front and “Veritas,” which means truth, written on the back.

Now let’s look at this and try to discern what is offensive here. A peace sign? Hardly. The word “Veritas”? Most kids probably couldn’t pronounce it, much less tell you what it means. Could it be “Freedom of Expression”? One would hope not, given that teaching the concept is mandatory in any American government or history class. Well then it must be “Don’t Drink and Drive”. I guess that the drunk who the school board unwisely allows to run a high school had his feelings hurt by that message, one which simply urges that the laws of the state (and common sense and common decency) be followed. Certainly there isn’t anything that would disrupt school in any of those messages, so that must be it.

But I love this quote from Principal Mike Duck.

The school system’s dress code forbids disruptive clothing, grooming and symbols. Principals decide what’s disruptive.

“I have an obligation to maintain an orderly environment,” Duck said. “The courts give me the authority and the right to make those decisions and as long as I’m sitting in this chair that’s what I’m going to do.”

Frankly, sir, based upon that addled comment I’m surprised you are sitting in the chair instead of falling out of it trying to get to that bottle of Smirnoff you keep in the back of your desk drawer to calm your DTs. But if you want a quick primer on the rights of students, might I direct you here and here. In case your hangover is giving you too much trouble, I’ll give you the highlights – Tinker v. Des Moines, “Students don’t surrender their rights at the school house gate”, First Amendment, civil rights and liberties, arbitrary abuse of power. You know, the same stuff I keep writing about regularly on this site and on my previous one.

And I cannot help but admire the stand taken by this young adult, 18-year-old Hanna Smith.

“I think it’s silly that we can’t practice the freedoms that they teach us here,” Smith said. “You would think that school officials would have respect for the law and people’s rights, or at least they should.”

You’ve got it exactly right, Hanna – it is impossible to teach our students to be citizens of a free society while granting them no greater liberty than an inmate in a maximum security penitentiary, for the habits necessary to survive as the latter are not those necessary to prosper as the former.

» Zero Intelligence links with: Just say NO to alcohol, and get suspended

|| Greg, 06:29 PM || Permalink || Comments

Barney’s Inappropriate Conduct

Could you imagine the liberal outrage if this were a senior GOP lawmaker doing this to a female candidate at an event, rather than the actual perpetrator and victim in this case?

Openly gay U.S. Rep.Barney Frank got caught blatantly fondling an up-and-coming politician's buttocks at a public event. According to gay weekly the Washington Blade, the frisky Frank was escorting rising gay politico Mike Evans into the VIP section at Philadelphia's Equality Forum when he boldly seized the opportunity to cop a feel from the younger man. The tush-grabbery was caught by alert photogs covering the event, and the pictures soon surfaced on the Internet. A rep for Frank, who is in a relationship with his domestic partner, Sergio Pombo, declined PAGE SIX's request for comment.

I’m serious here – folks on the Left would be having conniption fits if Tom DeLay were to feel-up some GOP cutie at a public event. But as we saw years ago with Barney’s live-in male prostitute, being a high-ranking gay Democrat means never having to say you are sorry.

|| Greg, 05:58 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (10) || Comments

But I Thought They Were “Pro-Choice”

Folks from Planned Parenthood are complaining about the refusal of pharmacies to carry so-called “emergency contraceptives”.

A pro-abortion group says its survey of 920 pharmacies across Missouri found that only 29 percent of them stock emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill.

"Women in rural Missouri are most at risk of not having access to this birth control," said the NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Foundation, which conducted the survey.

More details will be announced Tuesday at a news conference in Jefferson City, the foundation said. Those details include "statistics on pharmacies that refuse to order the legally prescribed medication for female customers," the press release announced.

Although the Food and Drug Administration has approved the prescription-only sale of emergency contraception, pharmacies are not required to stock any particular medication.

So let me get this straight – pharmacies and pharmacists are making a choice not to participate in what they view as a form of abortion, and so the nation’s leading ”pro-choice” group is troubled. Could it be that their label is a lie – given that they object to any choice that doesn’t involve the facilitation of the slaughter of the unborn -- and they are really pro-abortion?

Now I understand that it can be inconvenient to have a pharmacy refuse to stock a particular medication. It recently took us 10 days to fill one of my wife’s pain prescriptions because we had trouble finding a pharmacy in the area that stocked the medication. In talking with a couple of the pharmacists, I discovered that they do not even carry other medications, in particular Oxy-Contin (which she has never been prescribed), because doing so simply subjects them to additional scrutiny from state and federal regulators. In other words, they exercise their right to decide what medications they will and will not stock, according to their best professional and business judgments. It really isn’t the place of the state to force them to carry a medication.

|| Greg, 05:57 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

Dean Endorses Socialist

If you really need to ask yourself if the Democrats are the de facto Socialist party in the United States, the fact that Vermont congressman Bernie Sanders – a self-described Socialist – caucuses with the party should have been sign enough. But this new development should make it even clearer.

Breaking party lines, former Gov. Howard Dean said Monday he supports Rep. Bernard Sanders' bid for the U.S. Senate, saying the Independent makes a "strong candidate." "A victory for Bernie Sanders is a win for Democrats," Dean said in a telephone interview Monday.

So, the head of the DNC is acknowledging it – a victory for an avowed Socialist is a victory for the Democrats. What’s more, Sanders’ staff acknowledges it as well.

"I think Gov. Dean and Congressman Sanders share an interest in beating back a very aggressive reactionary agenda of President Bush and congressional Republicans," Weaver said. "We intend to win this seat and Bernie will be a strong voice against the Bush agenda."

So, my fellow Americans, let’s be real clear here – a vote for the Democrats is a vote for Socialism and against the American way of life. And that comes from no less than Screamin’ Howard Dean, the nation’s top Democrat.

|| Greg, 05:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 09, 2005

Hate-Crime Hoax

Well, yet another false report of hate crimes and harassment.

A rash of gay-bashing incidents at Tamalpais High School was the work of a student gay leader who claimed she was the victim of hate crimes, it was disclosed yesterday.

The 17-year-old girl, a top athlete who leads the school's Gay-Straight Alliance, told authorities she was the perpetrator of the incidents, which included scrawling "die fag" on her car and at school.

"The individual's own statements substantiated the evidence previously gathered as to the source of the vandalism and annoying phone calls," Mill Valley Police Capt. James Wickham said in a press release.

Other incidents involved teachers who got threatening phone messages and a typed message using anti-gay language that was sent to administrators.

"Evidence developed during the course of the investigation indicated that the student/victim was actually the person" responsible for the crimes, Wickham said. "It has been determined that all the incidents have been committed by a single individual."

The student was not identified by police.

The school wants her to get counseling, though it “may” suspend or expel her. The police made no arrest, and filing no charges, despite her confession. That despite the fact that she committed a hate crime against the other victims, as well as against her heterosexual classmates by framing them for her actions. Would such false “compassion” have been show n if the perpetrator had been a straight student? We both know the answer.

What is more, the local professional victims group is upset that the information about the hoax was made public.

Paula Pilecki, executive director of San Anselmo's Spectrum, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, was surprised that police released a statement on the matter.

"It is unfortunate that this information is being released to the public in this manner," she said. "The next few weeks will no doubt be difficult for everyone involved, and I hope the community reacts with compassion."

So what you would have preferred would have been for everyone just to quit talking about the situation with no information given to the public. That way, you would be able to use these incidents as proof of the need for more tolerance programs and reeducation sessions. You could blame the evilrightwingconservativechristians for the “climate of fear and intolerance” that exists at the school, and complain that the school and police authorities were doing nothing to combat it. Now you’ve lost all that great publicity.

And as far as reacting with compassion goes – this girl deserves no more compassion than the killers of Matthew Shepard. Here’s hoping she does some prison time for her acts of hate.

|| Greg, 08:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments

Four Years Of Injustice Against Priscilla Owen

Today marks four years since the nomination of Justice Priscilla Owen to the appellate bench. As of this date, she still has not been given an up or down vote on the Senate floor. Today her former colleague on the Texas Supreme Court, Senator John Cornyn, spoke on behalf of her nomination.

I know Priscilla personally, because we served together on the Texas supreme court. Throughout her life, she has excelled in virtually everything she has ever done. She was a law-review editor, a top graduate from Baylor Law School at the remarkable age of 23, and the top scorer on the Texas bar exam. She entered the legal profession at a time when relatively few women did, and after a distinguished record in private practice, she reached the pinnacle of the Texas bar — a seat on the Texas supreme court. She was supported by a larger percentage of Texans than any of her colleagues during her last election, after enjoying the endorsement of every major Texas newspaper.

Unsurprisingly, then, the American Bar Association, after careful study, unanimously rated her well qualified to serve on the federal bench — their highest rating.

Unsurprisingly, she enjoys the enthusiastic support of a bipartisan majority of senators.

Yet a partisan minority of senators now insists that Owen may not be confirmed without the support of a supermajority of 60 senators — a demand that is, by their own admission, wholly unprecedented in Senate history. Why? Simple: The case for opposing her is so weak that changing the rules is the only way they can defeat her nomination.

Cornyn goes on to demolish every argument against the confirmation of Priscilla Owen. When will the Democrats be forced to stop playing politics with our nation’s courts? When will Priscilla Owen be given an up or down vote? It needs to be soon.

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

Where Is The Outrage?

Jonah Goldberg notes a recent comment by Bill Maher.

"Comedian" Bill Maher, for example, recently explained that he thought the charges were no big deal, even if true. After all, Jackson didn't rape anyone, he's merely accused of "servicing" young boys — and that's not nearly as bad as getting beaten up by schoolyard bullies.

Gee, I seem to recall his condemning the Catholic Church because a few priests were guilty of “servicing” and being “serviced” by young boys. Does Mr. Maher have one standard for his friends, and another for those whose beliefs he rejects?

|| Greg, 08:08 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

But I Thought That Open Borders Caused No Real Problems For Americans

It seems that the same porous-border policies that led to an increase in border jumping has also resulted in an increase in violent home invasions in the Tucson area. Why? Because of the vast quantity of illegal drugs smuggled in from Mexico, and the number of “safe houses” set up in residential neighborhoods to store the illegal goods.

Residential robberies in metro Tucson are on a record-setting pace.

Funded by the growing trafficking of Mexican marijuana, smugglers are setting up stash houses throughout the metro area. Rival drug traffickers may target those homes, looking to steal cash or pot or to recover stolen marijuana that can be sold on the street for as much as $500 a pound.

What that means, law officers said, is that more innocent people are at risk of being hurt or killed because traffickers may mistakenly break into their home.

"You have incidents when the bad guys hit the wrong house, or the target moved out a month or so ago ... that's the real danger," said Pima County sheriff's Lt. Michael G. O'Connor, head of the crimes against persons section.

Sometimes in these terrifying robberies with violence or threats of violence, also known as home invasions, the robbers hit a residence based on nothing more than a street rumor, said Eugene V. Mejia, a retired police detective sergeant who worked for TPD from 1974 to 2000.

Acting on rumors leaves plenty of opportunity for mistakes. Robbers, for example, may have the right house number but go to the wrong street.
Upping the stakes, robbers often are high on drugs during the break-ins.

How bad is the problem? While Tucson and Pima County used to get fewer than 50 such crimes reported a year 15-20 years ago, the number is now up to nearly 250. How many more go unreported by criminals who don’t want police scrutiny of their activities? And we won’t get into the deaths or serious injuries that often accompany these home invasions.

Who says we don’t need to secure the border?

» Social Sense links with: Securing America's Borders
» Part-Time Pundit links with: Save Our Borders Blogburst: Immigration Reform
» GM's Corner links with: Save Our Borders!

|| Greg, 08:04 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

Watcher's 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.

|| Greg, 01:19 PM || Permalink || Comments

May 08, 2005

A Liberal For Justice Janice Rogers Brown

Here's a great piece on my favorite among the Bush nominees denied a vote by the Democrats. It provides some interesting details about her life, and some intriguing quotes from one of her opinions that show her to be a crusader for justice under the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

In her dissent [in People v. McKay], Brown even lashed out at the U.S. Supreme Court and - pay close attention, my liberal friends - criticized an opinion written by its most conservative member, Justice Antonin Scalia, for allowing police to use traffic stops to obliterate the expectation of privacy the Fourth Amendment bestows.

"Due to the widespread violation of minor traffic laws, an officer's discretion is still as wide as the driving population is large," she wrote. In her view, court decisions have freed police to search beyond reason not just drivers of cars but "those who walk, bicycle, rollerblade, skateboard or propel a scooter."

She reserved special scorn for judges who permit police to discriminate while advising the targets of discrimination to sue to challenge their oppressors. "Such a suggestion overlooks the fact that most victims ... will barely have enough money to pay the traffic citation, much less be able to afford an attorney. ... To dismiss people who have suffered real constitutional harms with remedies that are illusory or nonexistent allows courts to be complacent about bigotry while claiming compassion for its victims," she wrote.

"Judges go along with questionable police conduct, proclaiming that their hands are tied. If our hands really are tied, it behooves us to gnaw through the ropes."

And this is the woman that Half-Truth Harry Reid says wants to take us back to before the Civil War. Hardly -- this is a woman who is very much in line with the spirit of the Civil War-era Amendment that sought to make blacks full participants in American liberty, and whose philosophy is in keeping with that of Dr. King.

Confirm her now -- by any means necessary.

|| Greg, 07:44 PM || Permalink || Comments

Traitor's Lawyer Seeks To Force Israel To Defile Designation Reserved For Religious Prisonser

Jonathon Pollard is a convicted spy. In 1984 & 1985 he spied on the US for Israel, betraying his country for money. Now his lawyers are making specious claims of torture against the United States in a disgusting attempt to make the Israeli government declare him a "Prisoner of Zion" -- a category previously reserved for those persecuted because of their religion.

Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. citizen who spied for Israel, has been subjected to electric shock, sleep deprivation and other "cruel and extreme" forms of torture while serving a life sentence in American prisons, his lawyer said Sunday.

A petition filed with Israel's Supreme Court says Pollard was kept naked for more than a year in solitary confinement in subzero temperatures. It claims his jailers also soaked him with ice water, forced him to sleep on a bare concrete slab, and lied to him that the Israeli government had arranged his release.

I believe this to be a lie. Pollard deserves to dance at the end of a rope for his betrayal of America. But even if the accusations are true, that still doesn't put him in the same category as the Jewish refusniks of the 1970s and 1980s.

For my previous statements on this treasonous piece of filth, click here.

|| Greg, 07:02 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments

Stripping Away Evangelical Stereotypes

When one hears the word "evangelical", the term "fundamentalist" is not far behind, along with the phrases "right-wing" and "theocrat". Such stereotypes are wrong, for most evangelicals support values that would have to be conceded to be mainstream -- not surprising, given that they make up some 40% of the American public. The only question, at times, is the proposed method of implementing those values. Mark Hall's piece in the Oregonian does a pretty good job of pointing that out.

What do evangelicals believe, then?

First, contrary to many stereotypes, evangelicals are among the most tenacious defenders of religious liberty. We have been fiery opponents of government attempts to dictate religious belief or actions.

Look at the leading "right-wing Christian" legal organizations -- they don't just defend Christians, but also Jews, Muslims, and others. Where these groups differe with the radical secularists is that they believe that neutrality doesn't mean driving religion from the public square. In that, they are exactly in line with American practice from the time of the writing of the First Amendment itself.

Second, evangelicals are concerned about the poor and dispossessed. Flippant critics chastise us for dropping the ball -- including evangelicals such as Jim Wallis, "Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It," and Ron Sider, "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience."

But the best historical and sociological studies show that evangelicals, along with other religious conservatives, are among the most generous Americans when it comes to donating our time and money.

Look at the statistics that are out there. It is generally those who identify themselves as religious who are the most generous with their giving. While many oppose government programs, it is because they believe that private charity is superior to those programs. And if one looks at the statistics, there is a point to that argument.

Third, evangelicals place a high value on family. We believe the right of parents to raise their children should be respected and supported by the state. Many evangelicals would extend this principle to enabling all parents to provide for their children an education that reflects their world views.

For all we hear the rabid secularists talk about programs "for the children," they tend to ignore the fact that those with the best interest of a child closest to their hearts are their parents. This is a big part of why evangelicals tend to support school vouchers -- because who is most concerned with the individualized needs of a student if not their parents? Granted, these vouchers still will not enable most kids to attend the private schools of the elite liberals, but it will allow them in many cases to do better than they do now, and will actually leave public schools with more dollars per child because no voucher plan proposed has ever taken all the dollars per student for a voucher.

Fourth, evangelicals believe innocent human life ought not to be taken without a very good reason. We overwhelmingly oppose abortion and euthanasia.

Notice the reason for the opposition -- respect for life. I once argued that Jefferson, in listing three inalienable rights, put them in order of importance. The violation of the right to lifeimplicitly violates the others, and so governemnt is obliged to protect us from the unjust taking of life -- including protecting us from ourselves if need be. This respect for life is why there is division on the death penalty among evangelicals, though most will accept it as legitimate, though not mandatory, on biblical grounds.

Strangely enough, it is not the evangelicals who are unwilling to dialogue on these mainstream values. It is their opponents who refuse to discuss, refuse to compromise, and dismiss any attempt by evangelicals to participate in the political process as "mixing church and state" or "attempting to impose a theocracy".

But how do we have a democratic republic if the beliefs of four out of every ten Americans are declared illegitmate and those Americans are excluded from the process? How is it that those values can be labeled extreme when they are shared by enough Americans to enable their supporters to control the executive and legislative branches? The short answer is that those who would exclude the evangelical voice from the political arena are attempting to gain through bigotry, fear, and discrimination that which they cannot gain legitimately at the ballot box because they are the ones outside the mainstream.

» Doc Rampage links with: evangelical stereotypes
» Watcher of Weasels links with: Submitted for Your Approval
» Watcher of Weasels links with: The Council Has Spoken!

|| Greg, 06:46 PM || Permalink

Russia Honors Blood-Thirsty Dictator With Statue

More proof that Putin's Russia is continuing the descent back towards the sort of oppressive government that marked the Communist era. One of history's most bloody dictators is being honored with a new statue.

AN enthusiastic crowd gathered for the unveiling of a new statue of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in the Siberian district of Mirny ahead of massive Russian commemorations of the defeat of Nazi Germany 60 years ago.

Dignitaries and thousands of local residents gathered for the ceremony in the eastern Siberian republic of Yakutia-Sakha, laying flowers beneath the monument to the wartime leader credited with helping vanquish Nazi Germany in World War II but reviled by critics for his bloody treatment of his own people.

"We have erected a monument to a great son of Russia who gave everything he had to his nation, his love and his dedication, without receiving anything in return," Mirny's mayor Anatoly Popov was quoted by Ria-Novosti news agency as saying.

"He died without a ruble in his pocket, without a bank account, without good furniture or buildings."

The new statue is the latest sign of Stalin's resurgent popularity among some Russians.

Utterly disgusting! What next-- statues of Hitler in Germany, honoring the dedication of the Fuhrer to the Fatherland?

I'd like to paraphrase the greatest American leader of the 20th Century.

Mr. Putin -- tear down this statue!

|| Greg, 05:55 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 07, 2005

Schumer To Bush -- "Censor The Right"

I want to know how a representative of a party that believes "Bush is a Nazi" is legitimate political speech, has a congressman give an interview to a gay website in which he calls the vice president an "ass-kisser", and whose Senate leader calls the president "a loser" in front of a class full of high school kids could have the guts to go on the air and make such a hypocritical radio address.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a leading Democrat in the fight over judicial nominees, urged President Bush to intervene and rein in the strongest conservative critics of Democratic opposition to some candidates.

Schumer, D-N.Y., delivered his party's weekly radio address today, in which he decried "a whiff of extremism in the air the likes of which we haven't seen in decades."

Without naming any, Schumer criticized "small groups ... trying to undermine the age-old checks and balances that the Founding Fathers placed at the center of the Constitution."

But he didn't stop there. He made it very clear that criticism of the Democrats and their filibuster strategy is "un-American."

In his radio appeal, Schumer sought to draw Bush more directly into the fray by urging the president to denounce some conservatives who have used harsh language to criticize the Democrats.

"I am making a heartfelt plea to you, Mr. President. When you came to Washington, you said you wanted to change the climate in D.C.," Schumer said. "Those stating these abhorrent views count themselves as your political allies. One word from you will bring a halt to these un-American statements. That would be a way to strengthen democracy here at home."

So, would you count Senator Reid's statement that Justice Janice Rogers Brown "is a woman who wants to take us back to the Civil War days" as an abhorrent view, or an un-American statement? or is that sort of crap just politics as usual from the Democrat leadership?

Now Senator, I would like you to answer a simple question -- on what basis do you believe the president has the power or authority to "rein in" the speech of any American? That sounds pretty antithetical to the First Amendment to me. Does the Senator propose setting up a "Senate Un-American Activities Commitee" to police these organizations -- thereby adding "Schumerism" to the political vocabulary of the United States?

Frankly, Chuckles, in the end I don't give a rat's ass if President Bush does as you ask on this matter (not that I think he will give your whine more than a moment's notice) -- I'll exercise my rights as an American to denounce you and your ilk. Your attempt to invoke the heavy hand of government censorship against your critics and political opponents is reprehensible -- and, might I also add, abhorrent and un-American.

Additional commentary from Right-Sided and Red State.

(Hat Tip -- Americablog)

|| Greg, 02:24 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments

“Half-Truth Harry” Reid Insults President, Turns High School Class Into Partisan Platform

Senator Harry Reid needs to resign. He has shown himself not to have the temperament and the judgment necessary to serve in the US Senate, much less to be the leader of the minority party.

Speaking to a classroom full of high school juniors, the Nevada Democrat insulted the president of the United States.

"The man's father is a wonderful human being," Reid said in response to a question about President Bush's policies. "I think this guy is a loser.”

Inappropriate, Senator, in what was supposed to be a non-partisan educational setting. That you would even consider making that comment shows that you are deficient in judgment. We don’t care that you called Karl Rove to apologize later – the comment should have never been made.

And as if that wasn’t enough, you engaged in additional character assassination against the President’s judicial nominees.

Reid took students through a primer of the five most-disputed judicial nominees, arguing some were opposed to the 1973 Roe v. Wade case legalizing abortion. He charged others with trying to dismantle government programs like Social Security. "I don't want them. I think they're bad people," Reid said of the nominees He described California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown, one of the Bush nominees Republicans will probably float first for approval, as an African-American opposed by the Congressional Black Caucus. "She is a woman who wants to take us back to the Civil War days," Reid said.

Really, Senator Reid, this black woman, the daughter of a sharecropper raised in the segregated Democrat-run South wants to recreate the days when blacks were slaves? Would you care to offer even a shred of evidence to support that outrageous slander, sir? And which of them has said they would try to dismantle Social Security? As for Roe, its overturn would leave the decision on the legality of abortion to the states – precisely the same place you say that the decision should be on recognizing homosexual marriage. Not one of these nominees is unqualified – at least not according to the ABA, the approval of which you folks on the Democrat side argued was the gold standard for judicial nominees in 2001 – so there is no legitimate basis for opposing them. I somehow bet you left that little bit out when you were presenting your so-called facts to these students.

But there will be no Reid resignation, and no denunciation of the Senate minority leader by the Democrats. That is because Senate Democrats don’t have any ethics when it comes to this issue. They want what they want and will get it any way they can, even if it means raping the Constitution to get it. And if it means letting Half-Truth Harry Reid skate again, then so be it.

Additional commentary fom Blogs For Bush, Hard Starboard, Red State, Iowa Voice, The Mighty Righty, and Say Anything.

UPDATE -- The White House responds.

"The president has worked to change the tone in Washington by elevating the discourse and reaching out to find common ground to get things done," [White House spokesman Scott] McClellan said.

"It has been a challenge and it has been disappointing that we haven't been able to make more progress on that front. I think the American people want their elected leaders to elevate the discourse and to reach out across partisan lines and that's what the president will continue to do," he said.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Harry -- and you too, Chuckles.

» The Education Wonks links with: Tales From The Trenches: Classroom Teachers Speak

|| Greg, 11:55 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (7) || Comments

May 06, 2005

RIP State Rep. Joe Moreno, D-Houston

Speaking as a partisan, I can tell you that some stuff transcend politics. Death is one of these.

State Rep. Joe Moreno, D-Houston, was killed in an overnight traffic accident near La Grange, officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety said today.

Moreno, who was first elected to represent Houston's east side in1998, was traveling on Texas 71 when the wheels of his pickup truck evidently slipped off the road's shoulder, said DPS reports.

Reports indicate Moreno overcorrected to get the truck back on the road, sending it into a center median which caused the truck to flip end-over-end several times.

Moreno died at the scene of the accident.

Moreno, his family, and his constituents are in my prayers.

Moreno's passengers, State Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, and Monica Pinon, chief of staff for State Rep. Joseph Pickett of El Paso, were treated for injuries at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin. Anchia's injuries were minor and he was released, but Pinon suffered broken bones and was undergoing surgery this morning, officials said.

Anchia suffered an ankle injury and was returning to Dallas today.

Anchia was seated in the front passenger's seat, Pinon in the truck's back seat. All three were wearing seat belts.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery for both Anchia and Pinon.

|| Greg, 07:14 PM || Permalink || Comments

Blair Won – But Support Weak

Does Tony Blair even have a mandate? Given the figures put forth in this article, I would have to say that the answer is “No.”

Labour received only 36.6 per cent of the vote, and with the turnout at just over 60 per cent, this meant barely 22 per cent of eligible voters cast a Labour ballot.

"This shows our voting system is bust," society spokesman Ken Ritchie said.
"It's quite absurd that a party with little more than a third of the votes should receive around 55 per cent of the seats and therefore be able to out-vote parties representing nearly two voters out of three."

Never has the case for electoral reform in Britain been so strong. The electoral boundaries are distorted, with the smallest constituency, Scotland's Western Isles, having only 21,900 registered voters while the largest, the Isle of Wight, has 106,300.

The Liberal Democrats were the worst-hit by the flawed voting system, which gave them only about 60 seats, despite the party achieving 22.4 per cent of the vote. The Tories, with 32.9 per cent, got three times as many seats, and six times as many went to Labour with 36.6 per cent.

So it isn’t just the drastic reduction in Labour seats that we need to be looking at – it is also the small percentage of the vote won by Labour and the disproportionate representation that brought the party. The question then remains – will Blair be able to maintain support within his own party for the length of the current term, or will he be replaced as PM? And if the Labour Party should be unable (due to local elections or defections) to maintain a majority, will the US find a Conservative Party nearly as in sync with the GOP as it did during the halcyon days of the 1980s when Lady Thatcher ruled the roost?

|| Greg, 07:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

Geeks After My Own Heart

Don’t you love it when some geeks get a neat idea into their head and run with it?

Suppose it is the future - maybe a thousand years from now. There is no static cling, diapers change themselves, and everyone who is anyone summers on Mars.

"The odds of a time traveler showing up are between one in a million and one in a trillion," says Amal Dorai, who conceived the convention.

What's more, it is possible to travel back in time, to any place, any era. Where would people go? Would they zoom to a 2005 Saturday night for chips and burgers in a college courtyard, eager to schmooze with computer science majors possessing way too many brain cells?

Why not, say some students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have organized what they call the first convention for time travelers.

Actually, they contend that theirs is the only time traveler convention the world needs, because people from the future can travel to it anytime they want.

"I would hope they would come with the idea of showing us that time travel is possible," said Amal Dorai, 22, the graduate student who thought up the convention, which is to be this Saturday on the M.I.T. campus. "Maybe they could leave something with us. It is possible they might look slightly different, the shape of the head, the body proportions.

The event is potluck and alcohol-free - present-day humans are bringing things like brownies. But Mr. Dorai's Web site asks that future-folk bring something to prove they are really ahead of our time: "Things like a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would be particularly convincing as well as greatly appreciated."

I love the notion that there need be only one, as time travelers can always get there from any other point in the future. It reeks of the sort of cleverness that Douglas Adams showed in The Restaurant At the End Of The Universe.

And I love this explanation of why folks should come out for the party.

"If you can just give up a Saturday night, there's a very small chance at it being the biggest event in human history," he said.

Well, it certainly beats the reason for attending the annual St. Flatulus Day party back when I was in the seminary.

» The Education Wonks links with: The Carnival Of Education: Week 14

|| Greg, 07:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

I Would Have Turned A Blind Eye

Every rule has to admit that there are situations that are exceptions. Such exceptions often are tacit rather than written down. Shouldn’t common sense have let there be one here?

A high school student was suspended for 10 days for refusing to end a mobile phone call with his mother, a soldier serving in Iraq, school officials said.

The 10-day suspension was issued because Kevin Francois was "defiant and disorderly" and was imposed in lieu of an arrest, Spencer High School assistant principal Alfred Parham said.

The confrontation Wednesday began after the 17-year-old junior got a call at lunchtime from his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion.

Mobile phones are allowed on campus but may not be used during school hours.

When a teacher told him to hang up, he refused. He said he told the teacher, "This is my mom in Iraq. I'm not about to hang up on my mom."

The word “Iraq” would have led me to turn a blind eye – and I would have been supported by every administrator on my campus. We all banded together a couple of years ago to look out for one of our boys when his mom, dad, and older brother all deployed at the same time. I know for a fact that he had the home and cell phone numbers of at least a half dozen teachers in his wallet, as well as personal email addresses. He had "walk-in" privileges at the principal's office, something that we teachers don't have. I somehow doubt that Kevin has been afforded any such consideration, despite the fact that his mother is his only living parent.

What I'm saying is that I wish this school had shown a bit more concern about this student's psychological and emotional well-being.

But then again, I may be biased.

After all, my dad was a Navy officer who we once figured was gone for six of my first 12 years, including multiple tours in Vietnam, so I can really identify with this boy.

Other takes on this story -- Michelle Malkin, Zero Intelligence, Outside The Beltway, Cam Edwards.

|| Greg, 07:08 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments

Of Course They Would Pick A Fellow Traveler

The Chinese Communists have picked Pat Oliphant be the first American political to regularly appear in a Chinese newspaper.

Oliphant, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967, is expected to begin appearing in The Beijing Youth Daily within the next month, Universal said.

The message will be that "this is the way you should talk to your leaders and about your leaders," Oliphant said. "The way leaders should be criticized."

Beijing Youth Daily, with a circulation of 600,000, is the second-largest newspaper in China's capital. In December it became the first state media outfit to sell shares to foreign investors.

"We are pleased that we could ... be part of this historic movement toward a greater freedom of expression in China," said John McMeel, chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal, the parent company of Universal Press.

The newspaper, founded in 1955, is controlled by the Communist Youth League. While the government's grip on the media appears to be loosening, the Youth Daily still must observe official censorship rules.

Want to bet he was chosen because he is among the most anti-US editorial cartoonists who originate from this country? The Chinese people will get to see that “even the Americans think the American government is evil.”

No, the real sign of a loosening of press freedom is when the paper starts printing daily editorials and columns from the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

|| Greg, 06:41 PM || Permalink || Comments

Teacher Fired For Violating District Grading Policy And Insubordination

Now I chose that title very deliberately. That isn’t the way the story is being presented in the media, or being argued by the teacher and his lawyers. But when one cuts through all the rhetoric, histrionics, and outcry, that is what this story comes down to.

A Gwinnett County teacher was fired early Friday after refusing to raise a student athlete's grade he lowered because the student appeared to be sleeping in class.

The Gwinnett County School Board voted 4-1 early Friday _ after a marathon Thursday night meeting _ to fire Dacula High School science teacher Larry Neace, said school system spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

Neace left the building after the ruling and would not comment.
His lawyers said they planned to appeal the dismissal to the State Board of Education within 30 days.

Now that sounds pretty damning, doesn’t it. It certainly has all the right villains – student athlete, building administrators, school board members – arrayed against one poor defenseless teacher who is trying to stand up for excellence in education. Unfortunately, that isn’t what I see going on here. What I see is a teacher using a poor educational practice in direct contravention of district policy, and then engaging in insubordination when directed to conform his grading and classroom management practices to district policy.

Neace, who has taught at Dacula High for 23 years, was removed from class after he refused to raise the grade he had given a football player on an overnight assignment. Neace said he cut the student's perfect grade in half because he thought the student had fallen asleep at his desk the day the assignment was made.

School officials said they gave Neace a chance to restore the football player's grade. When he refused, they sent him home. He has not been allowed back at school since April 14, when he was told he could resign or face being fired.

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks recommended to the board that Neace be fired.
"He cannot have a policy that supersedes board policy," Wilbanks said. "He had no right to do that."

Neace said he had a practice of reducing the grades of students who waste time or sleep in class. His course syllabus warns that wasting class time can "earn a zero for a student on assignments or labs."

No administrators had previously complained about the practice, which he adopted more than a decade ago, Neace said.

Let’s look at what happened. You had a kid who may or may not have fallen asleep in class on Wednesday (a pet peeve of mine that earns kids a d-hall with me the following afternoon, I might add) being penalized on a homework assignment that was not required to be completed or turned in until Thursday morning (I’m speculating on the days of the week to make the point). The student completed the assignment within the allotted time, and did it well – but was given a failing grade instead of the grade he earned. That isn’t reasonable, and it violates district policy. The superintendent has the matter exactly correct when he says that teachers do not get to override board policies with which they disagree.

Nease says he has done this for years. What that means is that he has been lucky. No one has complained that he has been dealing with disciplinary matters by lowering grades. Someone who knew what was allowed finally complained, and the administration became aware what the teacher was doing. When they attempted to enforce district policy, the teacher refused to comply with a legitimate and legal directive. That is insubordination. Case closed – fire him.

The fact that we are dealing with a football player is essentially irrelevant to the issue. The Board says that such grade penalties are forbidden. Neace could have given a detention, referred the student to the office, called the parents, or even called the coach (something athletes at my school seek to avoid at all costs). Instead he decided to apply a penalty that is forbidden to he, and he got slapped down when the parents complained about the violation. When it comes right down to it, Larry Neace is the guy who thinks he is above the rules, not the student athlete and his parents.

Let's look at some of the grading policies in my district. By Board policy, the grading scale is set, the percentage weight given to test and non-test assignements is set, and grades cannot be docked for behavior that doesn't involve academic dishonesty. Under Texas law, no one other than me can change a grade I assign without me signing off on it -- unless it can be documented that I have assigned a grade in violation of School District policy or state or federal law, in which case the superintendant or his designee (the building principal) can make the change if I refuse. That law preserves the integrity of my grades, but prevents me from being arbitrary and capricious in my grading.

For those of you who work in private industry, especially if you own a business, look at the situation objectively. What happens to employees who violate management policies and, when ordered to follow them, refuse to do so and claim management is unreasonable? They get fired, and it is rare that such terminations ever become an issue.

Do I have a concern here? Sure I do – I’d love to know why the administration didn’t know that Neace was applying a penalty that was forbidden under Board policy. That needs to be looked at by the Board. But the belated decision to make a teacher comply with the same rules that apply to every other teacher in the district is not a problem in my book.

Others, though, have a variety of views on the case, including Zero Intelligence, The Force Arena, Palm Tree Pundit, Ramblings' Journal, Michelle Malkin and Winfield Myers.

» BLATHER REVIEW links with: "Support this Public school Teacher"? Uh... No.
» basil's blog links with: Breakfast: 5/9/2005

|| Greg, 06:24 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

May 05, 2005

Scalia Blasts 'Living Constitution' Theory

Besides teaching World History to high Schoolers, i also teach a college level American Government class as part of a paralegal training program. One of the issues that we often get into at great length is the notion of whetehr the Constitution is a static or a dynamic document. Students often start out with the position that the Constitution is a living document -- until I ask them how many would accept the notion that their mortgage ageement was a living document that the bank could decide had "grown over time." Suddenly, I find myself in a room full of originalists.

Justice Antonin Scalia spoke at Texas A & M today on the Constitution and the merits of originalism over "living document" jurisprudence. Perhaps the most eloquent advocate of the originalist school, Scalia spoke forefully about the need to be bound by the meaning ascribed to the text by the Founders.

Scalia, who has been on the court since 1986, described himself as an "originalist," someone who thinks the Constitution means the same thing now as when it was first drafted.

Calling the idea of the living Constitution "terribly seductive" for judges, Scalia said originalism is the "only game in town."

"You either tell your judges to be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution or you evolve our Constitution the way you think is best," he said. "That is not a road that has a happy ending."

An unhappy road indeed, one on which there is no map and the landscape changes seemingly at random. We have seen all too many such cases over the last several years, notably the Lawrence and Simmons cases. Of most concern is that one can never know whose vision of the proper Constitutional landscape will be imagined on to such an evolving map.

Scalia also noted the danger inherrant in the notion that judicial appointees should be "moderate."

"We want a moderate judge. What in the world is a moderate judge?" he said. "What is a moderate interpretation of the Constitution? Halfway between what it really says and what you'd like it to say?"

Perhaps one could say that moderation in the pursuit of constitutional change is no virtue, and extremism in the defense of original intent is no vice.

|| Greg, 09:50 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

Thatcher Backs Bolton

Lady Thatcher's endorsement is good enough for me.

In a letter to Bolton made available to reporters on Thursday, Thatcher praised his candor and intellect and said she could not imagine anyone better suited for the job.

Bolton's nomination has been dogged by allegations that he bullied State Department subordinates and tried to pressure analysts to write reports that conform to his hard-line views.

Thatcher, nicknamed the "Iron Lady," told Bolton "how strongly" she supported him for the job, saying "on the basis of our years of friendship, I know from experience the great qualities you will bring to that demanding post."

"To combine, as you do, clarity of thought, courtesy of expression and an unshakable commitment to justice is rare in any walk of life. But it is particularly so in international affairs," Thatcher said.

"A capacity for straight talking rather than peddling half-truths is a strength and not a disadvantage in diplomacy," she added.

"Those same qualities are also required for any serious reform of the United Nations ... I cannot imagine anyone better fitted to undertake these tasks than you," she said, signing her letter "All good wishes, yours ever, Margaret."

Lady Thatcher, Presidnet Reagan, and Pope John Paul the Great brought down Communism. I defer to the wisdom of the last of those three giants on this nomination as UN Ambassador.

|| Greg, 09:12 PM || Permalink || Comments

Russia's Denial Of History

There are some matters that are so clearly established inhistory that their denial is patently absurd. One of those is the historical fact that the Soviet Union illegally occupied and annexed the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1940, and then again following World War II.

Russia has denied it illegally annexed the Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in 1940.

It has also rejected demands to admit illegally occupying the three countries at the end of World War II.

A Kremlin spokesman said Soviet troops were deployed with the agreement of the Baltic governments of the time.

Correspondents say the annexation issue has provoked a major diplomatic row as Russia prepares to host celebrations to mark the end of World War II in Europe.

Soviet authority was established in the Baltics in 1940.

German forces then held the states from 1941 until the Soviet army returned in 1945.

Russia has made defiant remarks on the issue of the occupation.

"There was no occupation. There were agreements at the time with the legitimately elected authorities in the Baltic countries," the Kremlin's European affairs chief Sergei Yastrzhembsky said on Thursday.

I guess i shouldn't be surprised by this stubborn refusal of the Putin government to concede the error of Russia's ways at the time of the Second World War. After all, Putin is a former KGB official and an admirer of Stalin, who has been undergoing something of a rehabilitation recently.

|| Greg, 07:48 PM || Permalink

But Is It Posted?

You've got to love this police chief's twist on the state's criminal trespass law.

A small-town police chief used a criminal trespassing charge to try to turn back one illegal immigrant, saying he was frustrated that lax federal enforcement means "if you make it past the border patrol, you're free and clear."

New Ipswich Police Chief W. Garrett Chamberlain charged a Mexican citizen with criminal trespassing _ a violation comparable to a traffic ticket _ on April 15 after immigration officials refused to take him into custody.

Jorge Ramirez, 21, was having trouble with his sport utility vehicle and had pulled along a state road. When a police officer asked for identification, Ramirez admitted he was living in the United States illegally, working for a construction company.

Ramirez pleaded guilty to the trespassing charge as well as operating a vehicle without a valid license. He agreed to report to immigration authorities by Friday.

Chief Chamberlain says he was simply fed up with the fact that once a border jumper got across from the border, he or she is essentially "free and clear". As a result, he decided to take action.

Of course, the folks in charge of border enforement are upset that they are being made to do their jobs.

Paula Grenier, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, criticized the tactic.

"The police chief is choosing to use this alien to grandstand about illegal immigration," she said. "We prioritize our investigations on criminals and criminal networks that pose a threat."

Uh, Ms. Grenier. Ill concede that this was probably not someone who would have made your top 10,000 list of wanted border jumpers. However, once the guy was in custody it would not have required any further investigation on your agencey's part to DRIVE YOUR ASS to New Ipswich to take the guy into custody. That, however, seems to be a task that put a strain on your priorities, so now you are whining about the fact that Ramirez is coming to you to be processed under a court order.. I bet if we eliminated a spokeswoman slot, there would be an actual working agent to handle the matter. Please clear your desk and pack up your office so that the real work of ICE (which is not generating press releases) can be done.

|| Greg, 07:27 PM || Permalink

Happy "Real Mexicans Don't Care" Day

The Battle of Puebla was slightly important when it happened. In Mexico today, it is still a national holiday -- but has roughly the significance of Flag Day here in the United States. But for some reason, the date -- May 5 AKA Cinco de Mayo -- is treated like it is the most significant day in Mexican history.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo passes virtually without fanfare — nothing near the events for its Independence Day.

Most of the festivities take place in Mexico City and all over Puebla state, where the battle celebrated that day took place.

Cinco de Mayo honors the 1862 Battle of Puebla, where Mexican forces overcame better-equipped French forces who invaded the country demanding repayment of loans from the 1846-48 Mexican-American War.

In the United States, however, today is a day of merriment: full-blown celebrations for Anglos, Mexican-Americans and anyone else who wants to partake in the food, music and dance.

"Nowhere is Cinco de Mayo celebrated nearly as enthusiastically as it is in the U.S.," barks a Mexico Tourism Board news release.

So I'm going to celebrate it like most Mexicans -- by ignoring it completely.

|| Greg, 05:11 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

Spying For Israel?

If these charges prove true, I hope that Lawrence Frankiln and his handlers are dealt with harshly.

A Pentagon policy analyst, under investigation for passing U.S. secrets to Israel, was arrested Wednesday and charged with disclosing classified information about U.S. troops in Iraq to two former members of an influential pro-Israel lobbying group, the Justice Department said.

A criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday against Lawrence Franklin, 58, a specialist on Iran and a Defense Department employee since 1979, also alleges that he made unauthorized disclosures to a "foreign official" and to unidentified members of the media.

Franklin also was charged with storing dozens of other classified documents — with dates spanning his three decades of government service — at his home in West Virginia without previous approval. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, if convicted.

The charges against Franklin are the first stemming from a more than two-year FBI investigation that has raised questions about U.S. relations with a long-standing ally and the activities of one of the most influential lobby groups in Washington.

While I may support Israel's existance and acknowledge her importance as an ally, I will not excuse the betrayal of our country by those seeking to assist her. I join Michelle Malkin in her challenge to other conservatives to be as tough on Franklin as they were on Sandy Berger.

|| Greg, 04:36 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

May 04, 2005

Coulter Hassled, Interrupted, Insulted -- But She's The Extremist.

I'm not going to get into the rude behavior of the folks who protested Ann Coulter last night in Austin. I'm not going to point out that fart noises, gestures of mastubation, nise-makers, and obscene questions are beyond the bounds of civility in a polite society. I won't even argue that such folks deserve to be removed from the university community for antics which disgraced the school, showing them unfit for higher education.

No, I want to focus on the bias of The Daily Texan in reporting on the speech and the opponents of freedom who disrupted it.

First, there was the news story.

Incessant heckling and shouting culminated in an arrest Tuesday night during a speech by Ann Coulter, an extreme right-wing pundit, at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

Shouts became so pervasive during the question-and-answer session that Coulter informed the organizers she would no longer take questions if the hecklers were not silenced. For a time, the shouts were considerably lessened, until the issue of gay marriage was broached.

Coulter said she supported the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman on the basis that a good woman civilizes and inspires a man to strive for something better, leading to a question that was met with a stunned silence

Then there was the opinion column.

To be honest, I was surprised there weren't more protesters.

When the auditorium filled up to see Ann Coulter last night, I only saw about 15 people in the back with signs. They looked like the usual protest crowd. Earth tones, shaggy hair, somber faces, folks who have their own wipe-board signs to adapt for every situation.

I guess for a conventional extremist like Ann Coulter there is no good rallying point for the local upstarts. She does not particularly irritate any specific campus community.

She just generally rubs all liberals the wrong way. Yet, one can always rely on that most reliable of protest groups, the one-size-fits all International Socialist Organization.

Who gets labeled in politically unflattering terms? Is it the folks who engage in low-grade terrorism to prevent free speech in a public place? Or is it their victim?

It is, of course, An Coulter, not the folks who deserve to be labeled as totalitarians-in-training for their attempt at speech suppression.

Maybe this is an issue that needs to be examined by the UT administration -- the failure of the journalism department to teach proper journalistic standards like fairness and balance, and the failure of the school paper to implement them.

UPDATE: For another overwrought view of AnnCoulter, visit here.

» Fresh Politics links with: The Counter Coulter

|| Greg, 03:48 PM || Permalink

Prayers For Evelyn Roberts

I spent the morning running my darling wife around to doctors and x-rays after she took a nasty spill this morning. While we are still waiting for results, we're pretty confident that she will be quickly on the mend. Given her health issues, though, I cannot help but be concerned that one day she will seriously hurt. That is why this story touches me in a special way, and chills me to the bone.

Evelyn Roberts, the 88-year-old wife of evangelist Oral Roberts, injured her head in a fall and was comatose today at a California hospital.

Roberts, who lives with her husband in California, fell en route to a dental appointment Tuesday and struck her head on the ground, said Jeremy Burton, spokesman for Tulsa-based Oral Roberts University.

She briefly lost consciousness after the fall and was taken to a hospital where tests revealed internal bleeding, Burton said. She fell into a coma a short time later.

"The Roberts family is asking the public to pray for Evelyn and their family," Burton said.

I know some may argue about Oral Roberts' theology and his politics. My response is that all of that is simply irrelevant. At a time like this, all of those things need to be set aside out of love for fellow human beings who are scared and hurting.

May God's will be done.

UPDATE: Mrs. Roberts passed away Wednesday evening. May God be mercful to her as she enters his Kingdom, and may he shower the Roberts family with comfort at this time of loss.

» Chris Busch links with: Tribute to Evelyn Roberts

|| Greg, 03:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments

When In Doubt -- Scream Racism

It is well known that the Democrat head of Broward County Elections, Miriam Oliphant, was an incompetent boob. She and her half-assed staff screwed up multiple elections, until she was removed by Governor Jeb Bush, who appointed a capable relacement. Now Oliphant is suing Bush, claiming that she was fired because she was a black female.

Former Broward County elections supervisor Miriam Oliphant said Wednesday she will sue Gov. Jeb Bush in federal court, claiming that race was a factor his decision to remove her from office amid allegations of negligence and a botched 2002 primary.

"My civil rights have been violated and my constitutional rights have been violated by the state of Florida," Oliphant said.

Oliphant and her attorney, Ellis Rubin, announced the lawsuit one day after the state Senate voted 32-7 along racial lines to uphold Bush's 2003 decision to suspend Oliphant, who is black. Oliphant's supporters in the Senate argued that she was singled out even though white election supervisors in other counties also made mistakes in the 2002 election.

"Yes, there are racial overtones to this whole matter and we intend to bring those before a federal judge," Rubin told reporters. He said the lawsuit would seek millions of dollars in damages but did not specify an exact amount.

Oh, by the way, the replacement appointed by the governor was former school administrator Brenda Snipes, a black female Democrat who defeated Oliphant and several other candidates in the 2004 election.

Hey, I've got it -- she needs to sue the voters of Broward County as well!

|| Greg, 03:04 PM || Permalink || Comments

Dems To Embrace Minority Party Status

Let's see. Every poll shows the Americna public opposed to it. Every vote of the people on the matter has brought about a ban on it. But a third state Democrat party is about to embrace homosexual marriage.

The state Democratic Party plans to endorse same-sex marriage next week, just days before the first anniversary of legal gay weddings in Massachusetts, the party's chairman said.

The party's 3,000 delegates will gather at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell on May 14 to add the endorsement to its platform, state chairman Philip Johnston told The Boston Globe.
``I don't anticipate any serious debate about it,'' he said. ``I think most delegates will support it. In this state, the more people get used to the idea, the more support there is.''

Gay weddings began in Massachusetts last May 17, making it the first state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples and sparking a national backlash.

Voters in 11 states have since approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, bringing the number of states with such bans to 18. In addition, 24 states have enacted legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Now this is the state that gives us John Kerry Ted kennedy, and Barney Frank -- with Kerry being the most conservative of the three -- so I'm not surprised to see the party proclaiming "We're outside the mainstream of American values!" I know this will be one more albatross around the neck of John Kerry in 2008, and will have to be dealt with by every Democrat running for president that year.

|| Greg, 02:18 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments

May 03, 2005

Free Testacles!

The friendly folks at Fresh Politics share their take on this bit from National Review.

College administrators have been enthusiastic supporters Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues and schools across the nation celebrate “V-Day” (short for Vagina Day) every year. But when the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island rained on the celebrations of V-Day by inaugurating Penis Day and staging a satire called The Penis Monologues, the official reaction was horror. Two participating students, Monique Stuart and Andy Mainiero, have just received sharp letters of reprimand and have been placed on probation by the Office of Judicial Affairs. The costume of the P-Day “mascot” — a friendly looking “penis” named Testaclese, has been confiscated and is under lock and key in the office of the assistant dean of student affairs, John King.

You have got to read about the over-reaction of the administration to this satire by the ever-outrageous Roger Williams University College Republicans. The free speech implications here are clear, given the officially sponsored antics of the Vagina Warriors who put on The Vagina Monologues.

And remember -- unlike the last censorship case I wrote on involving the play, this involves college students on a college campus.

I'm particularly amused by the administrator who thought that Testacles was a giant mushroom.

UPDATE: For additional commentary, visit Joanne Jacobs, Number 2 Pencil, The Education Wonks, and Moonbat Central.

UPDATE 2: Here is a really funny take on the play and the story.

|| Greg, 08:35 PM || Permalink || Comments

Historical Ignorance Abounds

One reality that depresses this history teacher is that too many Americans do not understand the fundamental evils that were Nazism and fascism. Take these little cretins from Middlebury College.

The controversy began when the college announced on March 10 that Mr. Giuliani had been selected as the commencement speaker because "of his actions on 9/11," said Mr. Benoit.

The rest of the episode goes like this: Ben Gore, a senior Middlebury student from Maryland, wrote an opinion piece, "Giuliani Is a Punk, Un-invite Him," that assailed the former mayor's legacy and referred to him as a "racist," which many students find "morally reprehensible." Though Mr. Gore wrote that Mr. Giuliani was "coming to be considered a fascist," before Sept. 11, he did not take the leap of comparing Mr. Giuliani to Hitler. That was left to the retouched photo that ran next to the column [run at the direction of editor Andrea Gissing], which depicted Mr. Giuliani with a Hitler-style haircut and mustache giving a Nazi salute.

I don’t suppose that either of these historically illiterate individuals would care to offer examples that actually constitute fascist or Nazi tendencies on the part of Mayor Giuliani. You know, just one or two things that might justify identifying him with two of the most malignant ideologies that scarred the twentieth century. I suggest that they would be unable to tell us what the defining characteristics of those two movements might be, much less frame a coherent argument as to how the former mayor of our nation’s largest city fit within either. And I do not say that as a Rudy fan, because I have my own criticisms of the man.

No, the problem that exists today is that there is a segment of the American population that has decided that the words “Nazi” and “fascist” mean “people who dare to disagree with my political ideology.” Thus clearing the streets of aggressive panhandlers and squeegee-men is no different than the industrialized genocide conducted at Auschwitz. Opposition to terrorism, in the eyes of such individuals, is no different than the brutal suppression of political dissent. The irony is that their abuse of such loaded historical terms is a form of McCarthyism and red-baiting, a practice which they would no doubt condemn if we were to label their left-wing ideology as Communist – the third malignant ideology of the twentieth century, and the one which caused the most damage.

|| Greg, 06:48 PM || Permalink || Comments

More Egyptian Archaeology

Isn’t Egyptology fun. It seems like there is always something new and interesting to find when you deal with a civilization that spanned three millennia! Even though this is from a relatively late period of Egyptian history (I'm not sure if it is Ptolemaic or if it is slightly earlier, given the date in question) , it is still fascinating.

SAQQARA, Egypt (AP) - A superbly maintained 2,300-year-old mummy bearing a golden mask and covered in brightly colored images of gods and goddesses was unveiled Tuesday at Egypt's Saqqara Pyramids complex south of Cairo.

The unidentified mummy, from the 30th pharaonic dynasty, had been closed in a wooden sarcophagus and buried in sand at the bottom of a 20-foot shaft before being discovered recently by an Egyptian-led archaeological team.

"We have revealed what may be the most beautiful mummy ever found in Egypt," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said as he helped excavators remove the sarcophagus' lid to show off the find.

Hawass said experts will use CT scanning technology within the next week to reveal more details about the ancient Egyptian's identity and he had lived and died.

Afterward, the mummy will be displayed at Saqqara's museum of Imhotep, the famed architect who designed the Stepped Pyramid - Egypt's oldest.

The mummy, found two months ago, was covered from head to toe in brightly colored cartonage burial material depicting a range of graphic scenes, including the Goddess Maat of balance and truth who was shown with outstretched arms that took the shape of feathered wings.

Also shown were the four children of the falcon-headed god, Horus, and the rituals and processes to mummify the person, who Hawass believed must have been wealthy considering his burial location and fine gold used for the mummy's mask.

"The artists who made this mummy more than 2,000 years ago demonstrated the brilliance of the ancient Egyptians by using stunning colors and depicting his face so graphically," Hawass said.

The mummy had been buried within the necropolis of King Teti, a funerary area containing scores of burial chambers, false doors that ancient Egyptians said the souls of the dead would use to leave their tombs, and temples.

The necropolis is built alongside the collapsed pyramid of Teti, who ruled during ancient Egypt's 6th dynasty, more than 4,300 years ago. Hawass said a "lost" pyramid had been located in the Saqqara area and would be uncovered after two months.

Saqqara, located about 12 miles south of Cairo, is one of Egypt's most popular tourist sites and hosts a collection of temples, tombs and funerary complexes.

It is stuff like this that makes me long for a summer on a dig in Egypt.

|| Greg, 06:30 PM || Permalink || Comments

David Brooks Doesn’t Have A Clue

I’m positively dumbfounded by the naiveté displayed by the ordinarily rational columnist for the New York Times

Bill Frist should have taken the deal.

Last week, the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, made an offer to head off a nuclear exchange over judicial nominations. Reid offered to allow votes on a few of the judges stuck in limbo if the Republicans would withdraw a few of the others.

But there was another part of the offer that hasn't been publicized. I've been reliably informed that Reid also vowed to prevent a filibuster on the next Supreme Court nominee. Reid said that if liberals tried to filibuster President Bush's pick, he'd come up with five or six Democratic votes to help Republicans close off debate. In other words, barring a scandal or some other exceptional circumstance, Reid would enable Bush's nominee to get a vote and probably be confirmed.

Reid couldn't put this offer in writing because it would outrage liberal interest groups. Frist said he'd think about it, but so far he's let it drop — even though clearing the way for a Supreme Court pick is one of the GOP goals in this dispute.

First, the reason that Reid wouldn’t put the agreement in writing is that he would never follow through with it. The Democrats will try to prevent any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court – especially if it is a female or minority nominee.

Second, Reid wanted to block some of the most qualified nominees – Brown, Owen, and Pryor – who would be likely future Supreme Court picks. Why should Frist agree to hamstring the current president or his successor by agreeing to keep these judges off the bench when doing so means conceding to the unconstitutional acts of the Senate Democrats.

Third, establishing the principle that the minority gets to determine what judges are acceptable in the face of majority support is antithetical to the will of the people. The Democrats have not come out on top in a national election since 1996, and haven’t controlled Congress since 1994. They have been rejected in every election since then. For the party supported by the people to surrender to those opposed to the people’s will would be a rank betrayal of the electorate.

No, don’t compromise – go nuclear.

|| Greg, 06:28 PM || Permalink || Comments

Watcher's 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.

|| Greg, 05:08 AM || Permalink || Comments

May 02, 2005

The Case For Justice Janice Rogers Brown

Janice Rogers Brown was born the daughter of sharecroppers in the segregated South. She has risen to the top of her profession, earning the respect of supporters and (most) opponents along the way. Yet her nomination remains bottled up in the Senate, as Democrats are afraid to allow a vote on a candidate supported by the majority of Senators.

What is it in her judicial philosophy that they fear? It would appear to be her staunch defense of freedom.

Let’s examine some of her opinions. There is her dissent in San Remo Hotel vs. San Francisco (2002).

Consider her dissent in San Remo Hotel vs. San Francisco (2002), a case that upheld the extortionate fee that San Francisco charges owners of small residential hotels if they want to rent rooms to tourists instead of housing the homeless. Brown noted that these mostly mom-and-pop businesses are "a relatively powerless group" that have been arbitrarily singled out for social- welfare duty. The Fifth Amendment, she observed, prohibits government from forcing "some people alone to bear public burdens which, in all fairness and justice, should be borne by the public as a whole."

She reminded her colleagues that "the free use of private property is just as important as ... speech, the press, or the free exercise of religion."

Notice, she is defending the right of individuals to control the use of their property free of unreasonable government interference. That view is contained in the US Constitution itself, and is only controversial if one accepts the socialist premise that the government has the ultimate right to determine the best use of your property. Her view is the same as that espoused by Madison, Jefferson, and the rest of the founders.

Of course, perhaps they object to People vs. McKay (2002), in which Justice Brown noted that the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure is meaningless if a police officer can use as a pretext trivial offenses that are based less on public safety than on the color of the arrested individual’s skin.

Her libertarian impulse was displayed in her dissent in People vs. McKay (2002), concerning a bicyclist, riding against traffic, who was pulled over by police. When the cyclist failed to produce identification, he was arrested and searched. The court's decision upholding this action, Brown concluded, stretched Fourth Amendment protections to the breaking point. "If full custodial arrest is authorized for trivial offenses, the power to search should be constrained," she wrote.

She also saw a larger issue, involving race: "I do not know Mr. McKay's ethnic background. One thing I would bet on: he was not riding his bike a few doors down from his home in Bel Air, or Brentwood, or Rancho Palos Verdes -- places where no resident would be arrested for riding the 'wrong way' on a bicycle whether he had his driver's license or not. Well ... it would not get anyone arrested unless he looked like he did not belong in the neighborhood."

Or maybe it is her controlling opinion in Hi-Voltage Wireworks vs. San Jose (2000) that frightens her detractors, holding as it does that the underlying principle of civil-rights law is equality of opportunity for individuals, not equality of result for different groups.

Brown's belief that no one should be treated less equally because of skin color is recorded most strongly in Hi-Voltage Wireworks vs. San Jose, a 2000 case that enforced Proposition 209, the measure banning race and sex favoritism by state and local government. She wrote the controlling opinion striking down a public-works program that gave preferential treatment based on race. She quoted the late Yale Law School Professor Alexander Bickel: "[D]iscrimination on the basis of race is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, inherently wrong, and destructive of democratic society." Prop. 209, Brown wrote, embodies the civil-rights principle: "equal opportunity for all individuals," not "entitlement based on group representation."

If one reads these opinions fairly, it is impossible to see anything other than a judge who is faithful to her duty to uphold the Constitution of the United States. And maybe that is what the Left-Wing Extremists who control the Democrat Party fear. These forces are aware that their extreme philosophy is rejected by the majority of Americans, and that the route to enshrining their ideology in American law is through the decree of judges who will place those principles beyond the reach of the American people and their elected representatives by declaring them to be part of an ever evolving, changing and unknowable (except to liberal judges) Constitution that bears little resemblance to the document displayed in the National Archives. That makes the filibuster of Justice Brown’s nomination (and those of her fellow nominees) a supreme act of ideological arrogance that must be ended by the Senate majority at the earliest opportunity.

|| Greg, 05:08 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments

What Is The Compelling Government Interest Here?

Well, there seem to be no important issues for the California legislature to deal with this session. How can I tell? I think the introduction and debate of this proposed law is a pretty good indication.

California, home of the first company to offer made-to-order pet clones, would become the first state in the country to ban the sale of cloned and genetically engineered companion animals under proposed legislation. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, is driven by a philosophical position that custom-making pets isn't a worthy use of biotechnology. "There's no social benefit," Levine said. "Just because we can doesn't mean we should." The bill is scheduled to be heard Tuesday in Room 127 of the Capitol before the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions.

Now I can partially agree with Levine over this. I don’t see a great social benefit to cloning pets or engaging in genetic engineering of animals for pleasure. But the mere fact that there is no social benefit doesn’t mean that the state can or should ban an activity. After all, I don’t see any public benefit in driving a Hummer, voting Democrat or watching reruns of Seinfeld, but I oppose banning such them on the grounds that people have the right to make stupid choices. The same is true here. If I’ve got $50,000 to blow making a carbon copy of my adorable pound puppy, then it isn’t the business of the legislature to interfere.

|| Greg, 05:06 PM || Permalink

And Who Would These Elders Be?

So, pro-terrorist ex-Congressman Pete McCloskey (who urged Americans to vote for Kerry last November) and a group of “Republican elders” are trying to find a candidate to run against my congressman, Tom DeLay. They even met with a former primary opponent (DeLay beat him by a 4-to-1 margin) who ran as an independent last time around, finishing 3rd in a 4-way race (I believe he beat the Libertarian).

"Tom DeLay is an embarrassment to the Republican Party," said McCloskey, who represented Northern California from 1967 to 1983.

He met Sunday with Michael Fjetland, who was defeated by DeLay in Republican primaries in 2000 and 2002 and as an independent in the 2004 general election.

McCloskey is one of nine former congressmen who have formed an informal group he called the "revolt of the elders," to oppose congressmen who they think are guilty of ethics violations.

"Nobody can come into a Texas district and tell the voters who to support," McCloskey said.

But, he added, that just as DeLay raises money from outside the district, his opponents in the next election will also probably get national support.

Interestingly enough, the Chronicle article leaves out a crucial detail – the identity of these other eight “Republican elders” who are trying to determine who will represent me in Congress. It seems to me that it would be in the public interest for the Chronicle to tell us who they are, but doing so might interfere with their DeLay-bashing. And besides, if they were all identified it might allow readers to conclude that the so-called “Republican elders” are outside the mainstream of the GOP.

UPDATE: My friends over at Lone Star Times have a couple of great pieces on McCloskey and Fjetland. No word, though, on who the "Republican elders" are -- which would be of interest to this 22nd Congressional District GOP Precinct Chair.

» Mark A. Kilmer links with: Nick Lampson, Pete McCloskey, and "the Elders" vrs. Tom DeLay

|| Greg, 05:04 PM || Permalink || Comments

May 01, 2005

Italian Outrage!

American defense officials redacted elements of the "Sgrena Incident" investigation when it was released. Unfortunately, the PDF version of the report still contained the redacted text in hidden form, and the Italian newspapers are glad to tell you how to get it. The revealed material includes basic operational details and deployment information regarding American forces.

According to Slashdot, the following information has been put into the public domain by the Italian press.

* An itemization of IEDs and VBIEDs deployment techniques which have been most effective,

* An analysis of the tactical strengths and weaknesses of specific checkpoints along "Route Irish",

* Combat readiness assesment of the units and soldiers involved,

* A detailed description of how the checkpoint is laid out,

* Exact grid locations of various assets.

* Details of how checkpoint searches are set up and executed

* Details of how checkpoints are expected to deal with approaching vehicles, including threat assesment methods.

* A statistical analysis of "normal" traffic approaching the checkpoint.

* It names the soldiers involved and details the specific actions taken by those soldiers. It names the soldier who killed Calipari.

* It briefly describes U.S. Embassy procedures for transporting VIPs along Route Irish and in general.

* It details movement of U.S. and Italian Embassy personnel.

* It describes possible future procedures and configurations for checkpoints.

In other words, our putative Italian "allies" are all too willing to put into general circulation information that will make it easier for terrorists to conduct operations that could kill American military personnel and diplomats, Iraqi leaders and citizens, and foreign VIPs.

But I guess we shouldn't be surprised -- Old Europe's elite have always been against any action that brings freedom to oppressed people.

(Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin)

» Flopping Aces links with: Italian Idiots - Update XVII
» Blind Mind's Eye links with: Much ado about probably nothing
» Boney - Sostantivo Monodose links with: La rivincita dei Carabinieri

|| Greg, 03:09 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (8) || Comments

Turning Off "The Boss"

Well, I guess I'll be adding Bruce Springsteen to my personal boycott list.


Because of Springsteen's response to a shouted comment at his Glendale Arena concert in Phoenix, Arizona last night.

He ad-libbed a "That's right" after one audience member yelled "(Expletive) the president" at one point.

(Expletive) Springsteen!

That's right.

|| Greg, 02:37 PM || Permalink

"Matthew 4 Democrats"

I guess that even I am shocked by the cynicism displayed in this article.

God does not side with the Republicans, Sen. John Kerry said in a fiery speech last week, accusing Republican leaders of politicizing religion to further their agenda.

This week, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy quoted Jesus from the Bible. It was a rebuttal, he said, of Republicans' claims that Democrats are “against people of faith.�

And Rep. John Olver, an Amherst Democrat, said he's considered buying an “anthology of good biblical quotations,� which he'd use to neutralize Republicans' religious references.

Am I the only one who thinks that Oliver might do better to buy (and read) an actual BIBLE rather than an "anthology of good biblical quotations"?

And am I the only one put in mind of the Fourth Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew when Kennedy said that his ability to quote scripture is proof that Democrats are not "against people of faith"?

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" 7 Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Notice, please, that even the devil can quote Scripture. So, too, do these "Matthew 4 Democrats", if they think that it will further their agenda.

|| Greg, 12:25 PM || Permalink

One More Reason I Like Cornyn

I liked John Cornyn when he was on the Texas Supreme Court. I supported Cornyn when he ran for Attorney General here in Texas, and think he did a great job in that office. And I gladly campaigned for him during his Senate run in 2002, and have had no regrets since then. But now his website gives me one more reason to like Cornyn's style. It's the new Name That Speaker feature, which provides anti-filibuster quotes from a number of amnesiac Democrats.

[Cornyn spokesman Don] Stewart has built an arsenal of quotes culled from 13 years of congressional records showing Democrats speaking out against the filibuster, which the minority party uses to slow down actions of the majority.

In Cornyn's game, quotes are posted on his Web site (, and political Webheads guess who said them.

Stewart has about 60 quotes ready to go. The ones he used in the inaugural week were uttered by Sens. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara Boxer of California, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

Cornyn said the Web postings are "informative and use humor" to make a point.

So drop buy and view the best in Democrat arguments in favor of using the "constitutional option" to secure confirmation of judicial nominees supported by a majority of the US Senate.

|| Greg, 09:56 AM || Permalink || Comments

And The Frightening Part Is That He Said It Without Snickering Or Cracking A Grin

Can you believe this outrageous quote from has-been Democrat Mario Cuomo?

Cuomo, in the Democratic Party's weekly radio address, said Senate Republicans "are threatening to claim ownership of the Supreme Court and other federal courts, hoping to achieve political results on subjects like abortion, stem cells, the environment and civil rights that they cannot get from the proper political bodies."

Uh, Mario, that has been the strategy of the liberals for the last half century or more. When the people and the political branches oppose a liberal article of faith, get the judges to impose it as a matter of unalterable "constitutional law." How do you think we got the most liberal abortion laws on the face of the earth? How do you think homosexual marriage and civil unions got into place? Liberals used courts to get them all, because "they cannot get [them] from the proper political bocies" without judicial coercion.

|| Greg, 09:36 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments

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NAME: Greg
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