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June 30, 2006

Fly By Wire

Here's hoping they never have to try this.

NASA officials revealed a new plan on Thursday that might allow a last-ditch effort to save a damaged space shuttle by guiding it back to Earth without astronauts aboard.

The system, which could be used if astronauts were forced to abandon the shuttle and take refuge in the International Space Station, makes use of a 28-foot-long braided cable, weighing about five pounds, that can be attached to various control boxes on the shuttle. It would allow flight controllers on the ground to activate systems that previously had to be switched on by members of the shuttle crew, including power units, landing gear and drag chutes.

I'd love to know the odds of a successful landing in such a situation -- then I'd plunk down a C-note in Vegas, figuring that could retire on the winnings if the shuttle did make it to landing relatively intact.





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"God's Gift To The Senate"?!?!?

Texas Democrats plumbed the depths to reach a new low with the nomination of Barbara Radnofsky, a precinct chair who could not even carry her own county in the primary, to challenge Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate race.

If you need evidence that they scraped the bottom of the barrel, just look at this response in a recent interview over at MyDD.

Singer: Final question. If there's one message that you could send out to the progressive blogosphere, to the Netroots, what would that message be?

Radnofsky: I guess the bottom line that God's gift to the Senate is sitting in Houston right now having won 60 percent of the vote in the runoff and raised more than a million dollars and spent less than that to win two statewide races, her first two statewide races.

Yeah, you read that right -- "God's gift to the Senate"! Is it just me, or is that not a bit much?

I'm curious -- when will the demands start that Ms. Radnofsky quit injecting religion into the race? When will the condemnations of her exclusion of atheists, Satanists, and other unGodly members of the Democrat coalition begin? Will Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the ACLU sue to get her removed from the ballot over the church/state conflict implicit in having "God's gift" in the race? And what of the dangers of allowing theolibs to grasp the reins of political power to impose their religious will on the rest of us?

Enquiring minds want to know!

(Hat Tip: Texas Safety Forum)

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Conservative Cat, Bacon Bits, Stuck on Stupid, Right Nation, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Dumb Ox, Basil's Blog, Cao's Blog, Woman Honor Thyself





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CD22 Precinct Chairs Pick Haigler

Republican precinct chairs from the Harris County protion of CD22 met to pick our representative to the Congressional District Executive Committee that wil (hopefully) meet to select a candidate to replace Tom DeLay on the November ballot. As one of the participants in the meeting, I have got to comment on the Chronicle's coverage of the meeting.

Despite a continuing legal dispute over the process, Harris County Republicans chose on Thursday their representative on the committee that will select a nominee to replace former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

"Why wouldn't we proceed if time is of the essence?" asked Harris County Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill. "Given the fact that the election is approaching, it's important we do everything as quickly as possible within the confines of the law."

And the reality is that there is absolutely noting in the law which prevented us from acting tonight. The TRO the Democrats obtained a couple of weeks ago expired last week, and so we were legally free to act. Yes, there are still questions about what the federal court will do (and what will happen regarding the appeals that will no doubt follow), but no one is adversely impacted by this gathering. At worst, it was all wasted motion on our part.

We all began gathering at about 6:00 at the courthouse in Webster, not far from the Johnson Space Center. By the time we began the meeting, we actually had an amazing 41 our of 45 precinct chairs in attendance -- a phenomenal rate that will likely never be duplicated for any gathering of precinct chairs in the county. After a little tussle over the agenda -- some of us wanted to include a straw poll to publicly express the sense of the body on who the candidate should be even though it would be binding, but were defeated -- we headed straight into the election of our representative.

We had two candidates seeking the position, Kathy Haigler and Steve Williams. While Kathy is a charming lady and has been my friend for as long as i have been active in the Harris County GOP, I was backing Steve. Why? Not just because I consider him to be a man of great integrity and keen insight, but because I preferred more of a grassroots candidate and felt that having an SREC member as our delegate smacked of insider politics and created the appearance of a conflict-of-interest since the SREC will pick the candidate if the District Executive Committee should fail to do so (which is quite unlikely, I'll concede).

Votes were cast, and I was appointed by Steve to serve as his observer as teh votes were counted. I was. . . disappointed by the margin of victory, as i expected it to be relatively close.

Harris County Republicans selected Kathy Haigler, a precinct chair in Deer Park who is on the State Republican Executive Committee, as their committee representative.

She has not stated a preference among at least nine Republicans seeking the nomination.

Or at least not publicly -- Kathy has not really made a secret of her personal preference, but I will respect her decision not to divulge it and refrain from posting it here. Besides, she voluntarily made a public committment to accept the guidance of the precinct chairs on the matter. After the meeting adjourned, Kathy distributed ballots for an unofficial straw poll which allowed us to rank the declared candidates. The ballots will be tabulated at a later date, after the absent chairs have been given the chance to vote as well. We will see what the results will be after the other counties have selected their representatives next week.

Democrats, of course, are spinning away on this one.

Cris Feldman, an attorney for the Democrats, questioned the Harris County party's decision to go forward.

"It would appear not to be the wisest to do, in light of the court's statements," he said. "The court seemed pretty clear that the process wasn't to go forward until a ruling was handed down."

Where I grew up, that is called a lie. By allowing the TRO to expire, Judge Sparks made it pretty clear that it was accptable for the process to go forward. If it wasn't, he would have continued the restraining order until after he had ruled on the case. He didn't, so it was OK. And after all, with Fort Bend not meeting until July 6 and Galveston and Brazoria not doing so until the following night, the earliest a candidate could be selected by the District Executive Committee would be be around July 15 -- a date that almost certainly falls after the date that Judge Slade will decide the case.

One thing which should be noted about the meeting was the level of grassroots support shown by one candidate for the congressional nomination, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a local physician. There is strong support for her among the precinct chairs in Harris County, and at least half of the members of the public who came to observe the proceedings were wearing Shelley stickers or shirts. I endorsed her back in April, and I still believe that Shelley has the best chance of winning in November. I just have to hope that the District Executive Committee listens to the voice of the people in this regard.

OPEN TRACKBACKING AT: Conservative Cat, Bacon Bits, Stuck on Stupid, Right Nation, Blue Star Chronicles, Third World County, Dumb Ox, Basil's Blog, Cao's Blog, Woman Honor Thyself





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June 29, 2006

Press Shield Law?

Q: Why not?
A: NY Times.

Looks to me like Ted Olson has picked the worst time to lobby for the creation of a statute protecting a “reporter’s privilege”.

Journalists reporting on high-profile legal or political controversies cannot function effectively without offering some measure of confidentiality to their sources. Their ability to do so yields substantial benefits to the public in the form of stories that might otherwise never be written about corruption, misfeasance and abuse of power. A person with information about wrongdoing is often vulnerable to retaliation if exposed as an informant.

Yet it has become almost routine for journalists to be slapped with subpoenas seeking the identity of their sources when their reports make it into print or onto the air. From the Valerie Plame imbroglio and the Wen Ho Lee investigation to the use of steroids by professional baseball players, it is now de rigueur to round up the reporters, haul them before a court, and threaten them with heavy fines and jail sentences if they don't cough up names and details concerning their sources.

And so the solution , according to Olson, is to place reporters above the law by permitting them to withhold evidence that any other citizen would be required to divulge. But don’t dare call it that, Olson says.

Reporters do not expect to be above the law. But they should be accorded some protection so that they can perform their public service in ensuring the free flow of information and exposing fraud, dishonesty and improper conduct without being exposed to an unanticipated jail sentence. A free society depends on access to information and on a free and robust press willing to dig out the truth and spread it around. This requires some ability to deal from time to time with sources who, for one reason or another, require the capacity to speak freely but anonymously.

But unfortunately we have seen in the last few months too many cases of the “Paper of Record” decides to put secret information related to the prosecution of the Crusade Against Jihadi Terror on the front page. It then cloaks its provision of aid and comfort to the enemy by wrapping itself in the First Amendment, despite the fact that such treason is clearly not protected by the Amendment. After all, Tokyo Rose, Axis Sally, and Ezra Pound were all acting in a journalistic role when they made their infamous broadcasts – two went to prison and the third to an asylum.

Sorry, Ted, I admire and respect you – but disagree on this point.

And I’m sad to see you shilling for the very entities that serve as intelligence agencies for jihadi sine like those who murdered Barbara.





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Crime Against Humanity?

The arrogance of some Muslims is galling, as they seek special protection for their false religion.

The incitement to hatred of Islam should be considered a crime against humanity, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech before the Council of Europe in Strasbourg yesterday.

"Just as anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity, so should Islamophobia be regarded," Erdogan said. Erdogan warned against the growing phobia against Islam and foreigners in the world in which "we Muslims feel increasingly under siege."

Excuse me! Muslims feel under siege? Seems to me it is the rest of us, who are being shot at, blown up, beheaded, or having planes crashed into our buildings who ought to be feeling under siege by Islam, not the other way around. And I will point out to you that anti-Semitism is not treated as a crime against humanity - indeed, if the Caliphate were ever re-established we would see mullahs declaring anti-Semitism to be the national sport, if the current level of active anti-Semitism among Muslims is any indication.

But beyond that we are back to the Mohammad Cartoon flap again.

Referring to the row over blasphemous cartoons that were originally printed in a Danish newspaper, he said freedom of expression should not be confused with the freedom to insult.

The row showed not only a "lack of respect for religious convictions," but was also a sign of a "growing and dangerous polarization between the Western and Islamic world." The Turkish prime minister called on Western countries to integrate the Muslims living among them to a much greater degree.

With a (Muslim) population of between 10 and 25 percent in Europe's largest cities, it is important to follow a policy of social integration to ensure a peaceful coexistence," Erdogan said. This was a "great challenge" that could, however, be overcome"with the joint efforts of the host countries and Muslim communities."

So what you are saying is that the presence of Muslims in Christian countries requires submission of those countries to dhimmi status. Not a chance. Indeed, the path of social integration that must be taken here in the West ought to be to mandate that Muslims in the West conform to Western values of liberty of speech, press, and religion – and that Muslims elsewhere recognize the human rights of the non-Muslims in their midst.

And the rights of religious minorities in Turkey (the most "liberal" and "secular" of Muslim countries) was a topic Prime Minister Erdogan sought to avoid at all costs.

Erdogan did not deal with questions from members of the European Parliament about the protection of human rights and religious minorities within Turkey. The parliamentary session of the Council of Europe was debating a decision on freedom of expression and religious tolerance in connection with Erdogan's visit.

Yeah, that would have meant admitting that "secular" Turkey still enforces many of the practices of dhimmitude against its non-Muslim minority.

Indeed, perhaps we need to deal with the issue of whether or not Islam, as it currently exists, is a crime against humanity.





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Insurgents Set 2008 Timetable For US Withdrawal -- Dems Want US Out Of Iraq In 2007

What can I say -- when the Democrats want the US military to cut-&-run faster than the terrorists do, that should say something about their level of concern for US security.

Eleven Sunni insurgent groups have offered to halt attacks on the U.S.-led military if the Iraqi government and President Bush set a two-year timetable for withdrawing all foreign troops from the country, insurgent and government officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The demand is part of a broad offer from the groups, who operate north of Baghdad in the heavily Sunni Arab provinces of Salahuddin and Diyala. Although much of the fighting has been to the west, those provinces have become increasingly violent and the attacks there have regularly crippled oil and commerce routes.

The groups do not include the powerful Islamic Army in Iraq, Muhammad Army and the Mujahedeen Shura Council, the umbrella label for eight militant groups including al-Qaida in Iraq. But the new offer comes at a time when Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government is reaching out to militant Sunnis, including a new amnesty plan for insurgent fighters.

Now what this means is that the terrorists killing American soldiers and Iraqi civilians will give the US until mid 2008 to get out -- but every Democrat plan has American forces leaving Iraq (without completing the mission) by Secember 2007 or sooner.

That is certainly some contrast -- the enemy supports a longer period for withdrawal than the (dis)loyal opposition in our own Congress.

MORE AT Decision '08, Independent Sources





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Is It Time For Israel To Play Terrorstinian's Game?

Following international law and rules of fundamental decency has done nothing to stop the murder.

Israeli forces arrested nearly one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet and 20 lawmakers early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza, responding to the abduction of one of its soldiers.

* * *

Adding to the tension, a Palestinian militant group said it killed an 18-year-old Jewish settler kidnapped in the West Bank. Israeli security officials said Eliahu Asheri's body was found buried near Ramallah. They said he was shot in the head, apparently soon after he was abducted on Sunday.

I have begun to wonder if perhaps these officials should be returned to the Terrorstinian Anarchy in precisely the same condition as Eliahu Ashen was found by the Israelis.

After all, civilized behavior has not worked to stop the terror, despite incredible concessions.

Maybe it is time to try some massive retaliation.

MORE AT Strata-spehre, Alamo Nation, Stop the ACLU, Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, Michelle Malkin



» Right Truth links with: Nothing unites Israelis more than the seizure of hostages



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June 28, 2006

A Victory For Texas

And I do call it a victory for Texas, despite the 5-4 majority deciding against the boundaries of CD23. It affirms that the 2003 redistricting was legal and that the use of partisan criteria in redistricting is not invalid. Even with regard to the CD23 boundaries, the slim majority had to engage in the unusual tactic of overturning a finding of fact when a simple analysis of the district based upon law and precedent failed to find a violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld most of the Republican-boosting Texas congressional map engineered by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay but threw out part, saying some of the new boundaries failed to protect minority voting rights.

The fractured decision was a small victory for Democratic and minority groups who accused Republicans of an unconstitutional power grab in drawing boundaries that booted four Democratic incumbents from office.

And for those of you who cannot read, that means that the redistricting plan met every CONSTITUTIONAL challenge, and the loss came on questions of statutory interpretation, not bad intent.

The result of this is likely to be the redrawing of district lines in two or three districts in the largely empty southwestern part of the state. Indeed, this may well be seen as a net-loss for minorities, given that the likely result will be a reduction in the number of seats over which Hispanics have control of the outcome. So congratulations, amigos, you just shot yourselves in the huevos!

Not that LULAC sees it that way.

"We see this as a very major victory for the Latino community, which is the main reason we were in this case," said attorney Rolando Rios, who represented the League of United Latin American Citizens. "Latinos are responsible for the fastest growth in Texas and the state of Texas refused to give us another district."

But that raises an interesting question – how do we deal with the fact that drawing lines with an eye towards partisan advantage has racial/ethnic implications? The majority effectively conceded that the goal was not racial or ethnic discrimination, but bringing electoral outcomes into line with the partisan preferences of voters. In seeking to preserve the seat of a (Hispanic) GOP incumbent, lines were drawn for partisan advantage – but the result was the removal of Democrats of a particular ethnic group (the region is overwhelmingly Hispanic) and their replacement with white Republicans. Must every change now be made in a race-conscious manner, even if the goal has nothing to do with race?

The exact impact and the timetable are still up in the air.

Experts were still poring over the 130-page opinion to determine how Texas will have to remedy the deficiencies. But each party in the litigation is expected to return to the original panel of three federal judges in Texas with their suggested solutions. And new primaries could be ordered for any district that is substantially altered.

Nina Perales, the lawyer for Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which challenged the map, pronounced the decision historic for Latino voters in particular. She said the decision confirms that lawmakers cannot "roll over minority voting rights" to protect incumbents or promote partisan gains.

She said there is no way to predict how many districts might be affected by the ripple effect of fixing District 23.

I think that Ms. Perales' statement is a bit overblown. Having found the boundaries of 31 districts to be acceptable (well, 30, given the implications of the statements about CD25), the solution should not involve major surgery to the map. In all probability, the solution will involve putting Laredo back into CD23 and shifting a number of low-population counties into neighboring districts to compensate. After all, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot makes a crucial point.

"Today, the United States Supreme Court conclusively rejected broad challenges to the Texas congressional redistricting plan," he said in a written statement. "Although one district must be partially redrawn, the overall contours of the map adopted by the Texas Legislature were affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court."

The immediate impact here in Texas is important. I agree with this unfriendly commentator from Dallas.

However, the bottom line in Wednesday's decision is that virtually all of the districts drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature will remain in place until the next census. That virtually guarantees the GOP will be able to retain close to the 21-11 margin it gained when they were implemented two years ago.

It also means that those GOP-controlled districts would be the starting point when the post-2010 Legislature considers the issue after the next census. Barring an unexpected Democratic capture of at least one legislative house and the governorship, or both legislative houses, the GOP will be able to keep its majority for the ensuing decade.

Ultimately, of course, Democrats hope that changing population trends, mainly the rising Hispanic population, will translate at the polls into the votes that will enable them to reduce or eliminate Republican majorities.

But just as Democrats were able to maintain their hold on many congressional districts after the state started to trend Republican, the GOP probably will be able to do so until its veteran incumbents retire and a transformed population elects different representatives.

While those demographic changes trend Democrat, that may not even help them. After all, if the growth of Hispanic population is primarily in urban areas, it may serve to create districts which, like majority black districts in many parts of the country, are 70% or more minority due to population density. It also presumes that these ethnic groups will remain serfs on the Democrat manor-- and I do not believe that the competing interests of Hispanic and Affrican-American communities will allow for the sort of long-term political alliance necessary for Democrat hegemony to permanently reassert itself in this state.

UPDATE: I got a nasty email from someone about -- *yawn* -- "racist neo-klan rethugs" disenfranchising minorities and violating the Constitution. However I suggest those who hold such beliefs to go back and re-read (or probably read for the first time) the Kennedy opinion. It seems pretty clear that the division of Laredo to preserve a Republicn incumbent would have been perfectly acceptable had the residents of Laredo been white Democrats and not Hispanic ones. It is only the statutory scheme set up in the VRA that gave special consideration to these Democrats based upon their race, even if race was not the major factor in the drawing of the line. Would you like to talk about equal protection of the law -- or is that an outmoded concept for you?





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Talk To Your Doctor

If you take beta blockers for blood pressure, it is important that you raise this issue on your nect visit. I know I will.

Two million Britons are to be taken off blood pressure drugs after studies showed they increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.

From today, beta blockers will no longer routinely be prescribed for high blood pressure.

The dramatic change in guidance follows evidence that the drugs taken daily by millions of Britons are only half as effective at stopping strokes than a host of newer pills.

Beta blockers such as atenolol also raise the risk of stroke and of developing diabetes, compared with other blood pressure tablets.

I'm on one of the medications mentioned later in the article. I'm not happy about the findings about the family of drugs.

Studies have shown that beta blockers are only half as effective at stopping strokes as other blood pressure treatments.

Last year, a study of 20,000 patients showed that treatment with beta blockers cut the risk of stroke by 20 per cent, compared to no treatment at all.

In contrast, the newer treatments prevent 40 per cent of strokes and 15 per cent more heart attacks.

Patients on beta blockers are also up to 30 per cent more likely to develop diabetes.

Beta blockers such as atenolol, bisoprolol and metoprolol also have worse side effects, including fatigue, loss of libido and impotence.

Professor Bryan Williams, who helped draw up the new guidelines, said: 'For the majority of patients, we no longer recommend beta blockers as a first line option for treatment.

Now the question that I'm curious about is financial -- given the benefits of covering the newer, better medications, will insurance companies move these drugs to a lower co-pay tier so as to lower their overall costs of treating patients, saving both them and patients money in the long run.

'They are less effective at controlling blood pressure, less effective at preventing events (strokes and heart problems) and they are more likely than other treatments to increase the risk of developing diabetes.





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Signing Statements

Signing statements issued by presidents have been around for a long time, indicating the how a president understands a particular piece of legislation and dictating how he will have his subordinates in the Executive Branch enforce a new law. President Bush has made great use of them, in an attempt to mold both current practice and future court decisions to conform with his view of the statute and the Constitution.

Unfortunately, the use of this power irritates ersatz Republican Arlen Specter (RINO-PA).

Senators on the Judiciary Committee accused President Bush of an "unprecedented" and "astonishing" power grab on Tuesday for making use of a device that gave him the authority to revise or ignore more than 750 laws enacted since he became president.

By using what are known as signing statements, memorandums issued with legislation as he signs it, the president has reserved the right to not enforce any laws he thinks violate the Constitution or national security, or that impair foreign relations.

A lawyer for the White House said that Mr. Bush was only doing his duty to uphold the Constitution. But Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, characterized the president's actions as a declaration that he "will do as he pleases," without regard to the laws passed by Congress.

So I guess that Specter wants the president to enforce laws he believes to be unconstitutional, thereby violating his oath to uphold that grand document? I suppose that also means that the senator wants the president to accept illegitimate restrictions on his constitutional authority passed by an over-reaching Congress, thereby forfeiting the Executive Branch's role as a co-equal branch of government.

I like the explanation put forward by the administration in support of the signing statements.

Michelle Boardman, a deputy assistant attorney general, said the statements were "not an abuse of power."

Rather, Ms. Boardman said, the president has the responsibility to make sure the Constitution is upheld. He uses signing statements, she argued, to "save" statutes from being found unconstitutional. And he reserves the right, she said, only to raise questions about a law "that could in some unknown future application" be declared unconstitutional.

"It is often not at all the situation that the president doesn't intend to enact the bill," Ms. Boardman said.

Now persoanlly, I would prefer that the president have made use of the veto pen in many of these cases -- but in doing so, he would have been forced to veto bills that were clearly in the national interest with minor provisions that extend too far. By giving creating an Executive history to go witht he Legislative history, it may be that the Judiciary will interpret such provisions in a manner that saves them from being found constitutionally infirm.





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Flag Amendment Fails

I am quite gratified to see that the Senate stepped back from sending this silly amendment to the states.

A constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration died in a Senate cliffhanger Tuesday, a single vote short of the support needed to send it to the states for ratification and four months before voters elect a new Congress.

The 66-34 tally in favor of the amendment was one less than the two-thirds required. The House surpassed that threshold last year, 286-130.

The proposed amendment, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (news, bio, voting record), R-Utah, read: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

It represented Congress' response to Supreme Court rulings in 1989 and 1990 that burning and other desecrations of the flag are protected as free speech by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Senate supporters said the flag amounts to a national monument in cloth that represents freedom and the sacrifice of American troops.

Now that has to be among the dumbest arguments ever made -- because that "national monumnent in cloth" is a piece of private property. As I said in my piece over at Homeland Stupidity, there is a fundamental problem with prohibitting an individual from destroying/desecrating an item that they own.

Yes, I know that men and women have fought and died under that flag — but that flag was not what they were defending. They were defending this soil, this people, and the freedoms enshrined in our founding documents. At best, the flag serves only as a representation of those things. And so while flag-burning may be offensive and enraging — I’d personally like to beat the crap out of anyone who does it within my reach — banning it protects nothing of significance but does undermine very basic freedoms.

After all, if they can prevent you from disrespecting the flag you bought for $9.95 at Wal-Mart, what other items of personal property do they wish to make you hold sacred?

Now I tend to suport most of the rest of the "American Values Agnda" being promoted by the GOP this summer, but find this particular item to be ill-conceived and based upon an emotional response to an act which has less significance than some would give it. And besides, as John over at Whatever pointed out last year, enforcing such a ban would be pretty near impossible.



» Iowa Voice links with: Flag Burning Amendment Fails To Pass Senate



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June 27, 2006

What If…

America fell under the sway of the Islamists?

Jeff Jacoby offers a review of Prayers for the Assassin, one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Life in an Islamist United States would be largely unfree and intolerant, if the experience of countries where radical Muslims have achieved power -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and Afghanistan -- is any guide. But what would that mean in American terms? That's the question a remarkable new novel sets out to answer. Prayers for the Assassin, Robert Ferrigno's latest thriller, is set 35 years in the future, when most of the United States has been transformed into the Islamic Republic of America. Under the new regime, America is a country in which university professors can lose their jobs for being "insufficiently Islamic," cellphone cameras are illegal, and men can only dream of "loud music, cold beer, and coed beaches." There is still a Super Bowl, but the cheerleaders are all men. Mt. Rushmore still exists, but the presidential faces on it have been blown up.

Some of you may remember my post from earlier this year, in which I was role-playing a candidate for president of the Islamic States of America. It was related to this book – and through your assistance, I won an autographed copy as one of those who successfully beat my computer-run opponents.

I join with Jacoby in urging you to read this book.





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The DeLay Question

Yesterday’s proceedings in the court of Judge Sam Slade raise some interesting questions in the ongoing saga of the CD22 race. There are also some intriguing possibilities.

First, there is the question of DeLay’s residence.

DeLay testified in federal court that he has registered to vote in Virginia and that he cast a ballot in that state's recent primary. He said he has a Virginia driver's license, has state tax withheld in Virginia and lives in a condominium in Alexandria, Va.

DeLay acknowledged that he spent the weekend at his home in Sugar Land, near Houston, but testified that his wife is devoted to helping abused and neglected children and that she is continuing that work in the Houston area.

By any legitimate standard, it is clear that DeLay has made himself a resident of the state of Texas. He lives there, votes there, pays taxes there, and has declared his official residence to be there on several official documents, including a driver’s license. He has now stated that he is a resident of Virginia under oath in a court of law. That should establish his ineligibility to the satisfaction of the court.

However, there is this statement from the judge yesterday.

A federal judge hearing a ballot dispute Monday involving former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said he thinks that DeLay withdrew from the November election, indicating potential trouble for Republicans who want to name a replacement candidate. "He is not going to participate in the election and he withdrew," said U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, who did not issue an official ruling after a daylong trial regarding DeLay's status as the GOP nominee for the 22nd Congressional District.

If this is a withdrawal, then theoretically there can be no replacement candidate on the ballot. But left unanswered is the possibility that DeLay has withdrawn AND rendered himself ineligible. If that is the case, what provision of state law applies?

The second issue is what happens if this ruling goes against the GOP. I see three possibilities. The first, of course, would be that Tom DeLay could reestablish residency between now and Election Day, reentering the race as a candidate. This would be one logical outcome of the Democrat argument that DeLay cannot be determined to be ineligible before Election Day.
But the other option is more interesting, and contained in one of the GOP arguments in court yesterday.

Attorneys for the Republican Party of Texas say GOP voters would be hurt if his name appears on the ballot because DeLay wouldn't be the guy filling the seat if he won. A special election would have to be called if that scenario played out.

In such a scenario, the GOP would urge voters to select DeLay, with a view towards defeating Lampson and creating the need for a special election to fill the seat. But would enough voters be willing to go along with such a plan?

The third, and least likely, option would be to throw GOP support to Libertarian candidate Bob Smither, with the goal of making him the first Libertarian Congressman – and of making him the first Libertarian ex-Congressman after the 2008 election.

And we won't even get into the implications of the upcoming Supreme Court decision (most likely to be handed down on Thursday morning) regarding the challenge to the off-year redistricting plan here in Texas.

As you can see, this means that even after the Harris County precinct chairs from CD22 meet on Thursday, there is still a lot of interesting stuff that could happen.





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More Than I Wanted To Know

I really didn't need this image of Senator Joe Biden in my head.

“I’d rather be at home making love to my wife while my children are asleep,” he said.

But I would have to agree with you, Senator.

I would rather have you home -- *shudder* -- making love to your wife -- *shudder* -- than being President of the United States.

Though I don't care where your kids are or what they are doing at the time.





|| Greg, 02:47 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Bush Defends Financial Surveillance Of Terrorists

President Bush offered a defense of a secret program to track terrorists after that secrecy was blown by journalists more concerned about headlines than national security.

"What we did was fully authorized under the law," Bush said in an angry tone as he leaned forward in his chair and wagged his finger. "And the disclosure of this program is disgraceful. We're at war with a bunch of people who want to hurt the United States of America, and for people to leak that program, and for a newspaper to publish it, does great harm to the United States of America."

Bush denied overstepping his bounds by not seeking court or congressional approval for the program in the nearly five years since it was established following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "What we were doing was the right thing," he said. "Congress was aware of it, and we were within the law to do so."

The program operated under the provisions of both the Patriot act and financial surveilance legislation signed by Jimmy Carter in 1977. Not even the Times has offered serious questions regarding its legality, but simply placed th "public's right to know" above the "public's right to safety".

That has not, however, stopped some Democrat extremists from engaging in irresponsible innuendo about the program.

Critics said Bush was trying to divert attention from his own actions. Bush, Cheney and other Republicans "have adopted a shoot-the-messenger strategy by attacking the newspaper that revealed the existence of the secret bank surveillance program rather than answering the disturbing questions that those reports raise about possible violations of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. privacy laws," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.).

Markey, who has served in Congress since 1976, voted in favor of both pieces of legislation that authorized this sort of surveillance.

Vice President Cheney offered a principled denunciation of the Times for its unprincipled actions.

"Some of the press, in particular the New York Times, have made the job of defending against further terrorist attacks more difficult by insisting on publishing detailed information about vital national security programs," Cheney said at a Republican fundraiser in Nebraska.

Referring to the NSA program, he added: "What is doubly disturbing for me is that not only have they gone forward with these stories, but they've been rewarded for it, for example, in the case of the terrorist surveillance program, by being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for outstanding journalism. I think that is a disgrace."

Each new national security blockbuster story has served to make America les safe, yet has resulted in professional accolades for the reporters involved. It ultimately boils down to a simple question -- does the right to freedom of the press carry with it a responsibility to exercise restraint in the interest of public safety? The Supreme Court once recognized the the publication of vital national security information could be limited by the government -- and in that case Rep Peter King's suggestion of investigation of the treasonous activities of the New York Times might be in order.

Interestingly enough, members of the media are not at all pleased that some might question their patriotism, motives, or right to publish sensitive secret data. I guess they don't feel that our right to free speech is nearly as important as their right to freedom of the press. I'm sure they were unhappy about Tony Snow's defense of the First Amendment which raised the need for the press to exercise restraint.

"It's not designed to have a chilling effect," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "If the New York Times wants a spirited debate about it, it's got it. But certainly nobody is going to deny First Amendment rights. But the New York Times and other news organizations ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know, in some cases, might overwrite somebody's right to live."

Indeed, how many lives have and will be lost due to the publication decisions of the New York Times?

Captain Ed notes that this program is exactly in line with the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Here's what the 9/11 Commission recommended (page 382):

Recommendation: Vigorous efforts to track terrorist financing must remain front and center in U.S. counterterrorism efforts.The government has recognized that information about terrorist money helps us to understand their networks, search them out, and disrupt their operations. Intelligence and law enforcement have targeted the relatively small number of financial facilitators—individuals al Qaeda relied on for their ability to raise and deliver money—at the core of al Qaeda’s revenue stream. These efforts have worked. The death or capture of several important facilitators has decreased the amount of money available to al Qaeda and has increased its costs and difficulty in raising and moving that money. Captures have additionally provided a windfall of intelligence that can be used to continue the cycle of disruption.

I wonder -- do Sulzberger, Keller, and the rest of the Times staff play poker with all cards face up?





|| Greg, 05:28 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 26, 2006

Harris County GOP Fills Ballot Slots

While I could not attend tonight's Executive Committee meeting due to a last minute family emergency, I am reliably informed of the that the two open ballot positions have been filled.

Replacing the late Jack Cato on the ballot for County Treasurer will be Orlando Sanchez, who took handily won the balloting among the precinct chairs. This was despite heavy last-minute campaigning by Harris County GOP Treasurer Larry Hicks, who seemed to have the support of a lot of the party leadership types. Orlando, on the other hand, was definitely the favorite of the grassroots.

The race for the nomination for judge of the 80th District Court had a number of nominees, and required a run-off to fill. It ultimately came down to a contest between Judge Lynn Bradshaw-Hull and former HISD School Board President Jeff Shadwick. The nomination went to Bradshaw-Hull, despite heavy support from the party leadership, including Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, Shadwick's employer at the law firm of Woodfill & Pressler. I'm disappointed that my choice, former 80th District Court Judge Scott Link (who left the bench four years ago due to a pair of serious illnesses in his immediate family) did not get the nomination, as he was clearly the candidate in the best position to take the reins of the court.

The striking thing in both cases is that there seems to be a disconnect between the precinct chairs and the county leadership. Given that we are rapidly approaching Thursday's meeting of Harris County precinct chairs from CD22, I would not be surprised to see the leadership's candidate for elector (and, implicitly, the leadership's preferred congressional candidate, another member of the law firm of Woodfill & Pressler) face a stiffer than expected challenge from the grassroots element of the party that has become tired of being told to "follow the leaders".





|| Greg, 09:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

When Will Muslims Condemn This Religious Discrimination?

Courtesy, of course, of our "allies" the Saudis.

Jeddah, Jun. 26, 2006 (CNA) - Two Ethiopian and two Eritrean Christians have been arrested and incarcerated in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for conducting prayers in their home.

The Compass Direct news agency reported that the religious police, called Muttawa, armed with wooden clubs, broke into a private residence in Jeddah two weeks ago and arrested the four Christians - the four remain in prison.

More than 100 Eritrean, Ethiopian and Filipino Christians were gathered in the house when the Muttawa arrested the four group leaders: Mekbeb Telahun, Fekre Gebremedhin, Dawit Uqbay and Masai Wendewesen. The few Christians in Saudi Arabia are mostly migrant workers.

The government of Saudi Arabia forbids the practice of any religion other than the fundamentalist Wahhabite version of Islam. It prohibits building places of worship, churches, or chapels. Any public expressions of faith, such as carrying a Bible, a crucifix, or rosary beads, and praying in public are forbidden.

Given the history of Islamic terror in this country and elsewhere, I think we have more to fear from granting Muslims rights in our country than the Saudis do granting Christians such freedom. Yet somehow our Muslims never get around to demanding that their brothers in faith give Christians the same sort of respect that they get here in the Christian West.

Their silence is deafening.





|| Greg, 08:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The Iraqi Insurgency Has No Central Command by The Glittering Eye, and The Jihadi Network's Fatal Flaw by The American Thinker

Here is where you can find the full results of the vote.





|| Greg, 08:06 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Also Blogging At...

Homeland Stupidity.

homelandstupidity.jpg

My first post is up, talking about the proposed flag burning amendment.

It may be akin to heresy, but I just don’t think we need an amendment against flag-burning. And my reason has nothing to do with the rarity of the practice or the sanctity of the First Amendment. Rather, my opposition has to do with the question of property rights.

Unfortunately, some in Congress don’t see it that way.

Drop by the site and read the rest!





|| Greg, 07:23 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Stupidity At The Chronicle!

I’ve seen a lot of dumb editorials in a lot of newspapers over the years – but this one in today’s Houston Chronicle has to be among the worst.

JOLTING the leadership of their own party, Texas Republicans in the U.S. House helped block a vote on renewing a key section of the Voting Rights Act. Though the White House, leaders of both parties and a Republican-led committee all supported the bill, the Texans claimed it wrongly singled out this state and was, in any case, unneeded.

The Texans were half right.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act, much of which is permanent, choked off the Jim Crow laws that kept minorities from voting.

So to clarify, the refusal to renew this “key section” of the Voting Rights Act does not eliminate the law itself, simply one section that its authors intended to end in 1970 – and which did not, in its original form, even include Texas as a state requiring preclearance. Only with the addition of non-English ballots in 1975 did the measure include Texas among the states with a preclearance requirement. Indeed, calling this a "key provision" is nonsense, given the sunset provision.

Section 5, which is up for renewal, made states with histories of voter discrimination get federal "preclearance" for any changes in their voting law. Texas is one of those states.

There was good reason to subject Texas to federal review. Civil rights lawyers would wrestle down one assault on rights — a poll tax, or a literacy rule, or a morals test — only to see Dixiecrats dream up a new one.

In other words, we are subject to this requirement because the Democrats were out to keep minorities from voting. Given that Texans have grown up politically and expelled the Democrats from most positions of governmental authority, it seems like we have made good progress to eliminating the source of the discrimination. Texas has, dare I say it, decisively moved away from its history of racial intolerance by rejecting the party of slavery segregation, and vote suppression and embraced the party of emancipation, enfranchisement, and equality.

Section 5 switched the burden of defending voter rights from civil rights workers to the federal government. Today, the rule is especially useful at the local level, where council members and others might not be sensitive to a law or procedure that would have an adverse impact on racial minorities.

Would you care to offer some examples?

When the Voting Rights Act was passed, it was easy to spot attempts to disenfranchise minority voters. Most took place in the South. In recent years, though, attacks on voter rights and access to polling places have erupted all over the map. In the last presidential election, some of the most egregious violations occurred in Florida and Ohio — states largely exempt from Section 5.

Actually, nobody had documented even a single attempt to disenfranchise minority voters in Florida, for all the heated rhetoric to the contrary. And in Ohio, black voters voted at a higher rate than white voters during the 2004 presidential election.

In an ideal world, the proposal of some Texas Republicans would indeed be law. The preclearance rule would apply to everyone. In reality, as the Texas delegation well knows, any such amendment to the Voting Rights Act would be a poison pill and prevent renewal.

States now exempt from Section 5 would furiously resist any attempt to rope them in, and administering universal application would be nearly impossible.

In other words, equal protection of the law for every citizen of every state is an unrealistic goal, and therefore it is wrong for Republicans to demand it. It is even wrong to suggest that data from the 2004 election be used to determine which states need special scrutiny – we need to continue using data almost as old as I am from the 1964 presidential election, because other states will object to changes that might subject their practices to scrutiny. Rather than attacking courageous Texas Republicans for standing on solid principle, you should be chiding those who refuse to embrace the proposed change out or political self-interest. But that would mean venturing away from the "Democrat good, Republican bad" meme that often colors the Chronicle's editorial (and nesw) pages.

The Texas lawmakers' second argument, unlike the first, is indefensible:

"I don't think we have racial bias in Texas anymore," asserts the optimistic U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock. Really? The controversial redistricting of Texas congressional districts (deemed objectionable by the Justice Department's career lawyers) and recent attempts by the Legislature to require voter IDs suggest otherwise.

Yes, the careerists found the plan objectionable – but the courts did not. Furthermore, the major criticism of the plan has always been that its goal was partisan advantage, not racial discrimination. In fact, it created more majority-minority districts that existed under the previous plan imposed by a federal court -- so it is the Democrats that are seeking the sort of retrogression that the Voting Rights Act is meant to prevent.

If Carter and his like-minded colleagues think Texas has outgrown the need for voter protection, there's a good way to get out of Section 5 coverage. Embedded in the Voting Rights Act is a measure that lets states prove they no longer deserve preclearance. Texas has never tried to make that case.

Unfortunately, the provision asks that states prove a negative. That is, of course, impossible – rather like asking you to prove that you do not still beat your wife or abuse your children. The use of newer data (say from 2000 and 2004) rather than the 42-year–old data from the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater presidential contest would indicate where real problems with racial disparities exist today, rather than the current system which continually seeks to exorcise the ghosts of elections past. The newer data would decisively prove whether or not a problem exists.

House Republicans say they want to maximize justice in Texas. If they dropped their attack on the Voting Rights Act and worked to show Texas no longer discriminates, they would achieve their goal. Minority voters would continue to be protected by federal oversight — until the state provides the welcome proof that federal oversight is unneeded.

Dead wrong – let’s instead allow the wisdom of the law's authors to prevail and permit Section 5 to expire as they intended. Either that, or re-write it so that it covers every state, or at least the states with demonstrable current disparities. To do otherwise is foolish symbolism which fails to adequately protect the rights of any American.





|| Greg, 05:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

300,000,000

That is where the US population should be by fall.

The U.S. population is on target to hit 300 million this fall and it's a good bet the milestone baby — or immigrant — will be Hispanic.

No one will know for sure because the date and time will be just an estimate.

But Latinos — immigrants and those born in this country — are driving the population growth. They accounted for almost half the increase last year, more than any other ethnic or racial group. White non-Hispanics, who make up about two-thirds of the population, accounted for less than one-fifth of the increase.

Of course that has been the biggest percentage of the population increase -- in the last 30 years we have allowed 20-25 million illegal aliens to jump the border. We gave amnesty in 1986, and are promising to do so again. And as I can attest from observing my students and their behavior, they are a population with a high fertility rate and they start having chilren young -- looking at my female former students who are taking summer school this year, there are no less than eight who are either currently pregnant or already mothers out of around 150 girls I've taught over the last two years. Every one of them is Hispanic. And in the last couple of years I have noticed that I am teaching the fourth, fifth, or sixth child of many Hispanic families.

Please note that I am not making comments critical of the Hispanic community (well -- maybe the teen pregnancy comment is a bit critical), but merely noting the trends I am seeing in my school, which hasseen a 20% increase in enrollment in the last six years.

So when 300,000,000 comes this fall, of course I expect him or her to be Hispanic. That is where the trends have been headed for years.





|| Greg, 05:28 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Good Teachers/Bad Immigration Policy

One of the resons that our nation's immigration laws get violated are situations like these, in which bureaucratic regulations make it nearly imposible to adjust the status of those on temporary visas who wish to stay in the US -- even if they have married US citizens and have become productive members of their communities.

And in this article, we find that students in two schools could lose excellent teachers. The problem is that they came to this country on cultural exchange visas that require they return to their home country for two years.

Most foreigners who marry U.S. citizens while on a visitor visa can adjust their status without leaving the country. But if they overstay a J-1 visa -- the three-year kind Chamorro has -- they must leave the United States to apply for a family member visa even if they marry a citizen, said Michael Defensor, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On rare occasions, the U.S. grants waivers -- for example, if the return home would constitute extreme hardship to the family. Chamorro has argued that her husband, a freelance photographer, would suffer hardship in Colombia because of the country's high crime rate and poor pay for photographers. But Defensor said an extreme hardship would have to be something such as a medical condition that cannot be treated in the home country or a situation where a person's life would be in danger.

Chamorro came to the United States through the North Carolina-based Visiting International Faculty Program, which brings teachers from around the world to work in U.S. schools for up to three years. Teachers with the program sign a pledge to return to their country for at least two years afterward.

Most return to their countries within three years, said Ned Glascock, a spokesman for the program. "The idea is that teachers and others who qualify come for three years to teach about their cultures and then return home and share everything they've learned," he said. "The cultural exchange goes full circle, and they become cultural ambassadors for our country."

Since the program began in 1987, it has brought 7,000 teachers to the United States, he said, adding that "99.9 percent" of them have returned to their countries. "We're very clear with our teachers that it's not a program that's intended as a means of immigration to the United States," he said.

And i agree with the program and its rationale -- but the reality is that there are some people in that program who do marry US citizens. It is not a large number, and the requirement that these couples split or relocate abroad is draconian, given the myriad methods for adjusting the status of other immigrants -- including amnesty programs for illegal aliens.

Besides, at a time when teachers in math and science are at critical shortage levels, what are we doing sending back qualified ones who want to stay?





|| Greg, 05:16 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sounds Like Politics-As-Usual

Bribes, acts of violence, and threats to cut off access to government programs -- all of those have reappeared in this year's Mexican election.

Half of the 4,400 voters interviewed by Alianza Civica said social programs in their areas were being used to benefit supporters of political parties. The study's findings indicate that vote-buying and coercion are likely to increase this week, in the final days before the election.

There has been almost no effort to prosecute public officials for vote-buying or coercion. The Center for Higher Study of Social Anthropology, which last week re-released a report it first presented in April, recommended increasing voter education and referring cases of vote-buying to law enforcement authorities.

"In a democracy," Aguayo said, "you have to fight for democracy every day."

Actually, the same problem exists in this country. There is a long history of one party using acts of violence and intimidation, vote-buying, and access to government programs to coerce voters. In Mexico it is the socialist/communits inspired PRI -- in the US it is the Democrats.





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

June 25, 2006

Tired Of Worrying About The WENUS

I haven't blogged today. I'm not going to blog beyond this post. I'm feeling like this, to be honest.

Chandler: I just don't want to be one of those guys that's in his office until twelve o'clock at night worrying about the WENUS.

Rachel: The... the WENUS?

Chandler: Weekly Estimated Net Usage Systems. It's a processing term.

Rachel: Oh, that WENUS.

I've spent too much time worrying about how my blog looks, how much traffic I'm getting, and whether I am interesting/topical enough.

So I'm taking the day off for me, my Darling Democrat, and the Apolitical Pooch.

I'll post tomorrow.

In the mean time, one of the two mentioned above wants her belly rubbed. I'll leave it to your imagination which it is.





|| Greg, 06:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 24, 2006

Less Dangerous Than The New York Times

Michelle Malkin posted some WWII posters supporting the war effort. I picked one from a collection of posters I've used with my classes, and so offer my Photoshopped contribution to the condemnation of those who care more about the next big scoop than national security.

less-dangerous.jpg

'Nuff said.

OTHER EFFORTS AT: NCASDco Sanctuary, Bookworm Room, Darleen's Place, Plains Feeder, Solomonia, A Tic In The Mind's Eye, MVRWC, Mind In The Qatar, Blogs of War, California Conservative, Stuck On Stupid, Super Fun Power Hour, Right Voices, Jo's Cafe, Slapstick Politics, Stop The ACLU





|| Greg, 10:15 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NY Times Concedes Financial Monitoring Is Right -- But Wrong Because Bush Did It

That is, after all, what it comes down to in this editorial -- the Administration used legislation passed by a Democrat Congress and Signed By Democrat Jimmy Carter, as well as the Patriot Act, to monitor financial transactions by terrorists.

Investigators will probably need to monitor the flow of money to and from suspected terrorists and listen in on their phone conversations for decades to come. No one wants that to stop, but if America is going to continue to be America, these efforts need to be done under a clear and coherent set of rules, with the oversight of Congress and the courts.

The problem with this statement is that there is a coherent set of rules in place. As the LA Times reluctantly conceded yesterday, the subpoenas are authorized under long-standing federal law, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. So it seems that authority that everyone felt was acceptable in the hands of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton is somehow dangerous and a threat to American society when used by George W. Bush -- because he is actually using that power to track down enemies of America, not mere criminals.

It is still September 10 in the world of the NY Times. Perhaps they can schedule a breakfast meeting tomorrow at Windows on the World, to gain some perspective on the seriousness of the terrorist threat.

Also -- an excellent discussion of SWIFT can be found at SCSU Scholars. Gay Patriot has a superb exposition of the willingness of the NY Times to undercut American security in order to attack George W. Bush. NewsBusters notes this Mort Kondracke gem.

it's as though the New York Times thinks that somehow if the government, if the Bush administration is doing it, it's worse than something al-Qaeda might do to the United States, that we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks.

Go back and read my excerpt from today's NY Times editorial and tell me that Kondracke didn't peg it exactly.

I also recommend the following superb posts to my readers:

Captain's Quarters -- ACLU, Right On Schedule, in which Ed points out"

anyone operating within the US banking system -- at least at those facilities insured by the FDIC and FSLIC -- the government has access to data on individual banking customers whenever it wants to access it. Any institution insured by the federal government has to give federal regulators access to their records during any extensive examination. Not only that, but since most accounts pay interest, the IRS also gets all of the information on these accounts, including taxpayer numbers and other private information.

However, in this case, the Swift project targeted only those people already indentified as terrorists or terrorist financiers, and the focus was on international transactions. The government brought in outside auditors to ensure that the information requested remained within the boundaries of their power. Most of all, George Bush told us on a number of occasions that the United States would track these transactions around the world to find terrorists and their enablers. The project itself has never been a secret; only the methods used remained clandestine.

Instapundit, who opines as follows:

When big companies dump toxic waste into rivers to enrich themselves, they're criticized by the press. But this is the same kind of thing -- self-serving profiteering at the public's expense.

Stop the ACLU -- ACLU Says Government Spying on Bank Records is Further Abuse of Power. which notes the ACLU's rejection of its own historic respect for national security.

There is probably no other time that a proper balance between civil liberties and national security becomes more important than in wartime. During times of war, sometimes unusual responses are implemented, often requiring suspension of certain liberties. Of course war opens the opportunity for abuse by governments, and the ACLU are right to watch for them. However, the ACLU in its absolutist perception of freedom, only worries about one side of the equation, civil liberties. It pays no attention to the national security side of things, not only ignoring it, but working against it.

One of the most revealing occurances towards the ACLU’s absolutist position on national security and its recent evolution can be seen in the action the board of directors took at its Oct 1989 meeting: It dropped section (a) from its policy, “Wartime Sedition Act.” Before, the ACLU held that it “would not participate (save for fundamental due process violations) in defense of any person believed to be “cooperating” with or acting on behalf of the enemy.” This policy was based on the recognition that “our own military enemies are now using techniques of propaganda which may involve an attempt to prevent the Bill of Rights to serve the enemy rather than the people of the United States.” In making its determination as to whether someone were cooperating with the enemy, “the Union will consider such matters as past activities and associations, sources of financial support, relations with enemy agents, the particular words and conduct involved, and all other relevant factors for informed judgement.” SOURCE

UPDATE: Even the Washington Post> agrees this is legal and proper.

For one thing, it appears to be legal. The government is receiving large volumes of data detailing financial transfers from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a Belgium-based consortium that acts as a kind of messenger service for banks around the world, electronically notifying banks of transactions other banks are attempting to complete. The government, if it develops suspicions about a person, can search the system for any transactions that person may have engaged in. While customer banking data are generally private under federal law, the statute does not appear to cover the society, which isn't a bank and doesn't have individual customers. What's more, a different law gives the president broad powers in a national emergency situation to investigate, or even prohibit, certain financial transactions. It is also the sort of information the government should be examining in any effort to frustrate terrorist financing and develop leads about who is funding whom. While such data can certainly be misused, records of overseas financial transfers are less sensitive from a privacy point of view than, say, the contents of phone calls or e-mails. And some safeguards appear to be in place to make sure the information is not misused. The department receives the material under a subpoena, Treasury officials emphasized yesterday. SWIFT's representatives audit all searches, as does an outside auditing firm. Unlike a data-mining operation, where analysts try to identify high-risk individuals using patterns and trends embedded in huge data sets, analysts here are searching for transactions involving individuals about whom they already have suspicions.


OPEN TRACKBACKED TO: Conservative Cat, Outside the Beltway, Samantha Burns, Jo's Cafe, Bacon Bits, Adam's Blog, Third World County, Dumb Ox, Is It Just Me?, Blue Star Chronicles, Chaotic Synaptic Activity, Selective Amnesia, Stuck On Stupid, Dan Mancini, Stop The ACLU, Right Wing Nation, Wizbang, Basil's Blog, Uncooperative blogger, GM's Corner, The Amboy Times, Woman Honor Thyself, Leaning Straight Up, Assorted Babble





|| Greg, 08:36 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Lady Macbeth Bashes GOP

After the Democrats followed a policy of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" during her husband's scandal-filled administration, I don't see where Lady Macbeth has any room criticizing her political opponents for supporting the policies of the President.

One day after suffering a pair of defeats on the Senate floor, Democratic leaders argued yesterday that their internal divisions over Iraq will help push the country toward a change in policy and accused Republicans of blindly following President Bush on a path that has been disastrous for the nation.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said Democrats emerged from this week's Senate debate more united than critics contend around a policy aimed at forcing the new Iraqi government to take responsibility for suppressing the insurgency. Party unity is important, she said, but not as valuable as an open debate about how best to change course.

"We're not blindly united like the other side is, where they are like the three monkeys -- 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,' " she told reporters after a speech to the Democratic group NDN. "They're not going to say anything negative about the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense or anybody else. I think that's irresponsible. It's negligent."

Perjury. Rape. Sexual harassment Abuse of FBI files. Firing civil service employees on trumped up charges to give contracts to family members. Abuse of the Justice Department to file false criminal charges. Cattle futures. Illegal fundraising. Illegal technology transfers. The list could continue for pages, but somehow the Democrats managed to ignore every single one of these crimes in their lockstep celebration of the most corrupt President in American history.

And now his wife dares criticize her political opponents for supporting George W. Bush in his efforts to wipe out jihadi terrorism. The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven!





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

June 23, 2006

Harris County Meeting Call To Select CD22 Elector

In light of the expiration of the TRO preventing the selection of a replacement for Tom DeLay for the November ballot, the process is moving forward. Harris County precinct chairs in CD22 received this tonight.

DATE: Friday, June 23, 2006

TO: Precinct Chairmen in Harris County

Whose Precincts Lie Within TX Congressional District 22

FROM: Jared Woodfill, County Chairman

RE: URGENT

NOTICE OF MEETING

TO ELECT DISTRICT EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER

RELATED TO NOMINEE FOR TEXAS CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 22

As you know, Congressman Tom DeLay is no longer eligible to be the Republican nominee for Texas Congressional District 22 in the November 2006 General Election. Thus, this will serve as notice of a meeting to be held as follows:

Date: Thursday, June 29, 2006

Time: 7:00 p.m. (Registration will begin at 6:00 p.m.)

Location: Judge Louie Ditta's Courtroom @ 16603 Buccaneer, Houston TX 77062

(2nd Floor, Rm. 208)

For the purpose of electing one (1) member to the district executive committee that, in turn, will elect a new Republican nominee for Texas Congressional District 22 for the November 2006 General Election ballot.

As you may also know, the district executive committee is comprised of one (1) member from each of the four (4) counties that are within Texas Congressional District 22, specifically Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Harris counties. The precinct chairmen within each of those counties whose precinct is also within Texas Congressional District 22 will meet to elect one of their own to represent them on the district executive committee. For our county, this meeting will be held as set forth in this notice. Once elected, the district executive committee will then meet to elect our new Republican nominee for this congressional district.

The Harris County Republican Party states that an emergency exists by reason of the delays on the process caused by recent litigation, thus requiring the timing of this meeting. Given the importance of this matter, I look forward to your attendance at the meeting.

(End of Call)

This means that we will select someone next week, barring a new restraining order. That should also mean the selection of a new candidate within two weeks of the meetings in the four counties involved.





|| Greg, 07:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NY Times Concerned About Bank Privacy For Terrorists

I realize that it will always be 9/10/2001 for members of the mainstream press -- especially the upper-crust like the NY Times. After all, they seem to have forgotten the demands that the US government do something-- anything -- to track down terrorists in the wake of the worst terror attacks to have ever taken place on American soil.

Now they want to criticize efforts to hunt down and root out the terrorists -- and to publish more classified material on the front page of their papers.

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

Hidden, of course, because publicizing the program would make it useless to investigators and aid terrorists in covering their tracks.

Oh, and by the way -- the program is conducted under the authority of legislation signed by Jimmy Carter nearly 30 years ago.

Under the program, Treasury issues a new subpoena once a month, and SWIFT turns over huge amounts of electronic financial data, according to Stuart Levey, the department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. The administrative subpoenas are issued under authority granted in the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

So this is not some rogue program dreamed up by Karl Rove in a Machiavellian attempt to undermine the privacy of Americans -- it exists because a Democrat house and Democrat Senate passed legislation that was signed by a Democrat president for the good of American national security. But I guess the press thinks it knows better what the security needs of the United States are -- or is it the security needs of the terrorists that they are concerned about?

MORE AT Michelle Malkin, Media Blog, Protein Wisdom, Small Town Veteran, Dental Blog, Webblogin, Hard Starboard, All Things Beautiful, Rolling Bones, Homemade Sin, PoliPundit, Politics of CP





|| Greg, 04:58 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (5) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dems Ask More To Die For A Mistake

Those of us who support the war in Iraq are heartbroken with every casualty report, but recognize that there is a military imperative for remaining in the region. Those who argue that the war was a mistake have no excuse for asking troops to remain thee -- and are, in fact, making proposals that by their own criteria ask soldiers to die for nothing, as pointed out by Powerline.

My friend Bob Cunningham makes an excellent point about the utter incoherence of the Kerry/Kennedy/Boxer cut-and-run proposal:

The line that made John Kerry famous, said in connection with the Vietnam War, was: "How can you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?"

It is, of course, the reason he was not able to say that his Iraq War Resolution vote was a mistake during the 2004 campaign --- because then he'd be hoist on his own petard and have to have called for withdrawal....

But he's not off the hook now...his proposal(s) call for withdrawal...but not for 6 months or a year!...How many U.S. deaths will there be between now and his deadlines(s)?...several hundred based on recent history....this is the very basis for his proposal(s) in the first place!!...so what is really saying? ....... ISN'T HE ASKING THEM ALL TO DIE FOR ---- WHAT HE SAYS!! ---- IS A MISTAKE??!!!

Or maybe he just wants them all to stay in barracks pending "redeployment"?....in that case...why bother with the 6 month - 12 month deadline?

So it's either incoherent --- just further exposure of the utter fecklessness of the left --- or else it is fundamentally dishonest and in a way that is particularly apposite for John Kerry...

Or both. Kerry and his confederates changed the withdrawal deadline from the end of 2006 to July 2007. Presumably this means that more American servicemen would be killed in combat. What was the rationale for the change? What will be accomplished by July 2007 that couldn't be accomplished by December 2006? But if something is being accomplished, why are we withdrawing? If nothing is being accomplished, why not get out now?

It is impossible to take the Democrats seriously.

What more can be said -- either the Democrats believe that Iraq is a mistake that requires an immediate cut-&-run to prevent the useless spilling or American blood, or they are playing politics with the deployment of the American military and the security of this nation. After all, how can they ask American soldiers to continue to die for another 18 months for a what they believe to be a mistake?





|| Greg, 04:34 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Miami Terror Arrests -- Homegrown Jihadis

Looks like the FBI and other law enforcement agencies have taken a group of homegrown jihadis into custody.

Seven people are in custody after a sweep by law enforcement authorities in connection with an alleged plot against targets that may have included the Sears Tower, officials told CNN.

Officials said no weapons or bomb-making materials had been found in the searches in the Miami area by FBI and state and local law enforcement officials. The city is under no imminent threat, according to the FBI.

Law enforcement sources told CNN that the arrests disrupted what may have been the early stages of a domestic terrorist plot to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois, the FBI building in Miami, and possibly other targets.

Now for those (invariably on the Left) who object that the lack of bomb-making material indicates there was no threat, I'd like to ask -- would you feel the same way if this were a group of anti-abortion zealots arrested for plotting clinic bombings (a much more rare phenomenon)? Especially if there wre known targets.

What sort of things were observed that led to these arrests?

Neighbors who lived nearby said young men, who appeared to be in their teens and 20s, slept in the warehouse, running what looked like a militaristic group. They appeared brainwashed, some said.

"They would come out late at night and exercise," said Tashawn Rose, 29. "It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."

The law enforcement official told The Associated Press the seven were mainly Americans with no apparent ties to al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist organizations. He spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the news conferences.

"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.

Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Rose said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.

Sounds like a real group of loons -- but also very similar o the group arrested in Canada. I wonder if we won't be let in on some connection to the Canadian group later today.

Captain Ed points to this local report from Miami.

A man who lives across the street from the warehouse where the search warrant was served described the suspects as an unusual group of men, almost cultist, who wore military-style clothes and kept to themselves.

''They reminded me a lot of the followers of Yahweh Ben Yahweh,'' he said, referring to a cult that flourished in Miami's Liberty City in the 1980s and spawned a reign of terror in the neighborhood.

''They have like a purpose or something,'' said the man, who would not give his name for fear of retribution.

The 12 to 15 men in their 20's and 30s appeared to be from Haiti and from the Bahamas.

''I bet they've gone across the water'' he said, believing some had escaped the federal agents.

I wonder if these folks have already been run to ground.

Michell Malkin
points out that this is not the first such group arrestd here in the US. Hugh Hewitt provides a good round-up from around the blogosphere.





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

June 22, 2006

SCOTUS Gets Immigration Issue Right

And most interesting of all is the fact that it was the normally squishy David Souter who wrote the toughly worded decision of the court.

The Supreme Court on Thursday dealt a blow to some longtime illegal residents, upholding the deportation of a Mexican man who lived in the United States for 20 years.

By an 8-1 vote, justices said that Humberto Fernandez-Vargas, who was deported several times from the 1970s to 1981, is subject to a 1996 law Congress passed to streamline the legal process for expelling aliens who have been deported at least once before and returned.

After his last deportation in 1981, Fernandez-Vargas returned to the United States, fathered a child, started a trucking company in Utah and eventually married his longtime companion, a U.S. citizen.

But by the time he applied for legal status _ after his marriage in 2001 _ Congress had passed the Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which revoked the right to appeal to an immigration judge an order of removal.

Fernandez-Vargas was sent back to Mexico in 2004, and wanted to return to his family in the United States. He argued that the 1996 law should not be applied to him because he last entered America more than a decade before Congress passed the statute.

"Fernandez-Vargas continued to violate the law by remaining in this country day after day and ... the United States was entitled to bring that continuing violation to an end," Justice David Souter wrote in the decision.

One more sign that we can round up illegals and send them back – if our elected officials have the will to do so.





|| Greg, 05:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Rich Minnesotans Want Higher Taxes

And so they are seeking to increase the taxes of everyone making over $45,000 a year – what most of us would still define as middle class.

Memo to Minnesota: Some of our wealthiest residents think state government needs more money and say they're willing to pay the bill.

More than 200 wealthy Minnesotans signed a full-page ad that appears in the Star Tribune today asking the state to raise $2 billion for various initiatives by increasing the state's tax burden for high-salary earners.

"We need to invest more in our future," said Joel Kramer, former publisher of the Star Tribune and founder of think tank Growth and Justice that organized the "Invest for Real Prosperity" fiscal strategy.

The new money should be used to improve educational opportunities, provide affordable health care and fund transportation needs, Kramer said. His group has argued for several years that the state's wealthiest residents should pay higher taxes to fund needed government programs.

Business leaders Jim Pohlad of Marquette Financial Company, Richard McFarland, retired CEO of Dain Rauscher, and Lee Lynch, former CEO of Carmichael Lynch, were also key contributors to the current proposal that would make those earning more than $275,000 pay the state an additional 2 cents in taxes for every dollar earned. That would be an additional $6,000 in taxes for someone earning $300,000.

State taxes for anyone making less than $45,000 would not increase and the rates would vary for everyone in between. Kramer said he hopes the ad will create public interest and discussion, perhaps leading to legislative action. He also acknowledged that even if the tax increase was approved, it would take "some faith in government" to trust that the money would be appropriated according to the group's requests.

I’ll tell you what needs to happen – Minnesota needs to follow a number of other states in enacting a “Tax Me More” fund for those who feel like they need to be taxed more. But if Minnesota does so, it will likely experience the same thing as those other states – those who claim to be under-taxed won’t put their money where their mouth is by ponying up the “excess personal wealth” that they think rightly belongs to the government and not themselves. Apparently they believe that it is everyone else – but not themselves – who is undertaxed.





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

Why Apologize?

Let’s face it – Helen Thomas is an ugly woman with an ugly personality.

A congressman in Iowa has apologized for disparaging comments he made about a veteran White House correspondent, according to a Local 6 News report.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa was talking about the death of terrorist leader Musab al-Zarqawi when he mentioned reporter Helen Thomas.

"There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he's at," King said about al-Zarqawi. "And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas."
A representative for King said he has apologized to Thomas.

Let’s all be honest here – in our heart of hearts, we all hope that al-Zarqawi found something like what King suggested, or worse.





|| Greg, 05:13 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Petition To End Houston's DeFacto Sanctuary Policy

Citizens in Houston have announced a petition drive to put a measure on the ballot ending the de facto sanctuary policy for illegal immigrants.

The heated national debate on immigration may give a boost to the Houston group that wants local police to help crack down on illegal immigrants, but getting the proposition on the ballot still won't be easy.

"It is a lot of effort and takes a lot of volunteers to mount a campaign like this," said Bruce Hotze, who has helped organize several successful petition drives but so far is not involved in this one. "It can be done."

On Tuesday, a new group called Protect Our Citizens announced a petition drive to require a citywide November vote on the contentious issue of whether to allow city police to question people about their immigration status.

Even with the recent spotlight on immigration issues, getting the necessary 20,000 signatures from registered Houston voters by Sept. 1 will take organization, volunteers and money, analysts said.

"It's doable," said University of Houston political scientist and pollster Richard Murray. "They'd have to hit the ground running."

Protect Our Citizens director Mary Williams said the group is doing that. It was contacted Wednesday by several community leaders and residents who wanted to help with the project, she said.

"It's a very basic grass-roots type of reaction," Williams said.

Petition supporters want to change a Houston police order, which they call a "sanctuary policy," that prohibits officers from seeking information about the immigration status of people they encounter, and from detaining anyone solely for being in the country illegally.

It is time to pull up the welcome mat for illegals in Houston.





|| Greg, 05:13 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

WMD?

But will the mere discovery of WMDs be sufficient to get opponents of the war to admit that there were WMDs in Iraq?

The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wednesday.

"We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, chemical weapons," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said in a quickly called press conference late Wednesday afternoon.

Reading from a declassified portion of a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center, a Defense Department intelligence unit, Santorum said: "Since 2003, coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent. Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist."

He added that the report warns about the hazards that the chemical weapons could still pose to coalition troops in Iraq.

"The purity of the agents inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," Santorum read from the document.

"This says weapons have been discovered, more weapons exist and they state that Iraq was not a WMD-free zone, that there are continuing threats from the materials that are or may still be in Iraq," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

The weapons are thought to be manufactured before 1991 so they would not be proof of an ongoing WMD program in the 1990s. But they do show that Saddam Hussein was lying when he said all weapons had been destroyed, and it shows that years of on-again, off-again weapons inspections did not uncover these munitions.

Hoekstra said the report, completed in April but only declassified now, shows that "there is still a lot about Iraq that we don't fully understand."

I think it is clear that most of us understand -- it is instead a question of certain partisans choosing to ignore these weapons for political purposes. After all, there have been reports in the press repeatedly since 2003 that have indicated the discovery of these small caches of WMDs -- which are then routinely ignored by the opponents of the war, who continue with their zombie-like monotone mantra of "Bush lied, people died."

And while it may be that these weapons were not, at the time of discovery, operational, it is clear that Saddam repeatedly lied about having destroyed all of his WMDs following the Gulf War, as required by the UN.





|| Greg, 05:06 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (6) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Heaven On A Bun?

Move over Hardee's ThickBurger -- this is the new heart attack on a bun.

A hundred bucks might buy you more than six dozen burgers from McDonald's, but the swanky Old Homestead Steakhouse will sell you one brawny beef sandwich for the same price.

Boca Raton Mayor Steven Abrams could barely speak between bites as he devoured the 20-ounce, $100 hamburger billed as the "beluga caviar of sandwiches."

"Heaven on a bun," restaurant owner Marc Sherry said.

The burger debuted Tuesday at the restaurant in the Boca Raton Resort and Club, where a membership costs $40,000 and an additional $3,600 a year.

"We've never had a hamburger on our menu here so we really wanted to go to the extreme," Sherry said, calling it "the most decadent burger in the world."

At about 5 1/2 inches across and 2 1/2 inches thick, the mound of meat is comprised of beef from three continents — American prime beef, Japanese Kobe and Argentine cattle.

The bill for one burger, with garnishing that includes organic greens, exotic mushrooms and tomatoes, comes out to $124.50 with tax and an 18 percent tip included. The restaurant will donate $10 from each sale to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

And yes, I realize you can get bigger burgers elsewhere -- I was referring to the price-tag as the source of the cardiac arrest.





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

June 21, 2006

Troops Charged --A Proper Decision

It pains me to type those words. Having grown up in a military family, I would like to believe that each and every soldier is a hero in uniform, flawlessly following the rules and orders laid out for them.

But having grown up surrounded by sailors and Marines, I know that isn't the case. I still remember the night that my father got a telephone call telling him that two sailors from his command were dead and a third was in critical condition at a local hospital -- because one of the dead sailors had shot his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend in a jealous rage. The ultimate result of an act of impassioned rage was three dead sailors. All the training in the world cannot stop someone from going off half-cocked -- we are still dealing with human beings who will sometimes choose to do evil.

Which brings us to these charges.

Seven Marines and one Navy corpsman have been charged with murder and kidnapping in connection with the April death of an Iraqi man in a small village west of Baghdad, Marine Corps officials announced yesterday.

The corps said that the eight sought out Hashim Ibrahim Awad in his Hamdaniyah home, dragged him into the street, bound his hands and feet, and shot him during a late-night operation, according to Marine criminal-charge sheets released yesterday. The troops are members of a fire team with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. It is unclear what motivated the attack.

After an investigation, charges have been brought and a trial will be held. These servicement will be given the opportunity to show their evidence, while the government will be given the opportunity to prove their guilt. When criminal behavior is believed to have taken place, we bring charges and provide the accused with due process. THAT IS HOW AMERICANS DO THINGS.

What are they accused of having done?

Officials here disclosed little information about the case itself. But earlier this month, Marine officials and members of Congress who had been briefed on the case said the eight men appeared to have dragged a 52-year-old Iraqi man from his house in the town of Hamdaniya, west of Baghdad, on April 26, and shot him without provocation.

They said the marines had then placed a shovel and bomb components near the man's body to make it seem that he had been digging a hole for a roadside explosive, and also placed an AK-47 near his body.

I do not begin to claim knowledge of the truth of these charges. I do, however, have faith in the system under which they have been charged and under which they will be tried. It works -- I've seen it work.

There are those out there who are kicking up a fuss about these charges, claiming that they should not have been brought and that American servicement should not be punished for any action they commit in the theater of war. That goes against every American tradition -- and would make us no better than the jihadis we fight. We punish those of our troops who commit inhuman acts against the laws of war and civilized society -- it is our jihadi enemy who glorifies and rewards such barbarism.

And to those who argue that this prosecution is a sham and that the charges are a result of a PC desire to appease the Left, the media, or the "world community", I offer this suggestion -- you are showing the same sort of contempt for our nation's military that those groups do on a daily basis, and you are saying that the US military and US government deserve exactly the sort of scorn those unworthies heap upon them. In short, you have become the very thing you claim to hate.

UPDATE: I particularly like this analysis.

Gary Solis, a professor of the law of war at Georgetown University, said it is unfortunate that the cases have surfaced at the same time, because they provide an impression of a military run amok in Iraq. He said that fatal mistakes are common in war, and that the key to these investigations will probably be to determine whether the troops planned the alleged attacks.

"Where is the line? The line is premeditation," Solis said of wartime killings. "If you make a mistake, you're not going to be investigated. The only guys that have to be worried are those that have thought about doing it and then do it."

In other words, it really comes down to the question of whether or not these guys made a conscious decision to go out and kill an innocent man not engaged in hostile actions. If they did, that is MURDER and they merit harsh punishment -- at least if one holds to American values and not those of the jihadis.

MORE AT Confessions of a Pilgrim, A Tale of Two Cultures, Blue Star Chronicles, A Lady's Ruminations, Blogs of War, Stop the ACLU, California Conservative, Michelle Malkin, Cao's Blog



» The Glittering Eye links with: Eye on the Watcher’s Council
» Watcher of Weasels links with: The Council Has Spoken!



|| Greg, 10:37 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (2) ||

New Episcopal Head Gives Jesus A Sex Change

If this is representative of mainstream Episcopal theology, I'd have to say that the Episcopal Church USA is a post-Christian denomination.

While addressing a morning Eucharist at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop-elect Katherine Jefferts Schori declared, "Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation. And you and I are His children."

With Jefferts Schori as the leader-to-be of the Episcopal Chuch, it seems that the church will move beyond gender-inclusive language to transgender-inclusive language.

Yesterday however, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops refused to even consider a resolution that would affirm the exclusive Lordship of Jesus Christ as "the only name by which any person may be saved." The Rev. Canon Eugene McDowell of the Diocese of North Carolina explained, "This type of language was used in 1920s and 1930s to alienate the type of people who were executed. It was called the Holocaust."

Perhaps Episcopalians would be more receptive of a resolution affirming the supreme transexuality of Jesus.

So let me see if I have this straight (forgive the exclusive language) -- the ECUSA will not affirm a fundamental point of the historic Christian faith contained in Scripture, but it will fiddle around with Jesus' genitals. How can a Christian actually stay a member?

UPDATE: More in The Times of London.





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

Courage And Integrity On Voting Rights Act

Bravo for those who are delaying the renewal of parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act which were originally intended to expire in 1970. Why do I say this? Because they discriminate against a few states and localities.

House Republican leaders on Wednesday postponed a vote on renewing the 1965 Voting Rights Act after GOP lawmakers complained it unfairly singles out nine Southern states for federal oversight, according to their joint statement.

"We have time to address their concerns," Republican leaders said in a joint statement. "Therefore, the House Republican Leadership will offer members the time needed to evaluate the legislation."

It was unclear whether the legislation would come up this year. The temporary provisions don't expire until 2007, but leaders of both parties had hoped to pass the act and use it to further their prospects in the fall's midterm elections.
The statement said the GOP leaders are committed to renewing the law "as soon as possible."

There are two special areas of concern among those who question the blind renewal of the four-decade old provisions -- pre-clearance requirements for election changes in nine states, and non-English ballots.

The most important element appears to be the pre-clearance question.

Several Republicans, led by [Rep. Lynn] Westmoreland, had worked to allow an amendment that would ease a requirement that nine states win permission from the Justice Department or a federal judge to change their voting rules.

The amendment's backers say the requirement unfairly singles out and holds accountable nine states that practiced racist voting policies decades ago, based on 1964 voter turnout data: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Westmoreland says the formula for deciding which states are subject to such "pre-clearance" should be updated every four years and be based on voter turnout in the most recent three elections.

"The pre-clearance portions of the Voting Rights Act should apply to all states, or no states," Westmoreland said. "Singling out certain states for special scrutiny no longer makes sense."

No one disputes that there were voting problems in these states in 1964. The historical record is clear. But the very Congress that passed this law in 1965 did so with a sunset provision for pre-clearance that eliminated it in 1970. The provision was allowed to lapse by Jimmy Carter and a Democrat-controlled Congress in 1980, only to be revived under the GOP two years later. But the time has come to do one of two things -- either expand the scope of the pre-clearance provision to include all 50 states or eliminate it completely as the law's authors intended. Rep. Westmoreland's proposal is, if anything, a weak fall-back position -- though it would at least end the use of data which, when the provision is next up for renewal, will be 68 years old. After all, as matters no stand, a change in election law that would be beyond question in Massachusetts could be treated as a violation of the Voting Rights Act in Texas.

As for the language requirements, those who fail to become proficient in English have chosen to exclude themselves from the civic life of this country. Surveys have shown that most Americans do not support providing ballots in languages other than English. The renewal bill, on the other hand, would continue the mandate.

The other big issue centered on requirements that certain jurisdictions offer bilingual ballots and language assistance to citizens whose English lags. But Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King and other lawmakers who oppose the bilingual rules were not going to have a chance to offer amendments.

King said in a statement it was irresponsible to "institutionalize multilingual voting for the next 25 years." He said bilingual voting, which was not part of the original voting rights bill but was added a decade later, drives "a wedge between cultures."

In other words, the House Leadership was out to silence those who would dissent on this provision that also helps illegal aliens vote illegally. While I do not find this provision to be nearly so odious as the pre-clearance provision, I would prefer to see it eliminated after having experienced the wasted time, money and manpower that goes into providing assistance to a mere handful of voters in most polling places during my years as an election judge (I must have Vietnamese material in my precinct, but have only had one person need it in the last five years -- an have had fewer than 10 voters need my Spanish-language clerk in that time).

Oh, and by the way -- the major case currently underway regarding language issues regards practices in Boston.

Now please realize that the failure to renew these provisions does not repeal anyone's right to vote. it does not even result in the elimination of the Voting Rights Act -- it simply allows the end of a couple of provisions that the law's authors never intended to be in force this long.

Previously:
Do Not Renew Voting Rights Act Provisions
Voting Rights Don't Expire In 2007 -- Or Ever

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

WaPo – Islamo-Nazis Deserve More Rights, Better Treatment Than Real Nazis

Because they operate in violation of the Geneva Conventions, of course.

Not every detainee can be put on trial. But those who plan, assist or participate in acts of terrorism can face charges under the laws of war. Where trials are possible, criminal convictions provide a more legitimate basis for long-term incarceration than any kind of detention without charge. Trials also provide public accountability for unspeakable crimes and plots -- that is, they provide a measure of justice.

The administration is correct that U.S. federal courts often will not be the right venue for such trials. Evidence collected in the rough and tumble of a shooting war doesn't always meet the rigorous standards that courts here rightly demand. The government may have good reason to withhold witnesses or classified information. Given that foreigners abroad do not have full constitutional rights, the administration's impulse to create an alternative trial mechanism with some flexibility was reasonable. Had it gone to Congress and sought authorization to use a variation of military courts-martial, with clear rules and a codification of the offenses such tribunals were to judge, it might today have a vibrant system of justice at Guantanamo Bay.

Instead, the administration sought to rewrite the rules from scratch and revive a system of trial not seen since the World War II era. The reason for this fateful error was largely ideological: The White House wished not merely to conduct trials but also to emphasize the president's power to do it on his own.

Consequently, the executive branch alone has defined the offenses to be tried by commission and it alone has written the trial rules, which have shifted repeatedly. The legality of the system has been in doubt from its inception. And while the rules have improved over time, they still permit unfairness. The result: a system that inspires little confidence here or abroad and that in five years has yet to produce one trial.

Even if the Supreme Court erases the cloud of legal uncertainty in the coming days, it makes no sense to proceed in this fashion. Instead, Congress should write a law clarifying that courts-martial will try these cases and modifying the model if necessary. The military uses this system to try its own personnel every day. More than the commissions, courts-martial would guarantee due process to detainees: the right to challenge evidence, a full appeal to the federal courts. Trials by court-martial are accepted around the world as fair.

At the same time, the system could be modified to take into account the government's needs in a continuing war. These might give prosecutors more leeway to use hearsay evidence in some cases, or to protect intelligence secrets. There may be circumstances when the accused will need to be excluded from proceedings and have his interests represented by counsel cleared to handle sensitive information. But such departures from traditional trial rules should be narrowly drawn. They should be the product of a deliberative legislative process, not a fiat from the executive branch; written into law, not existing as rules the Pentagon can change whenever convenient.

The conflict with Islamic extremists will not be over soon. The nation needs now, and will continue to need, a means to try some of the most fateful criminals of all time according to fair rules that bear the stamp of democratic approval: legislative enactment. Only the administration's rigidly ideological approach to this problem prevents its timely resolution.

The only problem with the Post’s position is that it is 100% wrong, and seeks to create a new justice system at odds with the traditional manner used by the United States for dealing with unlawful combatants. These folks are not criminals in the traditional sense, and have no rights or expectation of being allowed the protections of the US Constitution, which they seek to destroy. Instead, they merit nothing more than the justice approved by the Supreme Court in the Quirin case during WWII – a trial before a military tribunal, appealed directly to the President, followed by a quick execution. Unless, of course, the Washington Post seeks this a new system today because finds the terrorists more to its liking than the genocidal Hitler regime, or is less supportive of the war we fight because of the 9/11 attack than it was of the war fought following Pearl Harbor.

Personally, I believe that if the tribunal system was good enough for spies and saboteurs sent to destroy the United States by Hitler, it is good enough for the jihadi swine that have made war upon our nation today. How can anyone disagree with such a proposition?

Ed Morrissey examines the historical implementation of these tribunals quite well.

In wartime, no enemy has any right to a trial until the war has finished. For instance, the British did not try Rudolf Hess in 1941 despite his one-man invasion of Britain. The Brits simply kept him imprisoned in the Tower until the Nuremberg trials sentenced him to life imprisonment. Hess, as Deputy Fuhrer, had no need of tribunal for that imprisonment, and the British had no need to try him until after victory had been secured.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has no right to trial or even to an administrative hearing during wartime. The Bush administration has correctly determined that al-Qaeda (and its affiliated terrorist groups) is an enemy at war, and that those who have identified themselves as leaders have given the US all it needs to hold them indefinitely. Trying to give them a right to a trial in the middle of a war does not serve victory or even legitimacy, but instead undermines the truth. In order to provide a legitimate trial, the defendant has to have a chance of being released if no conviction can be obtained. Does the Post truly think that the US and the war effort will be served by Mohammed's release if a court cannot make a specific trial determination of his connection to an act of war (9/11)? If the Post doesn't agree to his release under that circumstance, then isn't insisting on a trial a highly cycnical and hypocritical act?

We need to remember that Islamist terrorists declared war on the US almost a decade ago and initiated a series of escalating attacks on us to prosecute it. That effort culminated in 9/11, which the Bush administration correctly determined as an act of war. We need to continue fighting it as a war. We do not need to make ourselves feel good by pretending that our enemy has the same legal standing as urban gangs.

Indeed, following the course proposed by the Washington Post can have result in only two things – sham trials of terrorist defendants or the undercutting of the war effort in the courtroom. Neither is acceptable.





|| Greg, 02:59 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Murtha Corrupt? It Looks That Way

What other word would you apply to a congressman who pressured government officials to award contracts to clients of a family member’s lobbying firm when there were other competitors better for the job, and pushed deals that would be financially beneficial to family members of his political allies?

Last June, the Los Angeles Times reported how the ranking member on the defense appropriations subcommittee has a brother, Robert Murtha, whose lobbying firm represents 10 companies that received more than $20 million from last year's defense spending bill. "Clients of the lobbying firm KSA Consulting -- whose top officials also include former congressional aide Carmen V. Scialabba, who worked for Rep. Murtha as a congressional aide for 27 years -- received a total of $20.8 million from the bill," the L.A. Times reported.

In early 2004, according to Roll Call, Mr. Murtha "reportedly leaned on U.S. Navy officials to sign a contract to transfer the Hunters Point Shipyard to the city of San Francisco." Laurence Pelosi, nephew of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, at the time was an executive of the company which owned the rights to the land. The same article also reported how Mr. Murtha has been behind millions of dollars worth of earmarks in defense appropriations bills that went to companies owned by the children of fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, Rep. Paul Kanjorski. Meanwhile, the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign-finance watchdog group, lists Mr. Murtha as the top recipient of defense industry dollars in the current 2006 election cycle.

As Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, has said, "If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also benefited relatives of those members, I believe this would be something that merits further review by the ethics committee."

Remember, this is the same Jack Murtha who was up to his ears in the Abscam scandal but managed to skate after being named an unindicted co-conspirator by the Carter Justice Department. So questions about Jack Murtha being dirty are not new – they are long-standing and substantive. Heck, if he had an (R) after his name, he would be a daily target for Democrats – consider what was done to my former congressman (Tom DeLay) with substantially less evidence of wrong-doing.





|| Greg, 02:56 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Hurrah For Mitt On Immigration

Well, at least one GOP presidential hopeful is willing to step up and try to do something about illegal immigration. That candidate is Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

Governor Mitt Romney is seeking an agreement with federal authorities that would allow Massachusetts state troopers to arrest undocumented immigrants for being in the country illegally.

Currently, State Police have no authority to arrest people on the basis of their immigration status alone, said Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom. If they arrest immigrants for violations of state law, troopers can call a centralized US Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Vermont to check on their status, and can detain immigrants if federal officials request it.

Under the agreement Romney is seeking, troopers would have greatly expanded powers: They could check an immigrant's legal status during routine patrols such as during a traffic stop and decide whether the immigrant should be held.

``It's one more thing you can do to make this a less attractive place for illegal aliens to come to work," Romney said.

The governor has instructed his legal counsel to contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin the process. The powers, Romney said, would give the State Police a way of ``finding and detaining illegal aliens in the ordinary course of business."

Federal immigration authorities would provide the troopers with 4 1/2 weeks of training in immigration laws and procedures, civil rights, and avoiding racial profiling.

If the proposal is approved, Massachusetts would join a handful of states and localities that have entered into such pacts since they were first authorized in 1996. That list includes Florida, Alabama, and a few counties in California and North Carolina, where a limited number of officers have been trained to enforce immigration laws.

This move is an exemplary one – and I encourage my own governor, Rick Perry, to implement the same policy here in Texas.





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Immigration Law Delay

It looks like there will be no immigration reform before the election in November.

In a defeat for President Bush, Republican congressional leaders said Tuesday that broad immigration legislation is all but doomed for the year, a victim of election-year concerns in the House and conservatives' implacable opposition to citizenship for

"Our number one priority is to secure the border, and right now I haven't heard a lot of pressure to have a path to citizenship," said Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., announcing plans for an unusual series of hearings to begin in August on Senate-passed immigration legislation.

"I think it is easy to say the first priority of the House is to secure the borders," added Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record), the GOP whip.

This isn't a defeat for the president so much as it is a defeat for the American people, as every delay in getting a handle on the immigration issue allows that many more illegals across teh border, that many more anchor babies to be born, and increases teh expense to taxpayers.

Not that Hastert's rhetoric is wrong -- we need immigration reform that actually considers what the American people want.

"We are going to listen to the American people, and we are going to get a bill that is right," said Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who said he had informed Mr. Bush of the plan.

But what that means is that the negotiations for a new bill will not begin until after Labor Day -- making the volatile issue a bit too hot to handle in the weeks leading up to the election, with all sides engaging in rhetorical excesses in an attempt to get votes rather than make good policy. We are already seeing some of that now.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino sought to put the House announcement in a positive light, saying the field hearings could "possibly provide an opportunity to air out issues" that she conceded are "complex." But she added: "The president is undeterred in his efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform."

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who is leading the fight against the Senate plan, said: "Odds were long that any so-called 'compromise bill' would get to the president's desk this year. . . . The nail was already put in the coffin of the Senate's amnesty plan. These hearings probably lowered it into the grave."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), one of the main authors of the Senate plan, called the announcement "a cynical delaying tactic."

So expect immigration to be a major issue in the fall elections, but do not expect there to be any significant results until 2007 -- which means that GOP efforts to retain control of thehouse and Senate are vital if there is any hope of avoiding a bill with real amnesty provisions and little in the way of border control.





|| Greg, 05:18 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cattle Rustling In Texas

Yeah, it still goes on -- and one ring got a bunch of cows from the ranch of baseball great Nolan Ryan.

Authorities said Tuesday they have cracked a cattle-rustling operation that stretched across eight counties and claimed 289 head, including 17 cows and 30 calves belonging to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

The total value of the stolen livestock was estimated at up to $300,000.

Authorities recovered 83 head this week from the pastures of a Brazoria County cattle rancher who authorities say has confessed to the thefts.

"He comes from a ranching family, knows the business, knows cattle," said Brent Mast, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association special ranger based in Willis. "He's knowledgeable enough about the business to know how to steal cattle, brand registration, and he knew the proper way to hide stolen cattle, if there's a proper way to hide stolen cattle."

The rancher, who has not been charged, faces 14 counts of cattle theft, a third-degree felony. The investigation remains ongoing, and authorities did not rule out that others could face charges.

Special Texas Ranger Tommy Johnson said police plodded through rain-soaked pastures in Angleton on Monday and expect to recover another 10 to 15 stolen animals at another pasture as soon as the fields dry.

He said the suspect is expected to surrender today.

When you consider how we used to deal with cattle-rustling in texas, it seems to me that this guy is getting off easy. It used to be a hanging offense -- and if the victims didn't wait for a trial before imposing the penalty, it was considered to be a justified homicide.





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

Democrat Fundraising Hypocrisy

Presidents have become the most important fundraisers for their parties, so it should be no surprise that President Bush is in demand as a fundraiser for the GOP. Take this example.

At a gala dinner on Monday, Republicans raised a whopping $27 million for candidates in the November midterm election in a bid to fend off a strong challenge by Democrats for control of the U.S. Congress.

President George W. Bush was the headliner at the 2006 President's Dinner gala, typically one of the biggest fund-raising events of the election cycle.

"We're going to keep the House and we're going to keep the Senate thanks to you all," Bush told a crowd of about 6,000 people at the Washington convention center.

The $27 million included $15 million for candidates for the House of Representatives and $12 million for Senate candidates. Bush acknowledged it was an "incredibly successful dinner."

But, of course, the Democrats ave found a way to bash the Bresident over this.

"President Bush's big money fundraiser tonight proves once again that he puts the needs of his special interest corporate friends ahead of the priorities of the American people," said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney.

Really, Ms. Finney? You mean there are no fundraising galas by Democrats? I recall many during Clinton years, and during both the Gore and Kerrrey campaigns -- star-studded events in which millions were raised. Is this criticism a sign tha the Democrats have sworn off large fundraisers and donations from millionaires? Or simply that you consider YOUR mega-rich donors to be "just plain folks" while GOP donors are evil? Don't answer, because we all know that what you would say would not be what you mean -- and that your criticism of the president won't be valid until your party voluntarily caps donations at $500 per donor. Otherwise, you are just hypocritically condemning the president for the same sort of fundraising done by Democrats.





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

Should We Be Surprised?

After all, the Iranians sent little kids into minefield during the Iran-Iraq War with promises of paradise -- why should we be surprised at this Taliban attempt to make martyrs out of unarmed innocents?

TALEBAN fighters used women and children as human shields as they tried to escape into the mountains of Afghanistan, British troops claimed yesterday.

The tactics were revealed in the first account by those who fought in one of the main battles faced by the men of 3 Para and the Royal Gurkha Rifles in Helmand province, where 3,300 British troops are stationed.

The Taleban’s use of human shields happened during a six-hour battle that began when British troops arrived in a remote area to flush out a suspected Taleban hideout.

They came under attack seven times and fired 2,000 rounds as the rebels set ambushes and opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades. About 21 Taleban were killed.

“It happened twice where they pushed women and children in front of them. The first time they ran into a compound and pushed them out the front to stop the assault,” said Corporal Quintin Poll, 29, from Norfolk.

“The second time they were firing through a building with women and children inside. My guys had to go around the left and right to get them.”

Details of the battle, which happened to the west of the town of Nauzad on June 4, were given by troops at the British base of Camp Bastion.

It took place in the run-up to Operation Mountain Thrust, in which 11,000 troops from Britain, US, Canada and Afghanistan are co-operating to clear Taleban strongholds in the province.

Captain Quarters' Ed Morrissey makes the following observation.

This has two purposes for the Taliban. First, it keeps Western forces from firing on them, as they know that Coalition troops will try to protect civilians where possible. Secondly as just as importantly from a strategic point of view, any women and children killed in the battle will almost certainly be blamed on the Western forces by the Western media. It allows the Taliban to continue their propaganda blitz against the West, one in which the media has unwittingly (in most cases) found themselves a pawn to the Islamists.

Men who throw women and children in the line of fire to protect themselves have no honor, no courage, and no claim to religious righteousness under any circumstances. It's high time that the West grows up and understands the cowardly nature of tyrannies and the people who impose them. It will give us much more clarity in the effort that needs to be made to rid ourselves of the craven ghouls who prey on civilian populations for their own delusions of grandeur.

I agree whole-heartedly -- and cannot help but be struck by the fact that pro-jihadi groups like CAIR demanded that the Marines investigate one of their own who dared to sing a song about using a child as a human shield -- but cannot be bothered to condemn the actual use of children as human shields.





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

June 20, 2006

Just A Reminder

I'm glad this guy is headed to prison. That is where corrupt government officials belong.

And while the Left is making hay over the conviction of a Bush Administration official, I'd like to remind them of who is responsible for this prosecution -- the Bush Justice Department.

David H. Safavian, a former Bush administration official with close ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was found guilty today in federal court of four of five felony charges against him in connection with the Abramoff corruption and influence-peddling scandal.

The verdict was announced shortly after the jury of two men and 10 women began their fifth day of deliberations in Washington following the trial of Safavian on charges of making false statements to federal officials and obstruction of justice.

Safavian, 38, a former chief of staff of the General Services Administration and top federal procurement officer, was accused of lying about a 2002 golfing trip to Scotland with Abramoff and obstructing an investigation by the GSA inspector general and other investigators. He was also charged with concealing his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area.

He became the first person to be put on trial in connection with Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in January to fraud and conspiracy charges. Four other former Abramoff associates also have pleaded guilty so far. As part of their plea deals, they have agreed to cooperate in an investigation of Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and other lawmakers allegedly embroiled in a broad public corruption scandal involving the acceptance of various inducements in return for official acts. Ney denies any wrongdoing.

The jury found Safavian guilty of three counts of making false statements -- to the GSA Office of Inspector General, a GSA ethics official and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee -- and one count of obstructing the GSA inspector general's investigation. He was acquitted of another charge of obstructing an investigation by the Indian Affairs Committee.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Safavian thus faces up to 20 years in prison for the four counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 12 by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.

So let's remember this very simple point -- the Bush Justice Department has prosecuted a Bush official and obtained a conviction. On the other hand, how many Clinton officials were pursued by the Clinton Justice Department -- as opposed to special prosecutors. My point? Which administration was willing to deal with its own problems, and which had to be policed from outside due to the gross amounts of corruption manifested from Day One?





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

Terrorists Mutilate, Booby-Trap Soldiers

After reading this, I can guarantee I will personally kick the crap out of anyone attempting to draw moral equivalence betwee the US military and the jihadi swine who perpetrated these actions.

he bodies of two U.S. soldiers found in Iraq Monday night were mutilated and booby-trapped, military sources said Tuesday.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Oregon, went missing after a Friday attack on a traffic control checkpoint in Yusufiya, 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

The sources said the two men had suffered severe trauma.

The bodies also had been desecrated and a visual identification was impossible -- part of the reason DNA testing was being conducted to verify their identities, the sources said.

A tip from Iraqi civilians led officials to the bodies, military sources told CNN. The discovery was made about 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Not only were the bodies booby-trapped, but homemade bombs also lined the road leading to the victims, an apparent effort to complicate recovery efforts and target recovery teams, the sources said.

It took troops 12 hours to clear the area of roadside bombs. One of the bombs exploded, but there were no injuries.

Compare that with the honorable treatment we gave to the corpses of the jihadi cowards who suicided in Gitmo, and then talk to me about moral equivalence.





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Who Is Worse -- Coulter Or Moore?

We've heard a lot of liberal outrage over certain comments made by Ann Coulter about the Jersey Girls -- comments that I wish she had not made. However, I don't recall liberal (or media) outrage over this Michael Moore letter to Elian Gonzalez.

In 2000 Michael Moore wrote a famous letter to Elian Gonzalez. Among the highlights: “your mother decided to kidnap you … in Cuba, you were in jeopardy of receiving free health care whenever you needed it, an excellent education in one of the few countries that has 100% literacy … your mother snatched you and put you on that death boat because she simply wanted to make more money. Your mother placed you in a situation where you were certain to die on the open seas and that is unconscionable. It was the ultimate form of child abuse.”

Attacking a dead mother for trying to free her child from Castro's gulag -- especially when combined with his history of anti-Cuban bigotry -- should rate a condemnation from the Left.

But I guess not -- after all, freedom-loving Cubans vote Republican, so they are entitled to neithyer respect nor decency, even when they die to free their children.





|| Greg, 05:56 PM || Permalink || Comments

Watchers Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Spinning Their Way to Defeat in November by Right Wing Nut House, and One Liberal’s Argument for Still Staying in Iraq by A Newer World

Here are your links to the full results of the vote.





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

Missing Soldiers Found Dead?

This report just in from CNN and other sources. It appears that the two servicement missing since the ambus over teh weekend have been found dead, killed by Iraqi terrorists.

A high-ranking official with the Iraqi defense ministry told CNN on Tuesday that the bodies of two missing U.S. soldiers have been found south of Baghdad.

No more details were immediately available. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report.

A senior U.S. official told CNN that two bodies had been found in Iraq but could not confirm that those bodies were the two soldiers.

Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., went missing Friday at a traffic checkpoint near the town of Yusufiya, 12 miles (20 km) south of Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said the bodies were found in the town of Jurf al-Sakhar, 50 miles (80 km) south of Baghdad.

The U.S. military said Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was killed in the same attack Friday.

A force of more than 8,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops has been searching for the two soldiers.

In Houston, a member of Menchaca's family said they had not been notified.

There is only one response to this butchery of prisoners -- victory, not the Left-wing cut 7 Run solutions proposed by Democrats. We must fight until every terrorist, insurgent, or what-have-you is run to ground.

MORE AT Stop the ACLU, Wizbang, Outside the Beltway, Life, Florida, Whatever, Pajamas Media, OpinionBug





|| Greg, 06:03 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Cut & Jog Democrats

Last week they voted against a timetable to leave Iraq. This week, they are trying to craft one. When will the Senate Democrats make up their minds?

Trying to bridge party divisions on the eve of a Senate debate, leading Democrats called Monday for American troops to begin pulling out of Iraq this year. They avoided setting a firm timetable for withdrawal but argued that the Bush administration's open-ended commitment to the war would only prevent Iraqis from moving forward on their own.

Coming the week after partisan and often angry House debate over the war, the Senate proposal, a nonbinding resolution, was carefully worded to deflect any accusations that the Democrats were "cutting and running," as their position has been depicted by Republicans. The Democrats behind the measure did not even use the word "withdrawal," and talked about how to guarantee "success" for Iraq, not about any failures of the war.

"The administration's policy to date — that we'll be there for as long as Iraq needs us — will result in Iraq's depending upon us longer," said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, who has been designated by the Democratic leadership to present the party's strategy on Iraq. "Three and a half years into the conflict, we should tell the Iraqis that the American security blanket is not permanent."

In other words, this is a resolution that looks good to the hard Left base of the Democrat Party, but does nothing so as not to alienate the rest of America.

I like Mitch McConnell's characterization of the proposal -- "cut & jog". And he is absolutely correct when he notes that the ehtire Democrat plan is poorly thought out.

"The last thing you want to do when you have the terrorists on the run is give them notice that you're going to leave," said Mr. McConnell, the Senate's No. 2 Republican.

When at war, you stay until you utterly defeat your enemy -- and you certainly don't give tell him that you are going to give up and walk away after a certain date. This isn't boxing with a set number of 3-minute rounds -- this is a fight for civilization against the enemies of all mankind.





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

A Vault Full Of History

Riggs Bank was the most important financial institution in Washington for years. Now that it has been purchased by PNC, the old records in one vault are being scrutinized -- as it contains the financial records of many well-known historical figures.

On Aug. 28, 1861, a month after the Union Army's disastrous defeat at the first Battle of Bull Run, President Abraham Lincoln sat down and wrote out a Riggs Bank check for $3 to "Mr. Johns (a sick man)."

It is not known who Johns was, where Lincoln encountered him or what prompted the beleaguered president to pause amid the opening weeks of the Civil War to give him a donation.

It is but a tantalizing shard of local history, one of the thousands that reside not in the National Archives or Library of Congress but behind the thick steel door of a 40-year-old basement bank vault in downtown Washington, where the question has become: What to do with them?

The Lincoln check is among a trove of documents gathered over the decades by Washington's venerable and now-defunct Riggs Bank -- which, along with its antecedents, had customers ranging from Davy Crockett to President George H.W. Bush.

The collection includes letters, notes and checks written by, among others, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Brigham Young and Gen. John Pershing.

Now, Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank, which took over Riggs on May 13, 2005, is in the midst of a project to gather and inventory the artifacts, which include shelves of crumbling ledgers that go back a century and a half.

John Tydings, director of the PNC-Riggs Bank archives project, said last week that PNC has never acquired such a collection. PNC "recognized the need to address this in a much more sensitive way because of the connection of these records to the history of this country, as well as the history of the bank and the history of the city," he said.

What insights into the personalities and habits of historical figures might we get? What scandals might be revealed -- or laid to rest? I envy the historian put in charge of this project -- Mary Beth Corrigan -- who will have the honor and pleasure of cataloging and preserving the precious documents.

Of particular interest to me? The Lincoln account, for it seems that the president was in the habit of wandering the streets of Washington, and he would often engage in personal works of charity as he did so, writing checks like the one mentioned earlier when he was particularly moved.





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

But Who Would They Vote For?

Looks like Americans have a number of candidates they oppose in 2008 -- but not any who they particulalry support.

Regarding potential Democratic candidates, 47 percent of respondents said they would "definitely vote against" both Clinton, the junior senator from New York who is running for re-election this year, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party's candidate in 2004. (Poll)

Forty-eight percent said the same of former Vice President Al Gore, who has repeatedly denied he intends to run again for president.

Among the Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani fared better than the Democrats, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fared worse.

Only 30 percent said they would "definitely vote against" Giuliani; 34 percent said that of McCain.

As for Bush, brother of the current president, 63 percent said there was no way he would get their vote. The younger Bush has denied interest in running for president in 2008.

One would think that means smooth sailing for McCain or Giuliani -- but that isn't the case.

Among all choices, Clinton had the highest positive number; of those polled, 22 percent said they would "definitely vote for" her.

Giuliani was next with 19 percent, followed by Gore with 17 percent, Kerry with 14 percent, McCain with 12 percent and Bush at 9 percent.

This telephone poll of 1,001 adult Americans was conducted June 1-6 by Harris Interactive for CNN. The poll had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

So waht I'm seeing is a bunch of leading candidates with high negatives and little in the way of positive support. That means there is plenty of room for a candidate to arise from outside the group that conventional wisdom seems to lean towards as "leading candidates".

However, Captain's Quarters makes an important point about this poll.

It certainly has some interest, but at this stage of the process this poll is hardly determinative. The race will not begin even preliminarily until next summer, and the upcoming midterms may have a tremendous impact on these numbers, especially for Hillary. I would be interested to see the same poll twelve months from now. In the meantime, the poll is notable for who has apparently been left out: Mark Warner and Barack Obama for the Democrats (as well as John Edwards, who has slipped through all the cracks), and Mitt Romney, George Allen, and Condi Rice for the GOP, the latter just for the fun of seeing how those numbers would look.

There are real and potential candidates out there besides those included in this poll. Furthermore, there is still time for a surprise or two to emerge -- perhaps Newt Gingrich? -- and take the nomination orf one or both parties by storm. Could 2008 be another 1968 or 1988?





|| Greg, 04:50 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 19, 2006

Another DeLay Delay

Damn -- the motion to remove the Delay Replacement Case to federal court won't be heard until June 26.

federal judge on Monday set a June 26 hearing for a Democratic Party lawsuit that attempts to block Republicans from moving ahead to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot.

Judge Sam Sparks left in place a temporary restraining order that expires Thursday, though he did not extend it. Sparks is expected to hear evidence and lawyers' arguments at the hearing.

Democrats went to court earlier this month to prevent the state Republican Party from replacing DeLay on the ballot. A state district judge blocked the process with the temporary order. Attorneys for the Republicans then had the case moved to federal court.

Though Republicans plan to initiate steps to fill the GOP vacancy on the ballot once the temporary order expires, the process wouldn't be complete by the time of the court hearing, said GOP lawyer Jim Bopp.

For example, the Harris County GOP precinct chairs will not meet until the evening of June 26, in order to select two other candidates for offices which have had vacancies occur since the primary. In theory, those of us fromt he Harris County portion of CD22 could select our elector that night -- if there is not a new restraining order in place by that time. But I do not know when the other counties will be able to meet and select electors.

Quite frankly, the Democrats' litigation strategy concerns me, if only because the delay may mean that the State Republican Executive Committee -- rather than the local precinct chairs -- may be the ones who decide the GOP candidate.





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Why Not "Rock, Paper, Scissors"?

I've got no problem with inclusive language translations of Scripture where they are appropriate. I understand the desire for inclusive language liturgies, provided that the sense of the sacred is not lost.

But when the scriptural is simply jettisoned our of a desire to be sensitive and inclusive, folks enter into an area that approaches heresy -- if it does not cross the line.

Take this Presbyterian proposal.

The divine Trinity -- "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" -- could also be known as "Mother, Child and Womb" or "Rock, Redeemer, Friend" at some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) services under an action Monday by the church's national assembly.

Delegates to the meeting voted to "receive" a policy paper on gender-inclusive language for the Trinity, a step short of approving it. That means church officials can propose experimental liturgies with alternative phrasings for the Trinity, but congregations won't be required to use them.

"This does not alter the church's theological position, but provides an educational resource to enhance the spiritual life of our membership," legislative committee chair Nancy Olthoff, an Iowa laywoman, said during Monday's debate on the Trinity.

The assembly narrowly defeated a conservative bid to refer the paper back for further study.

A panel that worked on the issue since 2000 said the classical language for the Trinity should still be used, but added that Presbyterians also should seek "fresh ways to speak of the mystery of the triune God" to "expand the church's vocabulary of praise and wonder."

The problem is that one of the proposals -- "Mother, Child, Womb" -- ignores the relational aspect that already exists. Jesus had a mother -- the Virgin Mary -- and it was her womb -- as in "blessed is the fruit of thy womb" -- from which Jesus was born. The new construction gives us a strange "Jesus Has Two Mommies" theology that ought to be avoided at all costs.

A number of those in attendance saw other problems with the recommendations.

Youth delegate Dorothy Hill, a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, was uncomfortable with changing the Trinity wording. She said the paper "suggests viewpoints that seem to be in tension with what our church has always held to be true about our Trinitarian God."

Hill reminded delegates that the Ten Commandments say "the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

The Rev. Deborah Funke of Montana warned that the paper would be "theologically confusing and divisive" at a time when the denomination of 2.3 million members faces other troublesome issues.

So what we see at this time is another denomination struggling with the question of fidelity to the traditional faith of Christianity. Sadly, infidelity may win in the Presbyterian Church, as it did in the Episcopal Church over the weekend (and in the United Church of Christ years ago).

OPEN TRACKBACKED TO Stop The ACLU, Conservative Cat, Mark My Words, Third World County, Blue Star Chronicle, Dumb Ox





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Drunk Driving Times Two

I hope this guy goes away for a very long time -- and that there are some charges available for the "parent" who let him back behind the wheel.

A Chatham County man was charged with DWI twice in a span of about 20 minutes early Sunday morning, authorities said.

The incident started when a man was stopped in Siler City for speeding and driving left of center.

A Chatham County deputy found evidence that suggested the driver was intoxicated and the man was arrested.

The man's car, a 1991 Honda Civic, was left at the scene. The 18-year-old driver was released into the custody of his mother.

About 20 minutes later, the deputy went back to check on the Honda and to conduct a follow-up investigation.

When he arrived he saw the same man driving away in the car.

The deputy stopped the man and arrested him and impounded his car.

Alejandro Salas Sanchez, 18, of West 2nd Street, Siler City, was charged with two counts of DWI and one count of driving while license revoked, among other charges.

Sanchez was then jailed under a $1,000 secured bond and is scheduled to appear in Chatham County District Court in Siler City on July 11.

SOme folks simply do not need to be permitted in the same county as an automobile -- and this guy is one of them.





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

Feel A Chill? Go Back To Home

Georgia's tough new laws related to illegal immigration is apparantly stopping some border jumpers from buying houses in the state.

wo months ago, all Alina Arguello had to do to find Latino home buyers was put up a sign and answer her phone.

But ever since Georgia passed one of the most stringent and far-reaching immigration laws in the nation, the number of Latino buyers who call the Re/Max agent's home office in suburban Atlanta has dwindled from about 10 to two a day.

"We're seeing a drastic drop," she said. "There's just a tremendous amount of people who want homes, but are not calling." Many real estate agents and mortgage providers who cater to Spanish-speaking immigrants across Georgia say that the flourishing Latino home buying market has faltered since April, when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act.

Almost immediately, Latino home buyers pulled out of contracts. Some who had already bought, put their homes on the market. And many prospective buyers stopped searching for homes.

Although Georgia's new legislation does not prohibit illegal immigrants from owning property, many wonder whether they will want to live in Georgia when it begins to come into effect in July 2007.

The law will require companies with state contracts to verify employees' immigration status, penalize employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, curtail many government benefits to illegal immigrants and require that jailers check the immigration status of anyone who is charged with a felony or driving under the influence.

Oh dear -- requirements that workers be here legally, that companies not break the law by hiring illegals, cutting off the financial incentive to settle in the state, and requiring that immigration criminals arrested for serious crimes be identified (and presumably reported to immigration authorities). How could the state of Georgia possibly enact such an unreasonable law!

There is a chill wind blowing here in America among the average ordinary people. We want those who violate our laws and disrespect our sovereignty OUT OF THE USA. So to all border jumpers who don't like the vlimate change, i suggest taking up residence in your homelands.





|| Greg, 12:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Schism Imminent?

The ordination of women and homosexuals -- especially to the episcopacy -- have been of concern to the worldwide Anglican Communion for years. This weekend's selection of a pro-homosexual female bishop to head the Episcopal Church in the United States can only serve to exacerbate the divisions.

The Episcopal Church chose Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as its leader yesterday, making her the first woman to head any denomination in the Anglican Communion worldwide.

The decision by delegates to the Episcopal General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, to choose a female presiding bishop for the 2.3 million-member denomination, 30 years after the church first allowed women to become priests, may exacerbate tensions between Episcopalians and other branches of the Anglican church. Three years ago, Episcopalians angered many conservatives in the United States and abroad by electing an openly gay man from New Hampshire, V. Gene Robinson, as a bishop.

Jefferts Schori, 52, a former oceanographer, backed Robinson's election. The runner-up in the race for presiding bishop, Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley, opposed consecrating Robinson.

Before Robinson's consecration in 2003, no openly gay priest had become a bishop in the Anglican church's history, which extends back more than 450 years. Only the United States, Canada and New Zealand have female bishops, although some other provinces allow women to qualify for the position. The Church of England does not allow female bishops.

With outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold by her side, Jefferts Schori told the delegates yesterday that she was "awed and honored and deeply privileged to be elected." She was chosen on the fifth ballot, getting 95 votes to 93 for six male candidates.

The historic vote shocked many delegates who had gathered at the convention, where they were also debating whether to temporarily halt the appointment of gay bishops to make amends with other Anglican leaders. Gasps escaped from some members when Jefferts Schori's name was announced, according to the Associated Press.

While the American branch of Anglicanism is among the most liberal, the worldwide Anglican community is relatively conservative -- and thatose conservative areas are where it is growing. In the United States, there has already been a series of efforts to place more traditionalist congregations under the control of foreign bishops who are more faithful to the teachings of Scripture and tradition.

This move will continue -- and will likely see the expulsion of the Episcopal Church USA from the Anglican Communion, and with the traditionalist remnant remaining a part of worldwide Anglicanism.





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

Are We Supposed To Feel Sorry For Them?

These people have broken our nation's laws. Why the sympathetic portrayal by the media when law enforcement tries o do something about it?

SAN DIEGO - Fewer parents are walking their children to school in this border city's Linda Vista neighborhood. The crowd of day laborers huddled in a parking lot outside McDonald's has dropped by half.

A sense of unease has spread in this community of weather-worn homes since immigration agents began walking the streets as part of a stepped-up nationwide effort targeting an estimated 590,000 immigrant fugitives. Other illegal immigrants are being rounded up along the way.

Juana Osorio, an illegal immigrant from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, said her neighbors have largely stayed indoors since agents visited her apartment complex June 2.

"People rarely leave their houses now to go shopping," Osorio, 37, said as she clutched a bottle of laundry detergent in a barren courtyard. "They walk in fear."

Her husband, Juan Rivera, 29, has stopped taking their two children to the park on weekends. "We want to go out but we can't," said Rivera, a construction worker.

In a blitz that began May 26 and ended Tuesday, federal agents arrested nearly 2,200 illegal immigrants, including about 400 in the San Diego area — more than any other city.

Now wait just one minute. These people have an option -- go back to Mexico (or where ever they came from -- but in most cases that is Mexico). Apply to come to this country legally. Quit breaking American law.

And if you cannot bring yourself to do that, be afraid -- very afraid.





|| Greg, 04:39 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Andrea Yates -- Part 2

In April, 2001, my wife and I were house-hunting. We drove through one neighborhood, about 10 minutes from our apatment and about 20 minutes from wehre we eventually bought, looking at the available houses. It seemed like a nice family neighborhood -- especially when we saw the guy about our age in the yard of one of the neighboring houses with his four boys, and the somewhat odd-looking mom holding a little baby.

Two months later we saw them again, on the news. The mother had murdered the children. Her name would become a household word -- Andrea Yates.

Her retrial begins today.

Five years to the day after Andrea Yates systematically drowned her five children in a bathtub, a new panel of potential jurors will be summoned to downtown Houston on Tuesday in preparation for her new trial.

The first half of a 120-person panel will begin answering questionnaires intended to help attorneys gauge who can fairly and impartially decide whether Yates knew right from wrong when she killed her children in their Clear Lake-area home.

The remaining panelists will go through the process Wednesday, with jury selection to begin the following day. The trial, which is expected to last about a month, will begin June 26.

Few, if any, of those involved in the case might have imagined they would have to repeat this laborious task when Yates first went on trial four years ago. But everything changed when the state's sole mental health expert testified mistakenly about a TV program he claimed had been broadcast just before the drownings.

Forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz — a consultant to the Law & Order TV series — told jurors in Yates' first trial about an episode portraying a woman who drowned her children and was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

After Yates' conviction, it was discovered that no such episode existed.

As a result, an appeals court threw out Yates' capital murder conviction last year, citing concerns that Dietz's error may have swayed the jury's judgment. With recent plea negotiations going nowhere, a new trial was inevitable.

"This is a classic case that probably has to be tried," said Gerald Treece, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law. "The government's doing its job and the defense is doing its job. And there's no compromise."

I don't think the Dietz error made a big diffeence -- not with five little kids dead. But justice seems to require that the reset button be pressed and the case be submitted to a jury again. So be it.

May justice be done on behalf of her murdered children.





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

June 18, 2006

Star Trekking!

I'll admit it -- I am a science fiction fanatic. When I'm not reading scholarly historical works, I'm found carrying a science fiction novel of some sort -- my latest discovery being Charles Stross and his Merchant Princes series (which I have devoured over the last two weeks along with a couple of Andre Norton's Earthsea novels).

And yes, I love Star Trek -- but I don't know that my love goes quite this far.

Paul Sieber was wearing a "Star Trek" uniform in the deep Virginia woods when he found himself surrounded by a leathery-looking gang.

Fortunately, the ruffians were dressed up as Klingons, and Mr. Sieber, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, was preparing to film them with a $6,000 digital video camera. At times like this, Mr. Sieber, the writer and director of "Starship Farragut," must come to grips with the obvious — not all Klingons are trained actors — and bellow, "Quiet on the set!"

From these Virginia woods to the Scottish Highlands, "Star Trek" fans are filling the void left by a galaxy that has lost "Star Trek." For the first time in nearly two decades, television spinoffs from the original 1960's "Star Trek" series have ended, so fans are banding together to make their own episodes.

Fan films have been around for years, particularly those related to the "Star Wars" movies. But now they can be downloaded from the Web, and modern computer graphics technology has lent them surprising special effects. And as long as no one is profiting from the work, Paramount, which owns the rights to "Star Trek," has been tolerant. (Its executives declined to comment.)

Fan fiction has been around for a long time. Some authors have encouraged it -- even anthologized the best of it. But the development of computer technology has made it possible to make technically good video fan fiction and the internet has made its distribution quite easy. The NY Times article lists no fewer than five different groups making their own Star Trek episodes -- and tells us that there may be as many as two-dozen around the world, creating Star Trek apocrypha in a multiplicity of languages.

One has to ask, though, what such devotion and activity will mean for the future of Star Trek on television and in theaters, as well as the future of video entertainment as a whole. Do these niche productions signal where "Big Media" should go? Or is it the detritus left behind after the networks have moved on?

Or is it simply a throwback to a more innocent time, as science fiction has grown darker and less escapist over the decades?





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Border Jumper Care Costs Harris County Taxpayers $97,300,000 Annually

I used all those zeros intentionally -- and that is only the money spent by the Harris County Hospital District directly out of local funds.

KTRH has learned the Harris County Hospital District is shelling out millions of dollars every year to treat people who are here in this country illegally.

When you subtract what patients paid for hospital district services, and money from federal grants and other sources, $97.3 million dollars is what the local property taxpayer subsidized the district budget for undocumented immigrant care in 2005. That's 14 percent of the entire hospital system's operating budget.

You did read that correctly -- unreimbursed medical costs for these sovereignty-violating foreigners are 14% of the annual budget for the entire hospital system. Put differently, that makes it $1 out of ever $7 spent by the hospital district -- or over $25 for each man, woman and child in the county.

But it gets worse. The state and federal governments reimburse an additional $28,000,000. That takes it up to over $125,000,000 in government subsidized medical care for those who have entered this country illegally or stayed past the expiration of their visas. That raises the cost to over $33 per Harris COunty resident.

The Harris County Hospital District's unreimbursed costs of caring for illegal immigrants approached $100 million last year, a 77 percent increase in three years.

"The costs are increasing because the population of undocumented immigrants is increasing and the cost of health care is rising," said hospital district spokesman Bryan McLeod.

The unreimbursed costs rose from $55 million in 2002 to $97 million in 2005, the hospital district said in a report released Friday. Last year's figure represented 13 percent of the district's $760 million operating budget.

The district treats about 300,000 patients annually, but lacks enough funds and facilities to care for all of the county's uninsured and underinsured residents, estimated to number between 800,000 and 1.2 million, McLeod said.

Commissioner Steve Radack, who requested the report on the district's costs of treating undocumented immigrants, said county residents are shouldering a burden created by the federal government.

The federal government doesn't prevent illegal immigration, but hardly reimburses local counties where the immigrants most frequently settle and use public health care facilities, he said.

"The federal government allows people to come here illegally," Radack said. "Because of that the cost shouldn't fall on the local taxpayer."

The district treated more than 57,000 illegal immigrants last year, at a cost of $128 million. The federal and state governments reimbursed about $28 million, and the patients themselves paid about $3 million. Over the past 11 years, the district has paid about $607 million in unreimbursed costs for treating undocumented immigrants.

The district does not directly ask patients if they are in the country legally, but infers their status from other information gleaned during patient screenings, officials said.

Well, maybe we should just be appreciative that the border-jumping immigration criminals graciously paid a whole $3,000,000 for their own medical care last year. That would be a whopping 2.34% of the total cost of treating illegals at the Harris County Hospital District -- or less than $1 per resident of Harris County.

And that does not include the medical care written off by private hospitals. Anne Linehan over at blogHOUSTON points to the information supplied by one caller to the Chris Baker radio show on KTRH.

Chris Baker was discussing this yesterday and one of his callers identified herself as an employee of a private, fourteen-hospital group here in the Houston area. She said they routinely write off anywhere from 40 to 60 surgeries each week, because the patients are here illegally and are unable to pay. She said the paperwork will often have Social Security numbers such as 111-11-1111, or 999-99-9999, and bogus addresses, but since hospitals are prohibited from turning anyone away, there is nothing they can do about it.

Now consider the implications of that figure. Little or no reimbursement from the state or federal government for thise surgeries (not to mention other treatment that is written off) means that the costs are being spread around to those of us who have insurance (or those who can afford to pay cash -- a small percentage of the public indeed). That means increased costs for all of us every time we walk (or are wheeled through) the door for treatment. That probably means that each and every one of us is paying significantly more for the treatment of those who are here illegally.

And the sad thing is that nothing is being done about this problem. The feds are not interested in stopping illegal immigration. The hospitals don't take immigration information directly, for fear of scaring sick illegals away from medical care -- and even if they discover that a patient is undocumented, they do not report them to immigration authorities.

Medical costs ae escalating every year -- and I cannot help but believe that one factor is the free medical care given to law-breaking border-jumpers at the expense of each and every US citizen.


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

That's Why There Was A Wall

Was "the perfect shot" really worth it?

A woman lost her footing after stepping over a retaining wall to take a photograph and went over a cliff, falling 500 feet to her death in a canyon, Yellowstone National Park officials said.

The 52-year-old woman was visiting the park with her husband and two children.

Her husband flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911 after the Saturday morning accident at an overlook along the Yellowstone River, park officials said.

A ranger rappelled down the canyon wall to reach the woman, but she was dead at the scene.

Condolences to the family of the deceased and all that -- but was there no consideration given to the idea that the wall was there for a reason?





|| Greg, 04:25 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 17, 2006

USS Lagarto: American Heroes Found

May we always honor the sacrifices of those who step forward to serve our country in its time of need -- and honor those who die in service to America.

For 60 years, Nancy Kenney wondered what happened to her father.

The submarine that William T. Mabin was in disappeared while he and his crewmates were on a mission to attack a Japanese convoy in the last months of World War II.

Now, the Navy says a wreck found at the bottom of the Gulf of Thailand appears to be the sub, the USS Lagarto.

* * *

Navy divers on Friday completed a six-day survey of the wreckage site. They took photos and video of the 311-foot, 9-inch submarine for further analysis by naval archeologists.

The divers found twin 5-inch gun mounts on the forward and rear parts of the ship — a feature believed to be unique to the Lagarto.

They also saw the word "Manitowoc'' displayed on the submarine's propeller, providing a connection to the Manitowoc, Wis., shipyard that built the Lagarto in the 1940s.

Eighty-six sailors died when the Lagarto sank in May 1945. The Japanese minelayer Hatsutaka reported dropping depth charges and sinking a U.S. sub in the area, though it was never known what ship it destroyed.

The Navy sent its divers to examine the ship to provide the sailors' families with some answers after a British professional shipwreck diver last year found what looked like the Lagarto, said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force.

"It was important to bring a sense of closure to these families and it was important to do it in a way that would honor our fellow submariners,'' Davis said.

And so these honored dead will continue to rest where they died, entombed in the ship on which they served.

Perhaps most poignant on the eve of Father's Day is this comment from Mrs. Kenney.

Since Kenney was just a toddler when her father went to war, she has no conscious memories of their life in LaGrange, Ill. But she said news of the Navy's dive "was the most important piece'' of a puzzle about her father that she's been trying to put together for six decades.

The children of the Lagarto sailors feel closer to their fathers now more than ever, she said.

"We feel like we've found our fathers,'' Kenney said.

From the child of one Navy man to another, I offer you the most humble of thanks for the service and sacrifiece of your father.

Lord God, our power evermore,
Whose arm doth reach the ocean floor,
Dive with our men beneath the sea;
Traverse the depths protectively.
O hear us when we pray, and keep
Them safe from peril in the deep.

THE CREW OF USS LAGARTO

Andrews, H. D. CTM
Anker, C. CMOMM
Auchard, F. L. LTJG
Bjornson, C. H. F1
Breithaupt, C. W., Jr. Y2
Britain, W. L. CRMA
Brock, A. S2
Byrer, C. R. F1
Carleton, W. E. RM1
Cathey, L. F. MOMM3
Catozzi, S. G. QM3
Clouse, G. E. TM2
Cook, C. T. MOMM1
Davis, J. E., Jr. TM2
Doud, L. M. RM2
Enns, A. H. TM3
Fisher, R. L. MOMM1
Franze, J. J. S1
Frasch, O. R. MOMM1
Gerlach, J. N. F1
Grace, R. F. F2
Graves, W. QM1
Gray, D. J. EM2
Green, R. STM2
Gregorik, R. L. EM1
Gregory, J. P. S2
Halstead, G. E. RM3
Hardegree, T. MOMM1
Harrington, G. C. MOMM3
Harrington, T. J. MOMM2
Harris, J. B. S1
Harrison, J. C. MOMM3
Hinken, W. E. TM3
Honaker, W. F. EM3
Irving, L. G. LT
Jefferson, H. S1
Jobe, J. CEMA
Johnson, F. S1
Johnson, J. R. CEMA
Jordan, W. H., Jr. S1
Keeney, A. H., Jr. LT
Kimball, P. M. RT1
Kirtley, A. STM1
Kneidl, J. W. MOMM3
Latta, F. D. CDR
Lee, N. B., Jr. S1
Lee, R. W. F1
Lewis, R. J. MOMM2
Lynch, L. J. F1
Mabin, W. T. SM1
Marriot, J. M., Jr. S1
McDonald, J. H. SC2
McGee, J. M. TM2
Mendenhall, W. H. LT
Moore, W. L. F1
Moss, W. G. S1
O'Hara, L. R. RT2
Ortega, H. E. F1
Paper, D. M. S1
Pash, J. S. LTJG
Patterson, R. R. RM3
Perry, R. C. EM3
Peterson, J. W. TM3
Peterson, R. F. QM3
Phelps, W. B. LTJG
Plushnik, H. R. F1
Price, G. A. CMOMMA
Reeves, M. D. EM2
Reichert, R. E. F1
Robinson, E. T. BM1
Root, J. H. MOMM1
Ruble, R. T. LT
Rutledge, W. J. S1
Shackelford, W. C. SM2
Simmerman, R. E. TM2
Spalding, R. B. CPHMA
Stehn, J. E. GM2
Stiegler, D. G. EM2
St. John, U. M., Jr. EM3
Tait, F. MOMM2
Todd, H. A., Jr. LTJG
Turner, F. D. CGM
Wade, A. M. S1
Warnick, W. C. S1
Wicklander, M. M. MOMM2
Williams, J. L. S1


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Somebody Had To Say It

I wonder if this was the last thought of the jihadis who killed themselves at Gitmo?


gitmohang.jpg

But that there is even room to ask the question is enough to refute those who say that suicide violates the tenets of Islam.





|| Greg, 08:35 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Shootout In New Orleans

Based upon our experiences here in Houston, this does not even come as a surprise to me.

Five people ranging in age from 16 to 19 were killed in a street shooting early Saturday, the most violent crime reported in this slowly repopulating city since Hurricane Katrina hit last August.

All were believed to have been gunned down in a volley of bullets on a street in the Central City neighborhood just outside the central business district. Three of the victims were found in a sport utility vehicle rammed against a utility pole and two were found nearby on the street.

Authorities said they were looking for one or more suspects but did not elaborate.

Capt. John Bryson said police think the shootings were either drug-related or some type of retaliation attack. A semiautomatic weapon was used and "multiple, multiple rounds" were fired, he said.

"I think the motivation we're looking at is pretty obvious," he said. "Somebody wanted them dead."

Or crime rate -- especially our murder rate -- spiked following the arrival of the Katrina evacuees. Seems to me that some of the thugs have found their way back east. I hate to say it, but I'm just glad it happened in their town and not ours.

And I'm troubled by the learned helplessness of the residents of New Orleans.

Bryson said the recent spike in murders, which he said was connected to drugs, was not just a "police problem" or a "New Orleans problem."

"It's a Louisiana problem, it's a United States problem," he said. "We're begging the citizens to join with us to coordinate with watch groups."

No, Capt. Bryson -- it seems to be primarily a New Orleans problem. Deal with it yourself, and start by having your residents raise their children with some self-sufficiency, morality, and respect for the law and human life. Don't put it on the rest of us.

But unfortunately, there are those who will beat their breasts and blame the nation as a whole for the shortcomings of the residents 9and former residents) of New Orleans -- folks like the editors of the LA Times, who know where not to put the blame for the misuse of FEMA funds by Katrina evacuees.

But obsessing about the spending habits of refugees comes perilously close to blaming the victim.

I'm sure they will say the same of the criminality of New Orleanians as well.





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

Excitement Here In Space City

Liftoff will be in two weeks, if all goes according to plan.

NASA managers on Saturday picked July 1 to launch the first space shuttle in almost a year for a test-flight mission that will try out inspection methods and repairs that were devised following the Columbia disaster.

The launch of the seven crewmembers aboard Discovery in early July improved the chances that the 12-day mission would be extended by a day to add an important third spacewalk. The launch date was picked after two days of meetings by scores of NASA's top managers and engineers at the Kennedy Space Center.

The most contentious debate at the meeting focused on whether the shuttle's external tank should undergo further changes in 34 areas called ice-frost ramps. About 35 pounds of foam already have been removed from an area of the tank where a 1-pound piece of foam fell off during last July's launch of Discovery. NASA described it as the aerodynamic change ever made to the shuttle's launch system.

Some members of NASA's safety office said at the meeting that the shuttle shouldn't fly until more foam around the ice-frost ramps are removed. Top managers, however, countered that the shuttle should fly with only one major modification to the tank at a time.

"At the end of the day, some people had reservations and they expressed their reservations," said Wayne Hale, NASA's space shuttle program manager.

Flying foam off the external tank struck a wing of Columbia during its launch in 2003, allowing fiery gases to enter the shuttle and kill the seven-member crewmembers during descent.

Living just a few miles from Johnson Space Center, this is local news. I suspect the NASA hands (current and retired) will be buzzing at church tomorrow. I'm sure that the order for the "Good Luck, Discovery!" banners for the fences around JSC will be placed first thing Monday morning. One local church has already called forward one of the astronauts for a special blessing during the SUnday service, and more of those will be coming.

I guess what I am trying to say is that these are our people, members of our community. And as such, we down here around take a special pride in what is going to happen on July 1 and in the days that follow -- and that we will be holding our breath just a little bit deeper and praying a little bit harder than most of the rest of the world.

Not because we are better people or because we believe the astronauts are extraordinary people -- but because they and their families move among us every day, and we therefore know them to be ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things.





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

This About Sums It Up On Plame & Wilson

I wish I had written this letter that appeared in today's Houston Chronicle.

Plame can blame her husband

REGARDING the Chronicle's June 15 editorial "Rove unleashed": Now let me be sure I have this right.

Karl Rove is dishonorable because he had a role in the administration's effort to counter the allegations made by Democratic partisan Joe Wilson.

In a time of war, Joe Wilson made charges, ultimately deemed to be false by a bipartisan report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the president had nefariously relied on faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein's efforts to procure uranium from Niger.

The administration made an effort to educate media critics as to both the facts of the case and the questionable credentials of the person making the allegations.

The Chronicle repeats the canard that, in so doing, Rove "ruined the career of a valued expert on nuclear proliferation."

The suggestion here is that Wilson's wife, who got him the gig that led him to challenge the president's statement, was a covert CIA agent, and that the White House blew her cover.

Yet according to Wilson's own book, his wife had been stationed in the United States since 1977.

Since she clearly was no covert operative, it is hard to see the basis for the statement that her career was ruined.

If anyone is responsible for ruining her career, it is her husband.

If you get a job through nepotism and then choose to lie about your findings in order to wage partisan battle against the president in a time of war, it is likely that these facts will eventually come to light.

Ultimately, this editorial weakens the Chronicle's own credibility, as the paper is quick to criticize Rove and the Bush administration for "leaking" factual information that supports the administration's war on terror, but it also is quick to publish the leaks that lead to exposure of real covert efforts that make us all safer in this age of terrorism.

IRA L. WINSTEN Houston

Yep, that sums it all up very nicely.





|| Greg, 03:41 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No Murder Charges -- But A Silver Lining

We had a horrible incident here in Houston this week -- a little girl run down and killed just days before her birthday by a trio of carjackers stealing the family vehicle.

Well, the perps have been caught -- but will not face murder charges.

Harris County prosecutors decided to file aggravated robbery charges in a deadly carjacking because the evidence did not show the attackers intended to kill a girl, a key element for a murder charge, officials said.

"It doesn't sound like a serious enough charge — maybe that is what people's perception is," said Di Glaeser, chief of the major offender and special crimes unit of the Harris County District Attorney's Office. "I think, that if these people are guilty, they should receive the most serious punishment and that would be aggravated robbery."

I would have been really upset by this, except that i remembered something from my time on the jury for a capital murder case (which was pled down to aggravated robbery after a mistrial). And fortunately, the Chronicle points out exactly what i recalled.

Aggravated robbery, like murder, is a first-degree felony. They carry the same punishment.

And before you ask, the penalty is 25-to-life (except when the state seeks the death penalty in a murder case). These boys won't be getting out any time soon.





|| Greg, 03:03 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Get A Haircut, Kid!

Some folks want to find racism in everything.

It's right there, under "Extreme Hairstyles," in the 2006 seasonal handbook for Six Flags America employees: no dreadlocks, tails, partially shaved heads "or any hairstyle that detracts or takes away from Six Flags theming."

Braids "must be in neat, even rows and without beads or other ornaments," the amusement park handbook advises.

That prompted Tim Bivins, 18, who has worked at Six Flags America in Largo for two years, to cut several inches off his hair this spring and pay $50 to have it braided into cornrows. Not good enough, he was told. Cut the braids shorter or go home.

* * *

Femi Manners and her 16-year-old son, Shakir, agreed that he would not change his hair: short cornrows with a small design braided in. Instead, she contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, which is investigating complaints from more than a dozen black employees of Six Flags America.

The complaint is the latest in recent years alleging that private companies or government agencies are violating civil rights with restrictions on ethnic and Africa-inspired hairstyles and beards.

"This is culturally very, very insensitive and possibly discrimination," said King Downing, coordinator of the ACLU's national campaign against racial profiling. "The question is, how long do we have to keep going around and around with this when it comes to people of African descent and the natural style of the hair that they wear?"

This code was in place when I worked for Six Flags Great America -- over 20 years ago. It is not about race, it is not about ethnicity -- it is about fitting with the THEME of the THEME park. In the park where I worked, there was a New Orleans themed area, a Yukon Gold Rush themed area, an early 1900s town square themed area. We had to be prepared to fit with any one of those areas -- and had I done my hair like the lead singer of "Flock of Seagulls I would have been out of place in every single one of them. As it was, I had to cut my hair, worn a bit onthe ong side with sideburns to the jaw, in order to meet the grooming standards.

So to the folks complaining, I say "Get a haircut, kid."

Or get a new job where your employer doesn't give a damn that you look like a freak.





|| Greg, 02:53 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Make It ALL A "Zero Tolerance Zone"

Why can't we do this along the entire border? After all, border jumpers are already criminals.

On June 1, the three Ordaz-Valtierra brothers from Mexico illegally crossed the Rio Grande with the same dream that so many other Latin American immigrants have: head north from the border, get jobs and start sending money home.

Their journey, instead, ended in a federal courthouse here, where, dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, each was charged with the federal misdemeanor crime of entry without inspection. Each pleaded guilty and was sentenced by a U.S. magistrate judge to 15 days. Under guard of U.S. marshals, they were put in shackles and bused to a West Texas jail to serve their time and await deportation home.

"I'm sorry," Juan Carlos Ordaz-Valtierra, 27, said through an interpreter as he stood before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis G. Green. "I didn't think it was this difficult to cross into your country."

It wasn't. But this year, most of the 210-mile stretch of riverbank between the small border cities of Eagle Pass and Del Rio became a "zero tolerance zone." If apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol, illegal immigrants are prosecuted by federal authorities for a misdemeanor, sent to jail for 15 to 180 days and then deported. If they are caught illegally entering the country a second time, they are eligible for a felony charge of illegal entry and as much as two years in federal prison.

"Catch and release" -- in which Mexican citizens are returned promptly to Mexico, but citizens of other countries are given a notice to appear in immigration court at a later date, set free and never tracked down by authorities -- would end here, said Department of Homeland Security officials at a Washington news conference earlier this year. "Catch and remove" would start. And, officials predicted, as this tough policy became known, immigrants would be discouraged from crossing through this slice of southwest Texas.

Every border jumper, every time. Make it clear that we will catch you, we will charge you, and we will remove you from our shores, with harher penalties to come.





|| Greg, 02:38 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Just Call Them The Dixie Victims

You know, I would have thought that these girls might have learned to shut up by now -- you are entitled to your opinion, but how where and when you express them can have consequences.

But no, Natalie Maines has to open up her mouth again.

"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."

And I don't understand the nexcessity for buying Dixie Chicks CDs and concert tickets when they insult my beliefs. I don't see why she thinks we should care about her opinions on matters political, given her lack of expertise in the field. And I don't see why she doesn't get the message about the views of Americans as the group's concert tour goes belly-up.

The real sad thing about the whole Dixie Chicks fiasco is that Emily Robison is married to a very talented artist, Charlie Robison. His career was just taking off on the national stage when the controversy broke in 2003 -- he was one of the three original judges on USA Network's Nashville Star but left "for family reasons" at the end of Season One -- but he failed to meet the commercial expectations that the spot gave him following the Chick's controversy.

MORE AT Michelle Malkin, Below the Beltway, Paxalles, California Conservative, Narcissistic Views, No Speed Bumps, World According To Carl, Noisy Room, Lead & Gold, Hillbilly White Trash, Flopping Aces, Unalienable Right, Capital Region People, Conservative Musings, Real Ugly American, Reality & Sanity, Stuck on Stupid, Darleen's Place, Donkey Cons, American Mind, Church and State, Expose The Left, Ed Driscoll, E. L. Frederick, Chicagoray, Sister Toldjah





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

Could We Toughen Up This Employer Sanction, Please?

Imagine that you get a letter telling you that you owe over $15,000 in back taxes on income from jobs a couple of thousand miles from your home -- and that you had not held any job during the time period in question. This woman doesn't have to imagine -- it happened to her.

ne woman's Social Security identification number has been used by at least 81 people in 17 states. Though impossible to verify in every case, information gleaned from criminal investigations, tax documents and other sources suggest most of the users were probably illegal immigrants trying to get work.

Audra Schmierer, a 33-year-old housewife in this affluent San Francisco suburb, realized she had a problem in February 2005, when she got a statement from the IRS saying she owed $15,813 in back taxes — even though she had not worked since her son was born in 2000. Perhaps even more surprising, the taxes were due from jobs in Texas.

Schmierer has since found that her Social Security number has been used by people from Florida to Washington state, at construction sites, fast-food restaurants and even major high-tech companies. Some opened bank accounts using the number.

The federal government took years to discover the number was being used illegally, but authorities took little action even then.

"They knew what was happening but wouldn't do anything," said Schmierer. "One name, one number, why can't they just match it up?"

It is becoming a more and more common problem in America -- especiallysince the IRS and Social Security do not tell immigration authorities about the proble. All they do is contact the employers. Oh, yeah, and possibly fine them.

Under current law, if the Social Security Administration or the Internal Revenue Service find multiple people using the same Social Security number, the agencies send letters informing employers of possible errors.

The IRS can fine employers $50 for each inaccurate number filed, a punishment that companies often dismiss as just another cost of doing business.

"Sending letters is the limit to what can be done," Social Security spokesman Lowell Kepke said. "We expect that will be able to fix any records that are incorrect."

Fifty bucks.

No wonder employers ignore the law -- it is cheaper than doing things legally.

That needs to be fixed.





|| Greg, 01:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Where Is The Muslim Outrage?

Muslims go insane when they believe there has been disrespect shown to those things that they hold sacred.

A couple of guys post pictures on the internet of Koran's used for target practice, and they receive death threats around the internet. Someone reports a Koran in a toilet, and there are riots around the world. Newspapers publis pictures of the false prophet Mohammad and there is international chaos.

But somehow, this elicits no outrage from the Muslim world.

burnedkoran.jpg

I guess it is acceptable to desecrate a Koran by blowing up a mosque and killing worshipers -- resulting in the Muslim holy book being burned and spattered with innocent blood.

So I guess that the next time jihadis hole up in a mosque and attack American troops, it will be just fine to send an a couple of al-Zarqawi specials crashing down on the place, regardless of the number of Koran's inside.

After all, such things don't offend Muslim sensibilities at all.

(Hat Tip: Tammy Bruce)





|| Greg, 08:57 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jawa Report Under Attack By Cyber-Jihadis

Proving once again that Western concepts of freedom of expression are incompatible with the world-view of jihadi Muslims, the fine folks over at The Jawa Report are under a DDOS attack that has temproarily forced them off the the blogosphere. This also temporarily shut down all the Munuvians, until our beloved host saved the day.

Annika sez: i heard a rumor about a hacker threat?

Yes. It's a group of Turkish Islamist hacker-wannabe's going after The Jawa Report. They can't actually break in, so they've settled for a Distributed Denial of Service attack which takes us offline.

Unfortunately, the shared filesystem I built to keep us going in these situations decided to choose today to drop off its perch, so I wasn't able to bring everything back up on the other server. Right now, I'm copying everyone's files across, one blog at a time.

* * *

update: Okay, I think it's all fixed, except for The Jawa Report, which will be back as soon as the attack is over.

I have managed to separate things so that when an attack starts, we can just block it, and only The Jawa Report will go offline.

Thanks, Pixy, for everything you do for those of us in the Munuvian Universe.

And may these Islmaist sons of swine, who keep attacking the free men and women of the blogosphere in a futile attempt to silence the truth, one day receive a gift ordered from the same catalog as that recently delivered to Abu Musam al-Zarqawi.

MORE ON THE ATTACK ON JAWA REPORT at Ace of Spades





|| Greg, 08:37 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

NY Times' "Innocent" Gitmo Detainee Comes From Family Jihadi Cell

Over at Big Lizards, Sachi gives us some analysis of the op/ed piece by Mourad Benchellali, a former Gitmo detainee.

Mourad Benchellali describes the despair, the incomprehension, and the torture he suffered at the hands of the Americans:

In Guantánamo, I did see some people for whom jihad is life itself, people whose minds are distorted by extremism and whose souls are full of hatred. But the huge majority of the faces I remember -- the ones that haunt my nights -- are of desperation, suffering, incomprehension turned into silent madness.

But the magnanimous fellow has not allowed his dreadful ordeal to poison his own mind. Like Ann Frank, in spite of everything, he still believes that Americans are really good at heart:

I am a quiet Muslim — I've never waged war, let alone an asymmetrical one. I wasn't anti-American before and, miraculously, I haven't become anti-American since.

So how exactly does Mr. Benchellali account for having ended up in Gitmo in the first place? He explains it all very poignantly:

I was seized by the Pakistani Army while having tea at a mosque shortly after I managed to cross the border. A few days later I was delivered to the United States Army: although I didn't know it at the time, I was now labeled an "enemy combatant." It did not matter that I was no one's enemy and had never been on a battlefield, let alone fought or aimed a weapon at anyone.

After two weeks in the American military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I was sent to Guantánamo, where I spent two and a half years. I cannot describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture; but the worst aspect of being at the camp was the despair, the feeling that whatever you say, it will never make a difference.

Mr. Benchellali is correct when he says he cannot describe his torture in "just a few lines." Of course, he cannot seem to describe it in an entire New York Times op-ed, either, as he does not mention even a single instance of torture. Naturally, he has written a book; I'm sure that in the pages of the book, where he has a chance to spread himself, he describes all manner of horrible tortures he endured.

The first point of interest is that, although he begins by saying "I was released from the United States military's prison camp at Guantánamo Bay," what he actually means is that he was released into French custody -- for he is to stand trial in France for attending an al-Qaeda training camp, which he does not deny (he says he went there by mistake, tricked by his brother into thinking it was an Afghan Club Med or somesuch).

So we have a guy here who tells us he was tortured and witnessed torture but does not describe a single instance of torture. That, as Sachi indicates, should be a clue that the claims of torture are just so much garbage. But of course, we then find that Benchellali is apparently guilty of being a student at an alQaeda training camp, and tha the evidence is so clear that even the weak-kneed French are willing to put him on trial for his terrorist involvement. (I'm surprised they didn't offer an unconditional surrender to Benchellali as he deplaned, given their history -- maybe there is still a French national spine). Clearly, we are not looking at an innocent.

But then Sachi makes a connection for us. It appears that the rest of the Benchellali family is either in prison or on trial in France for involvement in jihadi activity. This old NY Times article gives us some background on Daddy Jihadi and the rest of the clan.

When Chellali Benchellali moved to France 41 years ago his path seemed clear enough. Escaping the misery of his native Algeria, he hoped to get a job, marry, raise a family and blend into the French melting pot.

He got part way there. But for the last six months Mr. Benchellali has been in a high-security French prison along with his wife and two of his sons, all accused of helping to plot a chemical attack in the style of Al Qaeda in Europe. A third son has just been released from the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, one of four Frenchmen handed over to the French authorities this week.

The family's journey from yearning immigrants to alleged Islamic militants - accused of harboring a makeshift laboratory in their suburban Lyon apartment, where one son was said to have been trying to make biological and chemical bombs - is an extreme but still emblematic manifestation of a quiet crisis spreading through Europe's growing Arab underclass.

So do you want to try to tell me that poor baby Mourad is just some innocent caught up in forces beyond his control? And given the extent of this family's involvement as foot-soldiers in the Jihadi War of Terror (as opposed to the West's War on Terror), do you put it past Mourad Benchellali to lie about his experiences at Gitmo in order to gain a propaganda victory?

Now as Sachi points out, the editors of the New York Times didn't bother telling their readers that this op/ed piece was written by a man that the paper had identified by the paper as a part of the web of jihadi terror less than two years ago. They didn't tell their readers that most of the family is somehow involved. And they didn't tell folks that one of the major witnesses agains the family is Mourad Benchellali's OWN MOTHER. I guess such details are irrelevant when they might reflect poorly on the anti-American slant of their pet jihadi -- and their editorial policy.

I'm curious -- did the NY Times publish op/eds by Nazis during WWII?

ADDENDUM: Sachi offers a big tip of the hat to John Noonan of News Busters. I think the first comment on the article raises a point that answers itself.

Let's see, I hope they give their own countrymen the opportunity to opine - like the Marines involved with the Haditha incident, or Karl Rove, or Scotter Libby, or perhaps Ann Coulter.....


OPEN TRACKBACKING TO: Conservative Cat, Samantha Burns, Stuck On Stupid, Bacon Bits, Adam's Blog, Dumb Ox, Lil Duck Duck, Third World County, Blue Star Chronicles, Echo9er, Cigar Intelligence Agency, Stop the ACLU, Wizbang, Gribbit's World, Assorted Babble, Pursuing Holiness





|| Greg, 08:19 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 16, 2006

That Should Be "AntiChrist Church of PC"

The latest attempt to intimidate those who support letting the people speak on homosexual marriage is coming from a faux-church in Florida.

A Florida church launched a campaign this week to identify supporters of a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage by publishing the names and addresses of 400,000 Florida residents in 60 counties.

The Internet campaign by Christ Church of Peace, a nondenominational church in Jacksonville, has been denounced by groups that support a state ballot initiative that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Gary Debusk, pastor of Christ Church of Peace, said the church began the ''Know Thy Neighbor'' effort Monday to encourage dialogue and prevent voter-signature fraud. As the head of a congregation that supports same-sex marriage, Debusk said he also wanted to add a new perspective to a debate that he said has been dominated largely by religious conservatives. ''It's time for another voice that is Christian to be heard,'' he said.

The problem is that their voice is not a Christian one -- it speaks in a manner that is antithetical to the clear message of the bible.

And I do like this point, made by supporters of traditional marriage.

Christian groups such as the Fort Lauderdale-based Center for Reclaiming America and the Florida Family Policy Council have denounced the Web site as a misguided effort to intimidate activists.

''It's a gross invasion of people's privacy,'' said John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council, an offshoot of James Dobson's national Christian conservative group Focus on the Family.

Stemberger argued that, if Christian conservatives published the names and addresses of gay-rights activists, they would likely be condemned as hatemongers.

''A lot of people would be outraged and say it's a hateful, un-Christian gesture,'' he said.

I'd have to agree -- and would like to remind folks that the Klan and other groups sought public records back in teh 1950s and 1960s so that folks could "Know Thy Neighbor" if they were supporters of the civil rights movement. Such methods are not designed to foster dialogue -- they are designed to intimidate, harrass, and target those with whom the sponsors disagree.





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

Cowardly Dems

Looks like they were all against the war in Iraq -- until, when offered a chance to do something about it, the were for it.

Bravo to Investor's Business Daily for calling them on it.

Democrats have relentlessly called, or implied their support, for a pullout. But when they get a chance to bring troops home, they don't back up the talk. Perhaps they should sit out the rest of the war in silence.

Democratic senators had their first chance last week to force the administration to surrender, uh, pull the troops from Iraq. The Senate considered a resolution Thursday that would have brought U.S. soldiers home by the end of the year.

The debate was described by one reporter as "bitter and sometimes raucous." This might make one think that, in a Senate that is nearly evenly split between the parties, the vote would be close.

The result? By a 93-6 margin, the idea was rejected. So much for all the fuss.

The six votes in favor of withdrawal were, of course, cast by Democrats. But a large majority of Senate Democrats — 37 of them — are forever on the record as voting to keep U.S. troops in Iraq.

What happened to all the heated rhetoric about the war being a blunder and the need to retreat from the "quagmire"? Is it confined to those six who supported a pullout: Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Barbara Boxer of California, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Tom Harkin of Iowa?

Maybe real Democratic opposition to the war is found only in the House, where on Friday congressmen voted to stay in Iraq by a margin of 256-153. All but four of those "nay" votes came from Democrats.

Yet 42 Democrats supported it along with 214 Republicans. As pundit Robert Novak noted, that's a significant defection for a party in an election year. The observation that Democrats voted based on what they figure will give them their best chances in the upcoming elections is no more cynical than casting a vote for just that reason.

Last fall, House Democrats had a chance to force an immediate pullout from Iraq soon after decorated Vietnam War veteran John Murtha, a Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, began to mouth off about bringing troops home.

But they voted in large numbers against retreat. The final tally was 403-3. Is there a resolution short of one that says the sky is blue that could get so close to having unanimous support in this — seemingly — divided House?

So why must Democrats talk so much about pulling out of Iraq when they refuse to follow through on their rhetoric? Are they so politically reflexive against the Bush war that they can't control their tongues even as they know that staying the course in Iraq is necessary?

The Democrats have muttered about Republicans baiting them with loaded legislation. Thursday's House bill, for instance, included language about winning the war on terror and protecting "freedom from the terrorist adversary." How, they ask, could they vote against that even when they oppose the primary provision of the resolution — the rejection of a forced timetable for a pullout?

Well, Kerry says he is writing his own withdrawal plan legislation that could be introduced this week. We're eager to see what kind of support his bill will get — and which of his Democratic colleagues will actually vote for retreat after voting against it.

The obvious answer to why the Senate Democrats (and 1/5 of the hHouse Democrats) failed to vote their rhetoric -- no courage, no convictions. And as a result, no victory in the fall.





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

Suit Moved To Federal Court

Just got this in the mail a few minutes ago.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 16, 2006 Contact: Gretchen Essell (512) 477-9821

CD 22 Lawsuit Moved to Federal Court

AUSTIN — In response to the frivolous lawsuit filed last week by Democrats regarding the Texas Congressional District 22 race, the Republican Party of Texas has removed the case to federal court.

“Democrats cannot have their cake and eat it too,” said Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tina Benkiser. “If Democrat plaintiff trial lawyers want to raise federal issues under the U.S. Constitution, they cannot then seek to have them decided in the liberal state court of their choice.”

Last week upon receiving public records of Congressman Tom DeLay’s recent move to Virginia, Chairman Benkiser declared DeLay ineligible to run for reelection in Texas on the November general ballot. Two days later, Democrats, as usual, ran to court attempting to win there what they cannot win at the ballot box.

Rather than filing in the correct court, Democrats conveniently chose to file in the liberal 201st District Court in Austin. The state judge granted a temporary restraining order to keep Republicans from following the legal process set forth in the Texas Election Code to replace Congressman DeLay on the November general election ballot.

“Republicans want to ensure that voters in Congressional District 22 are given a choice of candidates in the fall,” said Benkiser. “They deserve a chance for a conservative voice in Congress, and we are confident that they will have one.”

###

Paid for by the Republican Party of Texas
900 Congress Avenue, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78701.
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.

My only question is why the one-week delay?





|| Greg, 03:48 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

From The Deranged Left

Left-winnger Larry Johnson tends to be wrong about . . . well, damn near everything. You know, the potential threat of al-Queda to America, the certainty of a Rove indictment, the heroism and electablity of John Kerry. You know, the utterly erroneous nature of every word from his mouth or his keyboard.

Well, he really went off the deep end in this post.

Karl is a shameless bastard. Small wonder his mother killed herself. Once she discovered what a despicable soul she had spawned she apparently saw no other way out. It would be one thing if his vile tactics were simply mere smears of politicians like Kerry and Murtha. They are big boys and should be able to defend themselves quite ably against this turd.

Johnson has since sent the original words into blogospheric oblivion, but enough others have taken them down that the unexpurgated original will live in infamy.

To Mr. Johnson, I offer this simple message.

Have you no decency, Mr. Johnson? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

We know you have no honesty, based upon your stuffing your initial, even more despicible words down the memory-hole. At least Ann Coulter has the integrity to stand by hers, while you seek to cover up your vile utterances.

Mr. Johnson's evil and cowardice are utterly beyond belief.

(H/T Protein Wisdom)





|| Greg, 12:49 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Jefferson Out? Maybe, Maybe Not

Last night we all heard that the House Democrats had voted to remove Rep. William Jefferson from the powerful House Ways and means Committee. However, that is not the case. The media may present it that way, but are forced to acknowledge the truth once they get into the heart of the story.

Democrats voted last night to strip Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.) of a plum committee assignment while he is embroiled in a federal bribery investigation.

The 99 to 58 vote followed weeks of public and private wrangling, as Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) sought to take a strong election-year stance on ethics, while Jefferson's allies -- mainly fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- protested that he was being singled out for unfair treatment.

Jefferson left immediately after voting and said he would spend the evening considering his next move.

"I'm just going to go to my office," Jefferson said. "I'm just going to wait and see."

Now it sounds like the Democrat Caucus has actually done something about corruption in their midst. But surprise, surprise -- look at the next paragraph.

If he refuses to step aside from the Ways and Means Committee, as urged by the Democratic Caucus, the next step would be a vote on the House floor to remove him from the prestigious committee. Even his allies want to avoid that.

Hold on just one minute. I thought they had stripped Jefferson of the committee assignment. But this clearly indicates that they have done no such thing. Instead, the Democrat Caucus has voted to ASK Jefferson, pretty please with sugar, whipped cream, and a cherry on top, to quit the committee. Jefferson can refuse -- and then it goes to a vote of the whole House, not just the Democrats. It would require the cooperation of the GOP to remove jefferson.

And I hope that they refuse to go along with this attempt by Pelosi & Co. to cover their asses. The Republican leadership should refuse to act on the measure until such time as the House Democrats get their act in order and write some rules that deal with disqualification of members from committee assignements. After all, Rep. Alan Mollohan left the Ethics Committee under a cloud -- but still remains on the even more powerful Appropriations Committee, a position which he has been accused of using to enrich himself and business associates. What standards are the Democrats using to determine which members will be forced off of committees, and which will be permitted to stay? Also, which committees do the Democrats consider exempt from ethical scrutiny, and which require removal?

UPDATE: Well, the full House removed Jefferson from Ways & Means. Shows how much influence I have.





|| Greg, 10:08 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 15, 2006

Stem Cell Solution

Many of us have grave moral concerns about the methods used to harvest fetal stem cells for medical research. The creation of human life in order to snuff it out for purposes of scientific research is both ghoulish and morally repugnant in our eyes. And yet many of us also believe the research itself is of vital importance -- in my case out of a heartfelt desire to see my wife's illness arrested and reversed. Folks like me cling to the hope that research on adult stem cells will produce treatments and cures -- and agonize over the moral questions raised by fetal stem cell research.

And so it is with great joy and hope that I post this information.

Stem cell scientists in the United Kingdom are reporting today a gene discovery that suggests a way to take adult cells back to an embryonic state -- a discovery that could help treat diseases without relying on controversial human embryonic stem cells or cloning.

The ultimate goal would be to use a patient's own cells as the starting material for a new kind of regenerative medicine. But scientists insisted that they will need to use embryonic cells for the foreseeable future to perfect the new techniques.

A team led by Austin Smith at the University of Edinburgh's Institute for Stem Cell Research published the latest results online in the journal Nature. The study used mouse cells to investigate the critical role of one gene in the process by which a stem cell, when fused to a more specialized adult stem cell found in the brain, reprograms the brain cell into a primitive state.

Reprogramming adult cells to give them this core trait of an embryonic stem cell could dramatically reshape both the science and politics of the stem cell field, which is fraught with controversy because the embryonic stem cells require the destruction of human embryos.

For example, reprogramming could make it possible to generate from a patient's skin cells customized cells of other types that had been destroyed by spinal cord injury or diseases such as Parkinson's or diabetes. Self-renewing lines of human cells also might be used to study how genetic diseases come about and how treatments could affect the disease process.

Smith said in an interview that reprogramming could take at least another year of experimental work to be well understood. Yet it no longer seems the deep mystery it was before the latest studies, which reveal the role of a gene known as "nanog."

Smith called nanog "the key gene in the process."

"We thought this was something that would take us a very long time to work out, but now this changes from being a black box to something we can work to understand," he said.

May this research be fruitful and produce results that avoid the moral concerns that current methods raise.

UPDATE: Tammy Bruce writes on this topic here.





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

Knowledge Suppression In Kentucky Schools

Why this issue is even controversial has always been beyond me. And I was frankly pleased to see Kentucky act to ensure that its students learned about a common scholarly practice -- the use of BCE and CE instead of BC and CE by some scholars.

Unfortunately, the best educational practice -- teaching all sides of the issue -- has been unanimously repealed by the State Board of Education.

The state school board, with six new members, on Wednesday changed its answer on a history question that had turned into an emotional religious debate.

The reconfigured board, with six new appointments by Gov. Ernie Fletcher, reversed a decision two months earlier that would have taught students about a new way to describe historic dates traditionally identified as B.C. or A.D.

Those designations carry religious overtones because they stand for Before Christ, and Anno Domini — Latin for "in the year of the Lord."

The board's April 11 decision to adopt curriculum changes that included teaching the designations of B.C.E. for Before Common Era and C.E. or Common Era, had drawn criticism from some activist ministers and religious groups. Some conservative Christians complained the change was an attempt to sterilize a reference to Christ.

"It's part of a larger effort to expunge religious references in our culture," said Martin Cothran, a policy analyst at The Family Foundation, a conservative group based in Lexington. "I think it's not something that's coming from regular people. It's coming from certain other sectors of our society who think that we ought not to talk about religion in our public life."

Frankly, I view Mr. Cothran to be an utter jackass for making such a statement. It is about preparing students for college level work, where they will almost certainly be exposed to scholarly works which use the alternative dating system. Indeed, the areas in which the alternative designations are most likely to be found are scholarly works dealing with Biblical archaeology and scripture studies! Why? Out of respect for the many Jewish scholars (and small number of Muslim scholars) who work in those fields.

I teach the issue in my classroom within the first day or two of the beginning of the school year. I point out that multiple dating systems have existed throughout history and that some are used today. I note that the dating system we use in our society contains an affirmation of faith -- and that an alternative designation is sometimes used by scholars. I also note that the abbreviation may legitimately be rendered as either the "Chrisitan Era" or the "Common Etra", but that either alternative still revolves around the traditional rendering of the date of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. I then ask that they be consistent in their use of one or the other system -- and that my personal choice is the traditional BC/AD, but that either choice is 100% correct. I then move on -- usually to a quick review of longitude and latitude, having spent (at most) 15 minutes on the calendar issue.

This really is not a substantive issue -- I cannot understand the need for state-mandated ignorance of such a minor issue.





|| Greg, 06:51 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Suit Seeks To Enforce Budget Provision Of Texas Constitution

If the legislature won't give us appraisal caps and spending limits, then I guess it is up to private citizens to ask the courts to enforce a proision of the Texas Constitution that has lain dormant ever since it was passed 28 years ago.

A Houston taxpayer group said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that legislative leaders have repeatedly violated a state spending limit in the Texas Constitution.

Edd Hendee, executive director of Citizens Lowering Our Unfair Taxes, sued Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Tom Craddick, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn and the Legislative Budget Board.

"The limitations in the constitution need to be defended against Republican leadership that has fallen intoxicatingly into this habit of spending more money than the constitution allows," said Hendee, a restaurant owner and a KSEV radio talk-show host.

He is asking the court to enforce a provision approved by Texas voters in 1978. The section states that the growth in appropriations shall not exceed the growth in the state's economy.

The lawsuit, filed in Travis County state district court, alleges the Legislative Budget Board has used artificially robust estimates of economic growth to justify high spending limits. The board, made up of Dewhurst, Craddick and other legislative leaders, develops recommendations for state agency appropriations.

Hendee wants a judge to declare the recently passed school finance appropriations unconstitutional. The Legislature spent nearly half of the state's $8.2 billion surplus to cover initial property tax cuts, a teacher pay raise and new high school spending.

CLOUT has been critical of a new state business tax enacted to help pay for property tax cuts.

Now the attack on the school funding plan concerns me, as it could lead to the closure of Texas schools if granted. But I do believe that the proper outcome would be some sort of constraints upon the state spending, in accordance with the state Constitution.

A copy of the suit may be found here.





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

Will Dems Back Withdrawal

Last fall, only three Democrats were willing to go on record in support of the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq -- even as they cheered such a proposal from Cut-'n'-Run Murtha. Now that they are running on a platform of withdrawal, will the Democrats come out and oppose a resolution calling for America to stay the course in Iraq?

Nearly four years after it authorized the use of force in Iraq, the House today will embark on its first extended debate on the war, with Republican leaders daring Democrats to vote against a nonbinding resolution to hold firm on Iraq and the war on terrorism.

In the wake of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death and President Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad, Republican leaders are moving quickly to capitalize on good news and trying to force Democrats on the defensive. Bush continued his own campaign with a morning news conference and a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties, while House leaders strategized on today's 10-hour debate.

A memo from House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) urged House Republican members Tuesday to make the debate "a portrait of contrasts between Republicans and Democrats." After Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was booed this week by liberal activists for her failure to resolutely oppose the war, Republicans hope to present a united front that highlights the fractures in the Democratic Party.

"As a result of our efforts during this debate, Americans will recognize that on the issue of national security, they have a clear choice between a Republican Party aware of the stakes and dedicated to victory, versus a Democratic Party without a coherent national security policy that sheepishly dismisses the challenges America faces in a post-9/11 world," Boehner wrote.

This is a daring strategy -- there are some Republicans who are critical of Administration policy in Iraq. But as a whole, the GOP is uspportive of President Bush and the troops in the field, while the rhetoric of the Democrats has not been. Are they willing to put their money where their moutg is -- especially at a time when they claim their views represent the true feelings of the American people? I bet not -- especially because my conversations with folks indicate that even though frustration witht he Iraq war is common, few people really disagree with the policy.





|| Greg, 05:02 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

CAIR's Priorities

They don't want the US governemt looking too closely at mosques and Islamic groups to find terrorist connections -- but they do want a full investigation of a video of a Marine singing a repulsive song.

A Marine seen in an Internet video singing about killing members

Cpl. Joshua Belile, 23, apologized and said the song was not tied in any way to allegations that Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians in Haditha last year.

"It's a song that I made up and it was nothing more than something supposed to be funny, based off a catchy line of a movie," he said in Wednesday's Daily News of Jacksonville.

In the four-minute video called "Hadji Girl," a singer who appears to be a Marine tells a cheering audience about gunning down members of an Iraqi woman's family after they confront him with automatic weapons.

Maj. Shawn Haney, a Marine spokeswoman, said Wednesday the Marine Corps was looking into the matter. "The video, which was posted anonymously, is clearly inappropriate and contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines," she said in a statement.

Clearly, the song is in poor taste. Arguably, it merits some sort of disciplinary action. But it is not that big a deal -- such musical forays against the enemy have been a part of militry culture probably since at least the time of the Babylonian Empire. The spreading of the song on the internet is unfortunate, but hardly an attrocity that needs serious investigation.

But you wouldn't know that from the response of thes folks.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on the Pentagon and Congress to investigate a music video posted on the Internet that seems to show U.S. Marines cheering a song that glorifies the killing of Iraqi civilians.

CAIR said the four-minute video, called "hadji girl," purports to be a "marine in iraq singing a song about hadji." (A "Hajji" is a person who has made the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but the term has often been used as a pejorative by U.S. troops in Iraq.) The song, posted online in March, tells of a U.S. Marine's encounter with an Iraqi woman. It has been viewed by almost 50,000 people.

Those priorities sem pretty clear -- don't investigate Muslims for terrorism, investigate mean and insensitive words against us.

F





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

Liebernam To Run As Independent?

Call it a sign of the leftward drift of the Democrats -- 2000 Donk Veep Candidate Joe Lieberman is locked in a tight primary race and may run for reelection as an independent.

Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, warily watching his primary challenger advance in the polls, must soon decide whether to start collecting signatures for a possible independent bid this November.

Lieberman's campaign contends that it's focused only on winning the Aug. 8 primary, but the Democrat has not ruled out petitioning his way onto the November ballot as part of a backup plan to secure a fourth term in the Senate.

"I am not going to close out any options," the senator recently told reporters.

Lieberman has until Aug. 9 — the day after the Democratic primary — to collect 7,500 signatures from registered voters to gain a spot on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate.

But any effort to gather signatures before the primary would be a sign of weakness, indicating that Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, fears that he could lose to businessman Ned Lamont. The effort also would rile Democrats who already question Lieberman's party loyalty and his perceived closeness to President Bush.

The senator has been a strong backer of the Iraq war.

Lieberman's opponent is closing in the polls -- liberal bloggers cite a poll that shows the race to be down to a six-point margin between the two candidates. At the same time, polls of general election voters show huge support for Lieberman, with nearly 60% of all voters in Connecticutt backing the incumbent.

What does this development mean for the future of both parties? Are we looking at a fluke, at a realignment of the electorate, or a fluke? Only time will tell.





|| Greg, 04:39 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 14, 2006

MCRI Leader Threatened By BAMN Thug

A police report has been filed by Jennifer Gratz, Executive Director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, alleging she was threatened by a leader of By Any Means Necessary, a pro-racial discrimination organization opposing the MCRI.

An official with the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which is pushing for an end to race-based affirmative action policies, has accused a member of an opposition group of threatening her with a knife.

MCRI Executive Director Jennifer Gratz on Tuesday filed a report with the Detroit Police accusing Luke Massie, national chairman of the activist group By Any Means Necessary, of displaying the knife during a confrontation. She said the incident happened Monday morning outside of a Michigan Civil Rights Commission meeting in the State building on West Grand Boulevard.

Massie contends it didn't happen at all.

"I won't be intimidated," Gratz said today. "It was a clear attempt to threaten and intimidate."

The initial police report, which has been assigned to an investigator, says Gratz told officers Massie had a knife in his right pants pocket and toyed with it, said Detroit Police Sgt. Omar Feliciano.

Gratz said Massie pulled the knife halfway out of his pants but did not draw its blade.

In light of the history of violence by BAMN in an attempt to prevent the people of Michigan from grafting elements of the 1964 Civil Rights Act into the Michigan Constitution, it strikes me that the charge is probably well-founded.





|| Greg, 07:16 PM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

Blog Post Nets Student Semester In Alternative School

Looks like this kid and his parents are going to need to teach his school district a little lesson about the First Amendment and relevant Supreme Court decisions related to the student rights.

In the ongoing attempt to punish a student for blogging (chronicled here and here), the Plainfield School Board "magnanimously" decided not to expel a 17-year-old student for posts on his Xanga site that referenced the Columbine massacre.

Unfortunately, the Board did remove the student from Plainfield South High School for the fall semester and place him in the district's alternative school.

PLAINFIELD — A teen's Internet rants against his high school bought him no less than a semester in an alternative school.

The 17-year-old student claimed in his personal blog site that he felt "threatened" by district staff and that the Columbine killers went on the murderous rampage because they were bullied.

If he follows the rules, he will be able to return back to Plainfield South High School second semester, said his mom who, in an effort to protect her son, didn't want her name used.

The Plainfield School Board "deliberated very carefully and had a very good discussion prior to rendering a decision" Monday night, said Superintendent John Harper, who couldn't comment further on the student disciplinary matter due to state and federal laws.

On Tuesday, a school administrator called the mother with the board's decision. The mother said during the expulsion hearing the school district painted a picture of her son as someone who was dangerous.

In reality, she said he was just venting on his blog site about how he felt when the school disciplined his friends for what they posted on their Xanga sites.

"(School staff) kept saying he wanted people to die. He didn't threaten a single person," she said about the expulsion hearing that lasted about 4½ hours last month.

The mother said her son told the hearing officer, "I did not say I was going to be the Columbine student."

She claimed what her son was trying to say was that the school would upset the wrong person and they would have another Columbine on their hands. However, the school staff told her that is not how they interpreted it, she said.

She feels that the board's decision is unfair.

"This is wrong. He did not threaten anyone. It was written from a home computer on home time," she said. "He didn't mention anyone's name. He didn't mention the school. He never made a direct threat."

Carl Buck, the student's attorney, did not return phone calls. But last month, he said the district was taking away the student's education for exercising his freedom of speech.

Now I cannot help but be troubled by this development, even though the board did not expel the student in question. If allowed to stand, this sets a startling precedent -- that speech on the internet is subject to a lower standard of First Amendment protection than speech in other media. It also allows schools a shocking level of control over students away from school.

Consider this -- the district is considering adopting a policy that reads as follows. I'll look at the current situation in light of its terms, because it seems to indicate teh mindset of the district authorities.

"While the district respects rights to freedom of expression under the First Amendment, students may be disciplined for Web site postings that materially and substantially disrupt the educational process or constitutes threats which endanger the health, safety and well-being of district or staff members."

This policy looks pretty reasonable until you dig into it.

First, it is limited to internet postings. These same words would not have been actionable under this policy had a student spoken them on a talk-radio call, uttered them in a television interview, or had them published in a newspaper or magazine. Were these other media included, there would be outrage on the part of free speech and press advocates around the nation. Indeed, the district would recognize that it was crossing into a constitutional quicksand were it to try to implement such restrictions on other forms of dissemination of such speech. That is why there is the specific limit in the policy. The target is therefore medium -- one which the district finds threatening because it is unfiltered by call-screeners or editors -- and the student is simply a convenient scapegoat.

Secondly, how can the words of a student on a website which cannot be accessed from school and which were posted from home, "materially and substantially disrupt the educational process" absent a bona fide threat or some other school-related nexus (posting test answers or instructions for hacking the district server, etc)? The actions of the school administration makes it abundantly clear that there was no bona fide threat discerned -- they did not contact law enforcement to report the alleged threat, which is would be the standard protocol if there were any reason to believe that the young man was contemplating acts of violence at school.

Third, the idea that these words constitute "threats which endanger the health, safety and well-being of district or staff members" is absurd. Who was threatened? What impact did it have on their well-being? Nobody and none, as demonstrated by the inaction of the school. Had this been a true threat which constituted a problem, the police should have been notified. More importantly, the student should not have been permitted to return to the Plainfield South to attend his regular classes during the last few weeks of the school year if his words or actions constituted a threat to the well-being of any individual. Oh, and I cannot help but notice who the district leaves out of the policy. A threat to the safety and well-being of other studetns is not included in the policy -- so I can only presume that the real "offense" being targetted by the policy is an adolescent failing to show proper respect and deferrence to teachers and administrators outside of school hours. In this case, the offense is a failure to kow-tow to a couple of pompous administrators who sought to regulate off-campus, after-school speech that is beyond the legitimate reach of public officials under the First Amendment.

And therein lies my concern. In the watershed decision on the civil liberties of students, Tinker v. Des Moines, the majority held that students do not shed their civil liberties at the schoolhouse gate. Implicit in this position is the understanding that students do, in fact, have those civil liberties away from school. That notion is meaningless if a school can act to punish a student based upon the exercise of one of those civil liberties away from school and outside of school hours. It is my sincere hope that the student and his family pursue this matter in court, for I believe they have a strong case that will define the parameters of protected student speech on the internet, and the degree to which school authorities may intrude into the after-school activities of students.

I've only encountered one post on the district's decision at this time. McKreck over at Occidentality offers a perspective that is somewhat more sympathetic to the school district, though he agrees that the decision was incorrect.





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

Eeewww!

Even the trashiest of white trash have some standards, in my experience. And those standards appear to be significantly above those of Britney Spears.

Britney Spears' "Eeewww!" factor is apparently on the rise. The pregnant pop tart did more than just pick up a few pink thongs at the Victoria's Secret in Mission Viejo, Calif. According to Us Weekly, she got down on the floor next to the cash register and changed 9-month-old Sean Preston's dirty diaper. "Britney then tried to hand it to an employee," says a source. "The salesperson wouldn't take it."

Speaking for the vast majority of American, I have a quick message for the talentless pop-star.

The world does not revolve around Uranus, honey – or around the anus of any children you see fit to spawn.

Buy some couth, buy some class -- hell, just buy some common sense and common decency.





|| Greg, 04:29 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

More Left-Wing Corruption

Remember George Soros? Well, a French Court has upheld his conviction on insider trading charges.

George Soros's bid to overturn an insider-trading conviction has been rejected by France's highest appeals court, ending the billionaire's fight to erase a legal stain on his 40-year investing career.

The Court of Cassation, the tribunal of last resort in France, ended its review of a March 2005 judgment that Soros broke insider-trading laws when he bought Societe Generale SA shares in 1988 with the knowledge that the bank might be a takeover target. The Hungary-born financier has been fighting the case for 17 years.

``The court did not respond to one of our key arguments concerning the fact that the length of the proceedings didn't allow Mr. Soros to have a fair trial,'' said Ron Soffer, one of Soros's lawyers.

The verdict came as the 75-year-old former financier turned his attention from his investing career to political and charitable activities. Soros had been ordered to pay back 2.2 million euros ($2.8 million) in gains. That amount will now be reviewed, Soffer said.

The 2005 Paris appeals court ruling upheld a 2002 conviction by a first-instance tribunal. The judges rejected Soros's contention that he didn't consider the information that led him to buy Societe Generale shares to be confidential. The French government sold Societe Generale in June 1987 at 407 French francs a share. A year later, after a stock market crash, the shares had fallen to 260 francs.

I wonder – will the final adjudication of this financial scandal lead Democrats and other American Leftists to return donations from Soros and organizations under his control? Or will such disassociation from financial corruption be considered inappropriate by Democrats – though they would scream from it if the case involved a Republican donor?





|| Greg, 04:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

But They Claim To Be For Free Markets

The AMA is at it again – and your doctor may be looking to pick your pocket, or have the government do it.

Millions of upper-income Americans refuse to buy health insurance because they're young and healthy and figure they don't need it.

But now the American Medical Association wants to force them to buy coverage.

At its annual meeting in Chicago on Tuesday, the nation's largest doctors' group called for mandatory health insurance for anyone who makes more than five times the poverty level. That works out to $49,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a family of four.

No one would go to jail for refusing to buy coverage. The AMA instead suggested using the tax code to force compliance. There would be incentives such as tax credits for people who buy insurance and higher taxes for those who don't.

Of the 46 million uninsured Americans, about 5 million, or 11 percent, make more than five times the poverty level. The AMA said these people burden the health care system when they incur catastrophic medical bills they can't afford to pay. The cost gets passed on to those who largely pay for the health care system: taxpayers, employers and the insured.

"Society should not be penalized by the potential costly medical treatments of those uninsured who can afford to purchase health insurance coverage," an AMA report said.

Now I think it is stupid not to have health insurance. I cannot imagine doing without, but I understand that others may decide differently. That is a case of the free market at work. And we all know that mandatory health insurance will push prices higher, as companies have less incentive to compete for business.

On the other hand, the AMA doesn’t want to take any action here.

Delegates defeated a resolution calling for price controls on prescription drugs.

Supporters of the resolution said drug companies make "excessive profits" and pay millions of dollars in salaries and perks to executives. Price controls would make drugs more affordable, they said.

But opponents said price controls would violate the AMA's long-standing support of free-market competition.

After all, that might cut the freebies that doctors get from those drug companies. That must be the free market they are concerned about.





|| Greg, 04:26 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Michigan Democrats: Affirmative Action A Must – Except For Us

This column certainly should open some eyes about the “low Negro tolerance” of the Democrat Party in Michigan.

Some Democrats in Michigan have a distorted view of affirmative action. It's one thing to advocate giving minorities an opportunity. It's another thing to actually practice it.

Just recently some hard-core members of the party told me that any opposition to Gov. Jennifer Granholm in November is also a vote for the anti-affirmative action ballot measure known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.

In other words, Democrats are the only people who support equal rights for people of color in Michigan. I don't think so.

I mean, let’s look at the Michigan Democrats, aside from a few black officials from safe districts.

The Democratic Party is probably the biggest hypocrite when it comes to giving African-Americans opportunities to develop politically.

Let's look at its track record in Michigan. When Granholm came into office, she tried to appoint Melvin Butch Hollowell as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Michigan. Guess what? Mark Brewer, backed by the United Auto Workers, refused to step aside. Hollowell was given a title of co-chair with no power. Brewer controlled the finances and all of the hirings.

How many African-Americans and other people of color hold positions of power in the Michigan Democratic Party? How many black consultant firms has Brewer hired? I am not talking about subcontracting jobs. When was the last time we've seen a black campaign manager managing a Democratic candidate for statewide office in Michigan? Never.

What's makes Granholm campaign manager Howard Edelson qualified for the job? I know at least five African-American political strategists who have more experience and are more battle-tested. They weren't even consulted or asked to apply. What job do blacks occupy every election for the Democratic Party? Let me see. Hmmmm, field coordinator.

A few months ago, a well-known African-American Democrat asked the governor about the attorney general position. She told him to run for secretary of state. Is that the only statewide position that blacks can run for as a Democrat? Until African-American voters break the cycle of dependency, we will continue to be an afterthought.

It is the Democrats who gladly let blacks onto the lowest rung of the ladder – and then keep them there. But when well-qualified black conservatives are raised tohigh office by Republicans, we ehar about tokenism and how such folks are not “really” black – and the term “Uncle Tom” gets trotted out soon afterward.

Republicans freed the slaves. Republicans were responsible for the passage of most civil rights legislation in this country’s history. And Republicans continue to seek to put forward well-qualified African –American candidates for office, while Democrats play Jim Crow games.

So would someone explain to me why the party that has always promoted slavery, segregation, and racial division is seen as the friend of African Americans?





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

Terrorists Found In Domestic Muslim Communities

But US Muslims are still complaining that law enforcement dares to give their communities heightened scrutiny, even though there are terrorist groups within.

U.S. intelligence and law enforcement authorities are discovering new home-grown cells of Islamist radicals in the United States that draw inspiration and moral support from al Qaeda, officials said on Tuesday.

Like local terrorism cells that have recently come to light in Canada and Europe, officials said the groups are comprised of disaffected young men in their teens and 20s who rely on the Internet to try to organize and plan potential attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Concern about attacks inside the United States gathered pace after the arrest earlier this month in Canada of 17 men -- all Canadian citizens or residents -- accused of planning al Qaeda-inspired attacks across densely populated southern Ontario.

Scott Redd, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a written statement to the Senate that the emergence of home-grown terrorist groups is posing "real challenges" for U.S. authorities despite law enforcement successes at disrupting potential attacks.

"We are grappling with a whole new set of questions: what forces give rise to this violent ideology in immigrant communities that may appear otherwise to be quite well assimilated? ... What signs should we be looking for to try to draw early warning of potential problems?" the statement said.

In later oral testimony, Redd said home-grown cells were a new domestic phenomenon for which the FBI and law enforcement agencies had no "baseline" for measuring the scale of the problem.

Redd declined to discuss details with senators in public but cited recent arrests of terrorism suspects in California and Georgia.

"That's three in a little over a year, and there are obviously other investigations ongoing," Redd told the committee.

The problem seems to be endemic to the Muslim community. That is not a statement based upon hate or bias -- it is based upon the facts that are presenting themselves. That means there is an obvious need to give greater scrutiny to and devote more resourses to investigating Muslim individuals and groups.

These terrorist cells are not appearing at St. Bridget's Catholic Church, Beth Israel Synagogue, or the local Hindu orBuddhist temples. They are being found in mosques and other Muslim groups. They are generally composed of young Muslim men. So lets look at those most likely to be terrorists, and do so openly and unapologetically.

And if the Muslim community wants the heightened scrutiny to stop, they can drop a dime on each and every individual who they see exhibiting the militant tendencies that are signs of potential involvement in such activities. And if they cannot bring themselves to do that, then they had better get used to heightened scrutiny of every Muslim.

After all, we are in a fight for national and cultural survival. This is no time to worry about the sensitivities of those whose communities are rife with terrorists.





|| Greg, 05:09 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

This Makes Me Angry

The number is astounding -- $1.4 billion in fraud related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and was hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.

Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Agents from the investigative arm of Congress went undercover to expose the ease of receiving disaster expense checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The GAO concluded that as much as 16 percent of the billions of dollars in FEMA aid to individuals after the two hurricanes was unwarranted.

The findings are detailed in testimony that is scheduled to be delivered at a hearing today by the House Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations.

To dramatize the problem, the GAO provided lawmakers with a copy of a $2,358 U.S. Treasury check for rental assistance that an undercover agent got using a bogus address. The money was paid even after FEMA learned from its inspector that the undercover applicant did not live at the address.

"This is an assault on the American taxpayer," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the subcommittee that will conduct the hearing. "Prosecutors from the federal level down should be looking at prosecuting these crimes and putting the criminals who committed them in jail for a long time."

It also pisses me off. Many folks impacted by the hurricanes who were insured and/or who applied for FEMA money following the hurricanes were denied compensation for damages that were considered to be not serious enough to meet the requirements for assistance, even if those expenses were in the $2000-3000 range. In the mean time, government debit cards for those amounts were being issued so that folks could go to strip clubs or buy designer clothes. It seems to me that such disaster programs need to be fixed.





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

Winds Of Change Blowing in Southern Baptist Convention?

A contested race for president and an upset victory by a relative outsider. What will it signify?

The Southern Baptist Convention elected Frank Page its new president Tuesday, choosing a pastor who had said that it would take a "miracle" for him to win and heralding a new direction for the denomination.

Page's surprising win over two higher-profile candidates follows years of tightly scripted politics and intolerance for internal dissent. He called his victory evidence that Southern Baptists believe "we could do together a lot more and a lot better than what we can do separately."

"I'm a little taken aback by this," Page said. "Because I have not been known across the nation, ... I truly believe (the election) is God's people saying we want to see broadened involvement."

Winning just over 50 percent of the vote on the first ballot, Page bested Ronnie Floyd, a megachurch pastor from Springdale, Ark., and Jerry Sutton, pastor at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., and currently the SBC's first vice president.

The 53-year-old Page is pastor at First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., a small, upstate community north of Greenville. During his campaign, he emphasized the importance of giving to the Southern Baptists' cooperative program, in which autonomous congregations pool money to fund overseas and domestic missions. That seemed to strike a chord with delegates to the SBC's annual meeting.

In the years since moderates stopped participating in SBC politics, candidates for the SBC presidency have typically run unopposed or faced only token opposition. But this year, concerns about stagnating memberships, declining baptism rates and the future of the cooperative program led to the first contested presidential race in recent memory.

Johnny Hunt, a pastor from Woodstock, Ga., was the leadership's choice for president but unexpectedly dropped out of the race in late April. He was replaced by Floyd, head of the First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., and the nearby Church at Pinnacle Hills.

Then Page entered the race, leading a group that criticized the low levels of cooperative program giving at Floyd's churches. Page's church, by contrast, gives 12 percent of its undesignated offerings to the program.

Many smaller Southern Baptist congregations see the cooperative program as a crucial collective effort for the denomination and the best way for them to carry out influential missionary and evangelistic work.

Rallying around Page were a group of younger pastors and others who have felt marginalized by an older generation that led the conservative takeover of the SBC in the 1970s and 1980s. Some have dissented on theological issues like whether strict Calvinists and charismatic Christians should be welcome in the denomination, while at least one has been reprimanded for airing concerns on his Internet blog.

The fundamentalist takeover that happened three decades ago revitalized the SBC, but created serious rifts within the denomination. Will this upset victory be the beginning of a new direction for the largest Protestant group in the United States, or will it merely be a brief interlude between traditionalist leaders?





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Infernal Bridegroom In NY Times

Before my Darling Democrat got sick, she and I used to volunteer as ushers at Stages Theater in Houston. One of the highlights was the annual "Tamalalia" show put on by a local theater troupe, "Infernal Bridegroom Productions". Imagine my surprise to find them featured on the homepage of the New York Times this morning.

HOUSTON, June 13 — The punk-rock club where Infernal Bridegroom Productions stages its shows is in a rough neighborhood, far from this city's velvet-curtained theater district. So it is not surprising that the troupe's latest offering, "Speeding Motorcycle," is equally far from some of the traditional fare offered at the city's more conventional sites.

An original rock opera, "Speeding Motorcycle" consists entirely of songs by Daniel Johnston, a musician and artist whose childlike and hallucinatory work chronicles his mental illness.

"We have stranger tastes than the norm," said Anthony Barilla, Infernal Bridegroom's artistic director. The company's founder, Jason Nodler, wrote and directed "Speeding Motorcycle," which features several actors playing the role of Joe Boxer, a man who has lost his mind after being rejected by the woman he loves. Flat-top, plasticine headgear gives the impression that the crowns of their heads have been chopped off, leaving a black, felt-lined nothingness inside. Captain America and Casper the Friendly Ghost make cameo appearances. The score, meanwhile, ricochets from toe-tapping, feel-good songs to discordant, despairing dirges, a reflection of Mr. Johnston's bipolar disorder.

This unusual production has won over critics. Everett Evans wrote in The Houston Chronicle last week that " 'Speeding Motorcycle' should be the cult hit of Houston's summer."

I've not seen this show, but i will tell you that the productions put on by this group are always entertaining if. . . unusual. So if you find yourself in Houston, i encourage you to look them up and get tickets to "Speeding Motorcycle", or whatever production they are doing when you are here. You will not be disappointed.





|| Greg, 04:41 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 13, 2006

Operation Valour-IT

Some time back, I blogged about Operation Valour-IT, which was a project to supply our wounded servicemen and women with specialized laptops to enable them to access the internet and other technology that you and I take for granted.

Well, the initial goals have been met, but the kitty needs to be refilled.

Please help if you can.

H/T Truth Laid Bear & Jawa Report -- and all these fine establishments.





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Howard Dean: I’m God

How else can you respond to an assertion of omniscience like this?

'If Karl Rove had been indicted it would have been for perjury. That does not excuse his real sin which is leaking the name of an intelligence operative during the time of war. He doesn't belong in the White House. If the President valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, then Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago. So I think this is probably good news for the White House, but its not very good news for America'...

So, unless Dean is admitting to receiving illegally leaked grand jury testimony, we can only conclude that he is claiming to be divinely omniscient. After all, how can Dean know what indictments might have been handed down? How can he know the state of Karl Rove’s souls and what sins he has committed?

And in light of this, I’d like to know when the “separation of church and state” folks will be filing suit to have this deity removed from any position of influence in the Democrat Party?

Click these for more on the scandal that wasn't.





|| Greg, 03:15 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Sex Discrimination At Harvard?

Are these grants really for women and minorities only?

Harvard University will expand child-care and academic grants to support female and minority faculty and staff as they climb the ladder at the prestigious school, university officials plan to announce today.

The plan outlines the first steps that Harvard will take to spend the more than $50 million that president Lawrence H. Summers pledged about a year ago to improve the climate for women on campus. Summers caused a furor last year by speculating about women's aptitude for science. That episode, coupled with complaints about his management style, led to his resignation, effective June 30.

The episode also led to two task forces, a flurry of recommendations, and a new position, a senior vice provost for faculty development and diversity. The office of Evelynn M. Hammonds will release its first annual report today.

Hammonds said in a telephone interview yesterday that Harvard will spend $7.5 million on child care and grants to help faculty and staff meet the demands of work and family.

Sounds to me like unequal treatment creating a hostile environment and unequal playing field based upon race and gender.





|| Greg, 03:14 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

I’d Surely Like This Explained

An Israeli court has granted permission for the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin to have a child with his wife through artificial insemination.

Personally, I don’t think such terrorist pigs (and Yigal Amir is every bit the terrorist al-Zarqawi was) should be permitted to pass on their foul genetic code, but that isn’t the why I’m writing. Instead, I want to know about this curious claim made by Amir regarding his role in a plot to smuggle sperm out of his prison so that his wife could become pregnant.

In March, Amir was sentenced to 30 days without any visitors and 14 days without telephone calls and fined NIS 100 after prison officers caught him trying to smuggle sperm samples to his wife.

The Israel Prison Service had already said that in principle it would allow Amir and Trimbobler to have a child by artificial insemination, although it twice warned him not to give samples before the process had been arranged.

After Amir had denied participating in the smuggling attempt, the Prisons Authority showed him tapes from jail security cameras that clearly documented the incident. Upon seeing the tapes, Amir withdrew his request for the second hearing.

Denied participating in the smuggling attempt. Then where did the. . . uhhhh. . . sample come from? That is a purely academic question on my part – I have no interest in seeing whatever is on the tapes that “documented the incident.”





|| Greg, 03:12 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Let Me Suggest A Difference

Of all the absurd historical analogies offered by jihadi terrorists and their supporters, this one from jihad-apologist Tariq Ramadan takes the cake.

A LEADING Muslim scholar yesterday said anti-Islamic feeling in Europe was beginning to resemble anti-Semitism prior to the Second World War. "My feeling is that what we heard in the 1920s and 1930s about the Jews is coming back about the Muslims," said Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss academic who heads the European Muslim Network.

Professor Ramadan made headlines after authorities in the United States cited security reasons for revoking a visa to travel there in 2004.

He is a critic of the US role in Iraq, but says he is a moderate who opposes terrorism and does not support Islamic extremism.

Well yes, professor, the two situations are exactly the same. After all, there were Jews worldwide strapping on suicide belts and murdering innocents in the name of their violent death-cult.

Oh, wait – no there weren’t.

I guess that makes anti-Semitism an irrational hatred, while anti-Islamic views are a rational response to the attempt to destroy western civilization undertaken by the jihadi swine you support with such nonsense.





|| Greg, 03:11 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Dems Support Indicted Donors

One more indicator of the extent of the Democrat culture of corruption.

The embattled securities class-action law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman received some political backing last week with the release of a statement signed by four Democrats from the House of Representatives condemning last month's indictment in Los Angeles of the firm on criminal charges.


"The Justice Department's crusade against trial lawyers, the first line in the average citizen's protection against corporate greed, has taken a new low in the indictment of an entire leading law firm in the plaintiffs' bar," said the statement.


The statement was signed by three representatives from New York - Charles Rangel, Carolyn McCarthy and Gary Ackerman - and Robert Wexler from Florida. One of the founders of the law firm, Melvyn Weiss, is a high-profile fund-raiser for the Democratic Party.

The Dems are are clearly behind these class-action crooks. And it is, of course, the usual liberal suspects.





|| Greg, 03:10 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

And The Donks Say We Have A Weak Economy

Just last week, the Democrats beat back the repeal of the death tax by claiming that we needed the revenue. They like to tell us that the economy is weak – and that the weakness is due to GOP policies.

If that is true, explain these statistics.

The CBO forecast in May that the 2006 deficit could fall as low as $300 billion. Michael Englund, chief economist of Action Economics, has long expected a deficit of about $270 billion this year. Now he thinks there's a chance the "remarkable strength in receipts" will push the deficit even lower.

With the economy topping $13 trillion this year, a $270 billion deficit would equal less than 2.1% of GDP, easily beating the president's 2.25% goal. Bush made his vow when the White House had a dour 2004 deficit forecast of 4.5% of GDP, or $521 billion. The actual '04 deficit came in at $412 billion, or 3.5% of GDP, before falling to $318 billion, or 2.6% of GDP, in 2005.

A CBO analysis last week noted that withheld individual income and payroll taxes are up 7.6% from a year ago, with the gains picking up in recent months.

Not only that, but the richest Americans are paying an ever-increasing share of taxes.

Those making over $200,000 now pay 46.6% of total income taxes, presidential adviser Karl Rove recently said. That's up from 40.5% — despite Bush's tax cuts.

The result is that President Bush may meet the goal of reducing the post-9/11 budget deficit to $150 billion this year – ahead of his promised FY 2009 target.





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What Do You Think?

Someone posted a comment that contains identifying information about the accuser in the Duke Rape Case.

I'm not a fan of rape shield laws, as I believe they stigmatize those accused without subjecting the accuser to the same sort of public scrutiny that the accused must face. But at the same time, I have some concerns about the sort of information that was posted.

So, folks, what do you think -- should it stay or should it go?





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

Will The Flag Amendment Pass?

Personally, I oppose the passage of an amendment to the Constitution banning flag-burning. I consider it to be a case of using a Trident missle to kill a mosquito. But that said, I am not at all troubled by the possibility that it may finally get enough votes to go to the states for possible ratification.

Sometime between now and the Fourth of July, the Senate plans to revisit what over the course of 17 years has become a seasonal rite of patriotism on Capitol Hill: a vote on whether to amend the Constitution to ban protesters from burning the American flag.

Each time, the arguments on both sides are passionate. Each time, the support needed to move ahead with an amendment falls short.

But this year could be different, as two important trends cross paths.

For one, proponents of the amendment appear to have more support than ever in the Senate. They say they are within one vote of the two-thirds majority they need. The House already has backed the amendment. A majority of Americans say they support a flag amendment, and over time all 50 states have passed some form of resolution urging Congress to act.

"We believe once the amendment moves off of Capitol Hill it will be the swiftest-ratified amendment in the history of the nation," said Marty Justis of Indianapolis, a Navy veteran and executive director of the Citizens' Flag Alliance, which for years has led the campaign. He and other supporters will be back on Capitol Hill on Wednesday -- Flag Day -- trying to round up and lock in support.

At the same time, some polling indicates Americans' once-robust support for a flag amendment is waning and could be tough to recapture for many years if it slips below 50 percent. That has amendment opponents -- a mix of liberals, free-speech activists and conservatives who believe the Constitution should never or almost never be amended -- determined to stave off Senate passage.

"This is very generational -- basically, if this doesn't pass the next Congress or two, it's a dying issue," said Terri Ann Schroeder, a senior lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the amendment as an infringement on free speech.

There has been a call for this amendment for many years. It has strong support. Let's see what the states do with it, in response to the will of the people. I'll be out campaigning against it. But if it passes, it will be in response to the will of the American people -- and that is not a bad thing, in my book.





|| Greg, 05:16 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

More Confirmation Of Bible Through Archaeology

It used to be an article of faith among the all-knowing doubters of Scripture that the story of Uriah the Hittite was proof of the errancy of the Bible. After all, they said, the Hittites did not exist. Until archaeologists discovered the Hittite Empire in Turkey.

Now we find another proof of a civilization that doubters claimed did not exist -- an organized Edomite society in the Holly Land itself.

In biblical lore, Edom was the implacable adversary and menacing neighbor of the Israelites. The Edomites lived south of the Dead Sea and east of the desolate rift valley known as Wadi Arabah, and from time to time they had to be dealt with by force, notably by the likes of Kings David and Solomon.

Today, the Edomites are again in the thick of combat — of the scholarly kind. The conflict is heated and protracted, as is often the case with issues related to the reliability of the Bible as history.

Chronology is at the crux of the debate. Exactly when did the nomadic tribes of Edom become an organized society with the might to threaten Israel? Were David and Solomon really kings of a state with growing power in the 10th century B.C.? Had writers of the Bible magnified the stature of the two societies at such an early time in history?

An international team of archaeologists has recorded radiocarbon dates that they say show the tribes of Edom may have indeed come together in a cohesive society as early as the 12th century B.C., certainly by the 10th. The evidence was found in the ruins of a large copper-processing center and fortress at Khirbat en-Nahas, in the lowlands of what was Edom and is now part of Jordan.

Thomas E. Levy, a leader of the excavations, said in an interview last week that the findings there and at abandoned mines elsewhere in the region demonstrated that the Edomites had developed a complex state much earlier than previously thought.

Dr. Levy, an archaeologist at the University of California, San Diego, said the research had yielded not only the first high-precision dates in the region, but also such telling artifacts as scarabs, ceramics, metal arrowheads, hammers, grinding stones and slag heaps. Radiocarbon analysis of charred wood, grain and fruit in several sediment layers revealed two major phases of copper processing, first in the 12th and 11th centuries, later in the 10th and 9th.

Khirbat en-Nahas is 30 miles from the Dead Sea and 30 miles north of Petra, Jordan's most famous archaeological site. The name means "ruins of copper" in Arabic. One of the first ancient occupation sites in the Edomite lowlands to be intensively investigated, the ruins of its buildings and grounds spread over 24 acres, and the fortifications enclose an area 240 by 240 feet.

"Only a complex society such as a paramount chiefdom or primitive kingdom would have the organizational know-how to produce copper metal on such an industrial scale," Dr. Levy concluded.

Now I will be the first to concede that the archaeological evidence does not prove scrptural inspiration or inerrancy -- but it does show once again that the Bible provides a faithful testimony to historical facts.





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

No Charges For Rove

Looks like Fitzmas hasw bee cancelled, Lefties!

The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.

The decision by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, announced in a letter to Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, lifted a pall that had hung over Mr. Rove who testified on five occasions to a federal grand jury about his involvement in the disclosure of an intelligence officer's identity.

In a statement, Mr. Luskin said, "On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove."

Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, said he would not comment on Mr. Rove's status.

For months Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation appeared to threaten Mr. Rove's standing as Mr. Bush's closest political adviser as the prosecutor riveted his focus on whether Mr. Rove tried to intentionally conceal a conversation he had with a Time magazine reporter in the week before the name of intelligence officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, became public.

The decision not to pursue any charges removes a potential political stumbling block for a White House that is heading into a long and difficult election season for Republicans in Congress.

In other words, all this investigation and only one peripheral indictment that does not deal with the actual leak of information. And you morons complained about the Clinton investigations by Ken Starr, which produced many indictments and saw Clinton cutting a deal to avoid prosecution.

So tell me -- when will we get an investigation and prosecution of Joe Wilson for his lies about his trip to Niger and his perjury before Congress?

Click these for more on the scandal that wasn't.





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Newdow Suit Shot Down

Michael Newdow, the militant atheist, has lost a round in court regarding the use of the motto "In God We Trust" on our coinage.

A federal judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit from an atheist who said having the phrase "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins and dollar bills violated his First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. said the minted words amounted to a secular national slogan that did not trample on Michael Newdow's avowed religious views.

Newdow, a Sacramento doctor and lawyer, also is engaged in an ongoing effort to have the Pledge of Allegiance banned from public schools because it contains the words "under God."

* * *

Newdow's "In God We Trust" lawsuit targeted Congress and several federal officials, claiming that by making money with the phrase on it the government was establishing a religion in violation of the First Amendment clause requiring separation of church and state.

The phrase "excludes people who don't believe in God," he claimed.

Damrell disagreed, citing a 9th Circuit decision from 1970 that concluded the four words were a national motto that had "nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion."

Newdow said Monday he would appeal.

Now this should be interesting -- the Ninth Circuit will have to overturn its own precedent to decide in his favor. Not that such an outcome is inconceivable, given the overturning of long-standing precedents by other courts to reach decisions favorable to consensual sodomy, homosexual marriage, and other pet notions of the Left. This will end up in the Supreme Court -- and if previous precedents hold, Newdow and his suit wil get rejecected.

MORE AT Right on the Left Coast, Stop the ACLU





|| Greg, 04:55 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 12, 2006

Big Ben Banged-Up Badly

Personally, I consider anyone who doesn't wear a helmet on a motorcycle to be an idiot. And when you make the money that Ben Roethlisberger does, one would hope that he would have the sense not to take the chances involved in riding one with a bare head -- and that the Steelers would have included a helment requirement/motorcycle ban in his contract.

That is what makes this accident particularly nonsensical.

Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger, the youngest quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl championship, broke his jaw and nose in a motorcycle crash Monday in which he was not wearing a helmet.

Roethlisberger was in serious but stable condition, Dr. Larry Jones, chief of trauma at Mercy Hospital said before surgery.

The player's agent, Leigh Steinberg, described the injuries to The Associated Press and said he did not know if there was further damage.

"He was talking to me before he left for the operating room," Jones said. "He's coherent. He's making sense. He knows what happened. He knows where he is. From that standpoint, he's very stable."

Roethlisberger's mother, Brenda, was crying as she arrived at the hospital.

That's a damn scary thing for anyone, but especially for a franchise player like Roethliaberger. Fortunately, early reports are encouraging.

The accident itself sounds horrifying.

Roethlisberger was on his black 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa -- the company calls it the world's fastest bike for legal street riding _ and heading toward an intersection on the edge of downtown. A Chrysler New Yorker traveling in the opposite direction took a left turn and collided with the motorcycle, and Roethlisberger was thrown, police said.

The other car was driven by a 62-year-old woman, police said. They didn't immediately release her name and no charges were filed.

Witness Sandra Ford was waiting at a bus stop when she said she saw the motorcycle approach. Seconds later, she said she heard a crash, saw the motorcyclist in the air and ran toward the crash scene.

"He wasn't moving and I was afraid that he had died. ... He wasn't really speaking. He seemed dazed but he was resisting the effort to make him stay down," said Ford, who didn't realize the motorcyclist was Roethlisberger.

Ben, I may be a Houston Texans fan -- but I wish you well. Recover quickly and completely.





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Armor A Net Negative?

One of the local radio stations ran a fundraising drive to supply parts to armor Humvees in Iraq. Well guess what -- the armor may have done as much (if not more) harm as good.

Thousands of pounds of armor added to military Humvees, intended to protect U.S. troops, have made the vehicles more likely to roll over, killing and injuring soldiers in Iraq, a newspaper reported.

"I believe the up-armoring has caused more deaths than it has saved," said Scott Badenoch, a former Delphi Corp. vehicle dynamics expert told the Dayton Daily News for Sunday editions.

Since the start of the war, Congress and the Army have spent tens of millions of dollars on armor for the Humvee fleet in Iraq, the newspaper reported Sunday.

That armor -- much of it installed on the M1114 Humvee built at the Armor Holdings Inc. plant north of Cincinnati, Ohio -- has shielded soldiers from harm.

But serious accidents involving the M1114 have increased as the war has progressed, and the accidents were much more likely to be rollovers than those of other Humvee models, the newspaper reported.

Do we need to replace this workhorse of the US military with a more stable platform?





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What Is The Impact Of FMA Failure?

I'm hearing a lot -- especially, though not exclusively, from pundits opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment -- that religious conservatives are not merely disappointed in the failure of the FMA to pass, but are angry at the White House and the GOP leadership for not placing a higher priority on promoting the amendment.

Take this example.

Last week's Senate vote on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage—along with President Bush's televised endorsement of the measure—were seen as part of a Republican campaign to mollify its restive conservative base before the midterm elections. But for many conservative Christian activists, the White House did not do enough to build support for the Marriage Protection Amendment, either in the Senate or in the public, before it ultimately failed last week.

Some conservatives say they're puzzled by Bush, who appears genuinely enthusiastic about the issue in his public statements but has nonetheless treated it as a low priority in his second term. "The president gave great comments the other day," says Tom McClusky, chief lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a top conservative advocacy group. "Yet if he truly believed the [gay marriage] threat is there, we are disappointed that he did not do more or even equal to what he did last time."

That is all true, but not very realistic, from where I sit. The reality is that the situation today is very different from two years ago, and the president simply lacks the political capital to spend on an amendment that was doomed to fail in Congress. Scandal, dissension, Katrina, gas prices and the prolonged War on Terror have sapped the popularity of George W. Bush, and there are simply more pressing issues to fight. What's more, I believe that religious conservatives (I'm not one, though I am both conservative and religious) are implicitly aware of this situation, even if some of their leaders have a tunnel vision focussed on social issues.

Take James Dobson as an example.

While publicly praising Bush for supporting the amendment, conservative evangelical activists have also vented frustrations. In a radio interview last week with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson asked what the president was doing to win support for the amendment, which required a two-thirds majority to pass the Senate. "Is he working the hill?" Dobson inquired. "Is he calling?"

When Snow responded that he didn't know, Dobson cut him off. "That's unfortunate," he snapped. "Because when Lyndon Johnson wanted the civil rights legislation, he didn't have the votes...and he made it happen.... He used the bully pulpit to make it happen. President Bush has not done that yet."

What Dobson overlooks is that Johnson had something that Bush does not -- a loyal opposition that was, in fact, more supportive of his position on civil rights than Johnson's Democrat Party. In addition, Johnson needed merely a majority to pass the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act and other legislation of that era, while Bush needs a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress to pass the FMA. Why waste political capital reaching for an unreachable goal? It does not matter that every marriage-related proposition put before the people in the last few years has passed by landslide proportions when the Democrats are committed to acting contrary to the will of the people as expressed by the people at the ballot box.

There are those who talk of social conservatives walking away from the GOP. But I must ask where they would go. To the Democrats, who label them bigoted, hate-filled, and unAmerican for their support of traditional marriage? To a third party that lacks the critical mass to play more than the spoiler's role on the national stage? Or back into the wilderness of pious apoliticism, with the clear understanding that secularist America will go to Hell in it own red, white, and blue handbasket?

Like it or not, the last three decades have seen the fortunes of the GOP and the Religious Right bound more and more tightly together. In a number of states, it is that faction of the party that is ascendant. To surrender that influence over the agenda of the GOP would be to consign the Federal Marriage Amendment -- and much of the rest of the social conservative platform -- to irrelevancy and oblivion.





|| Greg, 05:29 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Racism In NYC Politics

Decent Americans have to be disgusted when they read stories like this one -- and have to recognize which political party remains the seat of racism in America.

A group of black and Hispanic elected officials from Brooklyn are scheduled to meet this morning to devise strategies to keep a white candidate from winning a Congressional seat of historical significance in black politics.

It is not the first such meeting of these officials, nor is it likely to be the last. That there are talks so steeped in ethnicity indicates that race is not just one of the issues in determining who will succeed Representative Major R. Owens. It seems to be the dominant one.

Mr. Owens, a veteran of more than two decades in Congress who turns 70 this month, is not running for re-election. The black and Hispanic officials gathering today are discussing how to prevent David Yassky, a white city councilman from Brooklyn Heights, from winning a seat that once belonged to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress.

Mr. Yassky, a former law professor, has collected as much in campaign contributions as his rivals combined, more than $800,000 at the time of the last campaign finance filing.

And his three black opponents in the Democratic primary — as well as many black and Hispanic officials throughout the borough — have become increasingly agitated by the possibility that blacks would split their vote, allowing him to win.

Today's meeting, which was called by City Councilman Albert Vann, a Brooklyn Democrat, will focus in part on whether one or two of the three black candidates might be willing to drop out of the campaign.

Two weeks ago, a fourth black candidate, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, announced that he was withdrawing from the Congressional campaign and running instead for re-election. He said one reason was to reduce the number of black candidates and make it harder for Mr. Yassky to succeed.

In other words, they want the winner of this election to be judged by the color of his skin, not the content of his character.

Now why this racist strategy to keep the seat in black hands? Well, it goes back to the history of the district.

As a result of a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, several predominantly black neighborhoods of Brooklyn were consolidated into the 12th Congressional District. In 1968 it elected Ms. Chisholm, who in 1972 sought the Democratic presidential nomination. Mr. Owens succeeded her in 1983.

The district lines were later shifted, and much of the 12th District was incorporated into what is now the 11th.

"We want to see if there is a way that we might unite behind one black candidate in the race, as opposed to several black candidates running along with Yassky," said Assemblywoman Annette Robinson, an organizer of the meeting. "We're going to try to work this out, reminding the candidates that people have fought for this district to be a Voting Rights district."

Uh. . . excuse me? Do you really mean to imply, madam Assemblywoman, that someone's voting rights would have been violated if a white candidate wins in this congressional district? I thought that the purpose of the Voting Rights Act was to end racial discrimination in voting, and to make sure that blacks could have meaningful participation in the electoral process. Nothing I have ever read has indicated that it was supposed to Jim Crow the election process, posting "No Whites Allowed" on certain electoral districts.

I want to know where the public outcry is -- you know, the howls of outrage that would follow if a group of white political leaders were to conspire to prevent a popular black candidate from winning an election.

And I hope the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is taking careful note of this meeting so as to prepare to prosecute every public official and community leader who participates.





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Fox News Host Takes Down Phelps-Cult Hatemonger!

I've despised Fred Phelps and his pseudo-Christian cult for many years -- long before his anti-war protest brought him to the attention of most Americans. So I was pleased to see information on this WorldNetDaily article over at Stop the ACLU, about an exchange between FoxNews host Julie banderas, who said what most decent Americans really think about the hatemongers from Westboro Baptist Church (which is made up almost entirely of Phelps family members),

Banderas: “The Bible says ‘the fear of the Lord is hatred of evil,’ [from the Book of] Proverbs. ‘Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.’ Perverted speech like yours: ‘God hates fags.’ You are preaching absolute B.-., and you know the final letter.”

Phelps-Roper: “If you don’t tell them that this nation is full of idolatry, full of adulteries …

Banderas: “Full of insane people like yourself, ma’am.”

Phelps-Roper: “You’re proud. You’re proud of your sins. You can’t do enough sinning. You think ‘gay’ pride, bimbo. You have sinned away your day of grace.”

Banderas: “OK, you are an abomination.”

Phelps-Roper: “America is doomed. America is doomed. … Before your eyes, missy, you’re gonna see the destruction of America.”

Banderas: “If America is doomed, then why don’t you get out? Why are you in this country? Why are you an American? Are you an American?”

Phelps-Roper: “I am exactly where my God put me to tell you plainly, that you are going to hell, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Banderas: “Why don’t you take your church to another country, then, ma’am? Thank you so much. You should not be proud to be an American, and thank you. Good-bye.”

Go Julie -- it is time that the media quit treating these low-lifes like just one more group expressing a valid opinion that merits hearing and equal consideration.





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Rusty Is Away, So The Jawas Are At Play!

Over at Jawa Report, Dr. Rusty Shackleford has taken the summer off while he travels and (one presumes) engages in intensive academic research/goofs off.

A couple of his summer fill-ins have taken a serious interest in thePhilippines, and has been posting about some of that nation's greatest natural resources.

Really -- go take a look at the eye-candy.





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Watcher's Council Results

The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Abolish the "N" Word by ShrinkWrapped, and Why Does the Unhinged Left So Hate Jeff Goldstein? by Ace of Spades HQ

Here is where you can find the full results of the vote.





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June 11, 2006

You Must Be Frickin' Kidding!

If you want any evidence that truth and decency are not in the hearts or minds of the jihadi terrorists, you need look no further than this claim.

THREE Muslims said to have committed suicide in a Guantanamo Bay prison would not have violated Islam by taking their own lives and must have been killed by their US captors, the Taliban said today. "We can't accept that they have committed suicide," a purported spokesman for the Islamist Taliban movement in Afghanistan, Mohammad Hanif, said.

"No Muslim, no mujahid (holy warrior), can commit suicide. It's banned under Islamic Sharia law," said Hanif, who is often in contact with the media from a secret location.

The Guantanamo Bay commander said the "war on terror" suspects - a Yemeni and two Saudis - were found dead in their cells yesterday and had hanged themselves with clothes and bed sheets.

Hanif said there a clear difference between committing suicide and carrying out suicide attacks against "infidels".

"Those carrying out suicide attacks are targeting infidels," he said, distinguishing this from suicide just to "relieve oneself from suffering".

"The trio, three Arabs, the US says have committed suicide - it is not true. They've been killed by their captors," Hanif said.

"A mujahid is committed to struggle to the last moment of his life."

Andf I hope each of them struggled to get the ropes from their necks as they smelled the first whiff of brimstone on their journey to Allah. For you see, every last "mujahid" pig is a coward committed to the murder of innocents. The only difference between these dead jihadi swine and the ones who succeed in detonating a suicide vest is that the former failed to meet the murderous definition of "bravery" that the cowardly Koranic code they follow dictates.





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Who Is Responsible For Security Concerns About Muslims?

According to this piece, not the various police and security agencies in the Western world. Rather it is Muslim terrorists who are responsible for responsible for heightened scrutiny of Muslims during this Crusade Against Jihadi Terror.

Consider the opening anecdote.

A television series I worked on in the 1980s employed an adorable, gentle and handsome researcher called Dermot who was fancied rotten by everyone in the office, and came from Northern Ireland. He travelled back and forth between London and Belfast to see his family by a variety of means, and on almost every journey was stopped, questioned, sometimes searched, when other English passengers were not. He was also, I recall, the only person whose accreditation was questioned and treble-checked when we were issued with press passes to enter a function attended by Princess Diana. Dermot was quiet, polite and unassuming and we were always furious on his behalf. Our producer put it to him that he must hate the British police force for this terrible discrimination. No, he said. He hated the IRA for forcing the police to discriminate against people like him on legitimate grounds of security.

If the many good Muslims in our society -- and around the world -- would feel this sort of outrage at the terrorists rather than at the authorities for looking at those who match the terrorist profile -- young Muslim men of Middle Eastern or East Asian extraction -- then maybe the terrorists could be exposed and eliminated, rendering such scrutiny unnecessary.





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Vandals And Goths And Pirates -- Oh My!

One senoir British military strategist has a very dim view of the future -- and one that he sees happening within the next dozen years. He compares it to the age of mass migration by the barbarian tribes that precipitated the fall of the Roman Empire.

ONE of Britain’s most senior military strategists has warned that western civilisation faces a threat on a par with the barbarian invasions that destroyed the Roman empire.

In an apocalyptic vision of security dangers, Rear Admiral Chris Parry said future migrations would be comparable to the Goths and Vandals while north African "barbary" pirates could be attacking yachts and beaches in the Mediterranean within 10 years.

Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation" as Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming redundant, he said.

The warnings by Parry of what could threaten Britain over the next 30 years were delivered to senior officers and industry experts at a conference last week. Parry, head of the development, concepts and doctrine centre at the Ministry of Defence, is charged with identifying the greatest challenges that will frame national security policy in the future.

If a security breakdown occurred, he said, it was likely to be brought on by environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and radical Islam. The result for Britain and Europe, Parry warned, could be "like the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals".

It might be time for some of us to start looking at the end of the Classical period and the beginning of the Dark Ages if we are to understand the developments taking place among us -- and to influence our civilization to mobilize against the thread.





|| Greg, 04:45 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Turning Navy Into A Lean, Mean Fighting Machine

This really will make for a very different Navy, but one that will be better able to meet the needs of the Crusade Against Jihadi Terror.

Sailor, these are not your father's warships.

The first of a new breed of Navy ship - faster and easier to maneuver - is expected to launch later this year to meet threats including modern-day pirates and terrorists who turn speedboats into suicide weapons.

The Littoral Combat Ship is powered by steerable waterjets, so it doesn't need propellers or rudders. It's designed to go more than 50 mph; traditional destroyers have had the same top speed - about 35 mph - since World War II.

The LCS has a shallow draft and its waterjets let the ship zoom close to shore without getting stuck and to turn on a dime, allowing it to chase smaller boats. The name itself is taken from the coastal "littoral" waters in which the ship will operate.

The LCS will be more lightly armored than bigger ships, but its speed will give it a tactical advantage in combat, said Rear Adm. Charles Hamilton, program executive officer for ships, who's overseeing the project from Washington.

The Navy envisions several of the ships working together on missions using unmanned vehicles, helicopters and other weapons, he said. An LCS will have a core crew of only 40 sailors, and berthing for up to 75, compared to 330 sailors aboard a destroyer.

There are two, possibly three, different versions of the LCS being developed and built by different contractors. They will be used to beef up a Navy that has fallen to below 300 ships from the high of over 600 during the Reagan Administration.

Of particular interest to me is the versatility of these new vessels.

The resulting designs feature removable "mission packages" that allow the ships to operate either for anti-submarine missions, mine removal or traditional surface warfare, said Lt. Tamara D. Lawrence, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon.

Tests show the mission packages can be swapped out in 24 hours. And when those mission modules become outdated, the Navy can replace them instead of building new ships, Hamilton said.

At about $350 million, an LCS cost roughly a third as much as a destroyer, he said.

Now there will always be a need for larger, more traditional ships. But these next-generation warships should become an important part of our national defense over the next few years.





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

Will Early Money Boost Romney?

One of the candidates I find attractive at this early stage of the race for the 2008 GOP nomination is Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. And it looks like he has devised a strategy to line up a lot of early money behind him in advance of formally announcing his campaign -- and well in advance of the primaries.

Governor Mitt Romney is financing the early stages of his potential presidential campaign with a novel, multistate fund-raising operation that is allowing him to maximize legal donations, outflank top Republican competitors, and minimize public scrutiny.

Since July 2004, Romney has set up affiliates of his political action committee, the Commonwealth PAC, in five states. By having donors spread their contributions across the various affiliates, Romney has been able to effectively evade the $5,000-per-donor annual contribution limit that applies only to federal committees, which most presidential aspirants set up to build initial support for their candidacies.

The multistate system is helping Romney raise money quickly from relatively few contributors, and foster valuable political relationships around the country. It also is a strategy several potential opponents for the Republican nomination cannot use: Federal office-holders, under new campaign finance rules, are barred from operating such state affiliates.

That means possible 2008 competitors such as Senators John McCain of Arizona and George Allen of Virginia have to rely solely on their federal PACs and thus cannot accept more than $5,000 from any contributor each year.

``I think it's a brilliant strategy," said Rich Bond, a former Republican National Committee chairman and a McCain supporter. ``It's fully compliant with the law, yet allows Romney to deploy political assets in a comprehensive fashion."

While the methods are different, the tactic of getting large infusions of early money is reminescent of another governor who sought the presidential nod of the GOP a few years back -- then-Gov. george W. Bush of Texas.

And let's be honest -- Romney needs to become more familiar to voters nationwide very quickly. Of particular concern to a segment of the GOP voters is Romney's religion, and this strategy might allow him to become more well-known among the GOP base, defusing the issue if Romney can be seen as "one of us" by groups that are suspicious of his LDS Church connections even as they share a host of values with the overwhelming majority of Mormons. I believe that the gulf can be overcome -- it hasn't been long since Evangelicals were suspicious of Catholic candidates based upon theology, not values.

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Antietem Desecrated

I'm disgusted that this sacred site has been desecrated.

And not just by the scumbags with a racist message. But by the issuance of a permit for any sort of rally.

Calling themselves the 'ghosts of the Confederacy,' white supremacists from several groups held a rally at Antietam National Battlefield yesterday, the first time any group has been permitted to demonstrate at the site of the bloodiest day of the Civil War.

About 30 men, women and children gathered at what was a family farm at the time of the battle to commemorate their 'forefathers' who 'fought for our liberty as white men,' said Gordon Young, imperial wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

A few donned the white robes characteristic of the Klan, while others identifying with the National Socialist Movement wore swastika arm bands and other mock-military uniforms.

Young, of Hagerstown, who was dressed in a brown business suit, said he had applied for a First Amendment permit so he and others could talk about 'black-on-white crime,' and his group's fight for 'equal treatment as whites.'

As he and others spoke, an assembly of local residents, bikers and activists shouted them down with a bullhorn and chants.

The soil of our nation's battlefields must be held sacred to the memories of those who fought and died there. These are not mere parks -- they are historical sites, monumnet to those whose blood was she. There should be no permits issued for any rally, demonstration, or political event.

What next? Demonstrations at Gettysburg or Bull Run?





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Lesson -- Don't Show Mercy

I'm disgusted that this suit has not been thrown out of court. After all, criminals don't deserve mercy at the hands of their intended victims.

A man who was beaten by employees of a store he was trying to rob is now suing.

Police say Dana Buckman entered the AutoZone in Rochester, New York, last July, brandished a semi-automatic pistol and demanded cash.

That's when employees Eli Crespo and Jerry Vega beat him with a pipe and held Buckman at bay with his own gun.

Buckman escaped when they retreated into the store to call 911, but he was arrested a week later. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was sentenced to 18 years in prison as a repeat violent felon.

Now Buckman is suing the auto parts store and the two employees who beat him, claiming they committed assault and battery and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

So the moral of this story is don't stop beating a felon until he is dead -- that way he cannot sue you for taking all appropriate steps to stop his crime.





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I Wish I Could Care

No.

I do.

Really.

I do wish I could care.

But all I can do is thank God that there are three fewer America-hating terrorists in the world.

Three prisoners at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have hanged themselves in what is being called a "planned event," the U.S. military has said.

They are the first confirmed deaths at the compound. Prisoners have attempted suicide in the past.

"Two Saudis and one Yemeni, each located in Camp 1, were found unresponsive and not breathing in their cells by guards," said a statement issued by Joint Task Force-Guantanamo on Saturday.

"Medical teams responded quickly and all three detainees were provided immediate emergency medical treatment in attempts to revive them. The three detainees were pronounced dead by a physician after all lifesaving measures had been exhausted," the statement said.

"This was clearly a planned event, not a spontaneous event," said Rear Adm. Harry Harris, commander of Joint Task Force-Guantanamo.

He added that there is a "mythical belief" that the Guantanamo detention center would be shut down if three detainees die.

Personally, I hink we need to issue every one of these terrorist swine a six-foot length of rope, and require that US troops wear gloves and provide it with an honor guard like they do for Korans. Guards should be strictly forbiddent to damage the rope -- including by cutting down any prisoner who chooses to hang himself. After all, we wouldn't want to violate the right of any of these prisoners to end their own lives -- and since self-detonation is religious ritual for them, we would simply be accommodating their faith while ensuring the safety of others. Call me pro-religious freedom and pro-choice.

And besides -- if they all kill themselves, then we can shut down the Gitmo camps. Wouldn't that make the Left and the "international community" happy and excited to the point of orgasm?





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June 10, 2006

Dems Accept PC Racists As Candidates

About 15 years ago, David Duke got the idea that he could be accepted as a Republican. Republican elected officials from around the country went to Louisiana to campaign against him and urge votes for his corrupt Democrat opponent, bearing a simple message -- "Vote for the crook -- It's important."

On the other hand, in Minnesota, Democrats embrace those with a long history of racist and anti-Semitic affiliations -- and nominate them for Congressional seats in safe districts.

Imagine that a Republican seeks his party's endorsement for the U.S. House of Representatives, despite having been allied with a white supremacist organization just a decade earlier. Imagine that this candidate had once sarcastically proposed setting aside certain states for white citizens and had shared a stage with a speaker known for excoriating Jews as "bloodsuckers."

You're right. That man wouldn't get his party's endorsement. He would probably want to go into hiding after the howl of negative media coverage.

So how did we get Keith Ellison?

State Rep. Keith Ellison of Minneapolis is the DFL-endorsed candidate for the Fifth District congressional seat. In this DFL bastion, that means that -- barring a primary loss -- Ellison will succeed Martin Sabo when Congress reconvenes next year.

Ellison's background is, shall we say, unorthodox. He is a former outspoken supporter of Louis Farrakhan's notorious Nation of Islam, a virulently anti-white, anti-Semitic organization once led by Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad.

Ellison claims he has changed, that he never really held those views, and that he wasn't affiliated with the groups all that long. He says he should be forgiven and his past ignored.

Fine -- except for the fact that even in this Ellison wants to apply a racial (dare I sa racist) double-standard.

There's a strange irony here. In April 2004, Minnesota's public safety commissioner at the time, Rich Stanek, resigned after acknowledging making racist comments in 1992. At a news conference, Keith Ellison and other black leaders condemned Stanek's remarks and vowed to fight his confirmation.

Stanek repudiated the comments and said he had changed. Nevertheless, Ellison didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. "He's definitely one to hold other people accountable, so I held him accountable," Ellison told the Star Tribune.

So we are looking at the same sort of behavior -- if not more severe. Ellison claims his associations and misdeeds are long in the past -- but they are from the same time period as the inappropruate comments that led to his demnds that a white man withdraw from consideration for public office. So shouldn't Ellison be held to account in the same way he held another man?

Or does he believe that the color of one's skin should determine the standard to which one is held -- proving that he remains a racist, unfit for office.

A much more detailed piece is found at Powerline.

UPDATE -- 6/11/2006: Well, here is some candor.

"I wasn't proud of my work with the Nation of Islam," Ellison said Sunday, "but I was hoping it wouldn't come up." He said now that he's in the spotlight, "I have come face to face with my past."

Yeah, I bet he didn't want it to come up -- but it is there, on the public record, and must not be ignored. Ellison's failure to address these issues earlier speaks volumes about his honesty and trustworthiness.

So off he goes to meet with the men's group at a synagogue. And it seems that at least some of them have forgotten the lessons of the 1930s and 1940s.

Bill Prohofsky, who attended the breakfast, liked what he heard from Ellison. "I think he convinced me," he said.

"Until today, I was very much against him," said Dick Hoffman. "I think a lot of his thoughts co-exist with mine. ... I could support him."

Said Richard Hunegs, "I was favorably impressed by him. I was refreshed by his honesty."

Elliot Miller said, "I think he's a good candidate, but he needs further seasoning in the Legislature."

Perhaps if you are lucky, you will get a leading role in "Ellison Goves The Jews A City".

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A Question For Texas Donks

You filed suit to prevent the Texas GOP from acting under the Texas Election Code to replace an ineligible candidate for office, former Congressman Tom DeLay. You argue that he is not a resident of Virginia, but is instead a resident of Texas.

Under the Texas Election Code, DeLay must "conclusively" establish by public record that he is a resident of another state, said Chad Dunn, an attorney for the state Democratic Party. Democrats contend he hasn't done so because he still has a Texas driver's license, was registered to vote in Fort Bend County, Texas, as of Thursday and gets a Texas homestead exemption.

How, then, do you deal with this?

DeLay told reporters Thursday he is a Virginia resident and planned to vote next week. [DeLay spokesperson Shannon] Flaherty said he obtained a Virginia driver's license and registered to vote in Virginia in late April or early May. She said he voted absentee because he will be traveling Tuesday, the state's primary day.

Delay has voted in Virginia. We all know that counties within Texas don't always notify each other of new registrations in a timely fashion -- what makes you think another state would be any better?

He has a driver's license in Virginia. How quickly do states notify each other of such things?

And as for the homestead exemption, that house is community property and Christine DeLay (who is staying here to work with the Rio Bend forster community) has not changed her residency -- which entitles the house to the homestead exemption, as I recall the requirements from when I applied for mine.

Is there ANY evidence you will accept of his having abandoned his Texas residency and becomeing a Virginia resident?





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Sekula-Gibbs: End Sanctuary Policy In Houston

Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs has been working to end the city’s sanctuary policy for illegal immigrants for some time. She authored a column in today’s Houston Chronicle.

OVER the past few months, the temperature has risen significantly in the immigration debate. Citizens and leaders at all levels of government are working together to find long-term solutions.

At a time when we are working diligently to put a stop to the flow of illegal immigration, I chose to vote against the renewal of a $100,000 federally funded contract for a day labor center in Houston's East End. This center assists people in finding work. It is the only city-authorized, federally funded day labor site remaining in Houston. Recent studies show that at least 85 percent of people who access day labor sites are illegal immigrants — a statistic punctuated by a May 18 Houston Chronicle article that points out that 100 percent of the day laborers a reporter talked to at this North Sampson Street site were illegal.

This is clearly a city issue. By funding this center, the city of Houston is supporting the process of hiring illegal immigrants. This is wrong.

But this does not have to be a partisan, divisive decision. In the past, day labor centers in our city have received support from City Council members regardless of party affiliation. The sites were offered as an alternative to day laborers loitering on private property while waiting for work, a common complaint received in City Council offices. Unfortunately, the calls are still coming in.

These sites have not stopped the problems that they were intended to, and in fact, they are having the opposite effect, by nurturing the increasing flow of illegal immigrants who have turned to our city to find work.

Meanwhile, Houston's "sanctuary city" status is only making a bad situation worse. This is a Houston Police Department policy that City Council members have no control over, and it should be abolished. The policy, forbidding Houston police from inquiring into anyone's immigration status, was established years ago under a previous city administration, has been reauthorized periodically and can only be rescinded by Mayor Bill White.

Council could try to bypass the mayor with a resolution opposing the "sanctuary city" policy, but that is unlikely to occur in our strong mayor form of government in which the mayor sets the council agenda. Even if such a resolution were passed, the mayor would be under no obligation to do away with the policy.

In addition, such a resolution would potentially open Pandora's box, encouraging the consideration of other resolutions dealing with federal matters, such as the war in Iraq. These resolutions would be merely symbolic and would not have a direct impact on federal legislation.

Congress can help put a stop to "sanctuary cities" across the nation by denying federal funding to cities that refuse to enforce immigration laws. For example, Houston faces sanctions, including a loss of highway funds, if the 2007 federal ozone standards deadline is not met.

Similar penalties could be imposed if cities fail to comply with immigration laws. At the local level, the responsibility to revoke Houston's "sanctuary city" policy falls squarely on the shoulders of the mayor.

Changes are needed to the Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which currently clears the way for day labor sites to receive federal funding.

The act outlines our nation's welfare and immigration policy, which states that "self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country's earliest immigration statutes" and that immigrants within our nation's borders "not depend on public resources to meet their needs" — yet it includes exceptions for programs and services that could be construed to allow day labor sites. This federal loophole must be closed.

The issue of illegal immigration is not just a federal one. It starts at our national borders but quickly spreads into cities such as Houston, where work is readily available.

As a top destination for illegal immigrants, we must do everything we can to assist in enforcing our existing immigration laws while responding to increasing demands for labor and honoring our tradition of welcoming immigrants legally.

It is very simple – the city of Houston (indeed, every community) needs to work with the federal government to enforce our immigration laws and ensure border security, not assist those who break our laws and violate our sovereignty out of a well-intentioned but misguided sense of compassion based on the notion that illegal immigrants are “just good people who want jobs and a better life.” While that may be true, it cannot excuse their law-breaking.

Shelley Sekula-Gibbs is one of those seeking to replace Tom Delay on the CD22 ballot. She has a solid record in favor of enforcing and strengthening our nation's immigration laws. Stands like this show her to be a pro-border conservative worthy of that nomination.





|| Greg, 10:12 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Like Politics In Black Churches Is New

You have to love the Washington Post’s article on the upcoming elections in Maryland. Much to the paper’s surprise, candidates are trying to garner a share of the black vote by visiting black churches.

The early morning breakfast gathering at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden was intended to promote economic empowerment for African Americans.

But the long roster of prominent politicians packing the small church meeting room last week signaled that the coming election season could bring parishioners something else they've been seeking: political clout.

The candidates for Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat, in particular, have turned the state's predominately black churches into a key battleground for both the primary and general elections.

"This is where you've got to be," said the Rev. Jerome Stephens, a Baltimore minister who is helping execute an outreach strategy to black churches for U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, one of a half-dozen Democrats seeking the Senate seat. "Everybody who wants statewide office knows they have to be seen in church."

Attracting the support of black voters has always been pivotal to Democratic candidates because African Americans make up roughly 40 percent of the party's primary voters. This year, these voters have also become a crucial target for the best-known Republican contender, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Steele recently predicted he needs 25 percent of the black vote to prevail in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly two to one.

Aware that the best place to reach black voters is in church, Steele, Cardin and Democratic contender Kweisi Mfume have been a steady presence in the pews over the past year.

"All politicians seeking African American votes know they have to go through the churches," said Mark Clack, Mfume's communications director. "That's where the black community first received its political inspiration, and it's where the center of the community still remains."

I realize the strict-separationists don’t like it, but there are a great many American citizens whose religious beliefs under-gird their political philosophies. And not only that, but many religious Americans live lives that revolve around their place of worship – whether we are talking Evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, or Muslims. Even at my church – a small congregation affiliated with the mainline Disciples of Christ – you find activities going most nights of the week that involve a substantial percentage of the congregation. Candidates who want to meet the people where they are have to make contact with these believers – who are citizens and voters – where they are. And “where they are” is at church.

And when it comes to the African-American community, the pull of the faith –community is even stronger. The church is the bedrock of society in most black communities. It is no accident that the civil rights movement was led by men whose title was often “Reverend” rather than “Doctor” or “Esquire” – and that the premiere organization for many years was the Southern Christian Leadership Council.

So don’t be surprised, outraged, or disturbed. Such campaigning is not unusual or even new, dating back to the very beginning of American political life – and tax-code prohibitions against church involvement in politics date back less than half a century.





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Union Corruption Indictment

I’m glad to see that this guy has been indicted. What a piece of work!

Following a three-year investigation, the former president of Houston's largest Teamsters local was arrested Friday on charges of rigging a union election and accepting a $20,000 kickback from a union vendor.

Chuck Crawley, 56, who lost control of Local 988 in 2003 after an investigation into corruption allegations by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was released on a $100,000 bond after posting a $5,000 cash bail.

Crawley gained national attention that year when it was learned he used nonunion labor to build the local's $1.7 million union hall, causing international President James P. Hoffa to cancel his appearance at the opening.

An indictment unsealed Friday accuses Crawley of using the mail to cast 362 phony ballots in the name of union members he thought would not be voting in a 2002 union election.

He also is accused of rigging the vote to get himself re-elected, using the union's computer system to generate fraudulent ballots, of accepting a $20,000 kickback from the company that installed the union's telephone system, and making false entries in union records about the telephone installation.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years on one count of wire fraud, five years on each of two counts of embezzlement, and fines of $250,000 on each of the three counts.

This guy also used union money to sue two union members who went to the FBI to report his corruption.

It is cases like this that make me glad that I live in a right-to-work state, where I cannot be forced to give money to corrupt union bosses like Chuck Crawley. I hope he goes away for a long time – and that the members of his union realize that he is just the tip of the iceberg of corruption the historically corrupt Teamsters union.





|| Greg, 10:09 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

No Organized Political Party

Yeah, it sure sounds like the quip by Will Rogers still applies to the Dems today.

Look at these messes among the Donks.

Fighting the Democrat culture of corruption is divisive.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi juggled competing political goals on Friday, seeking to drain racial tension from her attempt to strip embattled Rep. William Jefferson of his committee seat.

Facing a showdown next week that he is likely to lose, Jefferson, D-La., signaled anew he will not step aside voluntarily, and some fellow members of the
Congressional Black Caucus spoke out on his behalf.

"The Black Caucus takes exception when we become the exception to the rule. We want the same standards," said Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J. He noted that the Louisianan has denied wrongdoing in a federal bribery probe and has not been indicted.

At the same time, several officials said that Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who is black, was the lawmaker who formally proposed at a closed-door meeting Thursday night that Jefferson be stripped of his committee assignment. Lewis, who first gained fame as a civil rights pioneer in the 1960s, declined to comment.

And then there is the new leadership fight brewing.

Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), one of the Democrats' leading antiwar voices, startled his political colleagues yesterday by announcing he would seek a senior leadership position if the Democrats win control of the House in November.

In a letter that he circulated on the floor during a series of votes, Murtha said he is eyeing the No. 2 position. "If we prevail as I hope and know we will and return to the majority this next Congress, I have decided to run for the open seat of the Majority Leader," Murtha wrote.

The presumed favorite for that job had been the current No. 2 House Democrat, Steny H. Hoyer (Md.), with whom Murtha has long had testy relations. Hoyer, like many of his political colleagues, greeted Murtha's announcement with annoyance and exasperation, given that the election remains five months off and a Democratic victory is by no means assured.

"Mr. Hoyer has worked extraordinarily hard to unify the caucus and take back the House for Democrats, and that is his first focus," said Stacey Bernards, his press secretary. "As a result of that unity, he's confident that we will be successful in November, and intends to run for majority leader."

There is, of course, long-standing bad-blood between Murtha and Hoyer, and this appears based as much on peronalities as principle.

And we ahve already heard that failure to win the House this fall will cost Pelosi her job, possibly in favor of Hoyer -- or could it be Murtha now?





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Coming Up From SCOTUS

Over teh last couple years, i've come to appreciate a number of "blawgers" out there -- lawyers and law professors who blog on the serious issues of the state and federal courts. One of those blogs, SCOTUSblog, offers a look at what remains to be done by the Supreme Court in the next three weeks.

With no more than three weeks left in the Supreme Court's current Term, the Justices are expected to move more rapidly in the coming weeks toward clearing the remaining decisions on their docket. There are 32 cases to be decided, but multiples on several issues indicate that all cases can be decided with 24 rulings. At the moment, there appears little likelihood that any of the cases will be put over for reargument in the next Term. The Court heard three re-arguments during this Term, but that was due to its change in membership, with Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., arriving at about mid-Term.

Since completing oral argument with a special sitting on May 18, the Court has continued to issue opinions only one day a week. Now that the middle of June is approaching, the Court is likely to begin releasing rulings on two or more days in the remaining weeks. Next Monday, at the close of the public session, the Court's marshal may announce whether there will be another decision day in the coming week. At last once a week, the Court will issue orders granting or denying new cases; any newly granted cases will be heard in the next Term.

So we are looking for about two dozen decisions -- which to my way of thinking means that we are likely to see at least two decision days each of the next three weeks, one on Monday and one later on in the week, with the possibility of three or more during the final week. After all, the Justices (or their clerks) are drafting opinions, making revisions to meet the objections of other Justices as they seek a majority, and writing concurring and disenting opinions. A couple of the cases are seen as really big deals that are no doubt getting heightened consideration from the Justices -- and there is always a chance that some case will come down in a way that will make it a blockbuster.

What cases are left?

04-607 -- Laboratory Corp. v. Metabolite Laboratories (patentability of a naturally occuring process)

04-1034 (and a companion case) -- Rapanos v. U.S. (Clean Water Act application to wetlands)

04-1170 -- Kansas v. Marsh (constitutionality of a death penalty law that
requires death if plus and minor factors are in balance) (re-argued case)

04-1360 - Hudson v. Michigan (remedy for violation of knock-and-announce rule for police entering a home) (re-argued case)

04-1376 -- Fernandez-Vargas v. Gonzales (right of deported alien to return to U.S.)

04-1528 (and two companion cases) -- Randall v. Sorrell (constitutionality of state ceilings on campaign expenditures)

04-1739 -- Beard v. Banks (right of dangerous prison inmates to have access to newspapers, magazines and photographs)

04-8990 -- House v. Bell (scope of right to present new evidence to show innocence of crime)

04-9728 -- Samson v. California (authority to search parolee without a warrant or suspicion)

04-10566 (and a companion case) -- Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon (state court duty to obey World Court ruling on arrested foreign nationals' access to consular officer)

05-18 -- Arlington School District v. Murphy (parents' right to recover fees for expert witness in disabled child education case)

05-83 -- Washington v. Recuenco (harmless error analysis for error in sentence enhancement)

05-128 -- Howard Delivery v. Zurich American Insurance (priority in bankruptcy of claim for workmen's compensation premiums)

05-184 -- Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (Supreme Court power to decide constitutionality of war-on-terrorism war crimes tribunals, and the merits of that constitutional question)

05-200 -- Empire Healthchoice v. McVeigh (private contractor right to enforce benefits for federal government employees)

05-204 (and three companion cases) -- League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry (validity of Texas congressional redistricting plan)

05-259 -- Burlington Northern Railway v. White (proof needed to show retaliation claim under Title VII job bias law)

05-352 -- U.S. v. Gonzalez-Lopez (remedy for denial of access to counsel of choice in a criminal case)

05-409 -- Kircher v. Putnam Funds Trust (federal appeals court power to review remand of securities case to state court)

05-416 -- Woodford v. Ngo (scope of exhaustion of claims requirement under Prison Litigation Reform Act)

05-5224 and 05-5705 (two cases, perhaps one opinion) -- Davis v. Washington and Hammon v. Indiana (exclusion of evidence of "excited utterances" in 911 calls or at a crime scene, under Crawford v. Washington)

05-5966 -- Clark v. Arizona (right to make an insanity defense to disprove criminal intent)

05-7053 -- Dixon v. U.S. (burden of proof on defense of duress or coercion in criminal case)

05-8794 -- Hill v. McDonough (procedures available for challenges to lethal injection method of execution)

The two I am most interested in are Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry. The former would effectively overturn the unanimous decision rendered during WWII in Ex Parte Quirin if it were decided that military tribunals for unlawful combattants in the war on terror are unconstitutional. The latter has the potential to upset the entire congressional map here in Texas, and to make radical changes in the rules regarding congressional redistricting.

It should be a fun three weeks.





|| Greg, 08:57 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 09, 2006

Dems Seek To Dump Primary Winner Who Won't Quit

While Texas Democrats are trying to prevent an ineligible candidate from being replaced on the ballot, Alabama Democrats are trying to force one of their own off the ballot against his will within days of the primary because they find his candidacy embarassing.

teacher fired for showing profane videos to his students won a seat on the State Democratic Executive Committee. But party members say Steve White won't serve out his term.

White won the race for State Democratic Executive Committee District 4 Tuesday night.

* * *

White is also running in a separate election. White is a democratic candidate for the District 4 seat on the House of Representatives.

He ran unopposed in Tuesday's primary election.

Because of allegations that White showed videos with sex acts, nudity, and obscene material in school, White may never hold that political office.

Brian Oakes, chairman of the Democratic Party, says White has been asked to step down.

"The Democratic party has asked him to withdraw his name. There's not been a response by him in relation to that request," says Oakes.

A subcommittee of the Democratic Executive Committee will decide how to handle the race if White does not resign.

One option is to remove White's name from November's general election ballot and appoint another candidate.

In other words, the Alabama Democrats want to remove and replace their own candidate because they think he cannot win.

I do wish the Donks would make up their mind about replacing candidates.

Torricelli out, Lautenberg in -- fine, even though the statutory deadline had passed.

DeLay out, someone else in -- go to court to stop it, even though it complies with all aspects of state law.

Steve White not willing to drop out -- throw him off the ballot anyway because he is an embarassment who will lose the election.

There is no principle at work among the Democrats -- simply raw political calculation.

Oh, by the way -- did you folks notice that the Holocaust-denying atheist church-state separationist got 46% of the vote for Attorney General in the Democrat primary?

(Hat Tip: Southern Appeal)



» The COLOSSUS OF RHODEY links with: Those "consistent" Dems



|| Greg, 03:40 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (1) ||

Al-Zarqawi Survived Attack

I guess he was just outside the house or in some sheltered location when the bombs hit, so he briefly survived before heading off to his infernal reward.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who led an al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Iraq, initially survived an airstrike that targeted his hideout north of Baghdad Wednesday, then died on a stretcher as U.S. troops prepared to give him medical assistance, a U.S. general said today.

Army Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, a top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Zarqawi tried to roll off the stretcher and had to be restrained, mumbling something unintelligible, before he died of wounds received when a U.S. Air Force F-16 dropped two 500-pound bombs on his safe house late Wednesday. Initial reports were that Zarqawi died instantly in the bombing, which Caldwell said killed five other people, including three women.

I take great pleasure in the fact that among the last things he saw in life were American military personnel proving that the Judeo-Christian values upon which our nation was founded are superior to the Jihadi-Islamist values which he served -- because rather than beheading their prisoner, our troops were trying to ensure that al-Zarqawi received medical treatment that would allow his survival. The traditional Christian notion of corporal works of mercy trumped the Sixth Pillar of Jihadi Islam, the spreading of terror.





|| Greg, 03:21 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Should Schools Limit Contents Of Student Lunches?

Do schools have any business dictating what parents feed their kids?

We've seen some places try peanut bans on the basis of a single child with an allergy. While I disagree with the draconian measure, I can commend the motivation.

But this strikes me as the first step towards schools dictating what parents decide to feed their kids, treading into an area of parental autonomy that is not for schools to violate.

Parents who visit their children at lunch would be required to eat school food rather than bring the children fast-food lunches under a proposed wellness policy in the Palmyra Area School District.

That doesn't set well with some parents. Lori Swisher, who has three children at Forge Road Elementary School, agreed the schools don't need soda machines or daily doughnuts, but bristled at "one more government restriction."

Swisher said she occasionally has brought pizza or a sub to her kids at school. "I like to think I serve mostly healthy meals, but when all three have sports, sometimes fast food is the option," she said.

The school board will vote June 15 on the guidelines, which Collene Van Noord, director of curriculum and instruction, said is part of a nationwide effort to combat childhood obesity by teaching healthy eating and exercise habits.

What next? A ban on all meals from home?





|| Greg, 04:57 AM || Permalink || TrackBacks (0) ||

This Is Funny In A Sick Way

Some stories are just too weird to make up!

A woman angry that her new puppy had died pushed her way into a dog breeder's home and repeatedly hit her on the head with the dead Chihuahua, authorities said.

The 33-year-old woman told police she had taken the puppy to a veterinarian, who said it was only 4 weeks old and needed to be returned to its mother. But before she could return the puppy, it died.

Early Wednesday, the woman went to the breeder's home, pushed her way inside and began fighting with the breeder as she tried to make her way to the basement to get another puppy, police said.

The breeder wrestled the woman out of her house to the front porch, where the woman then hit the breeder over the head numerous times with the dead puppy, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, citing police.

We could have teh basis of a new saying here -- "I'm gonna beat you with a dead Chihuahua." What do you think?





|| Greg, 04:51 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (3) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

An Intelligence Success

How did we get al-Zarqawi and his cohorts? Easy -- a little bit of inside information.

According to a Pentagon official, the Americans finally got one. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the raid are classified, said that an Iraqi informant inside Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia provided the critical piece of intelligence about Mr. Rahman's meeting with Mr. Zarqawi. The source's identity was not clear — nor was it clear how that source was able to pinpoint Mr. Zarqawi's location without getting killed himself.

"We have a guy on the inside who led us directly to Zarqawi," the official said.

In a news release on Thursday morning, American military commanders hinted strongly that a member of Mr. Zarqawi's inner circle had pointed the way. "Tips and intelligence from Iraqi senior leaders from his network led forces to al-Zarqawi," the release said.

Iraqi officials confirmed that Mr. Zarqawi had indeed been sold out by one of his own.

"We have managed to infiltrate this organization," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser. He declined to elaborate.

I guess that there is no honor among terrorists.

And that good intelligence beats good luck any day.





|| Greg, 04:33 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

June 08, 2006

DeLay Replacement Delay

***WELCOME MICHELLE MALKIN READERS***

Less than 24 hours after Texas GOP Chair Tina Benkiser declared Congressman Tom DeLay to be ineligible to run for or serve as Congressman for Texas CD22, Texas Democrats have filed suit to prevent his being replaced on the ballot.

What's more, they have received a temporary restraining order to prevent any action being taken to fill the slot declared vacant yesterday until after a hearing on June 22.

The following is reported at FortBendNow.com, a local online news source.

In a surprise twist to the Tom DeLay saga, the Texas Democratic Party filed suit Thursday in an attempt to keep the resigning Republican Congressman’s name on the November ballot.

The suit, filed in Travis County 126th District Court, seeks to undo an hours-old declaration by Republican Party Chair Tina Benkiser that DeLay is ineligible to run in the general election.

If DeLay doesn’t serve as the party’s candidate for Congressional District 22, then according to the Texas Election Code, no other candidate is allowed to replace him, the suit says.

Lawyers for Houston’s Riddle & Brazil law firm, which filed the action, obtained a temporary restraining order at about 5:10 p.m. from Judge Darlene Byrne. Sources familiar with the case said the order prevents Benkiser from calling a meeting of the so-called District Executive Committee or taking other measures to replace DeLay as the Republican Party nominee for CD-22.

That is not entirely correct. DeLay can be replaced if declared ineligible, but not if he withdraws. The Democrats are trying to muddy the water regarding which he has done in an attempt to keep DeLay on the ballot, effectively leaving Lampson without a challenger because Tom DeLay HAS established residency in Virginia.

At bare minimum, the goal is to prevent there from being a candidate actively raising campaign funds and campaigning against Lampson. After all, despite their rhetoric, the Democrats and their lawyers know that the Texas Election Code DOES allow for DeLay to be removed from the ballot.

The lawsuit says that DeLay’s attempt to be declared ineligible goes against state Election Code and the U.S. Constitution.

The election code says ineligibility can be declared if public records conclusively establish a candidate’s ineligibility, the lawsuit states. The Constitution says eligibility criteria for serving as a U.S. Rep. include being at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and “an inhabitant ‘when elected’ of the state he or she will represent.

Thus, “nothing in the public record conclusively establishes that DeLay fails to satisfy any of these criteria,” the lawsuit says.

Well, except for Tom DeLay having gotten a Virginia driver's license and registering to vote in Virginia, both of which require establishing residence in that state.

And to my buddy Liberty, I will make the following vow -- in the event the Democrats DO succeed in preventing the voters of CD22 from having a Republican candidate, I will devote my efforts to see to it that your party's candidate becomes the first declared Libertarian to serve in Congress. I will never, ever, vote for Nick Lampson.

UPDATE: There is a great article in the San Antonio Express-News. It shows the Democrat plan for what it really is -- an attempt to deny the people of CD22 a choice.

The Democrats sued the GOP in state court in Austin, arguing that Republican officials can't replace the Sugar Land Republican because he technically is still in the race.

And if the courts agree that DeLay withdrew, party officials contend, state Republican officials couldn't select a replacement candidate to take on Democrat Nick Lampson in the fall.

“The election would continue on — they just wouldn't have a dog in the hunt,” said Boyd Richie, the state Democratic Party's interim chairman.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, DeLay is out of the race, having established residency in Virginia and been declared ineligible by the GOP, as dictated by the US Constitution and the Texas Election Code.

GOP officials have commented on the situation.

“The Democrats have resorted to their usual method of turning to the courthouse if they can't win at the ballot box,” said Gretchen Essell, communications director for the Republican Party of Texas. “We have followed the process that is delineated in the Texas Election Code. We are confident of the outcome.”

Jared Woodfill, Harris County Republican Party Chairman, called it a desperate move on Democrats' part and said he is confident the GOP will prevail.

“I'm surprised they did it this early. We figured it was coming,” he said, adding that the GOP's position is solid.

“Election law is very clear on this. He's clearly ineligible. It's a pretty open-and-shut case,” he said. “I know we're going to prevail. The law and facts are on our side.”

Noting that Democrats have lost every statewide office to Republicans and that the GOP holds a legislative majority, Woodfill said, “They're desperate. ..... Desperate people turn to desperate measures, and that's what they've done. They're not going to be successful, though.”

Gary Gillen, the new Republican Party chairman for Fort Bend County, described the efforts to obtain a restraining order as a “political play to keep voters from having the opportunity to elect their congressman. It's politics,” he said.

This is a desperate ploy on the part of the Democrats to win the only way they caqn -- by making sure that no other choice is permitted. I guess it they miss the day when Democrat nominees in most parts of Texas were relevant.

MORE AT Riehl World View, Burnt Orange Report, Eye on Williamson, Off The Kuff and Texas Rainmaker.



» Super Fun Power Hour links with: They Don't Have Tom DeLay to Kick Around Anymore
» Barking Moonbat Early Warning System links with: Democratic Party Games
» Stop The ACLU links with: Friday Free For All
» The COLOSSUS OF RHODEY links with: Those "consistent" Dems



|| Greg, 08:43 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (11) || Comments || TrackBacks (4) ||

Judge In Eminent Domain Attrocity Seeks Higher Bench

Back in January, I wrote about this miscarriage of justice involving property just a couple of miles down the road from my house, in which Judge Lynn Bradshaw-Hull rolled over for the Port of Houston and gave the owner of 100 acres of property $1 (that's right -- ONE DOLLAR) for his land when he protested that it was worth more than the $1.9 million he was initially offered -- and then awarded the publicly funded Port its legal fees, meaning the owner was effectively required to pay for the privilege of having his land taken from him.

As you may recall, I ended my post with these words.

Let us hope that this decision does not stand -- and that this judge is off the bench.

Well I don't know what is going on in the way of appeals, but the grassroots of the GOP dumped Lynn Bradshaw-Hull on primary day back in March, despite the strong backing of the Establishment Wing of the party. It was close, but for a sitting judge to be dumped by her own party is a major thing, and indicates a real lack of confidence in her competence and judicial philosophy.

Quite frankly, I was pleased.

But now it turns out that there is a move afoot to make sure that Lynn Bradshaw-Hull remains a judge -- and not only that, but gets a promotion after the people rejected her at the polls!

How is this possible? Following a gubernatorial appointment, the judicial seat n the 80th District Court is open, and the Harris County GOP has to select a new candidate for the November ballot. Judge Bradshaw-Hull wants that seat, which would be a promotion to a state court from a county court.

Today I received a letter from Lynn Bradshaw-Hull, soliciting my endorsement and bragging that 102 precinct chairs have endorsed her for the seat on the 80th District Court!

Dear Precinct Chairs,

Since I wrote to you, I have received more precinct chair endorsements and have attended the Republican State Convention. Please see the attached list, which includes most of the new endorsements. There are some precinct chair endorsements who requested their names not be listed at this time. What a great time to be a "grass-roots politician"!

I am most grateful to those who have given their support. To the remaining chairs, I ask for your endorsement today and your vote at the upcoming Executive Committee meeting. As of today, that meeting has not been scheduled.

There are now approximately 418 Precinct Chairs on the rolls. 210 constitute, for statute purposes, the number required to conduct business. A simple majority of 210 voters is 106. Hopefully, more will attend this vital meeting so the, numbers may well increase.

I cite these numbers to impress how important it is that every precinct chair attend and participate in this election. If we fail to place a name on the ballot, we can be assured the Democrats will win this bench by default.

It has been an honor to serve in one of Harris County's busiest courts. I hope to continue serving the law and the people of Harris County. If you have not already done so, please return the enclosed postcard today or contact me at email@judgebradshawhullcom with your pledge of support. You may want to visit my website at www.judgebradshawhull.com. Please feel free to call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX with questions.

Sincerely yours,
Lynn Bradshaw-Hull

Frankly, I find this sickening.

Not just because I disagree with her on one judicial decision in which she ignored the constitutional principle of just compensation for private property taken by government for public use.

More because it is offensive that so many of the precinct chairs of Harris County, who are supposed to represent the grassroots of the party, are ignoring the voice of the people as expressed at the polls in March and working to promote a judge they rejected.

There are at least three other candidates out there, and possibly a fourth. Former Judge Scott Link, who chose not to run for reelection to the 80th District Court in 2002 because of serious illnesses in his family is seeking the chance to regain his former post. Former HISD School Board Member Jeff Shadwick has contacted precinct chairs seeking endorsements I've also heard from attorney and fellow precinct chair Marilyn Griffin, who is seeking support. There is also a rumor that attorney Patrick Pacheco may be interested in the nomination.

I'm not sure yet who i will support -- but I would like to urge all of my fellow precinct chairs to reconsider this rejection of the voter's will as expressed on primary day. I also encourage all Harris County Republicans to contact their precinct chairs and insist that they not support Lynn Bradshaw-Hull for the nomination to the 80th District Court.

We can do better.

OPEN TRACKBACKED TO: Mudville Gazette, Outside the Beltway, Stuck on Stupid, Conservative Cat, Bacon Bits, Samantha Burns, Adam's Blog, Is It Just Me?, Passionate America, Blue Star Chronicles, Dumb Ox, 7 Deadly Sins, Free Constitution, Uncooperative Blogger, Stop The ACLU, Wizbang, Cao's Blog, Euphoric Reality





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

Lawsuit To Enforce Religious Freedom For Business Owner

You may remember my post about Tim Bono, an Alexandria, VA businessman who refused to accept a job reproducing pro-homosexual videos for a lesbian activist at his video reporduction business.

Hving been found guilty of discrimination for abiding by his Christian moral principles in his day-to-day business activities, Bono decided to take legal action to vindicate his First Amendment rights. The suit was filed by the Liberty Counsel, a conservative civil liberties group, yesterday.

The lawsuit filed today challenges the authority of the Commission to enter the order. The so-called “Dillon’s Rule,” under Virginia law, prohibits local government from passing or enforcing nondiscrimination laws that are not authorized by the state. The state does not list “sexual orientation” as a protected civil right or class. The suit would take away all authority from the Commission to enforce “sexual orientation” nondiscrimination laws. The lawsuit will also affect several other Virginia counties that have illegally passed “sexual orientation” antidiscrimination laws. The suit also alleges violations of Mr. Bono’s freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, and sections 12 and 16 of the Virginia Constitution.

Erik Stanley, Chief Counsel of Liberty Counsel, stated: “As a newspaper is not required to run every proposed ad, so a duplicator or printer is not obligated to reproduce every proposed copy. Mr. Bono does not have to reproduce a customer’s hate speech, obscenity or pornography, nor may a customer hijack Mr. Bono’s business and force him to promote a homosexual agenda. Since the state of Virginia does not recognize ‘sexual orientation’ as a civil right, neither Arlington County nor any other county may enforce such laws. This lawsuit will rein in renegade counties that have intentionally violated state law. Neither Arlington County nor any other local government entity is above the law.”

Several years ago, the Virginia Attorney General issued an opinion concluding that local “sexual orientation” laws violated state law.

May justice be done, and religious freedom be indicated.





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

Censorship In New Jersey?

Well, I think so -- if we are going to demand equitable use the definition that the Left uses when talking about these women.

Commentator Ann Coulter's incendiary words about outspoken 9/11 widows have led two state lawmakers to calls for a boycott of her book in the widows' home state of New Jersey.

Assemblywomen Joan M. Quigley, D-Hudson, and Linda Stender, D-Union, on Thursday called on New Jerseyans to stop buying the book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," and for retailers in the state to stop selling it.

"Coulter's vicious characterizations and remarks are motivated by greed and her desire to sell books. By making these claims, she proved herself worse than those she is attempting to vilify - she is a leach trying to turn a profit off perverting the suffering of others," the two assemblywomen said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Crown Forum, the publisher of Coulter's book, did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday.

Interestingly enough, this case actually involves government officials seeking to silence someone "courageously engaging in free speech," rather than private entities and individuals acting on their own. I would think that this should therefore be much more disturbing to those who defend and lionize the Dixie Chicks (whose tour is likely to be postponed or cancelled due to poor ticket sales), and they should run right out and buy a copy of Ann's book to show their solidarity, just like they did with the Chick's CD.

Oh, that's right.

Only liberals spouting hate-America, hate-Bush rhetoric need to apply for free-speech-martyr status.

And before you ask -- I wish she had toned down her criticism of this small minority of 9/11 family members. It strikes me as a bit harsh.

But then again, if she had done so she wouldn't be Ann Coulter.





|| Greg, 05:50 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (2) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Who Does Michael Berg Blame?

Michael Berg, of course, is the father of Nicholas Berg, whose murder by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was broadcast about the world via the Internet. And he is a serious moonbat.

Upon hearing that al-Zarqawi had been served justice with a side order of bacon, Michael Berg expressed sympathy for the murderer of his son and the murderer's family -- AND HEAPED BLAME ON PRESIDENT BUSH.

The father of Nicholas Berg, a U.S. contractor believed to have been beheaded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, said Thursday that al-Zarqawi's killing will only perpetuate the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

"I think al-Zarqawi's death is a double tragedy," Michael Berg told The Associated Press after learning a U.S. airstrike had killed the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "His death will incite a new wave of revenge. George Bush and al-Zarqawi are two men who believe in revenge."...

Berg said the blame for most deaths in Iraq should be placed on President Bush, who he said is "more of a terrorist than Zarqawi."

Utterly incredible!

But then again, I've heard rumors that he places an even bigger share upon another individual for the decaptiation of his son.

Continue to be enlightened while reading "Who Does Michael Berg Blame?" »




|| Greg, 05:31 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Krazed KOSsack Konfusion

You have to love the insane illogic of the idiotarian Left.

Some guy on ABC is saying this is a "nail in the coffin of Al Queda." Bull shit. This guy was a face, a name, a few menacing lines about impending doom to us. The victory doesn't lie in removing this man, nor any other true terrorists in Iraq. Instead victory is in making a peaceful nation in a land fractured by ethnicity and then war.

Where is Osama?

Why ask, if the removal of "a face, a name, a few menacing lines of impending doom" does not really impact al-Qaeda? After all, killing or apprehending Osama really wouldn't matter, as "victory does not lie in removing" bin Laden.

I mean really, folks, you cannot have it both ways.

Now I will agree that punching al-Zarqawi's one-way ticket to Hell is not victory -- but it is one more milestone along the way.

(H/T Hugh Hewitt)





|| Greg, 04:25 PM || Permalink || Show Comments (1) || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Strayhorn Seeks To Place Campaign Slogan On Ballot

We have heard the commercials over the last year – Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn [YOUR NAME HERE] (mother of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan) calls herself “One Tough Grandma” in a series of campaign commercials she has run over the last year, attacking Gov. Rick Perry. Now she wants to run as “Grandma Strayhorn” on the November ballot as a way of boosting her independent bid for governor.

Independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn won political office under her two previous married names, but in this year's race for governor, voters apparently are saying: Strayhorn who?

Strayhorn told supporters in an e-mail this week that is why she wants to solve her name identification problem by appearing on the November ballot as "Grandma" Strayhorn. She has campaigned as "One Tough Grandma" since 1998.

Born Carole Keeton, she won the Austin mayor's office as Carole McClellan. She won statewide elections for railroad commissioner and state comptroller as Carole Keeton Rylander.

But she has remarried since her last election in 1992, exchanging vows with Eddie Strayhorn and picking up a new last name in the process.

"The name change from Rylander to Strayhorn has not completely sunk in with voters (She has never run as Strayhorn)," said the fundraising e-mail.

Strayhorn has six granddaughters. "Once voters are told that Strayhorn is 'One Tough Grandma,' she jumps 10 points in every poll we have taken, and (Gov. Rick) Perry drops," the e-mail said. "No public poll has tested her nickname 'Grandma,' only Strayhorn."

The e-mail says that is why she will appear on the November ballot as Carole Keeton "Grandma" Strayhorn.

Unfortunately, there are two obstacles facing her. The first is that she may not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot – that has yet to be determined by the Secretary of State’s office. The second is that she doesn’t really meet the criteria for including the nickname.

State law allows the use of a nickname on the ballot if it is a name by which the candidate has been "commonly known for at least three years preceding the election."

"The law doesn't allow you to use a political slogan. So we weren't going to try that," said Strayhorn's campaign manager and son, Brad McClellan. "More people know her as 'grandma' than Strayhorn."

Robert Black, spokesman for Gov. James Richard Perry — aka Rick — said Strayhorn has never run on the ballot as "grandma." He called it a political slogan and a gimmick.

"She ain't my grandma," Black said. "If she was honestly looking for a moniker people would recognize she would put flip-flopper or multiple-party-switcher."

Strayhorn has not used this as a common nickname – you won’t find it in news articles or even her campaign literature. The only place you will find such a reference is in her “One Tough Grandma” ads. I’ve been involved in Texas GOP politics for a decade – I never heard her called that until folks made a derogatory reference to the ads. And it is not like the argument for my using “Greg” instead of “Gregory” on the ballot for precinct chair, or letting the Democrat R. Christopher Bell run as the more familiar Chris Bell or Richard Friedman use his longstanding professional name of Kinky Friedman. On the other hand, if you apply Strayhorn’s argument across the board, you may as well let someone run as John “The Taxpayer’s Friend” Smith.

My guess is that One Tough Grandma will only be permitted to use her legal name.





|| Greg, 03:26 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

A Proper Decision

I applaud the approval of the vaccine – would that we could find more vaccines against cancers of various types.

The first vaccine to protect against most cervical cancer won federal approval Thursday.

The vaccine Gardasil, approved for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26, prevents infection by four strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, Merck & Co. Inc. said. The virus is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease.

Gardasil protects against the two types of HPV responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine also blocks infection by two other strains responsible for 90 percent of genital wart cases.

Merck is expected to market Gardasil as a cancer, rather than an STD, vaccine. It remains unclear how widespread will be the use of the three-shot series, in part because of its estimated cost of $300 to $500. Conservative opposition to making the vaccine mandatory for school attendance may also curb its adoption.

The target age for receiving Gardasil is low because the vaccine works best when given to girls before they begin having sex and run the risk of HPV infection. The vaccine may not protect people already infected and may increase their risk of the kind of lesions that can lead to cervical cancer, the FDA has said.

The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will decide June 29 whether to endorse routine vaccination with Gardasil. That endorsement is critical if a vaccine is to become a standard of care.

It is this last part that concerns me. Some argue for making the vaccine mandatory for students as a condition of being allowed to receive an education . This is not a vaccine that stops a disease readily communicable like whooping cough, polio, or smallpox. We do not require a flu shot, despite the fact that influenza runs rampant in the bacterial and viral incubator that is a school classroom. To require a shot for what is, in the end, a SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE intrudes upon the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children and to determine their upbringing in regard to sexual morality.





|| Greg, 03:23 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Strayhorn Seeks To Place Campaign Slogan On Ballot

We have heard the commercials over the last year – Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn [YOUR NAME HERE] (mother of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan) calls herself “One Tough Grandma” in a series of campaign commercials she has run over the last year, attacking Gov. Rick Perry. Now she wants to run as “Grandma Strayhorn” on the November ballot as a way of boosting her independent bid for governor.

Independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn won political office under her two previous married names, but in this year's race for governor, voters apparently are saying: Strayhorn who?

Strayhorn told supporters in an e-mail this week that is why she wants to solve her name identification problem by appearing on the November ballot as "Grandma" Strayhorn. She has campaigned as "One Tough Grandma" since 1998.

Born Carole Keeton, she won the Austin mayor's office as Carole McClellan. She won statewide elections for railroad commissioner and state comptroller as Carole Keeton Rylander.

But she has remarried since her last election in 1992, exchanging vows with Eddie Strayhorn and picking up a new last name in the process.

"The name change from Rylander to Strayhorn has not completely sunk in with voters (She has never run as Strayhorn)," said the fundraising e-mail.

Strayhorn has six granddaughters. "Once voters are told that Strayhorn is 'One Tough Grandma,' she jumps 10 points in every poll we have taken, and (Gov. Rick) Perry drops," the e-mail said. "No public poll has tested her nickname 'Grandma,' only Strayhorn."

The e-mail says that is why she will appear on the November ballot as Carole Keeton "Grandma" Strayhorn.

Unfortunately, there are two obstacles facing her. The first is that she may not have enough signatures to qualify for the ballot – that has yet to be determined by the Secretary of State’s office. The second is that she doesn’t really meet the criteria for including the nickname.

State law allows the use of a nickname on the ballot if it is a name by which the candidate has been "commonly known for at least three years preceding the election."

"The law doesn't allow you to use a political slogan. So we weren't going to try that," said Strayhorn's campaign manager and son, Brad McClellan. "More people know her as 'grandma' than Strayhorn."

Robert Black, spokesman for Gov. James Richard Perry — aka Rick — said Strayhorn has never run on the ballot as "grandma." He called it a political slogan and a gimmick.

"She ain't my grandma," Black said. "If she was honestly looking for a moniker people would recognize she would put flip-flopper or multiple-party-switcher."

Strayhorn has not used this as a common nickname – you won’t find it in news articles or even her campaign literature. The only place you will find such a reference is in her “One Tough Grandma” ads. I’ve been involved in Texas GOP politics for a decade – I never heard her called that until folks made a derogatory reference to the ads. And it is not like the argument for my using “Greg” instead of “Gregory” on the ballot for precinct chair, or letting the Democrat R. Christopher Bell run as the more familiar Chris Bell or Richard Friedman use his longstanding professional name of Kinky Friedman. On the other hand, if you apply Strayhorn’s argument across the board, you may as well let someone run as John “The Taxpayer’s Friend” Smith.

My guess is that One Tough Grandma will only be permitted to use her legal name.





|| Greg, 03:20 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Extracurricular Activity

I guess it happens from time to time, but I cannot imagine doing something like this during school hours while students are present.

Two Hillsborough County middle school teachers have resigned after students saw them having sex in a classroom, a report released Wednesday states.

Foreign language teacher Frances J. Sepulveda, 30, and physical education teacher Bryant J. Wilburn, 29, quit two days after the May 22 incident at Coleman Middle School, 1724 S. Manhattan Ave.

Sepulveda's classroom door was locked and paper covered its window, but a boy and a girl saw the teachers through the window, the report states.

Hillsborough school district spokesman Steve Hegarty said information about the incident will be sent to the state Department of Education.

"These teachers showed appallingly bad judgment," he said. "We dealt with it quickly, and the teachers are no longer welcome in the Hillsborough County classroom."

Appallingly poor judgment? That is certainly an understatement.

But at least they were not fooling around with students.





|| Greg, 03:16 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

DeLay Declared Ineligible For Reelection

Two days ahead of his resignation from Congress, the Texas GOP has declared Congressman Tom Delay ineligible to be on the ballot as a candidate for Congress. The reason? He is no longer a resident of Texas.

Texas Republicans took a key official step Wednesday toward replacing U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot, as the state GOP declared him ineligible to run because he has moved his official residence to Virginia.

Friday is the former House majority leader's last day in Congress.

Republican Party of Texas Chairwoman Tina Benkiser notified Republican county chairs in the 22nd Congressional District that they can begin the process for selecting a new nominee. DeLay's successor as GOP nominee will be selected by a four-member committee of precinct chairs representing each of the counties in the district — Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston and Harris.

County chairs plan to call meetings before the end of the month. Once each of the counties has selected its representative, they will meet to choose the new Republican nominee.

As one of those precinct chairs, I wonder how fast the process will play out. I have been figuring that meetings could not begin until at least Thursday of next week (it takes five days in Harris County to call an emergency meeting) -- but this date allows for a meeting as early as Monday. I'll let you know when I know.

Now I do have one little constitutional quibble here. If Delay has already established himself as a Virginia resident, shouldn't that have caused the automatic forfeiture of office? After all, a congressman does have to be a resident of the state he represents. As a practical matter it is irrelevant, as he will likely cast no votes -- and certainly none where his vote is the deciding matter. But it is an interesting intellectual question to turn over in one's mind.





|| Greg, 05:37 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

Where's The Scandal?

Oh, dear, the FBI threatened to pick a lock to execute a valid search warrant. Had this been one of our homes or offices, they would have kicked in the damn door.

FBI agents who raided the office of Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) last month threatened to pick the lock on the door after the acting U.S. Capitol Police chief asked them to hold off until a congressional lawyer showed up, according to a document filed in U.S. District Court.

Shortly after that, the FBI agents were let in.

The confrontation with Acting Chief Christopher M. McGaffin was cited in a brief filed by the Office of General Counsel for the House of Representatives as one of irregularities that made the search unconstitutional. Jefferson, the target of a federal bribery probe, has denied wrongdoing.

"The execution of the warrant poses a grave threat to the separation of powers principle that is the very foundation of our government's structure," the motion said.

Excuse me? Do I understand that the Capitol Police interfered with the execution of a lawfully issued search warrant? If so, why was Acting Chief Christopher M. McGaffin not taken into custody after delaying the investigation?

Now we have already established time and again that there is no privilege that grants a congressman the right to conduct criminal activity in a congressional office free from search or investigation. There is no threat to the separation of powers when a federal judge issues a warrant pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to search for evidence of a crime involving a member of Congress. Why are they even making this specious argument?

What I find particularly amusing is this part of the motion.

The motion, which recommends new protocols for congressional search warrants, suggested that the House counsel and Jefferson could have been present during the search to ensure legislative documents protected by the Speech or Debate Clause were not seized.

What? So Jefferson could have engaged in the same sort of actions he did when his home was searched -- moving and hiding relevant documents and lying to FBI agents about the documents he had in his possession? That is a non-starter.

I once had respect for the Capitol Police. However, the last couple of months make me wonder if they really are less competent and more corrupt than your average untrained, unarmed mall cops, between this and the Patrick Kennedy cover-up. Maybe Cynthia McKinney was right to bitch-slap one of them.





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

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Jihadi Swine, Roasts In Hell This Day!

I cannot think of any better news to have heard when, at 2:15 this morning, I was awoken by the excited voices of on the television that was still on in the living room where I had fallen asleep readingabout four hours before.

One of the leaders of the jihadi terrorists -- a man with the blood of countless innocents dripping from his hands -- is dead, and receiving his infernal reward.

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, whose leadership of the insurgent group al- Qaeda in Iraq made him the most wanted man in the country, was killed Wednesday evening by an air strike near Baqubah, north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Thursday.

The Jordanian-born Zarqawi claimed responsibility for hundreds of kidnappings, bombings and beheadings. His stated aim, in addition to ousting U.S. and other forces from Iraq, was to foment bloody sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

He was killed along with seven aides, officials said. They said his identity has been verified by fingerprints and other methods.

"Today Zarqawi was defeated," said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, appearing at a midday news conference with top U.S. General George W. Casey and American Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. "This is a message to all those who use violence killing and devastation to disrupt life in Iraq to rethink within themselves before it is too late," he added.

Zarqawi was killed in a rural house in the village of Hib Hib, 5 miles north of Baqubah, Maliki said.

The statement was met by applause among Iraqi reporters assembled in a briefing room. The announcement, which was confirmed by a Website linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq, was also met by celebratory gunfire in the streets of Baghdad.

Burn, baby, burn!





|| Greg, 04:50 AM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||

It's My Second Blogiversary!

Two years ago today, I made a momentous decision.

I wanted to write about the death of one of my heroes -- President Ronald Reagan.

I also wanted a safe space to talk politics without adding extra stresses to my marriage to my Darling Democrat.

So began Precinct 333, a Blogger blog that morphed into Rhymes With Right the following spring when I joined the Munuvians the following spring at the invitation of one of my online companions.

I'd like to thank every person who has viewed my blog -- and especially the commenters and linkers. It has been an honor to have most of you here (spammers excepted), and I thank you for the time and energy you have put in helping me build this blog into something I've come to be proud of.

May we have many more years together -- and my the growth continue.

* * *

And what the heck -- let's turn this into a special Blogiversary Edition linkfest and open trackback carnival!

You know the rules -- link back to this post with your best/favorite current posts. I won't limit your number of posts, but instead ask you to exercise prudent judgement about how many you send.

Some folks have told me they have problems trackbacking to this site. If this is the case, please use the Wizbang Standalone Trackback Pinger to establish the link.

And, of course, don't forget the big three rules.

No Spam. No Porn. No Problem.



» Planck's Constant links with: US Warplanes Bomb Innocent Villagers Drinking Tea
» Stuck On Stupid links with: Post Zarqawi Weekend Open Post June 9-11 2006



|| Greg, 04:36 AM || Permalink || Show Comments (4) || Comments || TrackBacks (2) ||

June 07, 2006

This Should Be Good!

I can’t wait to hear this one – what “honorable explanation” can you have for taking bribes and hiding the marked bills in your freezer?

Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, said Tuesday that there is "an honorable explanation" for the damaging scenario being painted by the federal government in the federal bribery probe targeting him, and he again denied breaking any laws.

Jefferson declined to discuss specifics of the 15-month investigation that has yielded two guilty pleas amid allegations that the congressman accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. Jefferson has not been charged and would not speculate on whether he thought an indictment was coming from the northern Virginia grand jury investigating him.

In a wide-ranging interview late Tuesday in his congressional office, the site last month of an unprecedented FBI search, Jefferson said he has no intention of stepping down and reiterated his plan to seek a ninth term in November.

"When all is said and done, you will see that there is an honorable explanation for everything you are reading about," Jefferson said, remaining relaxed throughout the interview, his feet slung up on a coffee table. "I believe an impartial forum can reach and will reach that same conclusion.

If he believes that, the Democrat culture of corruption must run much deeper – especially in Louisiana – than any of us ever imagined.





|| Greg, 06:27 PM || Permalink || Comments || TrackBacks (0) ||