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September 30, 2005

Evacuation Hell

I’ve waited a week to write this piece. It has taken me this long to get enough perspective to say what I want to say, and to relate the stories in a way that I think does them justice. It has also taken me this long to get my life back in order so that I can really take the necessary time to do it right.

Let’s go back to last Wednesday, September 21. At 5:00 PM we got a reminder call from the city of Seabrook, telling us that our evacuation time was 6:00 PM. Well, we were ready to be on the road by 6:45, and so left our home to catch the evacuation rout to the area we planned to stay – Beltway 8 to Hardy Toll Road to I-45, and thence through Dallas-Fort Worth to Ardmore, Oklahoma. At 7:00 we got on the Beltway at Fairmont Parkway in Pasadena. It was then that Hell began.

By 10:30, we had traveled along the Beltway to I-10 – a grand total of 11 miles that would usually take about 12 minutes to drive. It didn’t get much better, as we spent the night talking about how we would rebuild our house (10 feet above sea level, 4 blocks from Galveston Bay) after the Category 5 storm sent a 25 foot storm surge into our neighborhood. I know that I cried as we talked about rebuilding our lives, and I think I saw a couple of tears in Paula’s eyes as well.

By 7:00 the next morning, we had only been able to creep a total of 45 miles to I-45 and Rayford Road, which is usually less than a 1 hour trip. We were sucking fumes, and there was not an open gas station in sight. When road service dispatched a tow truck to bring me gas, they had none – but the owner of the garage was kind enough to tell the driver to bring us in to the shop, where they had gas in storage tanks to use in generators. Those two gallons of gas that Paula and I were given were heaven-sent, and I would like to thank the wonderful folks from Milstead Automotive in Spring, TX for their kindness and generosity, especially since they would not even take money for the gas. That was the first act of true kindness and compassion that I encountered in what was shaping up to be a really lousy day.

Back on the road by 8:00 AM on Thursday, it seemed to me that we might get lucky and find gas – but my hopes were pretty dim. But around 11:00, having traveled about another 10 miles, we happened upon a Sam’s Club with full gas tanks, so we were set.

And then the unthinkable happened. At 2:10 PM, just past the Outlet Mall in Conroe, TX (about 65 miles from where we got on the Beltway 19 hours before) we felt a jolt from behind. A Dodge Ram pickup had hit my new car (a Suzuki Forenza) from behind. The driver not only did not stop, but he and his girlfriend/wife smiled and waved at us as they pulled around us into an open spot in the next lane and drove off. Paula, with her medical history, was transported to the hospital in Conroe for treatment in the ER, and was released about 4:45 PM. At that point, aching and exhausted, I called one of my colleagues who lives in Conroe and asked for a place to stay the night. Ann, her husband Doug, and her daughters treated us so very kindly that evening, and sent us on the way the next morning with directions that got us away from I-45 and over to Highway 6, through Bryan-College Station, and on to I-35 at Waco.

The rest of the trip was relatively easy. We met some great folks at the volunteer fire department in Marlin, TX, where the Red Cross and the fire department had set up a rest stop for evacuees. When we left, they were trying to find shelter for an extended family of about 40 who were traveling together, as well as helping them get some medication that had run out.

At last we reached the Super 8 in Ardmore, which was the closest place we could find that would let us bring our dog, Carmie, with us. Upon arrival, we found that the manager had not only held our room for us, but had moved us into a room that would be better for Paula after the accident. We watched the storm make landfall, and were happy to see coverage from Nassau Bay (Fox News) and Baytown (MSNBC) that confirmed that the storm would not do great damage to our home.

We stayed through the weekend and drove home Monday. We had to do a lot of “on the fly” navigation to make sure that we were not caught in traffic, and made it home in about 9 or 10 hours.

Would I evacuate again? Yeah, I would. I’d prefer to take the back roads rather than follow the recommended evacuation routes, but I know I cannot stay in my house when the big one is expected to come blowing. I might even be willing to go as far as Oklahoma again – but I will probably want to make my reservations sooner so that I don’t have to.

My evaluation of the state and local response is mixed. I think the plan worked well on the drawing board, but had several flaws, many of which have been commented upon since the evacuation. I do, however, want to comment on them to make it part of the public record here on the blogosphere.

First, I believe the contraflow lanes should have been opened at the same time the evacuation began – and certainly no later than Wednesday night, when the evacuation was in full swing. Had this been done at 8:00 PM on Wednesday rather than noon on Thursday, much of the congestion would have cleared up during the overnight hours.

Second, there needed to be more gas available readily available. One of the most infuriating things I heard on the radio was Governor Perry’s comment that “some people obviously did not follow my directions” to make sure their gas tank was full. I head this some 16 hours into my trip, having traveled no further than 50 miles and having burned a full tank of gas in the process. I had left home with gas enough to reach any of the state designated evacuation states, and even to make it to the site of my choice in Oklahoma. What I could not plan for was the gridlock.

Third, I believe that there needed to be more professional behavior from some members of law enforcement. We passed one constable on the Hardy Toll Road (I believe a Harris County Precinct 4 officer, but I could be wrong) playing solitaire on his in-vehicle computer. We honked the horn, but he would not even acknowledge us. When he did, about 30 minutes later, respond to a group of vehicles that were stalled on the side of the road next to us, we shouted a question to ask about gasoline availability. He simply laughed at us and shouted “good luck”. I suggest this pot-bellied, white-haired constable with a mustache (if this isn't him, then his twin also works for Precinct 4) probably needs to be retired by his boss, Constable Ron Hickman – and if action isn’t taken, perhaps Hickman needs to be retired by the voters for poor management of his officers during the crisis.

Lastly, I think there needs to be consideration of the use of other highways besides those suggested for evacuation. State officials knew that I-35 was running freely – but never put up suggestions that we could find better traffic if we went only 30 minutes west on a smaller highway. What’s more, most of the towns along those roads had gasoline, which would have solved a second problem. The problem was that none of those roads began in Harris County, so the planners didn’t think about directing people to them. That needs to be reconsidered, with additional state involvement and coordination to make the plan truly regional.

Ultimately, I have to say that we were very lucky in the Houston area. The storm turned in a manner that we never expected. The area was saved, at a high cost to others in the region. The people of Houston were generous with those harmed by Katrina, and I fully expect that generosity to continue with those whose lives were disrupted by Rita.

And let me say “Thank you” to all who offered up prayers or kind thoughts, during this time, when we needed them desperately – and also to my guest blogger, Rhodey, to the lurker from Bryan who out of the blue offered my family shelter (you don’t know how touched we were by the offer, but I didn’t get the message until we had reached Ardmore), and to all who just looked in to see how we were doing.



» Watcher of Weasels links with: Submitted for Your Approval
» Watcher of Weasels links with: The Council Has Spoken!



|| Greg, 06:24 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (2) ||

At Last -- An Explanation

Finally, some more media coverage of the case of Seabrook City Councilman Rick Sammons' arrest on weapons charges back in July. All charges have been dropped.

During City Council's Sept. 20 meeting, Sammons, 36, who is not eligible for re-election in May because of term limits, made his first public comments about his arrest.

Reading from a prepared statement, he said he was awakened by the sound of a man's voice in Sammons' home on July 23 about 12:30 a.m., which prompted him to grab a gun to "protect my family and my property."

Sammons said the man's voice was that of his neighbor, who told him there was a situation at the man's home he was "unable to control."

Sammons said he went to the neighbor's home, where he discovered a domestic dispute between his neighbors.

He said he then left the residence to return to his home and in doing so, encountered the sister of one of those involved in the squabble.

"I (informed) her I had a gun and I was going back into my house," Sammons said in his statement.

Shortly thereafter, he said, Seabrook police arrived.

He said he walked out of his home to talk to them about the situation, but was quickly arrested.

"The officer immediately read me my rights and put me in the back of the squad car and explained I was being charged with deadly conduct," Sammons said in his statement.

Now this is all well and good,, but I am still quite concerned about the media coverage -- or, more accurately, the lack thereof -- of this situation.

Other than scanty coverage in a couple of locations, there was no coverage of the arrest. There were no follow-up stories about the case in any media source. It was as if a great curtain of silence had descended around the incident.

It lead me to wonder what other stories are not being covered in the Houston press.





|| Greg, 06:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Homer’s Ithaca Found?

There have long been questions about the location of Ithaca, the home of Homer’s great hero, Odysseus. Scholars may have found it.

Homer's legendary hero Odysseus wandered for 10 years in search of his island kingdom, Ithaca. Now, a British amateur archaeologist claims to have ended the ancient quest to locate the land described in "The Odyssey."

Although the western Greek island of Ithaki is generally accepted as the Homeric site, scholars have long been troubled by a mismatch between its location and geography and those of the Ithaca described by Ancient Greece's greatest poet.

Robert Bittlestone, a management consultant, said Thursday that the peninsula of Paliki on the Ionian island of Cephallonia, near Ithaki, was the most likely location for Odysseus' homeland. He said geological and historic evidence suggested Paliki used to form a separate island before earthquakes and landslides filled in a narrow sea channel dividing it from Cephallonia.

"Other theories have assumed that the landscape today is the same as in the Bronze Age, and that Homer perhaps didn't know the landscape very well," Bittlestone told a central London news conference. "But what if the mismatch was because the geography has in fact changed?"

Two eminent British academics said they backed Bittlestone's theory. They have co-written his book, "Odysseus Unbound -- The Search for Homer's Ithaca."

James Diggle, a professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University, said the hypothesis worked because it explained why in one passage Homer describes Ithaca as "low-lying" and "towards dusk," i.e. lying to the west of a group of islands including Cephallonia and Zakynthos.

The Paliki peninsula is largely flat and connects to Cephallonia's west coast, whereas Ithaki is mountainous and lies to the east. Bittlestone's theory suggests that Ithaki corresponds to the island Homer calls Doulichion.

"I have never for once doubted that the theory is right because it explains all the details," Diggle told The Associated Press.

Cool stuff!





|| Greg, 06:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

News For Archaeology Geeks

Look at this find from Creete -- life-size statues of Hera and Athena found in their original setting!

The works, representing the goddesses Athena and Hera, date to between the second and fourth centuries - during the period of Roman rule in Greece - and originally decorated the Roman theater in the town of Gortyn, archaeologist Anna Micheli from the Italian School of Archaeology told The Associated Press.

"They are in very good condition," she said, adding that the statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom, was complete, while Hera - long-suffering wife of Zeus, the philandering king of gods - was headless.

"But we hope to find the head in the surrounding area," Micheli said.

Standing six feet high with their bases, the works were discovered Tuesday by a team of Italian and Greek archaeologists excavating the ruined theater of Gortyn, about 27 miles south of Iraklion in central Crete.

Micheli said the goddesses were toppled from their plinths by a powerful earthquake around A.D. 367 that destroyed the theater and much of the town.

The statues fell off the stage, and were found just in front of their original position, she said.

"This is one of the rare cases when such works are discovered in the building where they initially stood," she added.

Hopes are high that other parts of the theater's sculptural decoration will emerge during future excavations.

"Digging has stopped due to the finds, but we suspect there may be more statues in the area," she said.

The town where the statues were found, Gortyn, has been occupied since around 3000 BC, and was a major center of the Minoan civilization that predated the Mycenaean Greece of Homer. It later served as the Roman capital of Crete, and was one of the cities in which St. Titus would have preached the Gospel.





|| Greg, 06:16 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Salazar Vows To Break Filibuster Agreement

Colorado Senator Ken Salazar is a lying political hack who will break his word to the voters of Colorado and his fellow senators if President Bush nominates either of two highly qualified female jurists to the Supreme Court.

Saying President Bush sometimes acts "like a king," Sen. Ken Salazar warned Friday that he would vehemently oppose Bush's next Supreme Court pick if it turns out to be one of two controversial U.S. Circuit Court judges or someone else he considers an unqualified ideologue.

During a conference call with reporters, Salazar said he would oppose Janice Rogers Brown or Priscilla Owen, two circuit court judges the U.S. Senate recently installed on the bench following a blistering confirmation process.

By singling out Brown and Owen, Salazar made his most specific warning to the White House yet, calling for more advance consultation before the president makes a nomination to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"This president, frankly, sometimes acts like a king," Salazar said. "He's imperious. He believes he controls Washington and controls our country, and does so sometimes in a way that, it's his way or the highway, and doesn't take into account what other people are thinking...when they have a different point of view or are (from) a different party."

Salazar wants the president to take an unprecedented step of publicly releasing its so-called "short list" of Supreme Court candidates before making an official nomination, which could come at any time.

"I have never filibustered a judicial nominee and I hope that I never have to," Salazar said. "I'd hope that if the president does move forward with someone like Janice Rogers Brown, many Republicans would join us in basically telling the president, 'No, we won't accept somebody who is professionally unqualified and is an ideologue...'"

But hold on, Senator – you told the voters of Colorado that you would give nominees an up or down vote. You also signed on to an agreement that specifically allowed Owen and Brown to be confirmed to their respective appellate seats and promising not to use the filibuster. Are you telling us that your word to your fellow senators is no good – and that you allowed two “unqualified” nominees to be placed on the federal courts when you made that agreement? Oh, and by the way, on what basis do you call them unqualified, given their many years of distinguished judicial service on the highest courts of their respective states – as well as their approval by the ABA, which leading Democrats once called the “gold standard” for judicial nominees?

No, Ken, it is clear that you are a partisan hack who lacks the integrity to abide by his word. Resign from office, sir, and allow the people of Colorado to elect someone worthy to serve in the Senate.





|| Greg, 06:15 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Just Say No To 9/11 Denying Chaplain

Talk about an outrage! How could this guy even be considered for the position of chaplain with the New York City Fire Department?

An imam slated to be sworn in Friday as the second Muslim chaplain in Fire Department history said he questioned whether 19 hijackers were responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and suggested a broader conspiracy may have brought down the Twin Towers and killed more than 2,700 people.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Imam Intikab Habib, 30, a native of Guyana who studied Islam in Saudi Arabia, said he doubted the United States government's official story blaming 19 hijackers associated with al-Quaida and Osama bin Laden.

"I as an individual don't know who did the attacks," said Habib, 30, a soft-spoken man who immigrated to New York in July 2000 after spending six years in Saudi Arabia getting a degree in Islamic theology and law. "There are so many conflicting reports about it. I don't believe it was 19 ... hijackers who did those attacks."

Asked to elaborate on his reasons for doubting that story, he talked about video and news reports widely disseminated in the Muslim community.

"I've heard professionals say that nowhere ever in history did a steel building come down with fire alone," he said. "It takes two or three weeks to demolish a building like that. But it was pulled down in a couple of hours. Was it 19 hijackers who brought it down, or was it a conspiracy?"

Actually, that isn’t true. There are not that many conflicting reports – virtually the whole world agrees that the attack as a bin Laden production. Heck, Osama himself claims responsibility. The only folks who deny that the attack was an Islamist production are those with an anti-American or anti-Semitic (or both) agenda.


Questioned about who he believed was responsible for the attacks, Habib said he didn't know. He said, however, that he did not expect to raise his doubts with rank-and-file firefighters -- nor did he share them two weeks ago when he participated in several Sept. 11 memorials on behalf of the Fire Department.

"My position as a chaplain is that whoever did it, it's a tragic incident," he said. "I feel sorrow for the families who lost loved ones and for the firefighters who died in it. Whoever did it, it was a very wrong thing. It's always wrong to take an innocent human life."


Sorry – not good enough. If you cannot even acknowledge the fact that your co-religionists murdered hundreds of firefighters in the name of Islam, then you do not belong with FDNY. You are the moral equivalent of a Holocaust denier, and the city has a responsibility to reject you as unfit to serve.

UPDATE: Good news! The defender of Islamist terrorists has stepped aside.

Now let’s deport him. There is no place for terrorist apologists in this country.





|| Greg, 06:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dhimmitude In UK

Looks like the sensitivities of Muslims override the preferences of infidels in parts of Great Britain.

NOVELTY pig calendars and toys have been banned from a council office — in case they offend Muslim staff.

Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

Bosses acted after a Muslim complained about pig-shaped stress relievers delivered to the council in the run-up to the Islamic festival of Ramadan.

Muslims are barred from eating pork in the Koran and consider pigs unclean.

Councillor Mahbubur Rahman, a practising Muslim, backed the ban. He said: “It’s a tolerance of people’s beliefs.”

I'm curious -- in light of the campaign of murder conducted by Muslims against Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims, will our sensitivities be respected -- by banning all Muslim symbols and all Muslims from governemt offices? After all, what's sauce for the infidel boar is sauce for the Muslim sow.





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

Support Persecuted Christians

Christians around the world face persecution from those who hate the Christian faith. Some end up jailed for their faith. One place to find out about such modern-day martyrs is through Voice of the Martyrs and their excellent blog. This item from the blog recently caught my eye.

I want to thank those of you who have written to the prisoners so far. Yesterday we started around 286 on the Prisoner Alert page and now the number is 325! That's very good and encouraging, and I know these precious sisters will be encouraged too.

Please remember to tell your friends and let's keep this challenge going!

Yes, the internet can be used to encourage our imprisoned brothers and sisters in Christ, and to loby government officials for their release! To learn more, click here.





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

China Bans Bishops Trip to Rome Synod

One more denial of human rights for Chinese Catholics -- one more reason to sanction the Chinese for their failure to live up to even the most minimal standards of religious freedom for those Catholics who follow the Pope and not Beijing in matters of religion.

The four Catholic bishops from mainland China who were named by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) to participate in the upcoming Synod of Bishops will not be allowed by their government to attend, the AsiaNews service has confirmed.

With the Synod discussions opening in Rome on Sunday, October 2, none of the four bishops has obtained a passport, AsiaNews found. One of the four, Bishop Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang, conceded that there is "very little" hope he can participate in the Synod.

Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar has been asking government officials every day for a passport. But local government officials told AsiaNews that the passport would not be granted-- and even claimed that "China and the Vatican agreed" on this decision.

AsiaNews said that the main opposition to the bishops' participation in the Synod appeared to come from the Catholic Patriotic Association, the government-approved body that aims to control the Church in China, maintaining its independence from the Holy See.

More information here.





|| Greg, 04:33 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 27, 2005

We Made It

We are back. I got the computer up and running this afternoon, but simply don't feel like making a long entry tonight.

What I will say -- for now -- is that we have virtually no damage (if it totals up to $500 I'll be surprised). Paula and I are well, though she is very sore after a miserable trip. Carmie has found her favorite spot to curl up under foot is still there, safe and dry. I go back to school tomorrow.

Many thanks to my guest blogger, Rhodey, for his keeping ths site alive while I was gone.

I will simply say that I now know that I have been blessed in many ways.





|| Greg, 08:46 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 24, 2005

Greg update

Got a phone message from Greg while the family and I were out this afternoon: Good news! Greg heard from a person in his hometown, and there was minimal damage reported there. The power is actually still on in his neighborhood! Obviously, that's a verrrry good sign. Looks like he'll be back on his way home tomorrow, although his school will be closed until Wednesday.





|| , 06:22 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Greg and family OK

I got a call from Greg last night around 9:30pm ET. He and the family are doing fine -- they're safe and sound in Oklahoma. Did you see those massive traffic jams heading away from Houston? Greg was in 'em. It took him approximately 32 hours to drive a mere -- ready? -- 400 miles. 32 hours. Ugh.

At any rate, he wanted me to forward this info to y'all since he will be without an Internet connection for the time being. Keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers.





|| , 07:10 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 23, 2005

'Ya just gotta laugh

After President Bush briefed reporters about Hurricane Rita, a reporter asks him "Sir, what good can you do going down to the hurricane zone? Might you get in the way?"

After a sensible response, another reporter (maybe the same one) yells "Well, critics are saying this is an overcompensation for the response to Katrina."

Just. Can't. Win.





|| , 06:34 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What's next? Katrina is like the "Big Bang"?

Hey all -- Rhodey here from The Colossus of Rhodey. Greg is still in transit, evacuating from the incoming Hurricane Rita, so he said I could throw a few posts in here every now and then until his return.

Those Air America nutcases just can't seem to get a decent analogy right. And that's putting it nicely. AA's Randi Rhodes recently compared to the evacuation of people from Hurricane Katrina to the Holocaust:

CALLER (continuing): The thing that really killed me was the fact that when they bussed some of them out of the Dome. They loaded them on the bus, and they wouldn't tell them where they were going.

RANDI: Yeah. What is that?

CALLER: That is like when you transfer prisoners to one --

RANDI (interrupting): Actually, you know what it reminds me of? It reminds me of a little visit I made to the Holocaust Museum, and I saw these cattle cars.

CALLER: Yes!

RANDI: And they took people to go on them, but they didn't tell them where they were going.

CALLER: Yes! They do that to prisoners. If they're taking prisoners from one high-security prison to another, they do not --

RANDI: So, what are you supposed to do? Just do a "faith-based evacuation"? (Changing voice, as if an evacuee) "I'm sure he wouldn't send me to Auschwitz."

CALLER: Yeaaw! But why were these people patted down? There was an assumption of criminality made because they were poor and they were black --

RANDI: Check this out. Let's just -- Think about it this way. People were taken one place. Their children were taken another place. THIS IS SO MUCH LIKE THE HOLOCAUST. I can't even -- You know, it's like, you're not supposed to forget the Holocaust so that it can't happen again. And here you have people being loaded onto transportation vehicles, not being told where they're going, and their children are being taken someplace else ...

If you've ever wondered why, given that President Bush's approval ratings are dismal, the Left just cannot gain any ground on him or other conservatives, just consider this idiot Rhodes and the other cretins that gab on Air America.



» The Colossus of Rhodey links with: Yet still more obscene Katrina analogies



|| , 03:14 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

September 21, 2005

Category 4 -- Hurricane Rita

This is not good news.

Hurricane Rita intensified into a Category 4 storm today with winds of 135 mph, deepening concerns that the storm could devastate coastal Texas and already-battered Louisiana by week's end.

Mandatory evacuations have already been ordered for New Orleans and Galveston today, one day after Rita skirted past the Florida Keys as a Category 2 storm, causing minimal damage.

I'm halfway between Galveston and Houston proper -- this is not good at all.

NOTE: The Houston Chronicle is operating two very good blogs dealing with Hurricane Rita -- Sci Guy and Huricane Rita. How long they reamin up is, of course,an open question, givent he coming of the storm and its intensity.

UPDATE DURING LUNCH (2;30 PM) -- In light of current projections, Paula, Carmie and I will pull the trigger at midnight, regardless of what is left undone. It is eight hours -- at least -- to Huntsville, and that is only about 100 miles from here. Hopefully traffic will thin out then, but who knows?, given the mandatory evacuations kicking in.

Traffic crawled along Houston's freeways today as officials ordered the mandatory evacuation of vulnerable areas in advance of Hurricane Rita, which was chugging toward the Gulf Coast as a dangerous Category 4 storm.

Mayor Bill White and County Judge Robert Eckels said today that some mandatory evacuations would begin at 6 p.m. They encouraged residents to leave voluntarily if possible before the evacuations become mandatory, and it was clear that thousands of residents were heeding the advice.

Traffic was especially heavy on the south end of Interstate 45, the main evacuation route from Galveston and the Clear Lake area, moving somewhat faster north of Loop 610. Speeds averaged about 20 mph on I-45 through Houston.

Although evacuees departing during rush hour this morning reported arriving in Dallas in the usual five hours, as of 1:30 p.m., it was taking at least two hours just to get from Galveston to Houston on I-45, AAA reported.

One reason so many residents were trying to get out of town before they had to: Once a mandatory evacuation begins, residents will no longer get to choose their own evacuation routes. Roads will be blocked off to funnel traffic to evacuation shelters in designated cities further inland according to a resident's zone.

Michelle Malkin has a good piece on some differences from Katrina.





|| Greg, 07:18 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bugging-Out!

Plywood, screws, and tools are purchased -- I start to boarding the place up in the morning.

Hotel reservations are made and confirmed.

Evacuation route is printed and placed where it cannot be forgotten.

We are supposed to evacuate within 30 hourse of this post.

I don't know when I will post next, or where I will be.

Pray for Paula, Carmie, and I -- and for the rest of us in Rita's path.

I just hope I will have a home to come home to -- and that it will be fit to live in.





|| Greg, 12:25 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 20, 2005

Waiting For Rita

Is she coming to visit?

We don’t know, yet, but she may stay to the south of us, which means tropical storm-like weather instead of a Category 3 storm that would require evacuation.

Keep packing that suitcase and hold off on a sigh of relief, but the National Hurricane Center's latest official forecast names the stretch of coast just north of Matagorda Island as Hurricane Rita's most likely target instead of Galveston.

With landfall on the Gulf Coast not expected until Friday night, meteorologists caution that predictions remain unreliable: Long-range forecasts such as this are typically off by hundreds of miles, and different computer models call for different landfalls. Morever, the overnight course shift is small, so preparations continue in the danger zone from Brownsville to Lake Charles, La.

"We're definitely not out of the woods yet," said Kent Prochazka, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in League City.

If Rita does in fact hit closer to Matagorda than Galveston as a Category 3 hurricane, the Houston area would be in for high winds, heavy rain and possibly tornadoes, but that wouldn't be as dangerous for Houston as a direct hit on Galveston, Prochazka said.

Instead of devastating Galveston and then moving over downtown Houston still packing the 100 mph winds of a Category 2 hurricane, a hurricane making landfall near Matagorda would to be expected to roll over Houston with tropical force winds in the 70 mph range.

"The difference between that and making landfall in Galveston is huge," Prochazka said.

I made hotel reservations for our evacuation tonight, and the closest I could get was in the Ardmore, Oklahoma. – “only” 400 miles from home. Here’s hoping I get to call and cancel them rather than bugging-out.

Oh, and by the way – only four more storms until they run out of names for the year – meaning we could see “Hurricane Alpha” in the event we get five more this year.





|| Greg, 09:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Man To Remember

A group of old soldiers gathered the other day to keep alive the memory one of their own -- 2nd Lt. Robert Ronald Leisy, who gave his life in Vietnam at age 24 so that others might live.

The day Leisy died, a reconnaissance squad of eight or nine men scouting a valley strayed into a North Vietnamese regiment of several hundred men and were being cut to pieces.

"We aren't going to leave those guys down there," Leisy said.

In the face of withering fire, Leisy raced to position his men and was moving with Baillargeon, calling in artillery, to the front of the line.

" 'Bernie, this is like the valley of the Little Big Horn.' That's the last thing he said to me," Baillargeon remembers.

And then Leisy saw a North Vietnamese sniper in a tree aim and fire a B-40 rocket at them.

In a fraction of a second, he smothered Baillargeon with his body. Gene Clark, 57 and a retired Macomb, Ill., police officer, was the medic who braved bullets to save lives that day. He saw that one of Leisy's hands was gone, his leg and abdomen shredded.

"He said, 'I'm not going to make it, am I?' " Clark recalls.

Yet Leisy continued to direct the fight, waving off Clark to help others.
Leisy was strapped into a litter, but the fighting was so intense no helicopter could approach, and he died within three hours.

Leisy’s heroism was recognized by a grateful nation when he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1971.





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“Congress Shall Make No Law…”

It seems to me like this FEC attempt to cripple the Club for Growth should wake up every American who believes that citizens have a right to participate in the electoral process.

The Federal Election Commission yesterday filed its first court challenge against so-called "527 groups," suing a powerhouse Republican advocacy group for violating campaign-finance laws from 2000 to 2004.

The FEC charges that the Club for Growth raised and spent at least $4 million more than the limit, and so the group should have had to register as a political committee and abide by donation and spending limits. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.

"This litigation is an important test case on when 527 groups are required to register with the FEC and follow hard-dollar restrictions in federal law," said Michael E. Toner, the commission's vice chairman.

The 527 groups, named for the part of tax code that governs them, played a major role in the 2004 election, the first under the campaign finance rules that Congress passed in 2002. Those rules were intended to eliminate so-called "soft money," the large donations that political parties and interest groups used to flood the airwaves with issue ads.

Instead, the parties have to rely on limited "hard dollar" contributions.

The FEC justifies this action by saying that the Club for Growth refused to make a compromise agreement with the agency.

In the complaint, the FEC said it tried to work out an agreement with the club, but the organization would not agree to a remedy. The FEC is considering action against other 527s.

Any compromise would, of course, include limits upon the organization to engage in robust and unfettered political speech of the type envisioned by the Founders who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I think that the group’s president, former Pennsylvania Congressman Pat Toomey, has it right when he describes this action as an act of war against the First Amendment. To compromise, which would effectively be a surrender, would be a betrayal of the Club for Growth’s limited government principles.

I think the solution that needs to be adopted here needs to be framed along the following language.

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

Short, simple, and in harmony with our nation’s founding documents, this standard would make it clear that the FEC has only one task – closing up shop and ending its unconstitutional interference with the political speech of Americans.





|| Greg, 08:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bird Is The Word

bird.jpg

I’ve never figured out why this guy in a costume enrages so many mouth-breathers out there.

The taunts, nasty gestures and occasional Frisbee or soda can tossed his way don't ruffle Kyle Lincecum's feathers. But days like Sunday, when he was pummeled and sent sprawling into the path of busy Fry Road traffic, make him feel like an endangered species.

Lincecum, 20, is the guy inside the oversized green and orange bird suit whose loony antics lure the weekend crowds to the Mattresses for Less store at Fry and the Katy Freeway. The Sunday afternoon attack, which pitted a young assailant against Lincecum in his 12-foot-tall Citrus bird suit, brought traffic to a screeching halt.

The assault was the second time in his 2 1/2 -year career as an advertising bird that Lincecum has been pitched into traffic. But there have been other attacks; in January 2004, he was featured in the Houston Chronicle after being assaulted by a gang of skateboard-riding teens.

"Like every job," Lincecum said Monday, "this one has its ups and downs."

Uhhhh—yeah. Folks trying to kill you while you are trapped in a 12-foot-tall aluminum mesh and fake-fur costume certainly qualifies as a down-side in my book. Is the up-side the opportunity to stand out in Houston’s often-unbearable heat and humidity while wearing the costume?





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September 19, 2005

Is Jimmy Carter A Racist?

In recent weeks, we have heard that it is racially discriminatory public policy for the GOP to insist that photo ID should be required to vote. So what does the private bi-partisan Commission on Federal Election Reform urge as one of the tools to make sure the exercise of the right to vote easier and more secure?

Warning that public confidence in the nation's election system is flagging, a commission headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III today will call for significant changes in how Americans vote, including photo IDs for all voters, verifiable paper trails for electronic voting machines and impartial administration of elections.

Now I like some of these proposals, but not all of them. But notice, please, the call for photo ID. Are we to believe that those on the commission who supported this recommendation, including Carter, are crypto-racists who want to disenfranchise black voters? Or are they patriots who are seeking to ensure that Americans can vote in an easy, secure manner?



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Judicial Activism – A Primer

Stephen Markman supplies us with a vocabulary list of words and phrases to use to discern judicial activism. Some examples follow.

Spirit of the Law: Where the actual language of the law is incompatible with the policy preferences of a judge, it is not uncommon for a judge to claim that the “spirit of the law” nonetheless compels the preferred result. A judge may invoke such a “spirit” as a basis for decision-making as if somehow, via this necromancy, that which is not within the law may be conjured into it. Opinions relying upon a "spirit," nowhere incorporated in the actual language of the law, should be scrutinized carefully.

Balancing: The process of “balancing” rights and interests is predominantly a legislative, not a judicial, function. When, in the course of interpreting the law, a judge purports to engage in a “balancing” determination, more often than not he has misconstrued one of the allegedly-competing rights or interests. Concluding that one interest or right is entitled to a 30-percent weight, instead of a 70-percent weight in the “balancing” process not only constitutes an essentially standard-less, legislative decision, but it also implicitly concedes that neither of the rights or interests established by the lawmaker will be accorded full respect.

Public Policy: A judge will often resort to “public policy” as a basis for disregarding the words of the law. Unless such policy is grounded in the actual words of some law, this is simply another way for a judge to replace the determination of the lawmaker with his own determination of what the law ought to be. The most reliable basis for ascertaining “public policy” is for a judge not to examine his own sense of conscience, but to examine the principle repository of such policies in a democratic society, the actual enactments of representative, public bodies.

Notice, please, that each of these is based upon the premise that something other than the text of the Constitution or the law in question is superior to the text or texts being examined. That ultimately becomes the judge’s sense of what ought to be, rather than the views of the legislative and executive branches of government or of the people themselves. Thus, to take one example, the spirit of the laws forbidding racial discrimination requires racial discrimination as a matter of implementing a public policy of affirmative action, which balances the rights of minorities to preferential discrimination in a manner that outweighs the rights of non-minorities to non-discriminatory under the Constitution and the nation’s civil rights laws.





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What Are Her Qualifications?

Well, this certainly settles matters. Gwyneth Paltrow has spoken on the policies of George W. Bush and found them wanting.

"I've always been drawn to Europe. America is such a young country, with an adolescent swagger about it," she said.

"But I feel that I have a more European sensibility, a greater respect for the multicultural nature of the globe. And it's a strange time to be an American now."
"I feel like we're really in trouble. I just had a baby and thought 'I don't want to live there.' Bush's anti-environment, pro-war policies are a disgrace."

I mean, what is the purpose of having any further discussions on the issue. After all, America’s most prominent and revered political commentators pointed out the obvious some years ago.

Actors – is there anything they don’t know?

Thank you, Homer Simpson, for helping us understand why we should heed Ms. Paltrow’s sagacious utterances.





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Cantwell Can't Understand Free Market

Looks like we have one senator who cannot understand basic concepts from Economics 101.

Righteously incensed over the price of gas, government on all levels is springing into action.

Congress has been busiest of all, conducting hearings, holding news conferences and drafting legislation. One bill being written by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would make price gouging a federal offense and heavily fine violators. Another bill to be introduced in the House will call for increased fuel efficiency, and still another, to be introduced in both houses, would impose a windfall profit tax on oil companies.

So, we are now going to have a federal law dictating gas prices? Does this mean that we will see the ever-efficient federal government telling us what acceptable profits are, no doub via an efficiet bureaucratic structure akin to the Post Office?

And listen to Senator Cantwell's reasoning for her bill.

"We need to make price gouging illegal," Cantwell said Wednesday. "We need to make sure that there is a federal price-gouging law on the books, so that in times of national emergencies, oil companies aren't tempted to rake in outrageous profits."

Cantwell is seasoned by her experience with the West Coast electrical crisis of 2001, when Enron traders manipulated the market in California and drove prices to record highs across the West.

In that case, she says, government regulators insisted that spiraling prices were the result of normal market forces. Only years later was it proven that energy traders manufactured the crisis.

Cantwell sees a parallel in the price of gas.

"Oil barons are making $200 million a day in profits," she said. "There is absolutely no reason for gas to go up in Washington as the result of a hurricane."

The problem is that there were sound economic reasons for prices to go up after the hurricane. The reason was an increase in demand and a perceived decrease of supply.

Let me explain.

As Katrina smashed into the Gulf Coast, we were told to expect a decrease in production, combined with shortages. Suddenly, the value of inventory on hand went up as the expected cost of replacing that inventory also increased. A prudent businessman in such a situation raises his prices accordingly because of questions regarding the supply of his product. In this case, that meant an increase in gas prices based upon an expected increase in wholesale gas prices.

At the same time, hearing of a potential shortage, people all over the country rushed out to buy gasoline. I know I did after getting a frantic concerned ( I am reliably informed by said wife that she was NOT frantic, therefore I retract the earlier characterization in the interest of marital bliss) call from my wife about possible shortages due to the expected disruption of production in the New Orleans area. And as anyone who got a C or higher in Economics 101 knows, increased demand leads to higher prices. Station owners raised prices accordingly.

But let's look what happened.

During the last week of August, I was paying $2.52 a gallon at the corner station. By the end of that week, gasoline was up to $2.99 at the same station due to market forces. The the following Monday, they had dropped back to $2.85 -- and one local station had gas for $2.79. Yesterday I could buy gas at the place on the corner for $2.57. Given recent oil price fluctuations and minor supply disruptions, this is not an unreasonable increase from what the prices were three or four weeks ago, especially considering we are all now aware that there is no real shortage, simply a perceived one that created a panic-induced spike in prices. In other words, Adam Smith's invisible hand has worked just like it is supposed.

Maria Cantwell, of course, doesn't get this. She sees these price increases as the nefarious actions of unethical businessmen and women -- she calls them "oil barons". I call them capitalists -- and I call her a socialist. She wants us to live in a land of governent controlled prices. I prefer to live in a land of free markets. But then again, I can understand the basics of economics, and Cantwell can't.





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September 18, 2005

Famous Last Words

John Paul the Great's final words were released to the world today.

"Let me go to the house of the Father."

I cannot help but believe that the late pontiff's final words were an invocation of Psalm 122.

1 A song of ascents. Of David. I rejoiced when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD."

2 And now our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.

3 Jerusalem, built as a city, walled round about.

4 Here the tribes have come, the tribes of the LORD, As it was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.

5 Here are the thrones of justice, the thrones of the house of David.

6 For the peace of Jerusalem pray: "May those who love you prosper!

7 May peace be within your ramparts, prosperity within your towers."

8 For family and friends I say, "May peace be yours."

9 For the house of the LORD, our God, I pray, "May blessings be yours."

Indeed -- may we all go, rejoicing, to the house of the Lord.





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September 17, 2005

Must. Not. State. Obvious.

This line from K. M. Semmel's Washington Post column sort of leaped out at me.

For me, voting Democratic has always been a no-brainer.

[INSERT YOUR JOKE HERE]



» ImNotEmeril links with: Yep, that just about sums it up



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Could This Have Been Part Of The Problem In Louisiana?

You have to wonder if the lack of hurricane and flood preparedness in Louisiana might have had something to do with state and local government corruption. After all, charges were already pending before the Katrina hit. It seems that$60 million in FMA funds granted to the the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness are missing -- and the federal government had requested the return of $30.4 million back in March.

Much of the FEMA money that was unaccounted for was sent to Louisiana under the Hazard Mitigation Grant program, intended to help states retrofit property and improve flood control facilities, for example.

The $30.4 million FEMA is demanding back was money paid into that program and others, including a program to buy out flood-prone homeowners. As much as $30 million in additional unaccounted for spending also is under review in audits that have not yet been released, according to a FEMA official.

One 2003 federal investigation of allegedly misspent funds in Ouachita Parish, a district in northern Louisiana, grew into a probe that sprawled into more than 20 other parishes.

Mark Smith, a spokesman for the Louisiana emergency office, said the agency had responded to calls for reform, and that "we now have the policy and personnel in place to ensure that past problems aren't repeated."

He said earlier problems were largely administrative mistakes, not due to corruption.

But federal officials disagreed. They said FEMA for years expressed concerns over patterns of improper management and lax oversight throughout the state agency, and said most problems had not been corrected.

They point to criminal indictments of three state workers as evidence the problem was more than management missteps. Two other state emergency officials also were identified in court documents as unindicted co-conspirators.

I wonder -- if that money had been properly spend, might we be seeing significantly fewere problems in Louisiana in the aftermath of this horrific storm? And if the waste, mismanagement and fraud came at the state and local level, isn't that again where much of the blame belongs for the inadequacy of the disaster preparedness and response that we have seen?

ANd please note some of the examples of how this money (what can be traced) was spent.

The report also said the Louisiana agency had misspent $617,787 between May 2000 and September 2003.

Questionable expenditures identified by the inspector general included $2,400 for sod installation, several thousand dollars for a trip to Germany by the deputy director, $1,071 for curtains, and $595 for an L.L. Bean parka and briefcase. The inspector general also challenged unspecified spending for camera equipment, professional dues and a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria.

And we won't get into the fact that 97% of disbursed funds from one of the FEMA grants have no receipts at all to account for spending.





|| Greg, 10:11 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Just A Reminder -- Show Up For Jury Duty

Only about 17% of summoned jurrors show up for duty in the Houston area. That cna cause serious problems with holding trials.

Here's what one local county did.

Dozens of people avoided contempt of court charges and possible fines by agreeing to appear for jury duty in the next 90 days. ADVERTISEMENT

A Fort Bend County judge summoned the people to court and asked them to explain why they didn't appear for jury duty last month.

"The intent is not to generate fine money for Fort Bend County but to get people to comply with the process," state District Judge Thomas Culver said Friday to about 120 people in the courtroom.

Almost all the potential jurors said they never received the jury duty summons, while one person said she was in Louisiana doing relief work in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The decision to summon the no-shows to court was made because on Aug. 23, the county did not have enough people to fill juries for the day's trials. Bailiffs had to roam courthouse hallways and press into service whomever they could find for jury duty.

It was the first time in several years the county ran short of jurors. But Culver said judges have been concerned recently that fewer people are appearing for jury service and the decision was made to summon all the people who did not show up for the Aug. 30 jury call and have them explain why they were absent.

State law says failing to appear for jury duty can result in contempt of court charges with fines ranging from $100 to $1,000.

"I am going to defer the contempt of court and a $200 fine if you will agree to appear within 90 days for jury duty," Culver told almost every person who stood before him Friday.

So remember -- SHOW UP!





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

Treating Katrina's Kids Right In Houston

How are the kids displaced by Huricane Katrina being received in Texas? Pretty well, it seems, if this Houston school is an example.

The governor, along with state and federal education officials, visited a southwest Houston middle school on Friday where more than 50 students displaced by Hurricane Katrina have enrolled.

U.S. Secretary of Education and Houston Independent School District alumni Margaret Spellings, Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Commissioner of Education Shirley Neeley and Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams toured Pin Oak Middle School at noon.

Educators and classmates at the school have welcomed the displaced students with open arms. Pin Oak Principal Michael McDonough and the school's social worker, Alyson Bricker, sat down individually with each student and his or her family during the enrollment process to talk about their needs.

The displaced students were assigned a regular Pin Oak student as a buddy, given three Polo shirts with the school's logo on it, a spirit shirt that can be worn on Fridays and a school planner. School officials also organized a clothing drive for the families.

More than 1,200 students attend Pin Oak, located at 4601 Glenmont, which has served as a middle school in the district for four years and offers a foreign language magnet program.

Officials said the district has enrolled more than 4,000 students evacuated from the Gulf Coast region.

I teach at a high school in a neighboring district, and I can tell you that we've done many of the same things. We've gotten kids needed clothing and school supplies, assigned them buddies, organized a support group,and started to integrate them into our extracurricular activities.

The three students I have are wonderful -- a shy and quiet girl, a young lady with a melodious laugh that I hear often, and a serious, studious football player who can't wait to get in the game. We've got 50 in all on our campus , and we are ready to take more if they come. I can tell you without a doubt that every Houston educator feels the same way.





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September 16, 2005

Mourning For Dollars

Look who is seeking to make money off of her grief and notoriety. I wonder what this does to her unassailable moral authority.

There are moments in history when the courageous actions of one individual act to galvanize a movement – whether for civil rights, women's rights, pro-democracy, or against a war.

The summer of 2005 will forever be remembered with one mother's vigil for her lost son at President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Cindy Sheehan has re-energized the nation's anti-war movement with her unflagging desire to meet with the president to ask: “What is the noble cause for which my son died in Iraq?”

Cindy Sheehan has become a national symbol of the powerless confronting the powerful, of a mother mourning the loss of her child and seeking answers from the nation's commander-in-chief, the man who made the case for the war in which her son lost his life.

Sheehan's activism has not ended with the president returning to Washington after his vacation. She is now involved in public speaking to groups around the country: one mother with one voice and one mission – to find a way to bring our troops home and spare other parents the grief of losing a child in an unjust war.

For additional information on Cindy Sheehan and her public speaking availability, visit www.speakingmatters.org.

I guess the “personal matters” she needed o deal with when she abandoned her bus caravan last month might have been arranging for a lucrative public speaking contract.

UPDATE: Look at this shameless grave robber's latest outrageous comment.

George Bush needs to stop talking, admit the mistakes of his all around failed administration, pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power.

Incredible!

(Hat Tip -- StrataSphere, Bogus Gold, Combs Spouts Off, California Conservative, and Blogs for Bush)





|| Greg, 06:17 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

How Dare They Investigate This!

Does CAIR want to call this racial profiling?

When FBI agents walked into Mahmoud Maawad's spartan apartment at 3557 Mynders # 5 on Sept. 9, they found a desk, chair, computer and a Koran.

They also found an airline pilot's uniform, a chart of Memphis International Airport, and instructional DVDs, including one called "How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act."

A federal magistrate Thursday ordered Maawad, a 29-year-old University of Memphis student from Egypt, jailed until his trial on charges of wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

"The specific facts and circumstances are scary," Asst. U.S. Atty. Steve Parker said, arguing against Maawad's release.

Since Maawad can't get a Social Security number, "he can't get a pilot's license, and can't go to flight school," Parker said. "But he wants to get behind the wheel of an aircraft."

Parker said "we don't know either way" if Maawad is a terrorist or connected to any terror groups.

U.S. Magistrate Judge S. Thomas Anderson ruled that Maawad be held without bond.

Oh, yeah – he’s here on an expired visa.

Sound familiar?


(Hat Tip: Michelle Malkin)



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|| Greg, 06:16 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (1) ||

Dead Because Of Government Policy

When California paramedic Michael Sprinkles was killed on his way home from work by immigration criminal Juan Bibinz, it was a preventable accident. Bibinz, you see, had been arrested several times before by the LAPD and has been convicted of multiple felonies. He was even deported once – but that was insufficient to get LAPD to hold him and turn him over to immigration officials. Why not? A little something called Special Order 40.

How can an illegal alien be arrested again and again, yet sent home only once? Maybe because it’s official L.A.P.D. policy that officers can’t ask about a suspect’s citizenship. “Special Order 40, enacted in 1979, bars police from enforcing federal immigration laws,” is how the ACLU put it in a 2001 news release. And, it noted, “the Police Commission’s own Independent Review Panel noted how critical the Order is to ensure public safety.” Tell that to Michael Sprinkles.

The ACLU claims that Special Order 40 is “essential.” But a better word for it would be “illegal.” The state’s penal code reads, “Every law enforcement agency in California shall fully cooperate with the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding any person who is arrested if he or she is suspected of being present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.” Not much ambiguity there.

Special Order 40 is useful, though. It explains why the United States is facing an illegal immigration crisis: We don’t take illegal immigration seriously.

So because Los Angeles police won’t follow state law and help enforce federal law, a good man died.

Nice going, Los Angeles – here is hoping that Sprinkle’s family ends up owning your city by the time litigation is finished, and that several city officials end up in jail. After all, city officials acted illegally in order to aid a known criminal, resulting in Sprinkle’s death. That is more than mere negligence.





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Insurance Suit

Well, we’ve already got the first opportunistic government official filing suit against the insurance industry in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The attorney general of Mississippi sued five major insurance companies on Thursday, alleging that they're cheating Hurricane Katrina survivors.

The five companies are divisions of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., Allstate Property and Casualty Co., the United Services Automobile Association and Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance.

The suit is the opening shot in what's expected to be a protracted legal battle over homeowner and business claims after the nation's most devastating storm.
Attorney General Jim Hood sued in state court in Jackson, Miss., alleging that the insurance companies are skirting claims by insisting that damage to homes was caused by flooding, which isn't covered under homeowner policies.

"Is it right to write in the fine print a provision that takes away the reason for the contract in the first place?" Hood asked in an interview after filing suit. "You can't put this stuff in fine print and bankrupt half the coast and say, `Oh well, they should have known.'"

Interestingly, one of these companies is my insurance company, so I am familiar with their practices. When I bought my house, four blocks from Galveston Bay, I was EXPLICITLY told that the policy didn’t cover flood damage. I was EXPLICITLY told I needed to get flood insurance to cover such damage. So when the next hurricane rolls up the Texas coast towards Houston, I’m covered, whether the water comes from above through a hole in the wall or roof (homeowner’s policy) or from below as the water rises (flood policy).

For whatever reason, these people didn’t get the message. Now they want their policies to cover excluded damage, and you have a politician trying to get money out of these companies on behalf of those who did not act in a proactive manner. Look at Mississippi.

FEMA officials have acknowledged that 60 percent of the affected property owners in Katrina's zone of destruction may lack federal flood insurance. To rebuild, they'll have to take out low-interest government loans.

For the 40 percent who have flood policies, the federal government pays claims of up to $250,000 for residences and $500,000 for commercial property. It doesn't cover living expenses until a home is rebuilt.

In Mississippi, there were only 42,320 flood policies in place at the end of last year, a fraction compared with a hurricane-prone state such as Florida, with more than 1.8 million flood policies.

Ahhhhhhh – I see. Folks decided to save a buck, figuring that they would continue to dodge the bullet. Now they want someone else to pay for their choice not to spend the money to protect themselves. Got it.

Toss this suit out of court – with extreme prejudice. And sanction those who filed it.





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

Cash For Contracts In Illinois?

So, Gov. Blagojevich, would you care to explain this allegation? Did you attempt to steer state contracts those who agreed to make donations to your campaign?

Blagojevich said he had "no knowledge whatsoever" about any pension deals being traded for contributions to his campaign. "Absolutely not," the governor said. "I know nothing about any of that."

Cari's 17-page plea offers no indication he ever spoke directly to Blagojevich or anybody from his political fund-raising operation, but the document laid out a broad "fund-raising strategy" outlined to Cari by Levine. Levine told Cari that he and Blagojevich's two fund-raisers would "not let an Illinois public pension fund . . . invest in a private equity fund" unless that firm hired a consultant they chose, and that consultant agreed to make "certain political or charitable contributions."

Blagojevich was not specifically named in the Cari plea, which referred to him as "Public Official A." Sources confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the governor is Official A. The administration said it had no idea who Official A is.

Top Blagojevich fund-raisers Antoin "Tony" Rezko and Christopher G. Kelly were referred to in the plea as "two close associates" of the governor who helped him "pick law firms, investment banking firms and consultants that would help Public Official A." The Sun-Times confirmed their identities through the same sources.

Blagojevich, Kelly and Rezko have not been charged with any wrongdoing. Attempts to reach Kelly and Rezko were unsuccessful.

Also Thursday, former teacher pension board outside counsel Steven Loren, 50, pleaded guilty to tax-related charges tied to the alleged scheme. Both Cari and Loren are cooperating with prosecutors.

The scheme outlined in Cari's plea deal is similar to allegations raised earlier this year by Blagojevich's estranged father-in-law, Chicago Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who accused Kelly of orchestrating appointments to state boards and commissions in exchange for contributions to Blagojevich

Why is it that “Public Official A” Blagojevich is getting a pass from the national media for actual corruption involving the diversion of funds into his campaign coffers, while House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is being tarred by allegations that relate to accounting questions and technical definitions? Could it be that the reason relates to the letters R & D, not the letter A?





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Staying In Houston

This comes as no surprise to me -- I've alread had one of the Katrina kids at my school tell me his family is staying.

Fewer than half of all New Orleans evacuees living in emergency shelters here said they will move back home, while two-thirds of those who want to relocate planned to settle permanently in the Houston area, according to a survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The wide-ranging poll found that these survivors of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath remain physically and emotionally battered but unbroken. They praised God and the U.S. Coast Guard for saving them, but two weeks after the storm, nearly half still sought word about missing loved ones or close friends who may not have been as lucky.

However, I do have a methodology question about this poll. So does the Post, but they bury that nformation deep in the article.

A total of 680 randomly selected evacuees living temporarily in the Astrodome, Reliant Center and George R. Brown Convention Center, as well as five Red Cross shelters in the Houston area, were interviewed Sept. 10 to 12 for this Post-Kaiser-Harvard survey. More than 8,000 evacuees were living in these facilities and awaiting transfer to other housing when the interviewing was conducted.

More than nine in 10 of these evacuees said they were residents of New Orleans, while the remainder said they were from the surrounding area or elsewhere in Louisiana. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus four percentage points. Potential differences between these evacuees and those not living in shelters or those who lived elsewhere in the affected Gulf Coast region make it impossible to conclude that these results accurately reflect the views of all Gulf Coast residents displaced by Katrina.

Most of the evacuees never resided in our big public buildings or the Red Cross shelters. Those who were in those public buildings were among the poorest of the poor, according to reports. Those left there are often among the hardest-luck cases. And more importantly, theey are likely very unrepresetative of the 70-80 thousand who never lived in any of those locations. After all, those who never went to the shelters would have self-evacuated and are therefore less likely to be hard-core chronic poor.

But we will live this and see what happens.

(More from Captain's Quarters, Neo-Neocon, and Publius Rendevous)





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

GOP Uncovers More Voter Fraud -- This Time In New Jersey

Look what the GOP has found in the state of New Jersey.

At a news conference in Trenton, Republican officials said their analysis found:

# 54,601 people were registered in more than one county, and 4,397 appeared to have voted twice in the 2004 presidential election.

# 170,558 people were registered to vote in New Jersey as well as other states. Of those, 90,025 voted in New Jersey last year, and 6,572 appeared to have voted in two states.

# 4,755 individuals listed in county records as deceased also were listed as voting last year.

Voting from the grave has long been the stuff of Jersey lore, especially in Hudson County. But the GOP analysis found matches between the lists of the dead and the lists of the voting in all 21 counties around the state.

The highest number, 609, was found in heavily populated Bergen County. Monmouth (450), Camden (430), Essex (354) and Union (325) all had more than Hudson, which tied with Morris at 298.

How serious do the Democrats take documentation of such voter irregularities?

Richard McGrath, spokesman for the Democratic State Committee, reacted skeptically. "If the Republican Party conducted the investigation, it's safe to assume the facts and figures are wrong and the findings are suspect," he said.

Given that response, it is safe to assume that the fraud benefits the Democrats and they will fight solving the problem tooth-and-nail.

America, it is time to ask a pointed question.

How much more evidence is necessary to force a complete purge of the voter rolls, the implementation of mandatory photo identification on election day, and other common-sense voting reforms in this country?





|| Greg, 05:10 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Child-Killing Freedom Fighters

Look at what the people that Cindy Sheehan and other Leftoids call "freedom fighters" and the moral equivalent of our Foundng Fathers did in the town of Tel Afar.

When the terrorists took over the city, McMasters said, they replaced all the imams from the mosques with Islamic extremist laymen; replaced all teachers from the schools with people who "preached hatred and intolerance"; and kidnapped and murdered large numbers of people, "including a Sunni Turkmen imam and a city councilman who was shot about 30 times to the head in front of his family.

"The enemy here did just the most horrible things you can imagine," McMasters said, "in one case murdering a child, placing a booby trap within the child's body and waiting for the parent to come recover the body of their child and exploding it to kill the parents."

Would someone explain to me why the Saddamites paints the US as the attrocity-committing bag guys because of unintended collateral damage, but won't point out this sort of gross evil when it is committed intentionally by terrorists?

(Hat Tip: Jawa Report





|| Greg, 05:00 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No Hair For CAIR

Lest you think that the friendly Islamofascists at CAIR don't want to impose Ssharia law on unwilling women and men here in America, look at this entry from Robert Spencer's JihadWatch.

What happens if a woman shows up for a CAIR photo-op without a hijab? No problem! They'll just Photoshop one on!

Seeing is believing -- and the pictures (both versions) are up at JihadWatch. Not only was one of the speakers at the press convference given a Photoshop hijab, so werre two women just standing in the audience!





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

September 14, 2005

What To Do With Evacuees

Here in Houston, we've been trying to integrate Katrina's kids into our classrooms. As far as I know, this has worked well, with the exception of one unfortunate incident. Many of these children, though, are going to be dispersed in the community before long, so any impact on a single school will likely be short-term. But what about areas where there will be a significant student population in a single location for a longer period of time. How should their education be handled? That issue is being looked in several locations around the country.

Consider the situation in San Antonio where 25,000 evacuees are living on a colsed military base. If only 20% are children, that means an influx of 5000 students into a districtt. In the "real world" of rnning a school district, you would have several years to "ramp-up " to such an influx of kids, but not in this case. If a subdivision or three were being built in a district, neighborhood schools would be built to accommodate them. But that did not -- and could not -- happen in the case of this calamity. When you have such a situation, you have to improvise a solution. It is, by definition, unforeseeable.

So what some officials are proposing is that evacuee children in such settings be educated in their shelter setting. That would require a waiver of the McKinney-Vento Act, which forbids segregating homeless children. In the case of evacuee children, many of whom are black, there are also racial segregation questions.

Let's look at the Texas situation I mentioned above.

Texas Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley, noting that 25,000 evacuees are housed at a closed Air Force base in San Antonio, asked the federal Education Department last week for "flexibility" to serve students "at facilities where they are housed, or otherwise separate from Texas residents during the 2005-2006 school year." U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, introduced legislation Monday that would grant Secretary Spellings authority to waive McKinney-Vento.

Such proposals are arousing consternation among advocates for the homeless, who fear that nearly two decades of gains in public-school enrollment for homeless children will be wiped out. They note that the act, which also requires school systems to enroll homeless children even without documentation such as health and residency records and to employ liaisons to the homeless, was vital to the swift, open-armed response of school districts to the student influx in the hurricane's aftermath. Also, they say, thousands of storm-battered children have already enrolled in public schools across the country without ill effects.

Gary Orfield, director of a Harvard University project that monitors school integration, said that segregating a predominantly black group of evacuees could raise "constitutional questions of racial discrimination." He also said that because many of them may be traumatized, have learning deficits, or come from failing schools, it would be "terrifically difficult" to teach a separate class of the displaced students, and that placing them in middle-class schools and communities would benefit them educationally.

William L. Taylor, chairman of the Citizen's Commission on Civil Rights, said the administration's plans to ease McKinney-Vento and No Child Left Behind could leave the displaced students warehoused and forgotten. "We need some focus on the needs of the children, and not go around waiving a lot of regulations without deciding whether there's a need," Mr. Taylor said.

Now let me begin by noting that the concerns about racial segregation are somewhat overblown. Racial segregation in schools is legal if it is de facto and not de jure. Government action did not create this situation -- nature did. Therefore the constitutional issue is really a red herring. And having worked for Dr. Neeley for a number of years, I can tell you that race is not even a consideration in this request -- she came to her position from a district that is substantially non-white and overwhelmingly low-income, and which was the largest majority-minority district in Texas to obtain an Exemplary rating.

No, what is being sought here is the ability to educate an existing community of students and keeping them together -- essentially neighborhood schools. The bulk of these kids will likely be heading back to Louisiana by next year, and so a separate program where there is a substantial population of students in an evacuation center will allow them to be taught using the Louisiana curriculum standards. These separate schools could also employ Louisiana teachers displaced by the storm. It creates a situation in which everyone wins, as far as I see. Am I missing something?

And for those who are concerned about undermining the educational rights of homeless kids, I do not see how you can argue with the logic of Pamela Atkinson, an advisor to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., and Senator Orrin Hatch.

But Pamela Atkinson, a special consultant to Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., had other ideas. The displaced families had experienced "so much trauma, anxiety and separation" that the parents "wanted their children close by," said Ms. Atkinson. "Since we had classrooms at Camp Williams, it made more sense to keep them there."

She contacted Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, who then asked Secretary Spellings to seek to waive McKinney-Vento. "These displaced and homeless children are not the typical homeless children," Sen. Hatch wrote. "Nearly all of them are with their families. It is important to keep families together as the Katrina victims receive aid and support."

This situation is different than the situation facing most homeless kids. Their needs are different. Let's not try to make them fit into a mold designed for kids in a different situation.

Now I will agree with those who oppose concept making the rounds.

Businesses from charter schools to distance-education providers are already pressing for permission to teach the homeless in shelters and other makeshift housing, hoping to gain broader acceptance for their approaches to education. Mark Thimmig, chief executive of White Hat Ventures LLC, which educates nearly 5,000 students in Pennsylvania and Ohio via the Internet, said last week that his company would be eager to educate displaced students in the Astrodome.

Absolutely not -- there should be no experimentation on these kids. It simply is not acceptable to use them to "try out" approaches that are not generally accepted. These kids need a normal school experience, whether they are integrated into local schools or are educated in their own special school. As for the Astrdome, those kids are scheduled to be out by Saturday, so that is a moot point.

The important thing is that these kids are educated, no matter where they are. If they are integrated into local schools, as is happening in my district, that is wonderful. But if logistics make a separate program the optimal solution for Katrina's kids, then regulations be damned.

Additional commentary from liberal bloggers at Think Progress, Huffington Post, Liquid Toast, Cory Holt. Hopefully conservative bloggers will pic this story up and contribute to the discussion.





|| Greg, 07:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Here We Go Again!

Another California judge has ruled the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional.

Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was ruled unconstitutional Wednesday by a federal judge who granted legal standing to two families represented by an atheist who lost his previous battle before the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

However, I detect one flaw in the argument made by the judge.

Since the Supreme Court tossed out the Newdow case on the standing issue, shouldn't that have vacated the entire set of rulings on the case, including the Ninth Circuit decision? Doesn't that mean that the ruling by the Ninth Circuit was nullified and of no effect? And wouldn't that mean that the decision of the Nith Circuit has no precedent value whatsoever?

Judge, you weren't bound by anything except your own predilections.

More at Michelle Malkin, Ankle Biting Pundits, How Appealing, California Conservative, Stop The ACLU, Deep Freeze, Double Toothpicks, and Jawa Report





|| Greg, 02:29 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (11) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Not Surprising -- And We Are Trying To Help

New Orleans teachers are receiving their last paycheck from before Hurricane Katrina -- and are being informed that they will not be paid again util schools reopen.

he paycheck issued this week to teachers is for the last pay period before the storm hit, said Bill Roberti, a director with the restructuring firm of Alvarez & Marsal, which runs the school system.

"This is the last payroll we will be able to issue for the time being," Roberti said in a briefing. "We were not able to move forward with the $50 million financing we were pursuing to keep the district afloat. We are very low on cash at this time."

The 7,000-employee, 116-school system was already in dire financial shape before Katrina hit, which is why the firm was pursuing the $50 million finance package.

A total of $13 million in payroll is available at Western Union branches across the country for teachers to pick up, Roberti said.

The state's schools superintendent said Tuesday he will ask Congress for $2.4 billion in aid for teacher benefits and salaries, and Alvarez & Marsal sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush as well, asking for help.

I pray for these teachers, since I know what terrible shape I would be in if the school where I teach closed and my salary were to be cut off.

And I am thankful that my district has found places for a few teachers, as have most of the other districts in the Houston area. Houston ISD itself held a job fair last week to try to find teachers for the 3000 extra students thay have taken in.

And while some of you may have seen the awful story from Jesse Jones High School, that is not typical of what is going on around here. Most of these kids are being welcomed with open arms at their new schools. I know the two in my classes are simply outstanding young people, and none of my colleagues have had a negative word to say about the evacuee kids in their classes, either.





|| Greg, 02:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Quote For The Ages!

John Roberts hit a homerun with this quote.

"The Constitution is the court's taskmaster and it's Congress' taskmaster as well."

If he had included the executive branch in there, it would have been a grand slam.

Remember -- every branch can check the other two, within the limits set by the Constitution. The ultimate arbiter is not the courts, but the Constitution itself.





|| Greg, 01:49 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Make that 102 Uses For A Dead Cat

I always liked the book 101 Uses For A Dead Cat. No, I don't hate cats that much (after all, they have some intrinsic value while they are still kittens), but the book did provide a lot of cheap laughs and sight-gaga.

Well, the updated edition will have to add this one.

A German inventor has angered animal rights activists with his answer to fighting the soaring cost of fuel -- dead cats.

Christian Koch, 55, from the eastern county of Saxony, told Bild newspaper that his organic diesel fuel -- a home-made blend of garbage, run-over cats, and other ingredients -- is a proven alternative to normal consumer diesel.

"I drive my normal diesel-powered car with this mixture," Koch said. "I have gone 170,000 km (106,000 miles) without
a problem."

The website of Koch's firm, "Alphakat GmbH", says his patented "KDV 500" machine can produce what he calls the "bio-diesel" fuel at about 23 euro cents (30 cents) a litre, which is about one-fifth the price at petrol stations now.

Koch said around 20 dead cats added into the mix could help produce enough fuel to fill up a 50-litre (11 gallon) tank.

But the president of the German Society for the Protection of Animals, Wolfgang Apel, said using dead cats for fuel was illegal.

"There's no danger for cats and dogs in Germany because this practice is outlawed in Germany," Apel told Bild on Wednesday in a story entitled "Can you really make fuel out of cats?"

"We're going to keep an eye on this case," Apel said.

Dead cats or dead dinosaurs -- which is a renewable resource?

(Cool -- thae Amazon link offers a bargain if you buy The Book of Bunny Suicides, too!)





|| Greg, 01:27 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Kelo Update

Just so you don't forget what happens to private individuals when the government wants to seize their property to give to other private interests.

A group that won a Supreme Court victory allowing it to seize property for private development is telling some residents to vacate their homes in the latest flash point in a nationwide controversy.

Representatives of the homeowners accused the quasi-public New London Development Corp. on Tuesday of reneging on a promise not to seize the properties while lawmakers considered changing the state's eminent-domain laws.

State House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward (R) called for a special session to enact a moratorium on property seizures, and homeowners vowed to continue fighting.

"They're going to have to pry my cold fingers from the house," said Michael Cristofaro, who received one of several vacate notices sent this week.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R) and state lawmakers had urged local governments to refrain from seizing property for development. Rell also favors a special session on the issue, a spokesman said.

But because the state had previously sanctioned the city's use of eminent domain for the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, it was unclear whether lawmakers could make New London delay its plans.

The notices order the property owners and tenants to vacate within 30 to 90 days and start paying rent to the development corporation during that period, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based group representing the homeowners. If residents do not comply, the agency has the option of pursuing an eviction in court.

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in June that New London could take homes in Fort Trumbull to build a privately owned hotel and office space. The court also said states are free to ban the taking of property for such projects.

And by the way -- the "just compensation" that the property owners are to be paid will be pegged to the 2000 market-value of the propeties (when the homeowners and other property-owners filed suit against New London), not the value of the property today. That makes it unlikely that any of the displaced families or busineses will be able to remain in the community, while the city will receive 2005 market value from the private developers.





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

What Caused Levee Failure?

Could it have been the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a 40 -year-old underutilized channel funnelled the storm surge into the New Orleans Industrial Canal and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway -- and from there into New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish and beyond?

Authorities have not yet concluded what caused the drowning of New Orleans, and most attention has focused on two breached floodwalls near Lake Pontchartrain, to the city's north. But now experts believe that the initial flooding that overwhelmed St. Bernard Parish and the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans came from the Gulf Outlet, a channel that was an ecological and economic disappointment long before Hurricane Katrina.

Satellite images show that levees along the outlet were severely damaged by storm surges. Flyovers by the Army Corps of Engineers have revealed a path of destruction consistent with Mashriqui's theory that the Outlet provided a pathway for storm surges from the Gulf and neighboring Lake Borgne.

Mashriqui had warned that the confluence of the MRGO and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway created a funnel that would direct storm surges into the New Orleans Industrial Canal and on into St. Bernard Parish. On the Friday before Katrina made landfall, the parish's state senator, Walter Boasso, complained at a congressional hearing that the federal government was "playing Russian roulette" with his constituents.

Katrina's first storm surges apparently shot up the Gulf Outlet and neighboring Lake Borgne from the southeast, then overtopped levees along the Outlet and the Industrial Canal. The floodwaters eventually breached the Industrial Canal's levees, and officials believe a large portion of the Outlet's levees have been destroyed as well.

"That funnel was a back door into New Orleans," said G. Paul Kemp, an oceanographer at the LSU Hurricane Center. "I don't think there's much doubt that was the initial cause of the disaster."

In other words, it may have been a failed attempt to create an efficient port that caused the flooding and the levee breakage, not the storm itself.

Oh, and by the way, please note this.

Before Katrina, the Corps was already studying whether to close the canal. The initial conclusion was no, but the Bush administration ordered the agency to redo its analysis.

The main advocates for the channel were the Port of New Orleans and its supporters in the Corps of Engineers and in Louisiana's congressional delegation. "You had the people of St. Bernard Parish against the Port of New Orleans," Boasso said at a community meeting Monday. "And the Port of New Orleans had the clout."

* * *

John Paul Woodley Jr., the assistant Army secretary who oversees the Corps, said the Bush administration had to instruct the agency to restart its study of whether to close the channel, because it hadn't taken into account the channel's destruction of wetlands, even though it was conducting a separate study of a $14 billion project to restore Louisiana's coastal wetlands. Woodley said there was also concern that further erosion could merge the channel with Lake Borgne -- which happened after Katrina.

So, whose priorities resulted in this catastrophe? Sounds like those local congressional delegation, not the president.

More at Strata-Spere and Liberal Common Sense (the title of this blog is the only way you'll ever see those three words adjacent to each other on RWR)





|| Greg, 01:06 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

New York Times Mississippi River Flip-Flop

It seems that the New York Times was against levee and drainage projects in Louisiana before they were for them. Unfortunately, the paper didn't come out for those projects until after Hurricane Katrina.

Look at this from April.

"Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects, this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs. Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is a bad piece of legislation."

The legislation, S. 728, would have spent $512 million on hurricane and storm damage reduction.

Now the Times wants is complaining that money wasn't given to the Corps of Engineers for hurricane and storm damage reduction projects.

I guess hindsight is 20/20.





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

Chronicle Doesn't Get It On Illegals

A recent sting by the Houston Police Department aimed at getting a burglar resulted in the arrest of a number of illegal aliens. There has, of course, been an outcry about the operation from all the usual liberal suspects.

Today the Houston Chronicle weighs in, taking a thouroughly predictable position.

On any given day, dozens of would-be laborers mill about Washington and Shepherd streets. Residents, many of them Latino, complained that the men were disrupting traffic by wading into the street whenever potential employers passed. So the local HPD unit devised a plan: Masquerading as contractors, officers hired dozens of day laborers from the street, then promptly arrested them. The ruse didn't yield the burglar; it did lead to 30 charges of solicitation by pedestrians — a Class C misdemeanor. Days later, most of the men were back on the streets.

Neighborhood residents were delighted, but the police sweep smacked of entrapment. It also sent the wrong message to Houston's immigrants, compromising public safety. Police, the arrests implied, were the enemy of people just trying to get work.

Actually, the arrests implied that if you break the law you are subject to arrest. In all honestly, the bulk of those cited should have been turned over to federal officials for deportation. -- but they weren't. Some laws, you see go unenforced by the Houston Police.

My question to the Chronicle and its supporters is a simple one -- When will you accept that these people are in violation of our nation's laws, and that they should be treated accordingly?





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

September 13, 2005

Strange Malpractice Case

I swear this is a real news story -- I could not have made it up to save my life.

At 10.15pm on Thursday the relative brought the 32-year-old woman to the bomoh’s house in Permatang Badak, near here, to seek a cure.

After relating her problem to the bomoh, he asked her to lie down.

He then took an egg and rolled it over her body, purportedly to sap out the spirit that was dwelling in her.

He then allegedly fondled and sucked her breasts.

Stunned, she immediately got up and demanded an explanation from the bomoh, to which he replied that she was “unclean” and he wanted to remove the bad spirits from her body.

Do you really mean it wasn't strange before he started to fondle and suck her breasts? Heck, that seems like the most normal part of the whole story.

(Hat Tip -- Raging Right Wing Republican)





|| Greg, 09:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Could This Mean Anything?

I just found this in my site log.

Referring Link: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=wallace b. jefferson&btnG=Google Search

Host Name: wdcsun26.usdoj.gov

IP Addres: 149.101.1.126

Countr: United States

Region: District Of Columbia

City: Washington

ISP: US Dept Of Justice

Who is Wallace B. Jefferson? He is the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

The link takes you to this old post of mine from November.

Does it mean anything?

After all, I hear there is an opening on the US Supreme Court -- and a second African-American justice on the Court could mend some storm-damaged fences.





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

Pay? For Dowd?

Could someone explain why I would want to?

Come Monday, Sept. 19, fans of New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, and David Brooks will have to break out their credit cards. Sept. 19 is the launch date of TimesSelect, a new subscription service designed to diversify the newspaper's revenue stream beyond traditional Web site advertising.

The popular Op-Ed columnists are the main selling point behind the $49.95 a year subscription. (The service will be free for the paper's home delivery subscribers). The paper's news, features, editorials, and analysis will remain free, as will interactive graphics, multimedia, and video.

I feel overcharged paying nothing for Krugman and Dowd – and can get Brooks from other sources. Ditto most of the major articles I would want to access.



» Mister Snitch! links with: Will fans pay to read New York Times' columnists?



|| Greg, 07:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

If Fetal Stem Cells Are OK, Why Not This?

Hey, if it is acceptable to take the tissues of slaughtered innocents for scientific experimentation, why not the tissues of the guilty for consumer products?

A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is "traditional" and nothing to "make such a big fuss about".

Think about it. The killings are legal under Chinese law, and the tissues arguably benefit others. And unlike aborted babies, the criminals whose tissue is used are actually guilty of a crime, so their execution does not raise the same moral concerns as using the stem cells of infants killed for convenience. The Chinese have even tied the two issues together as part of their research and marketting.

The agent told the researcher: "A lot of the research is still carried out in the traditional manner using skin from the executed prisoner and aborted foetus." This material, he said, was being bought from "bio tech" companies based in the northern province of Heilongjiang, and was being developed elsewhere in China.

He suggested that the use of skin and other tissues harvested from executed prisoners was not uncommon. "In China it is considered very normal and I was very shocked that western countries can make such a big fuss about this," he said. Speaking from his office in northern China, he added: "The government has put some pressure on all the medical facilities to keep this type of work in low profile."

The agent said his company exported to the west via Hong Kong."We are still in the early days of selling these products, and clients from abroad are quite surprised that China can manufacture the same human collagen for less than 5% of what it costs in the west." Skin from prisoners used to be even less expensive, he said. "Nowadays there is a certain fee that has to be paid to the court."

So see, there is even a societal benefit to this product, for the government makes money selling the skin of the executed prisoners. So why be skittish about this? Is it really so different from the harvesting of fetal stem cells? What is the real difference?

The story also notes that this is not out of line with Chinese practice. Stories of organs and other tissues being harvested from executed prisoners in China have been circulated for years.

Of course, I oppose these products and the ghoulish practices that lead to their creation. But then again, I also have serious moral reservations about the use of fetal stem cells for medical research. I guess it just comes down to a question of respect for human life and the reduction of human beings to commodities.





|| Greg, 07:11 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Some Questions In A Less Serious Vein

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on questions for John Roberts, here are some others that are a bit more whimsical from John Tierney.

If Roe v. Wade were a tree, what kind of tree would it be?

In your best judgment, did Brad and Jen really just grow apart, or was it Angelina's fault?

From your analysis of constitutional history, would you classify James Madison as a dog person or a cat person?

Suppose you'd been in Solomon's place when he proposed cutting the baby in two. And suppose neither woman objected. Would you have cut the baby? Flipped a coin? Or opted for foster care?

Would Thomas Jefferson have preferred the Beatles or the Stones?

When you were a clerk at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger was disliked for his pretentiousness. What nickname did the clerks have for him? Burger King?

The rest are equally amusing, though my favorite has to be this one.

Ashley or Mary-Kate?

Enjoy!





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

Does Abortion Trump Religious Freedom?

The right to free exercise of religion is clearly found in the Constitution.

The right to an abortion is, at best, an abstraction constructed from extensions of and inferences from the Constitution.

Why is it, then, that every time the two meet head-to-head, the supporters of abortion demand that the right of an individual to choose to exercise his/her religious freedom be limited or quashed altogether?

A group representing obstetricians and gynecologists is under attack for asking Congress to force doctors who morally object to abortion to give their patients referrals to doctors who will perform the procedure.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is guilty of "hypocrisy," according to the Christian Medical Association (CMA), for promoting the freedom to have an abortion on one hand, but opposing the choice of doctors to oppose the procedure on the other hand.

"Promoting choice has been the rally cry, but now they're saying we don't want our doctors having choice," CMA Associate Executive Director Dr. Gene Rudd said.

An Aug. 30 letter from ACOG to U.S. senators asked them to "require doctors with moral objections to refer abortions."

So I guess being “pro-choice” on abortion means being “no-choice” on the First Amendment.





|| Greg, 07:07 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

And you thought that the cafeteria food at YOUR school was weird.

A public junior high school in Japan's northern port town of Kushiro had a new item on the menu for its students Monday _ rice topped with whale curry.

The meat is from minke whales the local whalers had caught just off the coast of Kushiro on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido, Kyodo News agency reported.

Whale meat returned to public school lunches in Kushiro, the former whaling hub about 560 miles northeast of Tokyo, last year for the first time in 38 years as part of the city-sponsored campaign to promote whale meat.

Whale meat dishes, however, are not on the menu every day.

The whale curry will be served at elementary schools in town on Tuesday, and whale meat croquettes are planned in January, Kyodo said.

I still think it beats “mystery meat”.





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

Is This A Threat To Judicial Independence?

Conservative criticism of the judiciary has been called a threat to judicial independence and un-American by American liberals, who see the judicial branch as the only way of enacting their preferred policies over the objection of the American people.

What do these liberals have to say about this comment from an Ohio abortionist?

[Akron Women's Medical Group executive director Carol] Westfall didn't mince words about the decision issued late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith in Cincinnati. That decision upheld a 1998 state law that requires teenage girls to obtain parental consent before getting an abortion.

It also requires adults seeking abortions to meet in person with a doctor at least 24 hours beforehand to get a description of the procedure and information about alternatives. Under the former law, that information could be given over the phone or by videotape.

It was the 24-hour requirement that was causing problems at the local clinic.
``This ruling came out at quarter to five on a Thursday night. It was impossible to get a hold of these patients,'' Westfall said. ``My opinion is, the judge should be lynched.''

Excuse me? Lynched? For making a ruling you find inconvenient to your business interests? Doesn’t your threat against the life of a federal judge compromise judicial independence?

I look forward to Ms. Westfall’s indictment and arrest.





|| Greg, 07:04 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Al-Qaeda Hunger Strike

It seems that the Gitmo hunger strike is growing.

Military officials have characterized the protest as a "fast" of prisoners aimed at grabbing attention, and say it involves 128 prisoners. They say its significance is exaggerated by their lawyers.

Weir said no detainees are in danger of dying and that the military's treatment is preventing them from losing critical nutrition. Of the 18 people hospitalized, 13 are being force-fed through nasal tubes and five are being given intravenous hydration.

Hey – their bodies, their choice. I’m opposed to stopping any enemy of the United States from committing suicide -- provided they are not taking innocents with them. Just call me “pro-choice”.





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Astroworld Closing

Wow!

Rising land prices and falling attendance will close Houston landmark Astroworld at the end of the current season on Octover 30.

Something of that size will probably become a mixed-use development, including multifamily housing, retail and office, said Edmonds, who described the property as one of the largest contiguous pieces of land near the Medical Center.

Harris County officials said they did not know that Six Flags would be putting AstroWorld on the market, but they were not completely surprised.

"The park seems to underperform in comparison to some of their other parks," said County Judge Robert Eckels.

Mike Surface, chairman of the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp., which oversees Reliant Park, said: "There have been discussions for years about the viability of that location. You have a park that was obviously an aged park and limited in space needed for expansion."

Surface estimated that the land along the Loop, Kirby and Fannin could be worth $1 million an acre and that non-frontage property might go for $600,000 an acre.

After AstroWorld closes, an investor will likely build an amusement park in the Houston-area suburbs, some said.

"There is strong market in Houston for this type of facility," Eckels said.

Six Flags will continue to have a presence in the Houston area with Six Flags SplashTown water park.

I don't know about building another amusement park. Six Flags has FiestaTexas over in San Antonio, and Six Flags over Texas in the Dallas. Between the water parks in the Houston area and the additional parks in San Antonio (SeaWorld). I wonder how much interest there really will be in another amusement park -- especially depending on where it is located. After all, AstroWorld was close to downtown and centrally located -- any replacement is likely to be out towards katy and the west suburbs, bringing it ever closer to San Antonio .





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Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Katrina: Response Timeline by Right Wing Nut House, and 10 Things I learned From Hurricane Katrina. by Varifrank.  The full results of the votemay be found here.

The Watcher's offer of link whorage may be found here.





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

September 12, 2005

Five And Twenty Questions

The New York Times published five sets of five questions for Judge Roberts in today’s edition, set forth by various legal professionals. Some are mundane, some are arcane, and some are actually pretty good. I’d like to highlight some of them.

From Stanford Law professor Kathleen Sullivan:

2. As a student of history, you know that the past is not always prologue. What are three constitutional issues you think will be more important by 2020 than any on which we are focusing now?

From former attorney general Dick Thornburgh:

5. Do you believe that it would further citizens' understanding of our judicial process if arguments before the Supreme Court were to be broadcast or televised live?

From Ron Klain, a former Democrat Judiciary Committee staffer and Clinton judicial selection director:

4. In a memo you wrote in 1981, you criticized affirmative action "preferences" based on race, calling them "objectionable." If preferences given to those born into families that have suffered past discrimination are objectionable, what is your view of preferences given to those born into the families of privilege - namely, the preferences that many universities give to the families of their alumni?

5. Chief Justice William Rehnquist held an annual Christmas celebration in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court, complete with avowedly religious carols, despite periodic objections from some of his colleagues and non-Christian law clerks. As chief justice, will you continue with this practice, and do you find it at odds with the spirit of the court's edicts regarding church and state?

From Marshall University Professor and John Marshall biographer Jean Edward Smith:

1. Chief Justices John Marshall, Charles Evan Hughes and Earl Warren were extraordinarily effective working with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and with differing political views. Can you think of any characteristics these men may have shared that facilitated this?

3. Is it important for a chief justice to have had judicial experience?


5. One of John Marshall's first actions upon becoming chief justice was to take his colleagues out of their multicolored robes and put them in simple black. Do you intend to revert to that tradition, and retire that Gilbert and Sullivan chief justice costume William Rehquist designed?

From the Instapundit himself, University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds:

1. The Ninth Amendment provides that "the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." Do you believe that this language binds federal courts, or do you believe - as Robert Bork does - that it is an indecipherable "inkblot?" If the former, how are federal courts to determine what rights are retained by the people? On the other hand, if the Ninth Amendment does not create enforceable rights, what is it doing taking up one-tenth of the Bill of Rights?

3. Could a human-like artificial intelligence constitute a "person" for purposes of protection under the 14th Amendment, or is such protection limited, by the 14th Amendment's language, to those who are "born or naturalized in the United States?"

5. Is scientific research among the expressive activities protected by the First Amendment? If not, is Congress free to bar research based solely on its decision that there are some things we're better off not knowing?

From a purely intellectual standpoint, I love many of the questions that appeared. I encourage readers to look at them all, if only for the fun of having fodder for discussion and rumination.





|| Greg, 04:37 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Restraint and Compassion?

Jonah Goldberg points to this little gem from the latest al-Qaeda communiqué.

"Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing. And this time, don't count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion," the tape warns. "We are Muslims. We love peace, but peace on our terms, peace as laid down by Islam, not the so-called peace of occupiers and dictators."

Restraint? Compassion? Really?

Sounds to me like these terrorists accept the notion of Islam as a religion of peace – provided that it is an Islamic peace extorted through murder and mayhem, imposed upon those to cowardly to fight back.

For that reason alone, we must institute a full-blown Crusade Against Islamic Terror.





|| Greg, 04:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Not, Of Course, That They Are Anti-Semitic

After all, how could one possibly see anti-Semitism in this?

As the last IDF soldiers were heading out of the Gaza Strip early Monday morning, thousands of celebrating Palestinians took to the streets and made their way to the abandoned Jewish settlements.

Palestinian bulldozers began on Monday afternoon to knock down the synagogues left in Gaza.

In Neveh Dekalim – formerly Gush Katif's urban center – Palestinians set fire to what was just last month a yeshiva.

Gunmen from several Palestinian factions stormed through the settlement. One group planted a flag from the ruling Fatah movement on the roof of the yeshiva, while others set a fire inside.

Flames also shot skyward from the synagogue building in the isolated settlement of Morag in southern Gaza.

I guess the “drive the Jews into the sea” mentality is still prevalent, even when the Israelis unilaterally give into the demands of the Palestinians.





|| Greg, 04:24 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Atheism An Obstacle To Charity?

It is always interesting to watch an atheist wave his hand and dismiss the faith-based claims of religious believers as so much hogwash. That is usually followed by an assertion that religion is the greatest force for evil in society and the greatest blight upon the history of mankind. What one rarely sees is such a rejection of the articles of faith combined with an acknowledgement that religion makes believers better people, not worse. Yet that is what one gets in today’s edition of the Guardian, courtesy of Roy Hattersley.

I believe a good Fisking is in order.

Hurricane Katrina did not stay on the front pages for long. Yesterday's Red Cross appeal for an extra 40,000 volunteer workers was virtually ignored.

The disaster will return to the headlines when one sort of newspaper reports a particularly gruesome discovery or another finds additional evidence of President Bush's negligence. But month after month of unremitting suffering is not news. Nor is the monotonous performance of the unpleasant tasks that relieve the pain and anguish of the old, the sick and the homeless - the tasks in which the Salvation Army specialise.

Actually, Roy, there won’t be any need for evidence – the press will simply make some up, or accept the charges of partisan hacks as holy writ.

The Salvation Army has been given a special status as provider-in-chief of American disaster relief. But its work is being augmented by all sorts of other groups. Almost all of them have a religious origin and character.

Notable by their absence are teams from rationalist societies, free thinkers' clubs and atheists' associations - the sort of people who not only scoff at religion's intellectual absurdity but also regard it as a positive force for evil.

While the most notable private charity involved in relief is the American Red Cross, I agree with your more general point – it is religious charities and faith-based groups that are doing the bulk of the work in this country. When one considers that many of the volunteers are, in fact, part of organized groups from churches and other houses of worship, the degree of religious involvement in the relief effort is staggering. And, of course, most charity work in this country has some faith-based component anyway.

The arguments against religion are well known and persuasive. Faith schools, as they are now called, have left sectarian scars on Northern Ireland. Stem-cell research is forbidden because an imaginary God - who is not enough of a philosopher to realise that the ingenuity of a scientist is just as natural as the instinct of Rousseau's noble savage - condemns what he does not understand and the churches that follow his teaching forbid their members to pursue cures for lethal diseases.

Well known? Perhaps. Persuasive? Obviously not, given the degree of adherence to religious belief around the world.

As for the Irish problem, it has less to do with sectarian division than it has to do with a longstanding British policy of subjugation of the Irish to English control in their own homeland – a policy that predates the Reformation by centuries. Though Henry VIII, Oliver Cromwell and the Stuart Pretenders give the matter a religious gloss, it is more properly understood as based in ethnicity than in theology.

And I won’t even dignify the argument on stem-cell research with a response, for the personhood question is grounded as much in philosophy as theology. For that matter, it is grounded as much in biology as it is in either theology or philosophy.

Yet men and women who believe that the Pope is the devil incarnate, or (conversely) regard his ex cathedra pronouncements as holy writ, are the people most likely to take the risks and make the sacrifices involved in helping others. Last week a middle-ranking officer of the Salvation Army, who gave up a well-paid job to devote his life to the poor, attempted to convince me that homosexuality is a mortal sin.

Of course they are. After all, they accept that there is something to life that extends beyond the simple pleasures of the world. Life has meaning because it leads to something beyond life. For those who believe that there is nothing else, why waste a moment of life on pursuits that are other than hedonistic?

Late at night, on the streets of one of our great cities, that man offers friendship as well as help to the most degraded and (to those of a censorious turn of mind) degenerate human beings who exist just outside the boundaries of our society. And he does what he believes to be his Christian duty without the slightest suggestion of disapproval. Yet, for much of his time, he is meeting needs that result from conduct he regards as intrinsically wicked.

But that is where you are wrong. I do not doubt that your companion does view these individuals as degraded and degenerate. But Christianity teaches that we are ALL degraded and degenerate because of our sinful nature. The reason for the lack of disapproval is that he recognizes that he is no better than those to whom he ministers, not that they are no worse than him. If asked, he will probably tell you that he, too, is a sinner and that he, too, has areas in his life in which he manifests behavior that is equally wicked in the eyes of God.

Civilised people do not believe that drug addiction and male prostitution offend against divine ordinance. But those who do are the men and women most willing to change the fetid bandages, replace the sodden sleeping bags and - probably most difficult of all - argue, without a trace of impatience, that the time has come for some serious medical treatment. Good works, John Wesley insisted, are no guarantee of a place in heaven. But they are most likely to be performed by people who believe that heaven exists.

So, we are uncivilised if we view the trade in human flesh as contrary to the laws of God? We are not up to your standards if we see addiction to be wrong in the eyes of God? My, what a sad thing your “civilization” is! What you fail to see is that we seek to end prostitution and drug addiction and a host of societal ills because they promote actions that block one’s relationship with God. All the acts of charity you list are about meeting the basic needs of our fellow man so that they are in a position to encounter God – something that is hard to focus on when one is starving or seeking one’s next fix.

The correlation is so clear that it is impossible to doubt that faith and charity go hand in hand. The close relationship may have something to do with the belief that we are all God's children, or it may be the result of a primitive conviction that, although helping others is no guarantee of salvation, it is prudent to be recorded in a book of gold, like James Leigh Hunt's Abu Ben Adam, as "one who loves his fellow men". Whatever the reason, believers answer the call, and not just the Salvation Army. When I was a local councillor, the Little Sisters of the Poor - right at the other end of the theological spectrum - did the weekly washing for women in back-to-back houses who were too ill to scrub for themselves.

What you fail to recognizes is that religious faith, particularly Christianity, is often based around a call to charity. It isn’t “Do good because it is pleasing to me.” Rather, it is “Do good because it is pleasing to God.” If one sees oneself as a God’s servant rather than one’s own, there is a tenaciousness to serve one’s Master by helping to bring about the order God seeks.

It ought to be possible to live a Christian life without being a Christian or, better still, to take Christianity à la carte. The Bible is so full of contradictions that we can accept or reject its moral advice according to taste. Yet men and women who, like me, cannot accept the mysteries and the miracles do not go out with the Salvation Army at night.

But it isn’t. A Christian life is infused by grace, which comes through faith. The rejection of faith is the rejection of grace – the putting of self ahead of God and the rejection of his gift.

The only possible conclusion is that faith comes with a packet of moral imperatives that, while they do not condition the attitude of all believers, influence enough of them to make them morally superior to atheists like me. The truth may make us free. But it has not made us as admirable as the average captain in the Salvation Army.

Exactly – true faith does have a packet of moral imperatives that makes believers morally superior to atheists. That you have discovered this truth should tell you that the atheism you hold to so fervently might not be truth at all. Could the problem be that most atheists ultimately believe in “government” or “society” as having responsibility to act – and therefore write off the importance of a personal commitment to do good, while religious individuals see such action as a part of their duty to God? In short, are the fruits of belief in God proof of the existence of God – and the lack of fruits from atheism the proof of that belief system’s ultimate bankruptcy?





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This Man Obviously Doesn’t Know Houston

They are already looking to re-open one French Quarter strip-joint. The only things missing are water, electricity, and, oh yeah, strippers.

Not that the owner is worried.

But Jones, a corpulent man with a strawberry blond beard wearing a black t-shirt reading "I'm smiling because they haven't found the bodies yet," foresaw few problems getting strippers.

"It shouldn't be too hard. Everyone's going to come back in town and want to work. You know, if you've got 50 dancers in Houston and they're not making money, they're going to spread out," he said.

At the risk of trashing my own town, Jones obviously does not know Houston.

The Bayou City features more strip-joints than I had ever seen in my life before I had moved down here.

I think he might just have a problem getting the girls back after all.





|| Greg, 03:42 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Observation On The Flight 93 Memorial

The design of the memorial to the Heroes of Flight 93 has caused a furor. A.M. Siriano offers this analysis of what is wrong with the design -- not merely the inclusion of a Muslim crescent, but also of a structure that mimics a Muslim minaret!

I can think of no greater affront to American honor than to slap a blatantly Islamic symbol across a 9/11 memorial, but that is exactly what is in the works. The winning entry for the Flight 93 National Memorial, unveiled on September 7th, just four days before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, includes both the Islamic symbol of the Crescent--the "Crescent of Embrace"--and, more carefully disguised, a minaret-like structure called the "Tower of Voices" whose chimes continually "celebrate a living memory of those who are honored." Just who is being honored is in question.

The Los Angeles-based architect who submitted this disgraceful design is Paul Murdoch, who insists that no connection to Islam was intended, that his memorial is "not about religion, per se," but is to be a spiritual, sacred place open to all. So is this much ado about nothing? ...a mere coincidence?

If you believe that, then you don't understand the nature of artists, which is what architects are. (Try to debate with them that they are not; you will get an earful.)

The inclusion of symbols of the malign theology that led to the deaths of the passengers and crew of Flight 93, as well as of so many other Americans on 9/11 is unacceptable.

Especially because of what will not be included at Ground Zero.

But let's imagine that Murdoch had, by naïve coincidence, incorporated a giant Cross in his designs, and nearby a building that looked something like--by sheer chance, mind you--a cathedral. Imagine the atheistic outcry from the left!

The fact is, that very thing has already happened, at Ground Zero itself, when a Cross of Steel was found amidst the rubble and hoisted high for the faithful to come and offer prayers. Some folks, like me, wanted to see that Cross become a permanent fixture of the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan (it never mattered to us if it was a natural or supernatural manifestation, only that it was a worthy and comforting symbol). The American Atheists and other groups killed the proposal with little trouble. The Cross, discovered by a Christian, Frank Silecchia, now resides on "the high walkway over West Street." How's that for a weak testimony to the Christian heritage upon which this country was founded?

Yes -- the symbol of the faith of so many of the honored dead of 9/11 will not be inculded at the site of their deaths -- but the symbols of their murderers will be included at another 9/11 memorial.

I urge those responsible to scrap the current Flight 93 memorial plan and to go back to seek another design.

(More on Flight 93 Memorial here and here.



» reverse_vampyr links with: Crescent of Disgrace



|| Greg, 05:39 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

Nagin On Bush

I'm not a Ray Nagin fan, and think that many decisions made on the local level made this disaster worse. I find his analysis of the president's response to Hurricane Katrina to be rather surprising, and refreshing, given some of his comments early in the recovery process.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin yesterday said President Bush "made things happen" in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but offered no praise for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who remains in control of the National Guard and refuses to order a mandatory evacuation of the devastated city. Mr. Bush has been criticized by Democrats for the federal government's response to the storm, but the Democratic mayor -- whose own actions are now under scrutiny -- suggested major mistakes were made on the state level. "I think [Mr. Bush] was probably getting advice from some of his key advisers or some low-level folk that had been on the ground that this was serious, but not as serious as it ended up being," Mr. Nagin said. "My interactions with the president, at any time I talked with him and gave him what the real deal was and gave him the truth, he acted and he made things happen," Mr. Nagin told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Take that, Kanye West and the rest of you ranting liberals.





|| Greg, 05:30 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

This Is Bad, If True

The AP offers this report from Massachusetts about the likely failure of a compromise constitutional amendment on the gay marriage question.

A fragile coalition of lawmakers cobbled together to support an anti-gay marriage amendment is falling apart, virtually assuring that same-sex marriage will for now remain legal in Massachusetts, according to an Associated Press poll.

The survey, conducted between Sept. 6-9, found at least 104 lawmakers who plan to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment, which would ban gay marriage but create civil unions.

The amendment, which is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, needs the support of at least 101 of the state's 200 lawmakers to get on the 2006 ballot.

I'd like to remind members of the Massachusetts Legislature of the following words from the Declaration of Independence.

. . . Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. . .

I urge members of the Massachusetts legislature to permit the people of massachusetts the opportunity to alter the Massachusetts Constitution, as is their fundamental right as a free people.

UPDATE: Jefferson weeps in the Great beyond -- people of Massachusetts denied the right to alter their state Constitution.

Will this usurpation by the Massachusetts legislature result in the denial of the right of the citizens of all 49 other states to determine what constitutes marriage in their states?





|| Greg, 05:22 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Is Owen The Pick?

Robert Novak seems to think that Judge Priscilla Owen of the Fifth Circuit Court Of Appeals is the leading candidate for Supreme Court.

With Senate confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice virtually assured, the struggle for the Supreme Court returns to replacing retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The belief in legal and political circles is that President Bush will name a conservative woman, and the front-runner is federal Appellate Judge Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit, Austin, Texas).

According to White House sources, Bush met secretly with Owen last week. While not decisive evidence, this was no mere get-acquainted session beginning a long exploration. He knows and admires his fellow Texas Republican. The countervailing political pressure on Bush is to name a Hispanic American, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a Texas Republican the president knows and likes even better than he does Owen. But signals last week he might name Gonzales probably should not be taken seriously.

Novak notes that Owen's four months on the appeals court is more than what David Souter had when he was nominated by the first Bush -- and that she has over a decade of experience on the Texas Supreme Court. A negative is that she just survived a very close confirmation vote, having been filibustered for four years by Senate Democrats, though her recent confirmation could be a positive given the deal to end the filibuster. This analysis from the Supreme Court Nomination Blog in July lays out some interesting arguments in favor of her nomination.





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

September 11, 2005

In Memoriam -- 9/11/2001

Originally Posted on September 11, 2004

So many died that horrible day.

One was my classmate at Washington and Lee University, Commander Robert Allan Schlegel.

I would love to tell you he and I were close. That would be a lie.

I would love to share stories of great times together. I don't have any.

What I can tell you is that I remember Rob Schlegel as a good guy, a friend of some friends. I remember him as being a bright guy, sitting a couple rows over and a couple seats back in a US History class. One of those classmates you later wish you had gotten to know when you had the chance.

Rest in Peace.

May all all the victims of September 11 and the many men and women of our armed forces who have died fighting terrorism since that day rest in peace.

And let us not forget those heroes who still live.





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

Why Show These?

I've always questioned the showing of graphic photos of the dead to children. Yeah, I know that they were a staple of driver's education -- but they were not local photos. If you show local photos, you risk something like this.

A 12-year-old girl saw her father's remains in a gruesome photograph shown during a presentation by police warning teenagers about the dangers of drunken driving.

The girl's mother, Marla Cabbage Higginbotham, said her daughter was traumatized by the experience at her middle school last month in which she saw her father lying in a pool of blood with a crushed skull and mutilated face and torso.

She said the family did not know he had been drinking when he died.

An attorney representing the mother and daughter sent a letter to the Knox County law director's office calling for an investigation.

"Why are we showing 12-year-olds mutilated dead bodies when they can't even drive a car for four more years?" attorney Gregory P. Isaacs said Friday. The police "are good people with good intentions who have made a terrible, terrible mistake."

Police officers say the names of the victims about to be shown and ask if any students knew them. They called out the name of William F. Cabbage before showing pictures of the wreck.

The girl did not recognize his name because she knew her father as Lynn Cabbage.

I'm sorry -- this is unacceptable. Shouldn't there have been family permission before using the photos in any presentation? Shouldn't there have been family permission before the kids were subjected to the photos?





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I Agree With Arlen

When the man is right, he's right. And on the issue of appointing Alberto Gonzales to the Supreme Court, he is definitely right.

``I believe it's a little too soon for Attorney General Gonzales to move up,'' Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' program. ``He's an able fellow, but we just went through a tough confirmation hearing, and my sense is that the national interest would be best served if he stayed in that job right now.''

The confirmation fight was bruising, but ultimately some folks voted for him because a president is really entitled to have the peopel he wants in the Cabinet. An appointment to the Supreme Court will draw much more fire -- and would very likely be defeated even without the opposition of members of the political right who are concerned about the former Texas Supreme Court justice's judicial philosophy.

For the sake of the country, sir, pick somenone else.





|| Greg, 08:25 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Help the Evacuees Or Play Politics

The evacuees in the shelter in the People's Republic of Austin were pleased to see the Vice President of the United States.

At the convention center, where some 1,500 evacuees remained Saturday, Cheney met briefly with 23-year-old Telisha Diaz, who told him she spent four days at the New Orleans convention center before being brought to Austin a week ago.

"It's overwhelming that the state of Texas is giving so much, just giving us everything — jobs, food," Diaz told the vice president, who was surrounded by local officials and congressmen.

Cheney said Diaz's sentiments of gratitude were echoed by all of the evacuees he had spoken with in the two weeks since the hurricane pummeled Gulf Coast communities in Louisiana and Mississippi. He applauded Texas' response to the disaster and the outpouring of support from the state's leaders and residents.

"I was impressed with the caliber of the effort that was mounted here, and it's a good place to come learn some valuable lessons," Cheney said.

But for about two dozen residents of the state's officially designated sanctuary city for endangered socialists, it was an opportunity to take a national tragedy and expolit it for political purposes, chanting "Cheney, Cheney, you can't hide, we charge you with genocide.".

While the evacuees seemed to appreciate Cheney's visit, protesters saw it as an opportunity to voice frustration over a Halliburton Co. subsidiary's involvement in emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and Marine facilities.

Cheney headed Halliburton from 1995 to 2000, and Democrats have questioned whether the company has gotten favorable treatment because of his connection.

"Cheney is profiteering off of murder," said 36-year-old Debbie Russell of Austin, who flashed an obscene gesture at the vice president when he waved at her and other protesters as he got into his vehicle.

Nice show of class, Debbie. You seem to have ignored the fact that the company was the low bidder for the contract whenit was awarded over a year ago.





|| Greg, 08:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Blanco And The Evacuees

Louisiana Libertarian, having survived Katrina relatively intact (and having scared a number of us by his long silence -- good to have you back, dude!), gives us this round-up from the persepctive of a survivor. One of his links is to a story about Gov. Blanco and her apparent decsision to avoid the evacuees.

At the Rayne Civic Center, emotions are high. The people are desperately waiting the arrival of Governor Blanco. All they are looking for are answers.

"I want her to tell us that she's going to find a way very soon for us to get housing," says Sidney Matthews, an evacuee from New Orleans.

"All we're asking for is help," exclaims Cassandra Dellihoue. "We're not here to badger anybody. We're not here to lose control. We're asking for help."

Despite the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Beverly Godfrey remains positive. "No, I'm not. I'm not ever giving up hope."

As a glimmer of hope pulled into the parking lot, Governor Blanco is not on the bus, only her representatives.

"The governor wished she could be here," explains Connie Nelson, a Blanco representative.

"Here everybody's under the impression the Governor coming here and she's sending representatives," says one evacuee. "She's not here. It's nothing but lies and lies constantly. Enough is enough."

"I'm very disappointed because I feel like I'm being brushed away," says Dellihoue.

Lynette Byrd has been a Blanco supporter for years but her loyalty is beginning to shift. "I've always been for Governor Blanco, always. I'm a woman. But right now, I feel she's let us down."

And what about the answers to all of the evacuees questions?

Blanco representative Nelson had this to say to evacuees. "We don't have those answers and I have to apologize that we do not have those answers but we will get those answers to you."

"When you need us, we are there," says Dellihoue. "When you need our votes, we are there. Now that we need you, come and get us. We need you now!"

Lynette Byrd makes a final plea. "Governor Blanco, I'm begging you to get us some help. Please!"

Somehow, though, Blanco never has a problem finding the media. Maybe if we shipped those folks some video cameras and microphones, they might get some attention fom their governor.





|| Greg, 08:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 10, 2005

Why Not A Woman And A Hispanic

The speculation is out there. Will President Bush replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a Hispanic or a woman? Thre are some of both on everyone's list -- but over at RedState.org, we are hearing that the eventual choice may not be a that was widely mentioned.

That got me to asking about possible nominees who fill BOTH categories. Why not a Latina?

If the President does go that direction, there are a few possible nominees with the experience.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who's sat on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York for seven years, often is mentioned, though far down the list. A Princeton University and Yale Law School graduate, she worked as a prosecutor in New York and was put on the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush. Maybe it works against her that President Bill Clinton promoted her to the appellate court.

If Bush wants his own appeals court judge, he might consider Consuelo Maria Callahan, who has as much time on the 9th Circuit as Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. had on the D.C. Circuit. Callahan graduated from Stanford University and Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento (where Justice Anthony Kennedy once taught), then worked as a prosecutor and judge in California.

If he prefers Ivy Leaguers, Bush could try U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, whom he appointed in 2003. After graduating from Yale Law School, she worked as a Miami-Dade County prosecutor and was appointed to a state circuit court seat by Gov. Jeb Bush before moving to the federal bench.

Altonaga has dealt with a case involving a nativity scene on public property and a lawsuit over same-sex marriage laws. She even sentenced a child pornographer to 100 years in prison. (Full disclosure: In 1984-85, she lived a floor above me in a Yale residence.)

I'll toss the question out there to folks -- what do you know about these judges? Are any of them Supreme Court material?





|| Greg, 09:28 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Fashion Fatwa

No, I'm not kidding. The choice of athletic wear for an Indian Muslim tennis player has resulted in a fatwa from an Islamic cleric in India.

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Sania Mirza, 18, who became the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam at the US Open last week, is hugely popular in India.

The fatwa - in effect, a demand that she cover up - was issued by a senior cleric of the Sunni Ulema Board, a little-known group. Similar fatwas have been issued against Mirza, who comes from a devout Muslim family, but none has ever gained popular support among India's 130 million Muslims.

"The dress she wears on the tennis courts…leaves nothing to the imagination," Haseeb-ul-hasan Siddiqui told The Hindustan Times. "She will undoubtedly be a corrupting influence."

He said she should follow the example of Iranian women who wore long tunics and headscarves to play in the Asian Badminton Championships.

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There is mixed reaction in India and abroad.

Expressing shock, Nanduri from Werribee, Australia writes, "Sania is an Indian and is Muslim by birth, and not by her own choice. She represents India and not the Muslim group of such self-centred religious leaders. India should ban such leaders from making such rubbish statements."

"Sania goes to the field to play the match and not to portray her religion. And one does not become a Muslim by growing beard and by wearing a veil," says Ambrin, another reader from Dubai. Avnish from the US flashes a cogent argument, "Indonesia has 90 per cent population, which is Muslim and most ladies wear skirts above the knees?"

But there are other views as well, Javed, from Toronto says, "Why can't a woman wear a long sleeve shirt and sports pants and play tennis if men can do it? Nadal wears pants that go below his knee. Why can't Sania wear pants that go all the way to her ankles?" he argues.

Taking a broader perspective on the subject Badri Raina from New Delhi says, "The very fact that Sania is out there playing suggests that she has the correct perspective on history; from the time of the first organised human societies, residual notions have sought to make targets of select individuals and events to attempt continued survival in the face of the knowledge that they are on the way out."

My question is what comes next -- will Sania be the next Muslim girl murdered for her failure to follow a sharia dress code?

More at MasalaSpice, Pickled Politics, Fine? Why Fine?, IsraPundit, In The Bullpen, and Instant Kaapi,





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

A Modification Of Opinion

I read the Washington Post's editorial on Jose Padilla with great interest -- given that it essentially concedes the correctness of yesterday's ruling which effectively says that Padilla may be detained until the end of the conflict with al-Qaeda.

And strangely enough, I found myself -- sort of -- in agreement with the position that the paper takes at the end of the article, namely that the time has come to prosecute Padilla.

At this stage, there is no good reason to keep holding Mr. Padilla in a status that raises so many troubling questions and that risks so much. His intelligence value is exhausted, and he would be as disabled from rejoining the fight in a federal prison as in a military brig. Instead of trying its luck before the Supreme Court, the administration ought to seek congressional legislation to regulate such cases. In the immediate term, it should file criminal charges against Mr. Padilla, if it continues to insist he is a dangerous terrorist. Allowing Mr. Padilla a full opportunity to defend himself in a regular criminal proceeding would not only protect liberties, it would avoid another damaging setback for presidential war powers by the high court.

So yes, I retract my support for Padilla's indefinite detention and lend my support for an immediate trial. But whereas the Post envisions a civilian trial for this al-Qaada operative, I propose instead the Executive Branch dispose of this case as was done with the Nazi saboteurs in Ex Parte Quirin. Yeah, that's right -- a military trial.

Padilla's crimes are essentially those of an enemy fighter acting unlawfully to make war upon the United States. Under American law and all international law precedents, a military court is the appropriate place to handle such a case. Supreme Court precedent makes it clear that this in no way violates the Constitution, and military courts are subject to the essential due process requirements of the Constitution. Furthermore, it would be a travesty of justice for one who entered teh US intent on making war upon it to be subject to greater legal protection than our own military personnel who have sworn to uphold, protect, and defend this country and its Constitution.

So let's begin the prosecution of Padilla (or should we be super-sensitive and call him by his chosen name, Abdullah al-Muhajir) before a military court -- to be followed, one should sincerely hope, by a swift and speedy execution upon his conviction.

(Hat Tip -- The Southern California Law Blog





|| Greg, 05:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Liberal Cannibalism

Don't you just love it when the whack-jobs embraced by the Left turn and eat their own allies?

The Vacaville woman who made national headlines with a peace vigil outside President Bush's Texas ranch brought her rhetorical guns to bear Friday on one of California's U.S. senators.

Cindy Sheehan — whose son, Casey, 24, was a soldier killed in Baghdad in April 2004 — met briefly with an aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., before telling reporters the lawmaker's reasons for supporting Iraq's ongoing occupation are "very bogus."

The Iraqi constitution the United States purportedly is supporting is based on Islamic law and severely curtails women's rights, she said, and the leaders America is protecting are "puppet leaders who George Bush put into place."

Iraqi soldiers the United States is training are seen as collaborators and can do little more than fight for survival, and Iraq's crucial infrastructure continues to be eroded by an insurgency fueled by our military presence, she said.

Feinstein previously has acknowledged that she and other lawmakers were lied to about the reasons for going to war, and that if she knew then what she knew now, she would not have voted to support the conflict, Sheehan said.

"Well, if she knows it's wrong, it's time to bring our kids home," she said.

But Barbara Boxer has lined up right behind Sheehan, who calls teh al-Qaeda affiliates who murdered her son "freedom fighters" and her son's fellow soldiers "terrorists" and "murderers" -- and who has declared America "not worth dying for."

UPDATE: The more mainstream press provides coverage, too.

"If she is a strong leader, and if she's strong about bringing the troops home, we will support her," Sheehan said. "If she is not, we will withdraw our support from her."

Sheehan said Feinstein's reasons for supporting the occupation in Iraq were "very bogus."

"There is no noble cause," Sheehan said. "This war is based on lies. To me, it's not rocket science."

Which Democrat will she start gnawing on next?





|| Greg, 02:37 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why They Couldn't Leave

Who ordered this attrocity -- cops on one side of the bridge telling them to cross, and cops on the other side turning them back?

Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds trying to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, two paramedics who were in the crowd said.

The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said. The witnesses said they had been told by the New Orleans police to cross that same bridge because buses were waiting for them there.

Instead, a suburban police officer angrily ordered about 200 people to abandon an encampment between the highways near the bridge. The officer then confiscated their food and water, the four witnesses said. The incidents took place in the first days after the storm last week, they said.

"The police kept saying, 'We don't want another Superdome,' and 'This isn't New Orleans,' " said Larry Bradshaw, a San Francisco paramedic who was among those fleeing.

Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna, La., Police Department, confirmed that his officers, along with those from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Crescent City Connection Police, sealed the bridge.

"There was no place for them to come on our side," Mr. Lawson said.

He said that he had been asked by reporters about officers threatening victims with guns or shooting over their heads, but he said that he had not yet asked his officers about that.

"As soon as things calm down, we will do an inquiry and find out what happened," he said.

Actually, Lawson, you need an inquiry now.

Looks like another screw-up on the state/local level. Wanna bet the Left tries to pin this one on the president, too.

(Hat Tip -- Instapundit and JustOneMinute)





|| Greg, 02:22 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Politics Of Personal Destruction From Howard Dean

Look at this incredible statement from DNC Chair Howard Dean. It appears that he believes that opposing the policies advocated by the Democrat Party makes you opposed to equality and a bad American. The bold-face type is mine.

DEAN: My point is that John Roberts has a record. John Roberts appears to be a wonderful, decent, family person, but, again, we get back to the question about whether you really care and whether you have compassion. It's not enough to say you care.

It's what you've done. John Roberts' legal career has been about taking away every protection for young girls and women who want to participate in sports, for African-Americans and Hispanics, who want the equal same right to vote as everybody else, for taking away for women who believe they should determine what kind of health care they have, instead of having politicians do it.

His entire legal career appears to be about making sure those folks don't have the same rights everybody else does. That's probably not the right thing to do two weeks after a disaster, where certain members of society clearly did not have the same protections that everybody else did because of their circumstances. Americans are fair people and they want a sense of justice. I know Judge Roberts loves the law. I'm not sure he loves the American people.

Let's clarify what Howard is talking about here.

Roberts differed with liberals on how Title IX should be applied. He questioned whether one provision of the Voting Rights Act -- a section requiring FEDERAL APPROVAL for every change in district lines, election dates, and polling place locations in some states but not in others, such as Vermont -- should be renewed. And he is a Catholic who really believes in the sanctity of human life -- and has worked to protect the First Amendment rights of pro-life protesters.

Based upon these mainstream political positions, Howard Dean contends that John Roberts hates the American people.

Based upon these mainstream political positions, Howard Dean is questioning the patriotism -- the Americanism -- of a sitting federal judge.

Shame!





|| Greg, 10:46 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Persecuted Church Watch: China

Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right.

This right continues to be under attack in China.

China Aid learned that more than 210 Chinese house church pastors and believers have been arrested in Hubei, Hebei and Henan Provinces since July 2005. Two American tourists in China were also mistreated in this most recent crackdown on a house church in Hubei Province.

On August 2, 2005, while two American tourists were preparing to have Christian fellowship with 41 Chinese House church pastors and believers at their host family’s home in Lutou Town, Zaoyang City, Hubei Province approximately 30 Chinese plain-clothed police officers rushed into the house.

According to several eyewitness reports, the two American theological students, believed to be from Westminster Theological Seminary Campuses in Texas and California, were handled very unprofessionally. One sustained injuries to his wrists after being handcuffed because he wanted to put his shoes on before he was forced into an unmarked police car.

The police refused to reveal their identifications. The two Americans were neither permitted to contact the US Embassy nor permitted to show their US passports and other Identification cards. Both were taken to a government "hotel" for interrogation.

They were released at 5 pm following a 7 hour interrogation. Without explanation, some of their belongings, including their personal bibles, notebooks, and books on Westminster Confession of Faith were confiscated.

The same day, the 41 Chinese pastors and believers from the evangelical South China Church were taken to No. 2 Zaoyang Prison. At the time of this report 30 had been released. The remaining eleven, including 38-year-old Ms. Wang Hua and 32-year-old Ms. Wang Xiao, as well as the hostess, Ms. Ren Daoyun, are still in prison.

According to eyewitness reports, many of them were tortured. Sixty-year-old Ms. Ren has been repeatedly beaten by Mr. Lei Youxin, the director of the prison. He kicked her, punched her face, and beat her head against the wall with a prison chair. One eyewitness told CAA that Ms. Ren’s mouth was bleeding and swollen.

Another 17 year-old evangelist Mr. He Baobao was hospitalized for a serious nose bleed due to the repeated beatings by his interrogators.

CAA learned from a reliable source this raid was directed and led by Mr.Yang Kaihu and Mr Wang Zhiguo, the director of Domestic Security Protection Squad of Xiangfan PSB and Zaoyang PSB respectively.

The PSB confiscated blankets and 2300 RMB($290) and a check with 3000 RMB ($350) from the host family and broke the family’s television. About 5000 RMB ($625) was also confiscated from the pockets of those arrested.

So arrest, detention, and torture are the punishment for holding a Bible study.

Similarly, other acts of persecution continue in China.

According to CAA’s reliable sources, July 22, approximately 100 Christian high school aged students were arrested at Wanzhuang Town, Langfang City, Hebei Province. They were attending a Vocational Bible School (VBS) organized by their Christian parents. After being interrogated for hours, they were all released and ordered not to gather again by the local PSB.

July 1,2005 approximately 70 house church believers were arrested at Zhaolou Village, Sui County, Henan Province. That church was performing baptisms for 60 new believers at the home of a host family. Ten of them including Pastor Wang Baode were sentenced to 15-days administrative detention. All others were released after paying a 300 RMB ($35) fine without receipts.

CAA received information from a source in Shanghai that 400 members of a 16-year-old house church at Minhang District, Shanghai City was ordered to close by the Shanghai authority. The Religious Affairs Bureau and District Government of Minhang District placed a stamped official notice on the gate of the church building on July 26th declaring the gathering as “an illegal religious gathering and should end their service immediately,” otherwise, the leaders will face “severe administrative punishment.”

Contact the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC to protest these violations of the human right to worship, to pray, and to peacefully associate for religious purposes:

Ambassador Yang Jiechi
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: (202) 328-2500
Fax: (202) 588-0032
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512

For more information on religious persecution in China.

For more on religious persecution worldwide.





|| Greg, 09:57 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dispute Over Middle Passage Author

The seminal account of the "Middle Passage" of African blacks to America for enslavement was written by Olaudah Equiano. His claim was to have been an African who survived the journey, and his story was purported to be a first-hand account in 1789.

But new evidence raises a question about the facts of Equiano's life -- and whether the story he told was true. And lest you think this is simply an obscure academic debate, please realize that Equiano's account is the basis for much historical thinking on the Middle Passage. I include Equiano's account when I teach about slavery, and it is either explicitly or implicitly a part of most textbooks used today.

Things began around 15 years ago, when Carretta, a professor of English at Maryland who had long been enamored of Equiano, ever since he started teaching his autobiography to undergrads, hopped a plane to England and started hunting. At Westminster Abbey, he stumbled on the documents that recast Equiano's beginnings in a completely unexpected light.

"No one had ever looked at his naval records," Carretta says, still sounding a little surprised. "He tells us the month and year and place he was baptized.

"I was indeed shocked. I said, 'This does not make sense, this shouldn't be. What do I do with it?' "

Carretta decided to test the waters: He edited a new edition of "The Interesting Narrative" for Penguin in 1995 -- and listed his discovery in a footnote. No one noticed.

So in 1999, feeling a little more adventurous, he printed his findings in a history journal, Slavery and Abolition. People noticed.

Some academics in African American studies saw Carretta's findings as an attempt to discredit Equiano, to depict him as the pawn of white abolitionists.

At an academic conference in 2003, scholars debated whether Equiano's claims of his origins were "most likely rhetorical exercises," according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which first reported on Carretta's biography.

Carretta sees his findings as a twist in the narrative, one that intrigues but, he argues, in no way diminishes Equiano's authority.

"No one raises these questions about Ben Franklin," says Carretta, whose book is titled "Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man."

"No one believes Franklin's biography is absolutely unvarnished, true. Everyone selects, elaborates, enhances, embroiders. We expect that. To not, is to assume that someone is a transparent auto-Dictaphone, and can't shape anything, which is more demeaning.

"My Equiano is a literary genius. Other people's Equiano is more like a literary tape recorder: He says what he says."

Actually, I would argue that this could seriously undermine Equiano's authority. This is not a question of a self-serving varnish on one's autobiography, but instead is a question of complete fictionalization of one's life. Carretta is corrects in labeling him a literary genius -- but the problem is that his account is held up as a work of history. If what we have is a novel rather than a memoir, this important narrative of the Middle Passage loses much of its historical importance.





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

September 09, 2005

Those Aliens Left Some Upgrades Behind






>

They will be loosed upon trolls, spammers, and fools.

But I will continue to be your guide.


>





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

Whose Fault Was It?

We've heard it was the fault of the federal government that there was no food or water in the Superdome. However, look at why there was no food or water -- it was offered and rejected.

Louisiana officials told the American Red Cross not to plan to go into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit to provide relief to residents at the Superdome — and also refused help from the organization before the storm hit.

As its workers evacuated the city before the storm, the Red Cross offered to drop off food, water, cots and other emergency supplies to the Superdome, but officials declined the supplies, Red Cross spokeswoman Carol Miller said Thursday. The Red Cross was aware that the Superdome was a refuge of last resort for people who couldn't evacuate New Orleans.

Red Cross President Marty Evans said that officials for Louisiana's homeland security department told the relief agency not to drop off the supplies, Miller said. She didn't name the officials.

In the days after Katrina hit, television broadcasts from the Superdome showed thousands of people there complaining about the lack of food and water. Miller said the Red Cross didn't offer its own shelter in downtown New Orleans because it is the agency's policy to “not shelter in unsafe areas.”

So there is no more basis for saying it is the fault of the president or FEMA -- state and local government intentionally starved these people.





|| Greg, 08:37 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

One Courageous American

They may have tried to shut her down, but one woman with courage and a message managed to upstage the anti-American thugs of MoveOn.org who wanted to prevent her from exercising the freedom of speech that they demanded for themselves.

Clarice McMillan, of Alexandria, Va., was standing about 25 feet behind the MoveOn.org protesters holding a small, hand-written sign that read, "Support the president and love the people." She had been there for only a few minutes when she was confronted by a screaming MoveOn.org supporter.

"Damn you! Supporting the president's great, but supporting the people and the Constitution is more important," the unidentified woman screamed at McMillan. "The Constitution and the babies who died is [sic] more important than any president and you know that in your heart."

Another MoveOn.org supporter pulled the now crying woman away, telling her, "Don't make this the event." Other protesters criticized members of the media for videotaping the confrontation and interviewing McMillan, who said she understood the verbal assault.

"Well, she was upset. She was just upset. It's okay, I can understand that people get emotional," McMillan said. "I want the people to get help, but I don't think this is the time for blame and criticism or the time for MoveOn.org to take advantage of this."

MoveOn.org supporters continued to heckle members of the press and interrupt McMillan as she explained why she lodged her one-woman counter-protest.

Bravo, Ms. McMillan. You are proof that one person speaking the truth can overcome the lies of a mob.





|| Greg, 08:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Patriots Against West

I love the response of the crowd at last night's NFL Kickoff celebration.

But I'm mystified by this writer's response to the crowd's reaction to Kanye West.

West did one tune, ''Heard 'Em Say." Yet it was disconcerting to hear his name booed loudly by Patriots fans who evidently didn't appreciate his nationally televised comment the other night on a Hurricane Katrina benefit that President Bush ''doesn't care about black people." The boos were thunderous and lasted for much of his number.

Why are you disconcerted? West made a selfishly self-indulgent and demonstrably false political statement during last week's telethon. Obviously folks did not approve. Is it any wonder that thes patriotic Patriots decided to make a statement of their own?





|| Greg, 08:23 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Election Outcome Obscenity

Should running for office and being certified the winner make you liable for the legal fees of someone who challenges the results?

The results of last year's House District 12 election are finally complete. Justice lost.

Acting on a court order, the Lake County sheriff on Aug. 31 confiscated the $543.60 from Rick Jore's checking accounts at Community Bank in Ronan. The bank took the remaining $25 in his account as its fee for the transaction. The rest goes to the Meloy-Trieweiler law firm in Helena, the firm that represented the Democratic candidate who won the Nov. 2 election with an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The worst of Jore's punishment is yet to come. An Aug. 25 order from state District Court Judge Kim Christopher of Polson directs Sheriff Bill Barron to collect from Jore a total of $15,663.56 - plus 10 percent interest dating to June 16. Finding but a fraction of that amount in Jore's bank accounts, the sheriff now is supposed to seize $15,119.96 worth of Jore's personal property, moving on to his house or land after that if necessary. For his trouble, the sheriff will collect a final $60 as his fee for taking Jore's money and property.

What did Jore do to earn such a penalty?

Nothing. He broke no law. He violated nobody's rights. He neglected no duty. All he did was run for public office, for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives.

Jore ran as the Constitution Party candidate in a three-way race against Republican Jack Cross and Democrat Jeanne Windham. Lake County election officials initially declared the election a tie between Jore and Windham, with Cross trailing a distant third. However a handful of ballots counted for Jore were challenged by Windham and the Democrats. And for good reason: Several ballots marked for Jore also had marks adjacent to Cross' name. County election judges somehow divined the voters' intention in those cases to be to vote for Jore. With the election ending in an apparent tie, the governor got to appoint the winner. She picked Jore. A voter and Democratic proxy named Anita Big Spring appealed to the state Supreme Court.

All Jore did was respond to the lawsuit and argue that hte results should stand -- and he therefore was assessed the legal fees of the folks who challenged the outcome -- even though he is accused of nothing other than having been declared the winner. That outcome is sick.





|| Greg, 08:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

US Can Hold Enemy Combatants For The Duration

The detention of Jose Padilla is consistent with federal statutes, Supreme Court precedent, , the US Constitution, and customary international law. He may be held until al-Qaeda is defeated -- just like is done with a POW.

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war," Judge Michael Luttig wrote. "We conclude that the President does possess such authority."

Lest anyone forget a rapidly approaching anniversary, these people are making war upon us and trying to kill us.

(Hat Tip -- Michelle Malkin)





|| Greg, 08:01 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Shame On You, Rick Perry!

Yesterday, Governor Rick Perry signed the most disgusting piece of legislation passed by the Texas legislature this year.

The legislature could not get a pay raise passed for Texas teachers, but it could increase its pension by a minimum of $6500 per legislator per year for their $7200 per-year part time job (no, that is not a typo -- seventy-two HUNDRED dollars a year).

That means that the annual pension for a legislator with eight years of service is now at the same level as the salary for a teacher with ten years in the classroom making the state minimum salary.

And the increase in pension benefits is, almost to the dollar, equal to the amount Texas teachers are paid below the average national teacher salary.

Virtually every legislator ran making a promise to boost teacher salaries to at least close the compensation gap. They didn't -- and the Lt. Governor even called pay raises for teachers (along with adequate funding for textbooks) "poison" to the process of passing an education bill this year.

Shame on you, Governor. This on your part move makes a vote for Kinky Friedman look much more attractive.





|| Greg, 05:24 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 08, 2005

Aliens Are Going To Contact Me?

Yeah, probably -- but I somehow suspect that the aliens in question will be speaking Spanish and trying to get to their first period class before the bell rings, not abducting me for strange medical experiments.

I'll let you know after I get back from the mother ship.





|| Greg, 11:59 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Who You Gonna Call?

Where are Bill Murray, Dan Akoyd, and Harold Ramis when you really need them?

The owners of a Japanese restaurant who claim their newly renovated building is haunted are being sued by their landlord for refusing to move in.

An offer to hold an exorcism was refused, according to the 2.6 million dollar lawsuit filed by the owners of the Church Street Station entertainment complex last month in Orange County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit also asks a judge to decide whether the building is haunted and, if so, whether the ghosts would interfere with the restaurant's business.
Christopher and Yoko Chung had planned to move their Amura Japanese Restaurant into the building in October 2004, but backed out of the lease.

The Chungs' attorney says subcontractors gave several documented reports of having seen ghosts or apparitions in the restaurant at night. The attorney also says Christopher Chung's religious beliefs require him to "avoid encountering or having any association with spirits or demons."

Sounds to me like these folks are avoiding any encounter or association with reality.





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

Activists To Cops: Stop Doing Your Job!

Now really, what is wrong with this?

An undercover police tactic that led to the arrests of at least 30 day laborers brought protests Wednesday as immigrant rights activists demanded an investigation.

But the unusual operation brought praise from residents of the neighborhood around Shepherd and Washington, who called it a much-needed crime-fighting measure.

The undercover officers posed as paint contractors last week, luring day laborers into their trucks and arresting them, police said.

Thirty were charged with soliciting work in the roadway, a misdemeanor, and two of those 30 also were charged with drug possession, said Houston police spokesman Lt. Robert Manzo.

Manzo said a police tactical unit set up the operation partly to search for a burglar known to be in the area and partly in response to frequent complaints of crime and trespassing.

He added that the effort does not reflect a change in policy at his department, which traditionally does not enforce immigration laws.

Of course, the activists are outraged – and the law-breaking immigration criminals are scared.

An undercover police tactic that led to the arrests of at least 30 day laborers brought protests Wednesday as immigrant rights activists demanded an investigation.

But the unusual operation brought praise from residents of the neighborhood around Shepherd and Washington, who called it a much-needed crime-fighting measure.

The undercover officers posed as paint contractors last week, luring day laborers into their trucks and arresting them, police said.

Thirty were charged with soliciting work in the roadway, a misdemeanor, and two of those 30 also were charged with drug possession, said Houston police spokesman Lt. Robert Manzo.

Manzo said a police tactical unit set up the operation partly to search for a burglar known to be in the area and partly in response to frequent complaints of crime and trespassing.

He added that the effort does not reflect a change in policy at his department, which traditionally does not enforce immigration laws.

There would not, of course, be any need for the Minutemen if law enforcement (on all levels) were doing its job. But even if they were working with the Minutemen, what would be the problem? After all, this is about seeing that the laws of the United States, Texas, and Houston are followed.

Local residents are ecstatic.

Lisa Flores, who lives nearby, said she was "ecstatic" that police mounted the operation.

Flores said two men broke into her house in November and threatened her husband with knives, also threatening to kill the baby sitter and Flores' 6-month-old baby. Flores said she thinks one of the burglars, whom the baby sitter saw in the area recently, gathers with day laborers in the neighborhood

* * *

. HPD has received many complaints about day laborers, however, particularly around Shepherd and Washington. A community meeting in July drew more than 70 residents.

Officers at the meeting talked about one elderly woman who said she had a $500 water bill in one month because of day laborers drinking from her outdoor faucet and using it to wash themselves.

There also were complaints of drug use, prostitution and burglaries associated with the day laborers.

"It's a free-for-all in our neighborhood," Flores said. "As much as people want to make it a race issue, it's not. It's a safety issue."

So to all the activists – shut up, and start doing something for the US citizens impacted by these people.

And to the illegals – GO HOME!

Good job, HPD – keep it up.





|| Greg, 07:41 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Site Seeks To Intimidate Petition Signers

In a move strikingly similar to those taken against civil rights activists by racists during the 1950s and 1960s, a pair of homosexual activists in Massachusetts is seeking to intimidate citizens of Massachusetts who want to sign petitions for a proposal to ban homosexual marriages and civil unions in Massachusetts.

``I have the fight in me now, and if people I know, or that I support, or that I do business with are on that list, I might not support them or their philanthropies or their businesses,'' said Tom Lang, who launched knowthyneighbor.org with his spouse, Alex Westerhoff.

Lang, 42, said he and Westerhoff, 36, are only providing via the Internet public information that any citizen could obtain at the secretary of state's office. But anti-gay marriage activists are outraged.

``We think that it is intimidation by no other name,'' said Kristian Mineau, whose name was listed as one of the first 30 signers of the petition. Mineau said he will explore the rights of people who have signed or plan to sign the petition.

``Certainly it raises my concerns. This is the first I have heard of it,'' said Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

Mineau and his wife are listed on the site, along with their address. Also listed: former Mayor Raymond L. Flynn; Dover Selectwoman Kathleen W. Weld and her husband, Walter Weld; and Richard W. Richardson, spokesman for the Black Ministerial Alliance.

This strikes at the heart of public participation in the electoral process. It is also more than a little reminiscent of tactics by the Democrat Party and other racist groups in the South to get the membership rolls of the NAACP and other groups made public so that the public could know which neighbors to harass and which businesses to boycott.





|| Greg, 07:39 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why No Press Outrage?

When Pat Robertson suggested the US government might consider assassinating Hugo Chavez, there was an uproar in the media. Why is there no outcry from the press over this statement from a German official, Andreas Renner, Social Minister in Germany's southern state of Baden-Wuertemberg?

During a visit to a local company on Tuesday, Renner said of Bush: "He ought to be shot down."

He later retracted the remark, saying he meant Bush should be shot down "in a political sense", according to the Reutlinger General-Anzeiger newspaper.

Yeah, like anyone could have intended the words “shot down” to mean anything other than an act of violence. Imagine the uproar if someone suggested that Ted Kennedy needed to be “shot down.” How long would it take for the Secret Service to reach your door if the phrase were directed at Hillary Clinton?

But the press is strangely silent.

I guess it is acceptable for a foreign official to suggest the murder of the President of the United States.





|| Greg, 07:38 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NYSE Gives In To Terrorists

Nothing had changed in the company’s circumstances, but the New York Stock Exchange suddenly dropped the planned listing of Life Sciences Research Inc. less than an hour before it was scheduled.

NYSE executives yesterday cowered before animal-rights activists who vowed angry protests over plans to market shares of a New Jersey firm that uses animals in scientific research and testing, investors in the company charged.

Executives of Life Sciences Research Inc. were looking forward to being listed on the world's most prestigious stock exchange.

But at 8:40 a.m. yesterday — less than an hour before the market's opening bell — a stock-exchange official took a Life Sciences Research official aside and said the listing would be postponed, said a company source.

"I'm appalled by what NYSE have done," said one investor who asked not to be named. "We won't be threatened by a bunch of goddamned long-haired hippies."


No, not hippies – terrorists. You see the objections have come from folks who have a history of threats, vandalism, and violence to attempt to enforce their “animal rights” agenda.

Animal-rights activists have targeted several companies involved with bringing LSR shares to market.

On Aug. 23, activists spray-painted animal-rights slogans at the Port Washington Yacht Club on Long Island, whose membership they believe includes executives of Carr Securities, which was trading in LSR stock.

Oddly, the animal-rights groups put out a "communiqué" several days later saying the attack happened at the nearby Manhasset Bay Yacht Club. It was unclear yesterday why the communiqué was incorrect, or if the group vandalized the wrong yacht club.

In any case, Carr Securities executives got the message, and on Aug. 26 the company said it would no longer trade LSR stock. No one from Carr returned a call for comment yesterday.

Animal-rights activists have targeted other securities firms as well, and claim their efforts have limited trading in LSR stock.

Leading the campaign against LSR is a British organization, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, which has long targeted LSR's British subsidiary, Huntingdon Life Sciences. SHAC has a branch based in New Jersey known as SHAC-USA.

Lest you forget, SHAC is the group responsible for this atrocity.

If yesterday was, as the group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty claimed, "a great day in the history of the animal rights movement", shame on that movement.

Last October, the remains of Gladys Hammond were removed from her grave. This was the culmination of a long-running campaign against Mrs Hammond's relatives, the Halls of Darley Oaks Farm in Staffordshire, who provide guinea pigs for medical research.

Now that the Halls have, quite understandably, decided to cease breeding guinea pigs, they might get Mrs Hammond's body back. That will be the only positive result of their decision.

So to make it clear, the New York Stock Exchange has given into brazen grave-robbing terrorists. When will the US government take action against these people?





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

Is This Date A Coincidence?

I encountered this in a New York Times article about the decreasing population of the Astrodome.

Frank E. Gutierrez, the emergency management coordinator for Harris County, which covers Houston, said that Joe Leonard, the area commander for the Department of Homeland Security, had made it a goal to clear the shelter complex by Sept. 18. "Everyone was asking him, 'What if we don't make it?' " Mr. Gutierrez said, "And he said, 'Then I'll need to work harder.' "

If that date seems a little odd but vaguely familiar to you, let me offer you the following link to an earlier post on this site.

I'm left with some uncomfortable questions because of that. Questions that, being asked, are likely to bring some outraged fans looking for me on September 18, the first regular season home game for the Texans.

It does sort of make you wonder, doesn’t it?





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

What Does This Mean?

Air Force Brigadier General Johnny Weida faced allegations of using his position to proselytize cadets at the Air Force Academy. According to this report he has been cleared.

The Air Force Inspector General's office has cleared a top Air Force Academy general of proselytizing non-Christian cadets, Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens said Wednesday.

Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida had faced seven allegations that he improperly shared his faith. The inspector general in June cleared him of six of the seven allegations, including his June 2003 "guidance" to cadets that said they are "accountable first to your God." He also urged cadets and staff to pray.

The academy said the final allegation of which he was cleared Wednesday was "using a religious communicative code to facilitate the proselytizing of non-Christian cadets."

Frankly, I do not understand what this last charge even means. A “religious communicative code”? I guess I need someone to explain that to me, because the charge seems to be just so much gobbledy-gook.





|| Greg, 07:29 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Arnold To Terminate Legislature's Overreaching Move On Homosexual Marriage

Several years ago, California voters passed Proposition 22, establishing that marriage in the state of California is between one man and one woman. There was a vote of more than 60% in favor of the proposition, so one cannot even argue that it represented a slim majority imposing its will on the state -- the vote was overwhelming.

On Monday, the California Assembly gave the people of California the finger by passing legislation that runs directly contrary to the express wish of the people.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has indicated he will veto the bill.

Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman defended the governor's position, saying he continues to back gay rights, including domestic partnership programs that grant same-sex couples most of the rights enjoyed by married couples. She noted that in 2000 California's voters expressed their views on the marriage issue, passing by more than 60 percent Proposition 22, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Why does Arnold take this position? It might have something to do with the California Constitution (bold mine).

CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 2 VOTING, INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND RECALL SEC. 10.

(a) An initiative statute or referendum approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election unless the measure provides otherwise. If a referendum petition is filed against a part of a statute the remainder shall not be delayed from going into effect.

(b) If provisions of 2 or more measures approved at the same election conflict, those of the measure receiving the highest affirmative vote shall prevail.

(c) The Legislature may amend or repeal referendum statutes. It may amend or repeal an initiative statute by another statute that becomes effective only when approved by the electors unless the initiative statute permits amendment or repeal without their approval.

(d) Prior to circulation of an initiative or referendum petition for signatures, a copy shall be submitted to the Attorney General who shall prepare a title and summary of the measure as provided by law.

(e) The Legislature shall provide the manner in which petitions shall be circulated, presented, and certified, and measures submitted to the electors.

Since the recently passed legislation has the effect of repealing Proposition 22, a vote of the people is required. However, the legislation does not provide for the constitutionally mandated vote, and is therefore in direct defiance of the California Constitution. One has to recognize this legislation as totally flawed, regardless of one's position on the issue of homosexual marriage. That mandates support for the veto.

Supporters of the legislation, of course, don't want a little thing like constitutional law to get in the way of getting what they want. Take this argument.

The legislature didn't "derail" any vote. Proposition 22 was not voted on by the current California populace. Many of those who voted on Prop 22 are now dead, massive amounts of new voters have entered the pool and in the 5 years since that legislation passed many voters have changed their mind (according to polling data). It is the new California voting population who decided (AFTER Prop 22) that these current politicians (the ones who passed the equality bill) were fit to represent them. Now these politicians have done what they were elected to do and if anybody is "derailing" the will of the CURRENT voting population of California it is Schwarzenegger.

Unfortunately for the owner of that blog, it makes as much sense to argue that as it does to argue that Congress could reinstitute slavery without repealing the Thirteenth Amendment, since they represent the will of the people today and the Thirteenth Amendment represents the will of the people 140 years ago. Any rational person recognizes the flaw in both the posters original argument and the hypothetical I put forth -- both situations would ignore the process mandated by the respective constitutions to take the course of action in question.

Of course, many supporters of homosexual marriage are not anywhere near as intellectual as my old friend dolphin is. Take this example (heck, take the whole thread) from Americablog, where there is outrage that Maria has not forced Arnold to sign the bill.

The Arnold is a Nazi Whore with a wife that loves his fame and money. She sold out her principles when she married this 8 inch 2 around uncut salami that gets more action than the Deli cold cut Of The DAy. Don't think for a minute he isn't available for influential men and wealthy ladies who love nothing more than to get serviced by the German Stud Meister. His body and brain have turned to mush and he can't comprehed that Sheldon et.al.will dump him in a heart beat, once they have used him on the gay marriage thing. He's not the darling of the radical right wing. He's a flabby slob that will never be returned to office, no matter who he diddles. It's over for him. He's sold himself to the highest bidder, slavik accent and all. Besides, he's not Sheldon's type, Mitt Romney is.

Much of the rest of the thread is the same, by the way, unless it gets cleaned up. And they say that conservatives are the hateful folks. Is it any wonder that we do not take them seriously?.





|| Greg, 05:30 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 07, 2005

Displaced Teachers In Houston

Students are enrolling in local schools here in the Houston area.

If you are a teacher who has lost his/her job due to Hurricane Katrina, I want to bring this to your attention:

SEEKING WORK?

HISD will be holding interviews for job applicants.

• Who: Teachers, counselors, speech pathologists, social workers, teaching assistants

• When: Thursday, 1-4 p.m.

• Where: HISD administrative headquarters, 3830 Richmond, in the Weslayan Building B auditorium

• What to bring: Résumés, teaching certificates, transcripts, references, any other relevant information available

• More information: 713-892-6673

Houston Independent School district is opening two elementary schools that were closed, and is hiring more teachers.

Other districts in the area will need additional classroom teachers and other staff.





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

More On King David's Palace

A month back, I linked to a story about the possible discovery of King David's palace in Jerusalem.

Well, now there is another article, this one somewhat more scholarly and not tinged with the subtle and implicit anti-Semitism of the first.

The evidence is remarkable. It includes a section of massive wall running about 100 feet from west to east along the length of the excavation, and ending with a right-angle corner that turns south and implies a very large building. Within the dirt fill between the stones of the great wall were found pottery shards dating to the eleventh century b.c.e.; this is the earliest possible date for the walls’ construction. Two additional walls, also large, running perpendicular to the first, contain pottery dating to the tenth century b.c.e.–meaning that further additions were made after the time of David and Solomon or during their reign, suggesting that the building continued to be used and improved over a period of centuries. The structure is built directly on bedrock along the city’s northern edge, with no archaeological layers beneath it–a sign that this structure, built two millennia after the city’s founding, constituted a new, northward expansion of the city’s northern limit. And it is located at what was then the very summit of the mountain–a reasonable place indeed for the palace from which David “descended.”

This immediate evidence fits well with other archaeological finds from the site, as well. In 1963, the renowned archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon reported finding a Phoenician “proto-Aeolic capital,” or decorative stone column head dating to the same period, at the bottom of the cliff atop which the new excavation has taken place. Kenyon wrote that this capital, along with other cut stones she found there, were “typical of the best period of Israelite building, during which the use of Phoenician craftsman was responsible for an exotic flowering of Palestinian architecture. It would seem, therefore, that during the period of monarchic Jerusalem, a building of some considerable pretensions stood on top of the scarp.” In the early 1980s, Hebrew University’s Yigael Shiloh uncovered the enormous “stepped-stone” support structure which now appears to be part of the same complex of buildings. And in the new excavation, Mazar has discovered a remarkable clay bulla, or signet impression, bearing the name of Yehuchal Ben Shelemiah, a noble of Judea from the time of King Zedekiah who is mentioned by name in Jeremiah 37:3–evidence suggesting that four centuries after David, the site was still an important seat of Judean royalty. This matches the biblical account according to which the palace was in more or less continuous use from its construction until the destruction of Judea by the Babylonians in 586 b.c.e.

So, is it David’s palace? It is extremely difficult to say with certainty; indeed, no plaque has been found that says on it, “David’s Palace”; nor is it likely that such definitive evidence will ever be found. And yet, the evidence seems to fit surprisingly well with the claim, and there are no finds that suggest the contrary, such as the idolatrous statuettes or ritual crematoria found in contemporary Phoenician settlements. The location, size, style, and dating are all right, and it appears in a part of the ancient world where such constructions were extremely rare and represented the greatest sort of public works. Could it be something else? Of course. Has a better explanation been offered to match the data–data which includes not only archaeological finds, but the text itself? No.

If this discovery stands up, it will put to rest the revisionist school that claims that Jerusalem was an unimportant town and that the history of Israel contained in the Hebrew Scriptures is a pious fiction forged centuries after the fact.





|| Greg, 08:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Israeli Education Not Demanding?

Well, that is the result of a recent study of education around the world.

Israeli teachers are less demanding of their students than teachers in countries of the developed world, according to a study conducted recently by Prof. Zemira Mevarech and Dr. Bracha Kramarski of Bar-Ilan University.

The study, which was based on an analysis of data appearing in the Program for International Student Assessment from 2003, reveals that Israel languishes at the bottom of the world table when it comes to demand for achievement from students, with most developed European and American countries ranking above it.
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The study also shows that the level of support an Israeli student receives from a teacher is relatively high.

"The study paints the picture that teachers in Israel spoon-feed the material to the students and don't challenge them," Mevarech says.

The 2003 PISA tests were written by a representative sample of 4,500 Israeli 10th graders and hundreds of thousands of their peers around the world. As part of the assessment, students were asked to complete a questionnaire that reviewed their teachers' demand for achievement.

Mevarech and Kramarski's study shows that on a scale of 1-10, the demand for achievement in Israel earned a score of 3.3. Demand for achievement in the United States scored 6.4; in Britain, 7.3; in Russia, 6.5; in Italy, 6.3 and in Finland, 5.7.

The study also reveals that while the demand for achievement in Israel is low, the level of support a student receives from a teacher is high.

"The teacher in Israel spoon-feeds the students, processes the material for them and poses a low demand threshold," Mevarech says. "The figures show that teachers in Israel are prepared to receive sloppy work from their students."

So it would appear that the US doe do better than one might have imagined, though not nearly as well as we might hope.

And the results for Israel shatter certain ethnic stereotypes, don't they?





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

We Need This Here

Foreigners who want to live in Switzerland will have to take language courses to ensure they can become integrated into Swiss society. Why?

Boillat told swissinfo that some immigrants remained on the margins of society because of poor language skills, lack of work or involvement in the local community.

"Lack of integration creates divisions between immigrants and the rest of society which can translate into tensions," he said.

Let’s implement this here – so that American citizens do not have to learn a language other than English in order to live and work in the United States.





|| Greg, 07:58 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (9) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

As Per Oprah, Here Is My Apology

I think everyone has now heard about this from Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday devoted the first of two shows to the wake of Hurricane Katrina, saying: "I think ... this country owes these people an apology" – referring to the survivors for their treatment after the disaster struck and to those who were left to die as help failed to arrive.

"This makes me so mad. This should not have happened," said a tearful Winfrey, who wore a gas mask inside New Orleans' now-vacated Superdome, where she was overcome by the stench.

1) I am sorry that your governor delayed ordering an evacuation for two days after it became clear the hurricane was headed your direction.

2) I’m sorry that your mayor ignored your city’s evacuation plan by directing you to shelter in the Superdome rather than using available buses to help you evacuate. I’m further sorry that he allowed hundreds of buses to be destroyed by the hurricane instead of ordering them used to assist in getting you out of town.

3) I’m sorry about the culture of political corruption you and your fellow citizens of Louisiana have permitted and encouraged for decades, allowing the diversion of money for needed public works and public safety projects to be diverted into the pockets of so-called “public servants”.

4) I’m sorry that the same destruction of infrastructure that made it impossible for you to get out of New Orleans also made it difficult for relief supplies and personnel to get into New Orleans following the hurricane.

5) I’m sorry that you have had to be subjected to the ill-informed and hysterical rantings of Oprah Winfrey, whose millions will not be spent to provide you relief despite the fact that she used you and your tragedy to garner higher ratings.

Is that enough of an apology, Ms. Winfrey?





|| Greg, 07:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Franken Lies!

So, Al, would you like to correct your remarks about when you knew about the loan to Air America that took money from kid so that you can have a political platform. You claim you knew only a few weeks ago -- but now we have your signature on documents dating back a year spelling out the whole deal.

According to a November 2004 settlement agreement between former Air American head honchos Evan Cohen and Rex Sorensen and Air America's current owners and investors at Piquant LLC, Al Franken was smack dab in the middle of negotiations over the debts owed by the liberal radio network--including the Gloria Wise loan. The agreement was signed to clear the decks in advance of the questionable asset transfer from Air America's old owners, Progress Media and Radio Free America, to Piquant. (This is the transfer being challenged by Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Inc. as a "fraudulent conveyance," which we first reported exclusively in the first installment in our investigative blog series, "A Trail of Debts.")

Far from being an innocent party with no knowledge of Air America's money woes, Franken was a signatory to the agreement. The document, published here for the first time, exposes how Franken misled his listeners and the press about his knowledge of the charity loan.

Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go -- but definitely pay back $875,000.



» Tel-Chai Nation links with: Al 'n Sheldon, caught in the act



|| Greg, 05:34 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

California Legislature To People -- F@$# You!

The people of Californian passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 2000. It recognizes marriage as being between one man and one woman, and nothing else. Under the California Constitution, there is only one way to for that to be overturned (other than by an over-reaching court decision) -- the people have to vote to repeal it.

Enter the California Assembly, which yesterday voted to permit homosexual marriage. The will of the people is apparently not a consideration to this extremely gerrymandered body, which is willing to set aside a popular vote and the California Constitution when they find it expedient.

I think this quote sums it up best.

"History will record that you betrayed your constituents and their moral and ethical values," countered Jay LaSuer, his Republican counterpart from La Mesa.

The issue here is not even the nature of marriage.

The issue is whether government dictates to the people, or people dictate to the government. Is government the servant or the master.

Quite bluntly, if this is allowed to stand, the very notion of government of the people, by the people, for the people will have perished in California.



» Steve's Weblog links with: CA Assembly passes same-sex marriage bill



|| Greg, 05:25 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

Whose Fault Are The Evacuation Problems?

Are you Bush critics hearing this?

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin told CNN's "American Morning" Monday that he met with Mr. Bush and Mrs. Blanco on Air Force One on Friday and implored the two to "get in sync." "If you don't get in sync, more people are going to die," Mr. Nagin said. Mr. Bush met privately first with Mrs. Blanco, then called Mr. Nagin in for a meeting. "He called me in that office," Mr. Nagin said. "And he said, 'Mr. Mayor, I offered two options to the governor.' I was ready to move. The governor said she needed 24 hours to make a decision."

Not that this is the first time she has delayed and temporized.

Mr. Bush, at the request of Mrs. Blanco, declared the entire state of Louisiana a disaster area 48 hours before the hurricane made landfall. He also asked Mrs. Blanco to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans on Aug. 27 -- two days before the hurricane hit -- but she did not make the order until Aug. 28.

In other words, Bush acted -- but Blanco did not.

And I won't get into the question of those school buses.





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

September 06, 2005

A Touch Of Class From Tribe

I don’t agree with the legal philosophy of Professor Lawrence Tribe, but I think his column on Chief Justice Rehnquist does a fine job of explaining what the greatest legacy of the recently departed jurist may be.

RECENT events might change the direction of the winds that moved America toward the point Justice Rehnquist comfortably occupied from his earliest days on the court. How the new court will tack with or against those winds will be Topic A at the forthcoming confirmation hearings, as it should be. But Topic B had better be the ability of the new justices to help the court earn the respect of all who take part in its proceedings or are affected by its rulings - which means everybody. Chief Justice Rehnquist was a master at that mission. For that, and for the steadiness of his leadership, I will always remember him with profound gratitude and admiration.

Well said, sir.

And certainly a cut above the hatchet-wielding hate-speech of your colleague at Harvard.





|| Greg, 07:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Make Those Offended Go To Training

I’m sorry, but this has to be the most absurd demand for an apology since someone used the word “niggardly”.

The Gary branch of the NAACP wants an apology from Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joel Silverman for "offensive and disrespectful" comments he made during a recent public hearing.

Silverman referred to members of a mostly black audience Aug. 17 as having a "city mentality," which many took as a racial remark.

"When you mention the term 'city mentality' to an audience consisting mainly of African-Americans, they're not thinking city mentality means 'regional.' They're thinking you mean the N-word mentality. That was a perception problem," said Tammi Davis, president of the National Association fro the Advancement of Colored People.

Davis has sent a letter to Gov. Mitch Daniels requesting a formal apology and suggesting that Silverman attend sensitivity training.

Now wait – the NAACP even admits that the problem was the perception of the audience, not the words of the of the official. So why does he need to be sensitized? Shouldn’t it be those who are misperceiving the message who get reeducated?





|| Greg, 07:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hmmmmm…. Maybe It Wasn’t Bush’s Fault.

After all, if the board overseeing the levees is part of the legendary web of public-sector corruption in Louisiana, then it is hard to blame Corps of Engineers budget cuts for the problem, isn’t it?

Rampant public corruption was doing big business in New Orleans long before Hurricane Katrina ever hit. What then Congressman, now Senator David Vitter calls "corrupt, good old boy" practices were apparent in the New Orleans Levee Board just one year before the collapse of regional levees, emergency communications and government services brought the Big Easy to the brink of anarchy. In fact, Senator David Vitter requested a federal investigation into improper practices of a number of public utilities, including the New Orleans Levee Board, and a new Task Force was to have been initiated in the Baton Rouge office, beginning in July 2004.

As Vice-Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee, which holds jurisdiction over the Justice Department, Vitter met with and actively encouraged Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller to establish an additional Public Corruption Task Force in their Louisiana offices.

With the focus on kickbacks and bogus contractors, who was heeding experts calling for a levee disaster from a major hurricane?

Could New Orleans’s descent into quasi-revolutionary chaos be an indirect result of racketeering, kickbacks and procurement fraud by Democrat insiders with ties to a fast-growing organization called `La Francophonie’?

This is an important read, in my opinion.

Seems to me that we could have some folks here who should be facing some homicide charges along with public corruption charges – say 10,000 or so.





|| Greg, 07:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Will Katrina Provide A Boom For Houston?

People are already talking about staying here in Houston following the storm.

After all, many evacuees have friends or family in the area, and others expect to be displaced a year. That means that they may decide that living in Houston may be a very attractive option for many of them.

From doctors and architects to retirees and gang members, more than 150,000 Louisiana residents have landed on this city's doorstep. Some will be here for days and months, but many will simply stay.

They will be looking for jobs and apartments. They will put their children in schools. They will figure out how to navigate the city in a bus.

These are not just the poor, dazed people seen in pictures of the shelters — many of whom are finding family and moving out.

They are professionals searching for nice houses and leasing them for the entire school year, said Terry Cominsky with Karpas Properties, who has helped six such families in the past week.

None has a clue whether they will ultimately buy a home and stay here, she said. Dozens of important questions come first, like how to collect insurance money and what happens to the mortgage back home.

But they might stay. And the effect on Houston could be "profound," said Mayor Bill White, without offering specifics. Certainly the city's budget will go up, as will tax revenue. Which will rise higher is anyone's guess, he said.

Other changes are happening fast.

A month ago you would have had no problem finding an apartment – today that is becoming much more difficult. A colleague’s wife reports an increase in potential homebuyers in the last week, many from Louisiana. The media claims that office space is renting fast as Louisiana companies plan for an extended relocation. On a note that is much closer to me, my school has a total of 9 students who have been displaced by Katrina -- and I expect the number to rise over the course of the week to at least 30 -- and beyond that next week.

Houston exists today because a hurricane wiped Galveston off the map 105 years ago. Does the destruction of New Orleans mean we will see an extended boom in 2005?





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

Probably A Good Guess

John Cornyn’s speculation on the new nominee is probably dead on target.

President Bush's nomination of John Roberts for U.S. chief justice opens the door to a likely appointment of a Hispanic or a woman to the post now occupied by outgoing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said.

Cornyn is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will conduct confirmation hearings on Roberts and Bush's eventual nominee to replace O'Connor. Roberts was initially nominated for O'Connor's post, but Bush said Monday that he wants the conservative appeals court judge to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died Saturday.

As Bush begins a new search for an O'Connor replacement, Cornyn said, "it's highly likely" the president will appoint a woman or Hispanic, "or potentially even an Hispanic woman." Asked whether Bush is less likely to name an Anglo man to that position, Cornyn said, "that would be my guess."

Cornyn, a Republican, declined to suggest specific nominees. At least three Texas Hispanics -- U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Emilio Garza and Edward Prado, both members of the 5th U.S. Circuit appeals court -- have been prominently mentioned as possible nominees. Texan Edith Hollan Jones, another 5th Circuit judge, is also a potential contender.

Cornyn, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, was mentioned as a potential candidate in the first-round search but said he has no indication that he is a prospect now.

Does anyone know about Prado?

Also, here’s hoping that Cornyn is selected to replace John Paul Stevens if the justice dies or retires (he is older than the recently deceased Chief Justice).





|| Greg, 07:18 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 05, 2005

Is This The Future Of New Orleans?

There are many lost cities, thriving metropoli in their day. Has Hurricane Katrina made New Orleans the latest one, joining Pompeii (or the mythical Atlantis) as silent ruins with no human inhabitants?

Consider this article from the New York Times.

Only the wind inhabits the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in Colorado, birds and vines the pyramids of the Maya. Sand and silence have swallowed the clamors of frankincense traders and camels in the old desert center of Ubar. Troy was buried for centuries before it was uncovered. Parts of the Great Library of Alexandria, center of learning in the ancient world, might be sleeping with the fishes, off Egypt's coast in the Mediterranean.

"Cities rise and fall depending on what made them go in the first place," said Peirce Lewis, an expert on the history of New Orleans and an emeritus professor of geography at Pennsylvania State University.

Changes in climate can make a friendly place less welcoming. Catastrophes like volcanoes or giant earthquakes can kill a city quickly. Political or economic shifts can strand what was once a thriving metropolis in a slow death of irrelevance. After the Mississippi River flood of 1993, the residents of Valmeyer, Ill., voted to move their entire town two miles east to higher ground.

What will happen to New Orleans now, in the wake of floods and death and violence, is hard to know. But watching the city fill up like a bathtub, with half a million people forced to leave, it has been hard not to think of other places that have fallen to time and the inconstant earth.

One of those locations resonates with me. My first teaching job was at a Catholic school that served, among other places, Valmeyer. The pastor of the Catholic church there had been the founding principal. My wife, then the pastor of a church in a neighboring community preached the sermon at the first Thanksgiving service ever held in one of the churches in the new town. To say they voted is somewhat misleading -- the people of Valmeyer were told they could not rebuild on the site sacrificed by the Corps of Engineers for the sake of larger, historically important communities down river. Their only decision was whether they should rebuild together or scatter to the four winds.

The people of New Orleans will have to decide -- as a community, as individuals -- if a return to the site of the current tragedy is the right thing. I suspect that many will not return. Like Galveston before it, New Orleans may never fully recover from the death and destruction inflicted by nature.





|| Greg, 10:22 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Threat To Saturn's Rings?

Saturn's rings have been changing for the last 25 years, and one has started to dim!

New observations by the international Cassini spacecraft reveal that Saturn's trademark shimmering rings, which have dazzled astronomers since Galileo's time, have dramatically changed over just the past 25 years.

Among the most surprising findings is that parts of Saturn's innermost ring _ the D ring _ have grown dimmer since the Voyager spacecraft flew by the planet in 1981, and a piece of the D ring has moved 125 miles inward toward Saturn.

While scientists puzzle over what caused the changes, their observations could reveal something about the age and lifetime of the rings.

Cassini-related discoveries were discussed Monday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's division of planetary sciences in Cambridge, England.

"I don't think Saturn's rings will disappear anytime soon, but this tells us how the rings are evolving and how long they might last, " deputy project scientist Linda Spilker said in a telephone interview from England.

Scientists are interested in Saturn's rings because they are a model of the disk of gas and dust that initially surrounded the sun. Studying them could yield important clues about how the planets formed from that disc 4.5 billion years ago.

The ring observations were made this summer. The $3.3 billion Cassini mission, funded by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997. Cassini is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

I know the problem -- it is galactic warming, and George W. Bush is at fault for not accepting the limits of the Kyoto Accords!





|| Greg, 07:58 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Winners

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are A Nation that Stands for Nothing Deserves a Media that Believes in Nothing by Dr. Sanity, and Gates of Fire by Michael Yon : Online Magazine. Here is where you can find the full results of the vote.

And here is the Watcher's regular offer of link whorage.





|| Greg, 07:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

What Will The Ketchup Queen And Her Consort Do?

Maybe I'm wrong to gloat over this misfortune that has befallen these limousine liberals, but a couple of stock & bond socialists like John Kerry and his wife Teresa do sort of bring it upon themselves. How many second's living expenses will this expropriateion take from them?

state governor allied to leftist President Hugo Chavez has ordered Venezuelan troops to seize an abandoned tomato-processing plant owned by the H.J. Heinz Co., a state official said Monday.

The plant in the eastern state of Monagas still belongs to Heinz but hasn't been used for years, said Angelica Rivero, a spokeswoman for the governor.

"The governor decided to seize the plant so it can be protected from looters and later be put to use," Rivero said.

Monagas Gov. Jose Gregorio Briceno told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency the plant changed hands several times under previous governments before Heinz purchased it in 1997 and later ceased operations.

Debbie Foster, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh-based food company, said the plant had not been used for eight to 10 years but gave no other comment.

Officials were expected to expropriate the plant, a move that would require the Venezuelan National Assembly to declare the property to be of "public interest." It wasn't immediately clear whether soldiers were posted at the plant Monday.

Chavez, a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro who says he supports socialism, has said the government may expropriate the property of companies whose factories are idle or partially paralyzed in order to put them back to work.

One nearby town, Caicara, suffered because of the actions of the "transnational monopoly," Briceno told the state news agency, known by its Spanish initials ABN.

"At that time I was mayor of that town and I felt impotent, my hands tied, as 30 million kilos (66 million pounds) of tomatoes ... were produced, and the closing of the business led the farm workers to go broke," Briceno told ABN.

Who wants to bet that the Kerrys demand "special assistance" from the State Department?





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

Good For Sean Penn

I never thought I would write those words, but they are deserved.

Sean Penn took matters into his own hands yesterday, launching a boat in a personal effort to rescue New Orleans families stranded by Hurricane Katrina.

The Oscar-winning actor and political activist managed to reach several people who had been trapped in their homes since the hurricane hit Monday.

Penn, who was accompanied by his personal photographer and a crew of helpers, brought the victims to dry land - and gave them cash as well.

Johnnie Brown, 73, a retired custodian, called his sister on a cell phone after being plucked from his flooded house. "Guess who come and got me out of the house? Sean Penn the actor. Them boys were really nice," he said.

Penn later accompanied a few of them to a hospital.

Asked what he was doing in the disaster zone, Penn said, "Whatever I can do to help."

"There's a lot of people out there," Penn said. "There's bodies everywhere. We could only do so many houses."

Your politics may be wrong -- but your actions here are exactly correct, and I salue you.

UPDATE: Contrast the above story with this story.

EFFORTS by Hollywood actor Sean Penn to aid New Orleans victims stranded by Hurricane Katrina foundered badly overnight, when the boat he was piloting to launch a rescue attempt sprang a leak.

Penn had planned to rescue children waylaid by Katrina's flood waters, but apparently forgot to plug a hole in the bottom of the vessel, which began taking water within seconds of its launch.

The actor, known for his political activism, was seen wearing what appeared to be a white flak jacket and frantically bailing water out of the sinking vessel with a red plastic cup.

When the boat's motor failed to start, those aboard were forced to use paddles to propel themselves down the flooded New Orleans street.

Asked what he had hoped to achieve in the waterlogged city, the actor replied: "Whatever I can do to help."

With the boat loaded with members of Penn's entourage, including a personal photographer, one bystander taunted the actor: "How are you going to get any people in that thing?"

I'd love to know where these two stories fit in relation to each other -- and if both are true. (Hat Tip: Colossus of Rhodey.)





|| Greg, 09:46 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Roberts Nomination Gets Upgraded

Just a little over twelve hours ago, I wrote this.

There is also, of course, speculation on a possible replacement. I think any number of things could happen, from elevating a sitting justice to the center chair, making Roberts the nominee for Chief Justice, recess appointing O'Connor to the Chief Justiceship (unlikely), or the selection of a candidate from off the Court. I'm genuinely not sure what the President will do, but there are any number of combinations of scenarios. Let's give the matter some time to clarify itself.

I had no way of knowing it, but John Roberts was already meting with George W. Bush in the residence of the White House. First thing this morning, the President made and announced a change of plans -- John Roberts is the nominee to replace his friend and mentor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist (whose death is still difficult to wrap my mind and heart around).

I think this is a good choice, designed to ensure a bit of stability at the Supreme Court.

First, there is absolutely no reason that John Roberts cannot be confirmed by the start of October -- it may sound mundane, but the paperwork and investigations are complete for this nomination. The White House says, and I cannot doubt, that this possibility was already in mind at the time of Judge Roberts' appointment to be the Associate Justice seat held by Sandra Day O'Connor.

Second, this move avoids the problems that exist with an eight member Court. Given that Justice O'Connor made her resignation conditional upon the confirmation of a successor, this "upgrade" of the Roberts nomination will result in a full Supreme Court on the first Monday in October. O'Connor will therefore stay on until a replacement is found and confirmed, and there will be no 4-4 decisions (case affirmed, but no precedent value) or reargument of cases after the new member joins the Court.

Third, it allows the casting of a wider net for nominees. The president now has some breathing room to look at potential nominees. A successor to Justice O'Connor need not be selected before Thanksgiving -- or even before Easter. While she was ready to move on, I suspect that Sandra Day O'Connor will have no objection to staying on the Supreme Court for the entire first term of the Roberts Court, in large part out of consideration for the man who was such a key part of her own confirmation process during the Reagan Administration. In the interim, certain recently confirmed appellate judges (Judge Janice Rogers Brown, for example) will have had time to prove themselves as ready to "step-up" to the Supeme Court.

The article from teh AP contains two items I want to comment upon. The first regards the role of the Chief Justice, and the desire to keep its power and authority out of the hands of Justice John Paul Stevens.

Getting a new chief justice of Bush's choosing in place quickly also avoids the scenario of having liberal Justice John Paul Stevens making the decisions about whom to assign cases to and making other decisions that could influence court deliberations. As the court's senior justice, Stevens would take over Rehnquist's administrative duties until a new chief is confirmed.

I've got to disagree there. While a Chief Justice can assign opinions where he is in the majority, any justice can write and circulate an opinion. The chambers of Justice Scalia, for example, churn out a great many dissenting and concurring opinions. But as students of the Supreme Court know, the mere fact that the initial assignment goes to a particular justice does not prevent another justice (even one in the original minority) from garnering enough votes to become the author of the eventual majority opinion. Add to that the process of negotiation that goes into securing a majority, and the influence of the Chief Justice in making assignments is less a factor than it might appear. Also, the bulk of the Chief Justice's extra duties are administrative -- overseeing the day-to-day functioning of the Court. Those tasks don't significantly change, regardless of the judicial philosophy of the chief justice.

Also, there is an error in the article.

The last time a president chose a chief justice outside the court was half a century ago, when Earl Warren was selected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Wrong! Richard Nixon nominated Warren Burger to sit in the center chair in 1969. He was not a Supreme Court Justice, but a federal appellate judge.

But while we are on the subject of Earl Warren, his tenure as Chief Justice should slam the door on critics who say Roberts lacks the judicial experience to succeed Rehnquist. Warren, after all, had never been a judge prior to becoming chief justice -- but is generally counted as a great or near-great justice by court historians.

As usual, great stuff may be found by Michelle Malkin. The crew at Southen Appeal is also checking in this morning. So is ConfirmThem.com, with several good posts. The Supreme Court Nomination Blog also posts several pieces, as does SCOTUSBlog.





|| Greg, 08:17 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 04, 2005

Chief Justice William Rehnquist Passes

When Richard Nixon appointed William Rehnquist to the US Supreme Court, he was something of a non-entity. The big name was Lewis Powell, nominated with him for the court's other opening. Little did anyone suspect that Rehnquist would turn into one of the giants of the Court, not only in terms of his leadership if the Court away from the liberalism of the Warren Court, but also in terms of his role as a historian of the Court.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist passed away last night after a battle with thyroid cancer that moved a nation.

A Republican appointed by President Nixon and elevated to chief justice by President Reagan, Rehnquist began as an outspoken conservative and a lone dissenter on the high court. But through the years, as more conservatives joined him on the bench, he found himself shaping the majority of a court that often split 5-4.

A strong defender of states' rights, he viewed the powers of the federal government as clearly defined and extremely limited. In his opinion, liberal justices too often crossed the line between interpreting the law and forming public policy.

He voted consistently against affirmative action, dissenting in cases upholding the use of busing to integrate public schools, and in 1983 was the sole dissenter in a case that upheld the federal government's policy of denying a tax deduction for Bob Jones University because of its racist policies.

He voted against the right to an abortion in the landmark 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, arguing states' rights, and pushed to overturn the decision the rest of his career.

He also argued against the notion that the Constitution demands separation between church and state, writing that the idea "should be frankly and explicitly abandoned."

He voted consistently to give police more powers and to limit the rights of criminal defendants. In his court opinions and in public speeches, he endorsed speeding up the criminal appeals process, especially in death penalty cases.

He presided over the impeachment trial of President Clinton, and after the 2000 presidential election, he sided with the majority in a controversial 5-4 decision that sent George W. Bush to the White House.

I first learned about the Chief Justice when I was a kid reading Woodward and Armstrong's classic study of the Supreme Court, The Brethren. Rehnquist struck me as the most human of the bunch, whetehr it was because he would join the clerks on the roof of the Supreme Court building to blay basketball on "The Highest Court In The Land" or because, when other justices didn't understand a National Lampoon cartoon about SCOTUS decisions about pornorgraphy, he sent his cleks out to get copies for his college-age children. Even his eventual affectation of gold stripes on his judicial robe (which I hope becomes a part of Supreme Court tradition) made Rehnquist seem to be something of a whimsical character. The dignity with which he endured his recent health issues is to be admired.

With heaings on the nomination of Judge John Roberts to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor prepared to begin on Tuesday, there is speculation on a possible postponement. Given that Rehnquist will lie in repose in the Supeme Court Building on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to his funeral at the National Cathedral and burial at Arlington Cemetary, I would not be surprised to see a postponement until Thursday.

Sadly, the partisan buzzards are already circling. Alan Dershowitz insulted the Chief Justice's memory on FoxNews before the body was even cold, redefining terms and airing long-refuted charges about Rehnquist without even a hint of shame. The intellectial lightweights at places like Democratic Underground are not even cloaking their hatred in a veneer of scholarship like that pathetic excuse for a Harvard don did. Both forms of distespect for the dead are equally repulsive.

There is also, of course, speculation on a possible replacement. I think any number of things could happen, from elevating a sitting justice to the center chair, making Roberts the nominee for Chief Justice, recess appointing O'Connor to the Chief Justiceship (unlikely), or the selection of a candidate from off the Court. I'm genuinely not sure what the President will do, but there are any number of combinations of scenarios. Let's give the matter some time to clarify itself.

ADDENDUM: Here is a link to a number of quotes about the Chief Justice. Also, Michelle Malkin has a good post on her blog. Additional info at Blogs for Bush and GOPBloggers. Many links about Chief Justice Rehnquist from ConfirmThem.com

UPDATE: Just when I thought Dershowitz couldn't sink any lower, he resorts to slandering the dead using anonymous sources.





|| Greg, 07:16 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Nagin's Breakdown

This babbling buffoon has already shown he is in way over his head -- witness the obscene meltdown the other day, not to mention his failure to use available buses to get New Orleans residents out of the city before Hurricane Katrina hit the city. Now his mental breakdown appears to have gone a step further, as Nagin claims he is targetted for a CIA hit, based upon comments made on Friday night.

"Today was a turning point, I think," he said. "My philosophy is never get too high, never get too low. ... I always try to keep my emotions in check and yesterday I kind of went off a little bit. I was worried about that, but it maybe worked out. I don't know. If the CIA slips me something and next week you don't see me, you'll all know what happened."

Is there any way for this man to be relieved of all authority? He seems to have gone over the edge mentally, and to be suffering from the effects of some sort of psychological breakdown.

And lest anyone think this is a joke, Nagin even repeated the claim on Saturday.

Today he told interviewers for CNN on a live broadcast he feared the "CIA might take me out.".

So he screwed up the evacuation, and now he is melting down during the recovery. I've got a Bad feeling about this.





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

September 03, 2005

Of Football Games And Hurricanes

I hadn't planned on writing any more today, but I had to click on one last link, sent by a friend. What I read is disquieting in more ways than one. I may not agree with Ana Menendez of the Miami Herald on everything, but she does raise one proper point.

It seems that some hotels in Talahassee are telling folks displaced by Hurricane Katrina that they are to be displaced by Miami Hurricanes and FSU Seminoles arriving for the big game between the two schools on Monday night. They have reservations, you see, some paid in advance no doubt, and these folks from Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana didn't plan ahead for their homes to be destroyed by the biggest natural disaster in the United States in at least a century.

Cancel the stupid game.

Let the Hurricanes, the Seminoles and their hollow mascots play another day. I don't care how long the fans have been waiting for the FSU-Miami showdown in Tallahassee Monday night. I don't care about Devin Hester's kick return.

What kind of country amuses itself with choreographed violence while the world burns? How low have we sunk on the moral scale when hotels in Tallahassee are kicking out victims from the real hurricane to make way for a bunch of football fans?

New Orleans is burning. Its people are waiting in lines that stretch for half a mile. Tens of thousands have lost not just homes, but an entire way of life. A city is gone. We are facing one of the biggest displacements in the country's history. And the few evacuees who have managed to find shelter in hotels around Tallahassee have to pick up and go because of football?

''We have to let them know what's going on in town and they're going to have to leave,'' a hotel manager told The Herald's Mary Ellen Klas.

The manager added: ``Many of them are trying to get closer to home anyway.''

I guess that would be those who still have a home.

Yeah, I find Menendez a bit shrill, but I agree with her on her larger point -- no person displaced by this disaster should be displaced by a mere football game. Yeah, Iknow that is near blasphemous coming from someone from Texas, but it is also the simple truth.

But I have to disagree with menendez when she proposes that all revenue from the game -- tickt sales, concessions, and salaries -- ought to be turned over to charity. She may be offended when University of Miami atheletic department spokesman Mark Pray rejected the idea out of hand and noted that she wasn't giving up her salary for the duration, but Pray had it right. Afte all, how many of those concession workers and ticket takers are working those jobs for the money they need for necessities, not for a little extra spending money? Would Ana and her press pass care to explain why these folks should get stiffed while she continues to draw her pay and her expense-account money? Probably not, but as a member of the MSM she feels she is semi-divine royalty entitled to be treated with a different standard that the commoners whose work does not involve the First Amendment.

But while I think that most of what Menendez has written is simply shrill socialism, she does strike a note with me. Because of a pair of seats in the back of Section 541.

Most folks know that we've got some 15,000 people displaced by Hurricane Katrina living in the Astrodome (more properly the Reliant Astrodome, thanks to a naming rights deal). Two other buildings in Reliant Park -- the Reliant Arena and Reliant Center -- have also been taken for emergency shelter. There are folks downtown at the George R. Brown Convention Center, too, some miles from the the other three locations. The mayor has rightly challenged groups or businesses with cancelled events to sue, and then explain in court why their event was more important than disaster relief.

But one facility at Reliant Park is not in use for temporary shelter, despite being literally only a Hail Mary pass or kickoff return from the Astrodome. That is the crown jewel of Reliant Park -- Reliant Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, where those two seats are located.

I'm left with some uncomfortable questions because of that. Questions that, being asked, are likely to bring some outraged fans looking for me on September 18, the first regular season home game for the Texans.

There is only one event booked into Relaint Stadium between now and the start of October -- the Septembr 18 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Does that game need to be moved to provide more shelter for the victims of this disaster? I'm not sure -- but I have an answer gnawing in the pit of my stomach that might not be too popular with my fellow Texans fans.

And beyond the shelter question is the reality that many of the folks sleeping on cots in the other three buildings are still going to be there in two weeks. Is it responsible, is it proper, to surround them with game day crowds and the orgy of tailgating that we find in the parking lots surrounding their place of refuge? It somehow seems. . . less than ideal. But one has to wonder if the game does not belong somewhere else for that reason alone.

Please, no one hear me as taking a shot at the Houston Texans. Team owner Bob McNair made a $1,000,000 donation to disaster relief on Thursday night, matching the donations called in by Texan fans during the teams final pre-season game in Tampa Bay. I'm sure players and coaches, as well as fans, have shown generosity in this time of crisis. And there will no doubt be the obligatory Red Cross collection at the gates on September 18.

But I think there is a question that still needs to be asked by the state, county, and city, the fans and ticketholders, and the Houston Texans.

Is the biggest gift that the we can give to the victims of Hurricane Katrina the gift of our home opener?





|| Greg, 08:13 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Why Do We Need Him Involved?

Noted race 'ho' Al Sharpton (I refuse to dignify him with the title of Reverend) was in Houston to call on local black congregations to help with huricane relief.

One problem -- this slick poverty pimp came to a community where churches of all denominations and ethnicities are already engaged in the process of helping those in need.

While government's emergency planning may have failed the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, the Rev. Al Sharpton called on Houston's black houses of worship today to feed, shelter and comfort the evacuees.

Speaking to about 50 of the city's faith leaders and a handful of politicians gathered inside North Houston's Community of Faith Church, the civil rights activist and former presidential candidate from New York said religious congregations must play a leading role in the relief effort.

"The black church community has always been the anchor in the storm when we have a problem," Sharpton said. "If our people, or any people that come to this city can't depend on the church to open its doors and open its hearts, then we ought to take down the crosses and quit claiming to serve God."

Harris County Judge Robert Eckels and Andrea White, the wife of Mayor Bill White, also attended the meeting, which was arranged by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the Rev. James Dixon II. Dallas Mavericks basketball coach Avery Johnson was there to announce a charity basketball game scheduled for next Sunday at Toyota Center.

Most agreed to take time during their sermons this morning to call on their members to open their homes to displaced families and volunteer to help those who have lost everything.

The Rev. I.V. Hilliard, pastor of New Light Christian Center Church, opened telephone hot lines for evacuees to reconnect with their pastors in Houston.

It's a service that's needed, said the Rev. Charles Southall III, pastor of First Emanuel Baptist Church in New Orleans. He attended today's meeting seeking help for members.

"I have a 1,200-member church and we're just trying to get stabilized," said Southall, who carries a folder full of Omni Hotel stationery filled with handwritten names and numbers of members he's reached so far. "I hear useful planning here today and I'm optimistic."

If Sharpton wants to really engage the Christian community, he will quit distinguishing between the "black church" and the "white church", for God knows no white or black or brown. And he will notice that the churches of Houston have opened their hearts and their doors to people of all races in this time of need.


Al, speaking as a Christian, let me say that we don't need a lying race-baiter (who still won't apologize for his lies in the Tawana Brawley case or for getting people killed because they were "white interlopers" doing business in the black community) to come into town to sow division between black and white. We don't need some charlatan to draw lines and create divisions between members of the body of Christ..





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

I Guess The Cruise Is Off

My darling wife and I haven't had a good vacation in years -- the last was a trip to Boston via Logan airport about a month before 9/11. We've been talking about taking a cruise this Christmas, and had recently decided one.

Well, I guess the ship will be otherwise engaged this year.

Some Katrina evacuees will be housed aboard three Carnival Cruise Line ships, including two initially slated to be docked in Galveston.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is chartering the vessels, which will be crewed by Carnival employees, for six months, Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen said today.

The Ecstasy, normally stationed in Galveston, and Sensation, normally stationed in New Orleans, are planned for Galveston, Gulliksen said. Both can hold 2,600 people, he said. The ships will be pulled from regular service Monday.

A third, the Holiday, which normally sails out of Mobile, Ala., will be docked there. It can hold up to 1,800 people, Gulliksen said.

I was looking forward to a getaway on the high seas -- but maybe next year. These folks are more than welcome to our cabin.





|| Greg, 05:02 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Leftist Seeks Bush Overthrow

Found on Americablog:

How do we get all the bush people out of this country's government ? I can not believe there is anyone in this country that still supports him. Anyone in government who does should be voted out of office. Until then any more harm he has in mind to do to this country, the congress should not allow to happen. There have to be some republicans that still are honest enough to help stop his policys, and tax cuts. They are so busy getting the spin and talking points going. These were, and are citizens of this country, we can not let those who have brought this mis-handling of help, to now start spinning out of it. I used to be so proud of America, I want to be again.

snobird | 09.03.05 - 2:38 pm | #

Do you believe this guy was ever proud of America?





|| Greg, 01:45 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Krugman Lies Again -- Again

It seems that Paul Krugman just can't admit that George W. Bush won the 2000 election fair and square.

None of this has any bearing on my original point, which was not that the outcome would have been different if the U.S. Supreme Court had not intervened - the Florida Supreme Court had not, in fact, called for a full statewide manual recount - but that the recorded vote was so close that, when you combine that fact with the effects of vote suppression and ballot design, it becomes reasonably clear that the voters of Florida, as well as those of the United States as a whole, tried to choose Mr. Gore.

1) The only vote suppression in Florida in 2000 was by the Gore camp, making sure that members of the military could not get their absentee ballots counted.

2) The problem with "ballot design" seems never to have been a problemin Illinois, where the butterfly layout used in Palm Beach was used for the last several decades -- and which subsequent studies showed could be accurately voted by a four year old.

But we don;t want mere facts to get in the way of Paul writing his column, do we?





|| Greg, 01:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Explain This, Nagin

NO_buses.jpg

Now the last time I checked, sir, the President of the United States lacked the authority to do anything with these school buses that might have facilitated an evacuation. On the other hand, the Governor of Louisiana could have ordered a mandatory evacuation sooner (she did so only after the President urged her to do so), and the Mayor of New Orleans could have directd that the school buses be used for such an evacuation.

As is pointed out by one of Jonah Goldberg's readers, a significant number of folks could have been evacuated if the above officials hac been competent in their pre-hurricane planning and ordered that these buses be put to use rather than be abandined to the storm.

Jonah:

I count 205 busses. When I was a kid, I remember that school busses could carry 66 people. If that is still the case, 13,530 people could be carried to safety in ONE trip using only the busses shown in that picture.

One trip.

Joe

Let's presume that the buses only seat 55 (66 strikes me as sort of high) and they don't over-pack them -- that is still over 11,000 people per trip. In other words, even one run would have evacuated half of those who took shelter at the Superdome -- had the state and local authorities been competent in their disaster preparations. These vehicles might have been able to make multiple runs, and would certainly be available now for evacuation duty. Too bad that nobody order them used

Now explain to me precisely who it was who failed to "get off of their goddamn asses" to make sure that these people were evacuated using available resources? Was it the President? Or was it the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana?

(Hat Tip -- RedState.Org and Junkyard Blog)





|| Greg, 09:33 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (16) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Apartments Available For Evacuees

It looks like our friends from Louisiana and other areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina may be staying here in Texas for a while. Fortuantely, there are long-term solutions to the housing problem, since the Astrodome and other shelter facilities are not designed to be permanent housing.

An estimated 18,000 vacant apartment units statewide opened for hurricane victims Friday when the federal government waived special income requirements, Gov. Rick Perry announced Friday.

Families eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency financial aid can receive vouchers to move into the apartments.

The governor sought the Internal Revenue Service waiver as the state mobilized aid for those fleeing Hurricane Katrina.

"We will do all we can as a state and a people to help our neighbors to the east who have lost so much," Perry said.

The effort to move as many hurricane evacuees out of shelters and into more permanent housing coincided with more than 15,000 beds opening up in shelters stretching from Austin to Corpus Christi to El Paso, the governor's office said.

"We're just trying to cut through the red tape for them and get them permanent housing. Obviously the Astrodome is not a permanent home," said Perry spokesman Robert Black.

About 7,000 units are in the eastern, more populated parts of Texas.

I suspect that the Red Cross and FEMA would be the folks to contact about getting into these units around the state.





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

DeLay Statement About Cindy Sheehan

The Cindy Sheehan "It's All About Me" Tour made an appearance in Houston on Thursday, as the city was ramping up its efforts to help our fellow citizens whose lives were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

She and her fellow-travellers showed up at the offices of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to demand (not request -- demand) an immediate meeting while the Delay and his staff were working to secure the resources necessary to care for the many people in need of shelter, food, and medical care.

I wouldn't usually include a politician's press release or campaign mailing in my blog -- certainly not a whole one, at any rate. And I've had my own disagrements with DeLay, who is my congressman, and I've expressed those on this blog and its predecessor, as well as in letters and calls to DeLay's office. But i think this statement needs to stand on its own, for it sums up Sheehan's narcissistic arrogance quite well.

So I offer for your consideration this statement from the Tom DeLay Congressional Committee.

We’ve all heard about Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war mother who camped out in Crawford demanding to meet with the President.

Yesterday Ms. Sheehan crossed the line. While our community worked tirelessly to care and prepare for thousands of evacuees from the hurricane Katrina disaster, Ms. Sheehan renewed her attacks on the President and specifically targeted Congressman Tom DeLay.

As Congressman DeLay was working to rally federal resources to help with disaster recovery efforts, Ms. Sheehan and her media-seeking crew “made an appearance?” at the Congressman’s Stafford office demanding a meeting.

Without the slightest bit of concern for the refugees, the disaster efforts that are underway, and the sheer scope of the task in front of our community, Sheehan and her group stated, “We’ve come a long way, and we want a meeting before we leave tonight.”

Right now, there is a critical need for water, food and basic necessities across the entire Gulf Coast, including in the Greater Houston Area where more than 25,000 refugees are receiving aid and shelter.

Congressman DeLay’s offices are working day and night to help lend support to the relief effort. Thousands of volunteers have pitched in and Houstonians are opening their hearts and wallets to care for the masses leaving Louisiana.

Ms. Sheehan and MoveOn.org’s media stunts show a complete lack of respect for our community, the tragedy we are coping with, and it serve as further evidence of how little they care for anything but their own agenda.

We felt a little background information was in order as a reminder of what this agenda is really about and how bizarre their message is:

•Sheehan says America is “not worth dying for.”

“George Bush and his neo-conservatives killed my son,” [Sheehan] said tearing up a bit. “America has been killing people on this continent since it was started. This country is not worth dying for.” (SFSU Hosts A Terrorist, www.frontpagemag.com, 5/2/05)

•Cindy Sheehan attacks moms who support the War on Terror.

Sheehan calls mothers who have lost children in Iraq and still support President Bush “the continue ‘the murder and mayhem’ moms”. (Cindy Sheehan’s blog, 8/27/05)

Sheehan blames America for the problems in Iraq “We caused these problems. America caused these problems.”

•Sheehan alleges the War on Terror is one big Israeli conspiracy.

“. . . my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel.” (Letter to ABC’s Nightline, 3/15/05)

Sheehan is backed by - and has become the tool of - MoveOn.org, professional protestors, and radical PR gurus.

* In the 2004 Presidential campaign, she appeared in MoveOn.org ads attacking President Bush. (www.moveonpac.org)

* Sheehan has developed media savvy with assistance from the national public relations firm Fenton Communications, which has also worked with Moveon.org... (Houston Chronicle, 8/11/05)

* And Lisa Fithian, “a veteran of the Seattle WTO riots and scores of other protests [has] been with Sheehan from the start” helping her coordinate her protest in Crawford and upcoming bus tour. (National Review, 8/29/05) http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200508290901.asp

Cindy Sheehan and the MoveOn.org road show is focused on attacking the President, undermining the gallant efforts of our troops overseas, and taking back Congress for the Democrats. This has been their agenda since the 2004 Presidential election and no hurricane disaster effort is going to cause them to let up.

I've only clipped a link to an NPR clip and the final few sentences at the end that discuss DeLay's probable Democrat opponent. But I do think that her actions here in houston make quite clear that her actions are more about Cindy Sheehan than they are about what is good for the United States, otherwise she would have cancelled the multiple Houston stops of her "Honk If You {heart} al-Zarqawi" caravan.

UPDATE: CINDY CUTS AND RUNS -- I guess her 'personal business is more important than either helpin with the hurricane relief in the region where she is travelling or the anti-American goals of her travelling snake-oil show.





|| Greg, 08:24 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Half Century Of Service

Eddie Corral joined the Houston Fire Department in 1955., only the fourth Hispanic to serve as a firefighter in the city's history.

His career was marked by a drive for excellence and dedication to serving and protecting the people of Houston.

He retired from active service to the people of Houston yesterday.

Corral worked his way up the department ladder, rung by rung, taking competitive exams for the next highest post, including the fire marshal job he returned to after being chief.

When he came on board as chief, the fire academy was closed. Twenty-two fire stations had leaking roofs.

"The men had to arrange buckets all over the floors when it rained," he said. There were only two women in the entire department.

When he left, the academy was up and running, the roofs were fixed, there were 80 female firefighters and hundreds of ethnic minorities had been recruited.

Corral jokes that his biggest accomplishment was the annual calendar featuring firefighters. But, as chief and fire marshal, Corral launched several innovative programs that were imitated nationwide, including the Juvenile Firesetters Prevention Program; the Cease-Fire Club, a civilian fire prevention program; and the Triad, a cooperative high-rise safety program with owners of tall buildings.

The fire chief runs the department. The fire marshal, who reports to the chief, is in charge of fire prevention.

Both jobs brought different challenges, Corral said, but he is most passionate about prevention.

"There have been 400,000 people killed in fires across the country since I began my career. But 90 percent of all fires can be prevented. As fire marshal, I took that on as a challenge," he said.

You know, I don't care about Eddie Corral's heritage so much as I do about his accomplishments. He wasn't merely one of the best Hispanic fire chiefs and fire marshals in the country -- he was one of the best, period. Ethnicity didn't enter into the equation. That he is also a fine role model for the Hispanic community is simply a bonus, in my opinion.

There are two quotes that I think sum up Corral's career, both taken from interviews he gave yesterday.

The first talks about how the job of a firefighter has changed over the decades, and how it has become more professional.

"When I started at the fire department, we used have a motto. It was, 'You light them, we fight them.' Now the motto is, 'Seeking opportunities to serve.' That kind of tells you the different thinking that prevails now."

The second tells you of his love for the job, the profession, that has been his passion for half a century.

"I'll miss the excitement of helping people and the sense of duty but, after 50 years, it's time to go. It's been great," Corral said.

"Some wise man said, 'If you find something you like to do, you never have to work a day in your life.' I haven't worked a day in 50 years."

Don't you wish you could express that sort of love for what you do?

And then there is his observation on the men and women of the Houston Fire Department while visiting a number of fire sttions and fires around the city on his final day as fire marshal.

"You can't find a better group of people to work with," Corral said proudly.

Thank you and God bless you, Eddie Corral. May you have a happy retirement.





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

September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina -- What's Up At My School?

You people know I almost never blog about school, and when I do I am very circumspect.

I will be general in this post, too , but I have to say that I'm going to be a bit more specific in what I say here.

I teach on the east side of Houston, at a 9-10 grade high school campus. We have about 2300 students, 80% minority, well-over half qualifying for free/reduced lunch. We are blessed by an industrial base, as we straddle I-10, and we are also a growing residential community because of new home construction on the north side of the district. I won't name the school or district.

We are being touched by Hurricane Katrina in a small way. My campus had four students fom Louisiana enrolled as of the start of school today. Our sister campus (grades 11-12) had 10. I would speculate the district probably had received 30-40 as of this morning. Who knows how many came in to the district today? I won't even begin to speculate about what will happen next week, though I will note that we already have a lot of students with Louisiana roots whose cousins are likely to turn up.

We got word from the district today -- we will take all comers without question. What's more, the word out of the district offices is that none of these students is expected to lay out a penny for anything -- not pens and pencils, not paper, not notebooks. To quote my principal, "If they don't have clothes, we will take them clothes shopping." I applaud my district for taking that stand, which I suspect goes even furhter than TEA requires of us.

But the commitment goes further than that. There aren't any openings in the district now (we pay well for the area, and have a reputation as a good place to work), but the district is planning to hire on some of the displaced teachers from Louisiana as long-term or permanent substitutes, so that they have money coming in. It won't be anywhere near their regular salaries as teachers, unfortuantely, but it will be something. After all, a lot of schools are closed for the foreseeable future over in Louisiana, and teachers have been told that they are on their own.

The district has asked employees to help. At our faculty meeting today, we were challenged to donate at a certain level (varying depending on whether the employee is uncertified, a teacher, or an administrator). We approved that by acclamation. Proceeds will be going to the school district in Pascagoula, Mississippi, with which there is a pre-existing relationship.

Our kids are in on this, too. One of our service organizations is running a clothing/bedding/canned goods/toiletries/everything-but-the-kitchen-sink drive. Students at the New Arrival Center (for recent immigrants needing to learn English) on one of our other campuses will be sponsoring a car wash tomorrow.

And then there was the fundraising drive by student council. I'm not sure how much they raised, but I suspect that it was in excess of $5000 just from sending someone around to each classroom during third period. I suspect my class ponied up about $50-60. A colleague tells me of one boy who, before going to lunch, pulled out his wallet and emptied the contents into the can -- at least $20.00. I've got this kid in one of my history classes, and know he comes from one of the worst neighborhoods in the district and from a family that doesn't have much. I know he wors after school and on weekends to contribute to the family budget, and doesn't keep much for himself -- so it was probably all or most of what he has for a week or two. He's the type of kid that I refer to when I tell folks that I teach the best kids in the world -- he may not be the best student, but he is an outstanding human being.

I don't doubt that the other schools in the district are responding in exactly the same way.

I'll update you folks about how Katrina impacts my school and my district as time goes on. One thing I can tell you, based on what has happened so far -- we WILL step up. And so will every other Texas school and district.

(Michelle Malkin has a round-up of relief efforts here in Texas -- and Lone Star Times is covering the action at the Astrodome)

UPDATE: As of mid-morning on Friday, at least 6100 students displaced by katrina have enrolled in schools around the state of Texas, according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin talks about the situation in Pascagoula





|| Greg, 07:04 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

ACLU Hypocrisy

The ACLU is objecting to a town logo that includes a rosary as a reflection of the history and heritage of the community.

tijeras_logo.gif

The New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is objecting to the new logo for the Village of Tijeras. Some village residents are objecting to the ACLU.

At issue is the village seal, an image containing depictions of a conquistador’s helmet, a sword and a Catholic rosary. It’s the last item that has the ACLU concerned.

I'm curious -- why do they not object to the native American religious symbol also depicted on the logo? Could it be an anti-Catholic -- indeed, an anti-Christian -- bias on the part of the Anti-Christian Liberals Union.





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

Who Cares?

After all, these guys are opposing Judge Roberts based solely upon ideology, not competence or qualifications.

In a letter to Sens. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, 160 teachers of law from 63 institutions stated their opposition. They said it was based on Roberts' memos as a Reagan administration lawyer, the briefs that he signed as deputy solicitor general in the George H.W. Bush administration and his rulings on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

That record, the letter said, suggests that Roberts "holds a limited view of Congress' authority to enact key worker, civil rights and environmental protections and a similarly narrow view of the vital role our courts and our government play in safeguarding individual rights, especially civil and women's rights."

At a news conference, Duke University Law School professor Erwin Chemerinsky said Roberts was "likely to be much more conservative than O'Connor" and could overturn narrow decisions upholding affirmative action, the right to privacy and separation of church and state.

In other words, there is no question of fitness for the Supreme Court, simply an objection based upon philosophy. Since the ABA has given the judge its highest rating, this letter is simply a disgrace.

And i love the justification these folks use to justify the rejection of Judge Roberts -- the rejection of Robert Bork, generally considered to be the nadir of confirmation politics and the classic example of the destruction of a highly qualified judge based upon ideological considerations.

Chemerinsky compared O'Connor's departure from the court with the 1987 retirement of moderate Justice Lewis Powell. The Senate rejected Judge Robert H. Bork, then-President Ronald Reagan's first nominee to replace Powell, and the seat eventually went to the moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Fine -- just wait for us to Bork any future liberal nominee -- as should have been done to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.





|| Greg, 06:00 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Disaster's Reach Extends Beyond New Orleans

Michelle Malkin provides a great post reminding us all that the city of New Orleans is not the only place touched by Hurricane Katrina.

Her post discusses the death and destruction in towns outside of new Orleans (indeed,outside Louisiana) that have been severely effected by the storm.

Cities and towns included are:
CHALMETTE, LA.
SLIDELL, LA.
METAIRIE, LA.
PASS CHRISTIAN, GULFPORT, AND LONG BEACH, MISS.
GRETNA, TERRYTOWN, HARVEY, AND MARRERO, LA.
MANDEVILLE AND COVINGTON, LA.
BILOXI, MISS.
MOBILE, BALDWIN, WASHINGTON, CLARKE CHOCTAW ANDSUMPTER COUNTIES, AL.





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Some Have No Shame And No Soul

Sometimes an article makes one lament that there is no way to round up some members of a community and "vote them off the island".

This is one such case.

Amid the overwhelmingly compassionate response to hurricane evacuees in Houston, a less-welcoming undercurrent is developing among people worried about the impact of thousands of needy, desperate people.

E-mails, blogs and callers to the Chronicle wonder why refugees draw such immediate assistance while Houston's poor continue to suffer. Others fear an increase of crime.

Some are blunt. "Yes, let's rush to bring over the looters and destroyers of public and private property," wrote a blogger.

Some are thoughtful. "I have grave concerns about a city that can't help the people here now that are going hungry and cannot pay the high cost of utilities," e-mailed a Houston woman.

Others feel a burden has been foisted on Houstonians. "I am not a Christian, but I am charitable. That being said, there's a difference between me making a personal choice to give $50 to the Red Cross and my elected officials inviting 25,000 homeless into the middle of my city," a resident wrote the Chronicle's SciGuy blog.

Laurence Simon, a tech support employee for a local company, has mixed feelings.

"I'm glad that we're putting out a welcome mat. These people have to go somewhere. But I don't know if officials are appreciating the extent of what it's going to take," said Simon.

"You can hold the door open on the elevator for more and more people but, at some point, the elevator gets too full and the cable snaps."

About two-thirds of the population of New Orleans and many of the evacuees are black. Some of the e-mails and calls have a racist bent.

But the unease cuts across racial lines. Michelle Louring, an African-American resident of the Greenspoint area, said her neighborhood already has experienced an increase in petty crimes and nuisances she blames on refugees.

Those to object to public and private efforts to provide relief to people effected by Hurricane Katrina would do well to shut up and help o improve the Houston area -- by finding somewhere else tolive. Your sort are not welcome in this town..





|| Greg, 05:22 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

September 01, 2005

Gasoline Shortage A Short-Term Problem?

I've seen prices jump 40 cents at the station behind my school in 24 hours. I'm not sure if it is a shortage causing it, speculation, or just plain greed. And I'm not sure where the prices will go from here. I do know that I saw prices at $3.00 in Pasadena Texas -- you know, the town where all those refineries from Urban Cowboy are located.

We hear, of course, about the damage to and closure of energy-related facilities. That is bad.

But we may not be in for rising prices for long, if this information is correct.

Gasoline futures fell for the first day in five as some fuel pipelines shut by Hurricane Katrina were reopened and as refiners prepared to restart plants along the Gulf coast.

Colonial Pipeline Co. expected yesterday to raise gasoline and distillate shipments to 61 percent of their normal rate. Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it may next week re-start the Motiva refinery at Convent, Louisiana. At least eight U.S. refineries, more than 10 percent of the nation's capacity, remained shut for a sixth day because of flooding and blackouts from Katrina.

``It's certainly going to take a while to get everything back up,'' said Bob Frye, a commodity broker at Access Futures & Options Trading Inc. in Woodlake, California.

Gasoline for October delivery fell as much as 4.9 cents, or 2 percent, to $2.36 a gallon in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $2.365 at 9:41 a.m. Sydney time.

Yesterday, the contract surged as much as 9.3 percent to $2.4650, before closing at $2.409 a gallon, marking a 30 percent gain this week. Prices today have almost doubled from a year ago.

The Gulf of Mexico receives more than half of U.S. oil imports and is home to about 50 percent of the nation's refining capacity. Power cuts, flooding and a lack of workers are hampering refiners' efforts to inspect plants and restore output.

So it looks like many of the facilities may have come through the storms in better shape than we feared -- but getting to them and getting folks to work at them may be a bigger challenge.

And we are being advised by the administration to expect $3.00 gas through Halloween.

But look at the bright side -- only through Halloween. We may have a restoration of supply to near normal before winter sets in.





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

Stating The Obvious

I had no intention of writing about the sad story from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, of a woman shot and killed by her brother over a bag of ice. Then I saw this at the end of the story.

The shooting is being treated like a homicide, [Police Chief David] Wynn said.

Why wouldn’t it be treated as a homicide?

After all, the killing of another human being by another IS homicide, by definition.





|| Greg, 06:26 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Step Forward For Father’s Rights – And For The Victims Of Paternity Fraud

What would you do if your wife cheated on you and became pregnant by another man? What if they conspired to keep the secret from you for decades? This is the interesting question raised by a New Jersey case.

A man who found out 30 years after his youngest child's birth that he was not the father had the right to sue the biological father for nearly $110,000, the cost of raising the child, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

In the first ruling to extend a statutory deadline in a paternity case, the appellate panel said the man could collect the money even though he missed the deadline under New Jersey's Parentage Act by eight years. The court said it made sense because the biological father, along with the duped man's wife, never told him he was not the boy's father.

The attorney for the biological father said his client had not decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

"The court has finally shed light on the parameters of the Parentage Act and what it covers and how far it can go," said the attorney, Scott Bocker. "Unfortunately, I don't necessarily agree with everything they said, but ... they have the say in how the statute is interpreted."

Family court expert John Paone Jr. called it "a groundbreaking case."

"There is no precedent in New Jersey where a parent has been compelled to pay child support more than 15 years after the emancipation of a child," said Paone, who has been practicing family law for more than 20 years.

Paone said he does not expect the ruling to be applied widely.

"I still think it's going to be the rare case that the biological father knows he's the father and participates in the fraud," Paone said. "The facts of this case call out for a remedy you don't normally see in the court."

In a 30-page opinion that does not reveal the identities of either man, the mother or the son, the appeals court upheld a nearly $110,000 award granted by a Morris County judge in 2003.

Under the state's Parentage Act, an action to determine paternity could be filed up until the child in question turns 23. But the man who raised the boy did not find out until 1999 -- when the child was 30 -- that his ex-wife had had an affair with his friend in the late 1960s and had gotten pregnant. She gave birth to a son in 1969, and as a friend of the family, the biological father, identified in the ruling as P.J.S. Jr., agreed to be the boy's godfather, the decision said.

Ten years after the child was born, the couple divorced, but the plaintiff, R.A.C., paid child support and kept a relationship with all three of his children.

Now ordinarily I would be troubled by the statute of limitations question. But there is a long-standing legal doctrine – one which I believe dates back to common law -- which the courts have applied to this situation.

The biological father, however, appealed on the grounds the Paternity Act does not allow lawsuits to be filed after the child turns 23. But the appeals court said just as murderers who avoid detection for years before they are caught can be sued for wrongful death long after the statute of limitation, so too can a duped man sue for child support from a biological father. The doctrine of equitable tolling, as it is called, "applies to prevent a statute of limitations from being used as a sword by a defendant whose conduct contributed to the expiration of the statutory period," the decision said.

"Here, not only defendant but also B.E.C., the mother of the child, concealed the true facts of D.C.'s parentage from plaintiff. The duplicity was enhanced by defendant's agreement to serve as godfather for the child," the judges said.

In all honesty, I do not know if I would ever have sued in a case like this, but I respect the plaintiff’s right to do so.

I wonder, though, if the ultimate solution to the problem of paternity fraud might be to require paternity tests at birth. What do you folks think?





|| Greg, 06:25 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Few Questions For Those Who Cry “Chickenhawk”

I’ve heard the charge of “chickenhawk” thrown around frequently by left-wingers who think that it has some sort of meaning. I’ve even heard it used against veterans who did not serve in combat -- in one case against the head of the Ameican Legion, who spent his time in the Army in Germany rather than Vietnam.

The irony is that those using it seek to undermine the moral authority of those who have not served or are not currently serving, while at the same time arguing that those who serve are either evil killers and terrorists or incompetent victims too dim to understand their exploitation. Ultimately, they believe only in the moral authority of themselves and those who are “enlightened” enough to agree with them.

Lately I’ve been asking these folks if they have taken their turn shielding Iraqi civilians from the folks who are setting off car bombs among them. Andrew Cline offers a few more questions for them in a piece in the American Spectator.

Conservatives need to start flipping that coin to its other side by asking the following questions of anyone who levels the "chickenhawk" charge:

* Why are you not in Darfur feeding starving children?

* Why are you not on the Gulf Coast rescuing hurricane survivors?

* Why are you not in China protesting the political detention of dissidents?

* Why are you not in Swaziland teaching people how to prevent the spread of AIDS?

* Why are you not in Latin America training revolutionaries to overthrow corrupt regimes?

* Why are you not providing abortions to teenage girls?

Unfortunately, these sorts of questions don’t do much to shut up the average hardcore Leftist, but it might get through to those who haven’t consumed too much Kool-Aid yet.





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Clueless Celebrities And The Leftist Lies They Lie

Get this bit from has-been sex-symbol and Rolling Stone-castoff Bianca Jagger.

A SURVIVOR of a suicide bombing cursed out Bianca Jagger Monday night during a dinner party after the self-styled "human-rights activist" and her friends told him, "American soldiers are raping and killing women and children around the globe."

Jack Baxter, a New York filmmaker who was partially paralyzed in a suicide bombing in an Israeli café two years ago, was in Los Angeles promoting his documentary about Israel, "Blues by the Beach," and decided to stop by a friend's birthday dinner at the Chateau Marmont.

Baxter says there were six people at the table including himself and his friend Cindy Lou Adkins.

"Bianca was there with two guys from Palm Springs," Baxter told PAGE SIX. "She starts talking about Iraq and saying how disgusting it was what the Americans are doing over there, and one of the Palm Springs boys says: 'Americans are knuckle-dragging barbarians.' "

Baxter claims Nicaraguan citizen Jagger, in the middle of an anti-President Bush rant, said: "I despise this country. I would never be an American citizen. The United States should leave Iraq immediately. Saddam Hussein was better for Iraq."

Baxter, shocked, then said: "Well, what about Saddam giving the families of suicide bombers $25,000 as reward for killing people?" — to which he claims Jagger replied, "So what?"

Baxter continued: "Then [Jagger and pals] start talking about Abu Ghraib and how American soldiers are raping and killing women and children around the globe and that's when I said, '[Bleep] you. Cindy, let's get out of here.' We were just about to leave when I went back to the table and said, 'Bianca, you know what? You're talking this anti-American horse[bleep] here while we got guys dying in Iraq — [Bleep] you! [Bleep] all of you!' Then I did leave.

"I used to be a part-time bouncer at Studio 54 and I remember her from those days. This chick used to flash anyone who cared to look and now she's trying to pass herself off as some kind of pseudo-activist? C'mon!"

Hey, this woman is entitled to believe whatever she wants – but since she despises this country so much, I think it is only appropriate that the borders be closed to her. I’m curious – does Prada have a shop in Havana?

As for the Palm Springs boys, they provide proof that there are, indeed some knuckle-dragging Americans out there – and that they are found on the Left. Not only that, but they don’t even have the cojones to stand by their anti-American comments when confronted.

But Jacob Hopkins, one of Jagger's Palm Springs pals who was at the dinner, said he could not "recall" Jagger saying those things, and added: "We were having a political discussion where she may have said that certain countries invaded Iraq because perhaps of natural resources . . . I don't recall her saying anything anti-American. [Baxter] was outraged and very rude to us. We were simply having a private conversation."

Well, buddy, I’ll show you rude if you make those comments around me. As it is, the fact that you were willing to make them in the presence in the victim of terrorists shows exactly what sort of moral cripple you, your friends, and the used-up floozy you were dining with really are.





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

PC Politics Insults Memory Of Thurgood Mashall

Thurgood Marshall was one of the greatest Supreme Court litigators of all time – certainly the greatest of his generation. His place would have been secure in history even if he had not become the first African-American elevated to the US Supreme Court, where he was, in my opinion, a mediocre justice because his ability to use his extraordinary talents as an advocate was constrained by his role as a judge.

On the basis of principle, Marshall refused to accept honors from his home state of Maryland or the city of Baltimore. Yet the name of Baltimore’s airport will be changed to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Only one member of the state’s Board of Public Works objected. But I think it is important to note WHY he objected – and that his objection was rooted in respect for Marshall’s principles.

All that was left yesterday was approval from the state's Board of Public Works. But state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D), as usual, had something to say about it.

"This is wrong, and it shouldn't be done," Schaefer told the original sponsor of the proposal, Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore), during a lengthy and at times tense public exchange.

Although the name change won broad support this year in the General Assembly, the comptroller suggested that those who objected were forced to remain silent rather than face accusations of racial insensitivity.

"Nobody who is politically wise votes against this, and you know why, and so do I," Schaefer (D) told Burns at a meeting of the three-member panel, which eventually passed the measure, with Schaefer abstaining.

Schaefer said Marshall had in the past resisted being honored in Maryland, a state that denied him admission to law school because of his race. Schaefer, 83, a former governor whose position is up for reelection next year, said he was annoyed by Marshall's reluctance to attend the 1980 dedication of a statue in his likeness erected in downtown Baltimore, the city where the justice was born in 1908.

"He just didn't like Baltimore, and he so expressed it," said Schaefer, who was mayor at the time.

Justice Marshall is a man whose legacy deserves respect. I may have fundamental problems with his jurisprudence, but I would never allow that to undermine my respect for his civil rights work and the legacy of equality that goes with that work. But I find it fundamentally wrong to bestow honors upon him in death that he would have rejected in life.

Their response of the so-called civil rights leaders is exactly what one would have expected.

Civil rights leaders hailed the result, calling it fitting recognition for Marshall's contributions as a lawyer, activist and judge. When the governor signed the bill in May, Burns called it "the second-happiest day of my life," behind his wedding day. "Our purpose is to honor a great man," he told the crowd that day. "Generations yet unborn will ask the meaning of this -- and will be told that this governor, this lieutenant governor, this legislature chose to honor one of its own, a son of Maryland who changed the nation for all of America."

Yesterday, Burns tried mightily to contain his outrage at Schaefer's remarks. Burns attempted to tell Schaefer that many other cities, including Jackson, Miss., New Orleans and Atlanta, had named airports for prominent black innovators.
"You're doing it because others have done it?" Schaefer snapped.

"We did it because it's the right thing to do," Burns replied curtly.

So the forces of political correctness and the politicians who pander to them rammed through the proposal to rename the airport, despite the fact that rejecting it would have really been the right thing to do.

After all, how does one honor a hero by going against the principles he practiced during his life?





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

A Sad Statement About The Situation In New Orleans

Search-and-rescue operations halted to stop looting and protect property?

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin also ordered virtually the entire police force to abandon search-and-rescue efforts and stop thieves who were becoming increasingly hostile.

First, the priority is wrong. Search-and-rescue needs to be the primary mission, not property protection. What needs to happen is that those caught looting – especially those armed thugs we have all been hearing about – simply need to be shot on sight.

Yes, I have sympathy for those who have been getting food, diapers, and other necessities. However, the situation is so out of control that order needs to be restored ruthlessly. I don’t believe there are many recipes that call for a boom-box, a 32-inch flat-screen television or ten pairs of designer jeans.





|| Greg, 06:09 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Propety Rights Victory In Texas

Texas governements can no loner take private property in order to pass it on to private developers in the state of Texas. As such, the worst aspects of the Supreme Courts anti-property rights Kelo decision have been nullified here in Texas.

Texas' governor signed a law Wednesday strictly limiting the power of state and local government to seize private property for economic development.

The measure was in response to a Supreme Court ruling in June that said governments have broad power to bulldoze people's homes to erect shopping malls or other private development to generate tax revenue.

Gov. Rick Perry added the eminent domain issue to the summer legislative agenda, and the new law was approved by the House and Senate earlier this month.

At least 25 states have considered changes to eminent domain laws this summer.

Under the Constitution, governments cannot take private property for public use without "just compensation." Local governments have traditionally used their eminent domain authority to build roads, reservoirs and other public projects. But over decades, the high court has expanded the definition of public use, allowing cities to employ eminent domain to eliminate blight.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that New London, Conn., could take homes for a private development project. But the ruling also allowed states to ban the practice.

Mission accomplished.





|| Greg, 05:30 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||
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NAME: Greg
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