To stop terrorist incitements? No.
To end anti-Semitic utterances by imams and other Muslim leaders? No.
What the Tampa Chapter wants is a legal distinction between ďfree speechĒ and ďhate speechĒ, says Ahmed Bedier, the chapterís director.
Comments from national pundits and bloggers can incite violence and hate crimes, said Bedier, who came to the forum with a handout that featured a list of quotes that CAIR considers ďanti-Muslim hate speech.Ē
The list included the words of commentators such as Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, and religious figures such as Pat Robertson and the Rev. Billy Graham.
But it also included quotes from the Hogans and ultra-right-wing blogger Vilmar Tavares, who also lives in Hernando County and whose blog often includes anti-Muslim sentiments, Bedier said.
There should be a distinction between free speech and hate speech, Bedier said. The latter could incite a potentially violent person to commit a hate crime, he said.
ďIt may be what pushes that person over the edge,Ē he said.
In other words, anything that is anti-terrorist, opposes Islam, or even simply offends Muslims ought to be banned because it might ďincite a potentially violent person over the edge.Ē
I guess the move towards the dhimmification of we infidel-Americans will begin with the elimination of our right to even speak out.
Selwyn Duke examines how this sort of distinction might well be used to eviscerate the First Amendment if we are not vigilant.
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How much avocado does your dip have to have before it is guacamole. That is the basis of this lawsuit in California.
That's the issue in a fraud lawsuit filed Wednesday against Kraft Foods, Inc., by a Los Angeles woman who claims the company's avocado dip doesn't qualify as guacamole.
"It just didn't taste avocadoey," said Brenda Lifsey, who used Kraft Dips Guacamole in a three-layer dip last year. "I looked at the ingredients and found there was almost no avocado in it."
She is seeking unspecified damages and a Superior Court order barring Kraft from calling its dip guacamole. Her suit seeks class-action status.
The Kraft product contains modified food starch, coconut and soybean oils, corn syrup and food coloring. It is less than 2 percent avocado, which in traditional recipes is the main ingredient of the Mexican dish.
The government doesn't have any requirements on how much avocado a product must contain to be labeled guacamole, said Michael Herndon, a spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft said it had not seen the lawsuit but believed it was not deceiving anyone.
"We think customers understand that it isn't made from avocado," Claire Regan, Kraft Foods' vice president of corporate affairs, told the Los Angeles Times. "All of the ingredients are listed on the label for consumers to reference."
However, the company will relabel the product to make it clearer that the dip is guacamole-flavored, Regan said.
In other words, the information was already there for the lazy litigant to see Ė but she didnít bother looking.
Dismiss the case. Disbar the lawyer. And donít buy the cheapest product on the shelf and expect it to be 100% avocado.
And in doing so he shows himself to be the anti-Semite -- not that his previous efforts have hidden that from world view.
We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine. In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief. ...
For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. ...
You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it. ...
What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people? ... What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors?
This "Noble American" stands with Israel and its self-defense actions in the face of Syrian and Iranian-sponsored terrorists who daily seek to murder its men women and children -- and then hide among the civilian population to create civilian casualties on their own side in an effort to stir up international sympathy.
Ahmadinejad can go to Hell.
Well, fresh from Nancy Pelosi's breaking her pledge to promote high ethical standards in Congress, we have a new Democrat broken promise -- the rejection of one of the 9/11 Commission recommendations that the Democrats repeatedly promised to implement if they got the majority.
Which one? The one that directly effects Congress and how it operates.
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.
Because plans for implementing the commission's recommendations are still fluid, Democratic officials would not speak for the record. But aides on the House and Senate appropriations, armed services and intelligence committees confirmed this week that a reorganization of Congress would not be part of the package of homeland-security changes up for passage in the "first 100 hours" of the Democratic Congress.
And it looks like one of those actively involved in thwarting the implementation of the proposal is corrupt cut-n-runner John Murtha, whose Appropriations Sub-Committee would lose some of its authority under the proposal. The Abscam unindicted co-conspirator wants to keep the authority to dispense pork fromt he defense budget all to himself -- where it can go to his brother's lobbying clients.
"I don't think that suggestion is going anywhere," said Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee and a close ally of the incoming subcommittee chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). "That is not going to be their party position."
It may seem like a minor matter, but members of the commission say Congress's failure to change itself is anything but inconsequential. In 2004, the commission urged Congress to grant the House and Senate intelligence committees the power not only to oversee the nation's intelligence agencies but also to fund them and shape intelligence policy. The intelligence committees' gains would come at the expense of the armed services committees and the appropriations panels' defense subcommittees. Powerful lawmakers on those panels would have to give up prized legislative turf.
But the commission was unequivocal about the need.
"Of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult and important," the panel wrote. "So long as oversight is governed by current congressional rules and resolutions, we believe the American people will not get the security they want and need."
Now frankly, reasonable people can argue whether that proposal is correct or not -- but when the Democrats ran on a platform of implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, the failure to implement one supported so strongly by the bi-partisan commission and declared to be so vital is clearly a breach of faith with the American people.
And a sign of Democrat lies and corruption as usual.
We are expecting a 40 degree temperature swing in a matter of hours as a front moves through town.
Finally, it's time to bring out the blankets.>
And with temperatures today and this weekend expected to dip into near freezing numbers, talk turns to protecting the plants, pipes and, of course, people.
At the city of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, horticulturist Dee Howell and her staff spent much of Wednesday covering delicate potted plants outside the department's greenhouse.
"I would be worried if I had a lot of tropical plants," she said.
The cold front likely will reach Houston by noon, said Paul Lewis, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in League City.
Expect temperatures to drop from a high of 71 to a low of 33 tonight, along with a 70 percent chance of rain. Lewis said the storm will move very quickly, with 15 mph to 20 mph northwest winds. Winds may reach 30 mph in nearby coastal areas. Temperatures could dip to freezing about dawn Friday.
But balmier temperatures should be back in a few days.
That is, of course, the essential argument of todayís whining, self-serving editorial over the failure of the Supreme Court to quash a subpoena of phone records in a probe of yet another nation security leak that aided terrorists who seek to destroy the United States.
A journalistís ability to protect the identity of confidential sources has been further eroded by the Supreme Courtís refusal this week to stop a prosecutor from reviewing the telephone records of two New York Times reporters. This is the latest legal blow to the diminishing right of journalists to shield informants who often provide information of great interest and importance but who might be punished if their identities were known.
Yeah, thatís right Ė folks who engage in criminal leaking of juicy information that the NY Times wants to publish on Page One because it helps the enemies of America. Thatís right Ė the NY Times argues that journalists ought to have the right to obstruct justice.
The case arose from a Chicago grand jury investigation into who told the two reporters, Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, about actions the government planned to take against two Islamic charities in late 2001. The government contends that the reporters, in performing the normal journalistic practice of calling the charities for comment, effectively tipped them off to impending raids and asset seizures, undermining the effort.
Yes, it is true that the reporters may not have done anything criminal, but it would certainly appear that their sources did. That is why the information on the sources is necessary Ė it is essential to punishing criminal wrong-doing by the sources.
Rather than drag the reporters into court, where they could have protected their sources by refusing to testify, the prosecutor subpoenaed their phone records for 11 days in 2001. A trial court prohibited the government from obtaining the records from the phone companies, but a divided appeals court reversed that decision. Now the Supreme Court, in refusing to intervene, has effectively allowed the prosecutor to search through the records in hopes he can pinpoint the source of the leak.
Indeed, precisely because the reporters would have obstructed justice and jailed for contempt it is necessary for the prosecutors to obtain the phone records. If the reporters would recognize that they are subject to precisely the same laws that apply to the rest of Americans, such a subpoena would not be necessary. Bu reporters seem to believe that they are different, endowed by rights above those of ordinary Americans, and so the subpoena is the only way to get the records. The entire thing could be settled by an offer to reveal the sources to the investigators in the case Ė but the NY Times views itself and its employees as more important than the criminal justice system.
This is a bad outcome for the press and for the public. The phone records reveal the identities of lots of sources having nothing to do with the leaks. The appeals courtís disingenuous suggestion that The Times might redact irrelevant records would simply have helped point to possible leakers.
Again, that is the choice of the New York Times and its employees Ė revealing the sources directly would avoid this undesirable outcome, and sustain the rule of law over the rule of the media.
The public will be ill served if this case reduces the willingness of officials to reveal important but sensitive information. The privilege granted to journalists to protect their sources needs to be bolstered with a strong federal shield law that would preserve the public interest in newsgathering and dissemination of information.
Actually, the public will be well-served if the case reduces the willingness of unscrupulous officials to reveal important sensitive information that undermine the Crusade Against Jihadi Terrorism and other national security matters. There should be no special privileges granted journalists, no shield laws and no right to obstruct justice. Americaís security depends upon it.
But it seems the party will go on without him, attended by world leaders and celebrities untroubled by the dictator's absences -- and the murders and other human rights violations committed under Fidel's direction.
The ailing Fidel Castro was not well enough to attend the kickoff Tuesday of his 80th birthday celebrations, attended by hundreds of admirers who traveled here to fete him.
A government worker at the gala launch of the five-day birthday bash read a message which he said came from the Cuban leader. It said Castro's doctors had told him he was not in condition to go to the party at Havana's Karl Marx Theater where about 5,000 well-wishers gathered.
God grant that this be the last time that Castro celebrates a birthday or his Communist revolution -- and he mark the next ones surrounded by the fire and brimstone that surely await him in the next life.
The City Council here voted late Tuesday to ban certain giant retail stores, dealing a blow to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s potential to expand in the nation's eighth-largest city.
The measure, approved on a 5-3 vote, prohibits stores of more than 90,000 square feet that use 10 percent of space to sell groceries and other merchandise that is not subject to sales tax. It takes aim at Wal-Mart Supercenter stores, which average 185,000 square feet and sell groceries.
Mayor Jerry Sanders will veto the ban if the Council reaffirms it on a second vote, which will likely happen in January, said mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz. The Council can override his veto with five votes.
"What the Council did tonight was social engineering, not good public policy," Sainz said.
Supporters of the ban argued that Wal-Mart puts smaller competitors out of business, pays workers poorly, and contributes to traffic congestion and pollution. Opponents said the mega-retailer provides jobs and low prices and that a ban would limit consumer choice.
Wal-Mart will likely challenge this in court, but i don't think they should. Rather, the retailer should announce that it will no longer hire employees who live in zip codes within the city limits of San Diego -- and any other community that passes such an ordinance. After all, if San Diego doesn't want Wal-Mart, why should Walmart pump money into the city's economy?
This is incredible -- Chicago officials object to a Christmas festival accepting a film about Christmas as a sponsor, for fear that non-Christians will be offended!
A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.
New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event. The decision had both the studio and a prominent Christian group shaking their heads.
I wholeheartedly echo this comment by a spokesman for Willow Creek Church, a large church in the Chicago area.
"The last time I checked, the first six letters of Christmas still spell out Christ."
And so do the first six letter of "Christkindlmarket" -- which I believe means "Christ Child Market" in German.
Now I don't make a secret of the fact that I am not a big fan of Islam. Indeed, it concerns me that more Muslims and Islamic institutions don't stand up and take a hardline stance against terrorism. And I certainly opposed the election of Keith Ellison, a Muslim, to the US Congress -- though my reason was his history of anti-Semitic activity and his refusal to be truthful about those activities.
However, Ellison was was elected by the voters of his district. And Ellison, as a Muslim, has every right to choose to take his oath of office with his hand on a Koran.
Keith Ellison (D.-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress, has announced that he will not take his oath of office on the Bible, but on the bible of Islam, the Koran.
He should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.
First, it is an act of hubris that perfectly exemplifies multiculturalist activism -- my culture trumps America's culture. What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.
Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress. In your personal life, we will fight for your right to prefer any other book. We will even fight for your right to publish cartoons mocking our Bible. But, Mr. Ellison, America, not you, decides on what book its public servants take their oath.
Uh, Dennis -- the United States Constitution has a little thing called the First Amendment that was added to is about 215 years ago, And said provision includes the free exercise of religion and precludes the establishment of religion. That should demolish your entire position right there -- but it seems to me that you do not give a damn about little niceties like freedom of religion. In that regard, I could argue that it is you who are out to do even graver damage to this country than you allege Ellison's use of his holy book will do -- but I won't engage in rhetoric quite as heated as yours.
Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? And if not, why not? On what grounds will those defending Ellison's right to choose his favorite book deny that same right to a racist who is elected to public office?
I'm no PC or multi-culti fanatic, but I am a believer in the notion that we as a people do not compel a religious act against someone's will. That is why I support the right of people to opt-out of the Pledge of Allegiance over the words "under God" because they are atheists. I do not believe that their free exercise of (non-)religion is a threat to America. Neither is the practice of permitting individuals who will not take an oath to "affirm" their truthfulness before a court, or the common practice of allowing a book other than the Bible to be used. Oh, and to answer your question -- if some moron wants to use "Mein Kampf", more power to him or her. Such an individual will not last long in office -- and might not even make it through his or her term before being forced out.
Of course, Ellison's defenders argue that Ellison is merely being honest; since he believes in the Koran and not in the Bible, he should be allowed, even encouraged, to put his hand on the book he believes in. But for all of American history, Jews elected to public office have taken their oath on the Bible, even though they do not believe in the New Testament, and the many secular elected officials have not believed in the Old Testament either. Yet those secular officials did not demand to take their oaths of office on, say, the collected works of Voltaire or on a volume of New York Times editorials, writings far more significant to some liberal members of Congress than the Bible. Nor has one Mormon official demanded to put his hand on the Book of Mormon. And it is hard to imagine a scientologist being allowed to take his oath of office on a copy of "Dianetics" by L. Ron Hubbard.
Frankly, I'd have great admiration for any Jew who chose to bring the family Torah for their swearing-in -- it would indicate an integrity that is sadly lacking in politics today. Ditto a Mormon who chose to use the Book of Mormon (which I believe to be no more inspired than the Koran) -- though since Mormons accept the Bible, I understand why it has never been an issue. And if someone wants to use take their oath on Dianetics, which is at the heart of L. Ron Hubbard's fraud upon the gullible and over-privileged, they can do so. Indeed, if someone chooses to take the oath on no book whatsoever -- and omit the customary "so help me God" at the end, I am troubled not in the least. The reality is that our founding document encourages such pluralism. Frankly, my preference would be that every public official take their oath of office upon an open copy of the US Constitution in the hope of inspiring fidelity to THAT document.
So why are we allowing Keith Ellison to do what no other member of Congress has ever done -- choose his own most revered book for his oath?
The answer is obvious -- Ellison is a Muslim. And whoever decides these matters, not to mention virtually every editorial page in America, is not going to offend a Muslim. In fact, many of these people argue it will be a good thing because Muslims around the world will see what an open society America is and how much Americans honor Muslims and the Koran.
No, you sanctimonious twit -- the reason is the First Amendment.
This argument appeals to all those who believe that one of the greatest goals of America is to be loved by the world, and especially by Muslims because then fewer Muslims will hate us (and therefore fewer will bomb us).
No, it is because the greatest goal of America ought to be to be a beacon of freedom, faithful to the words of the Constitution. I don't give a damn if Muslims love us, like us, or hate our guts. Frankly, I want Muslims to FEAR us, and to be aware that in the event that jihadis continue to attack us (and other Muslims explicitly or implicitly give them support) we will see to it that Islam ceases to exist on any significant scale anywhere in the world if that is what is necessary to safeguard American lives and freedom.
But these naive people do not appreciate that America will not change the attitude of a single American-hating Muslim by allowing Ellison to substitute the Koran for the Bible. In fact, the opposite is more likely: Ellison's doing so will embolden Islamic extremists and make new ones, as Islamists, rightly or wrongly, see the first sign of the realization of their greatest goal -- the Islamicization of America.
Perhaps then you should suggest that Ellison should be forbidden from serving in Congress at all, given that his presence there will also be seen as a step towards the Islamicization of America by those same deranged followers of the false prophet Muhammad.
When all elected officials take their oaths of office with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed to change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9/11. It is hard to believe that this is the legacy most Muslim Americans want to bequeath to America. But if it is, it is not only Europe that is in trouble.
Gee, Dennis, a similar argument was made in the 19th Century about allowing Catholic school children to use a Catholic translation of the Bible instead of the KJV in public schools back during the 19th century. After all, the KJV was seen as the source of the underlying value system of America -- and use of the Douay-Rhiems was seen as a step towards establishing Papal Tyranny over America. Your argument is no less offensive and bigoted than that of the nativists who burned convents, ransacked churches and trampled the Eucharist in response to such a reasonable demand by Catholics.
Oh, and by the way, Dennis -- if you check Article VI of the Constitution, no book is required for any oath of office, but a religious test for office is forbidden. How do you plan on getting around THAT unifying value as you seek to impose the Bible upon Keith Ellison?
UPDATE II: A great piece on the matter in the Star Tribune presents the issue more or less as i see it -- and refutes the claim of left-wing bloggers that Prager made up the claim that Ellison wanted to use the Koran for his oath.
Ellison, who told the Star Tribune shortly after his election victory that he planned to use the Qur'an, was attending meetings in Washington on Thursday and could not be reached for comment, according to Dave Colling, his spokesman. But Ellison defended his plan to use the Qur'an, Islam's holiest book, in an interview with Abdi Aynte, a reporter from Minneapolis who writes for the Minnesota Monitor, an independently produced political news blog.
"The Constitution guarantees for everyone to take the oath of office on whichever book they prefer," Ellison was quoted as saying. "And that's what the freedom of religion is all about."
And I'd like to point out to my liberal friends that many conservatives are piling on prager over his outrageous column -- including folks like Rep. Tom Tancredo, who is among the most conservative folks in Congress.
MORE AT: Stop the ACLU, The Liberty Papers, Riehl World View, Kobayashi Maru, Andrew Sullivan, Politics & Culture, Minnesota Monitor, PolGeek, America vs. The World, One Country Voice, Outside The Beltway, Bullwinkle Blog, Noisy Room, Taylor Marsh, What Is The War?, Mahablog, California Conservative, Professor Bainbridge, A Newer World, Gina Cobb, Let Freedom Ring, Sister Toldjah, Tammy Bruce, Lifelike Pundits, Hot Air, Wake Up America, Conservative Blog Therapy, Shelbinator, Resonance, WritingUp, Florida Masochist, Shape of Days, Eclectic Times, Cox Family, Christifideles, Where I Stand, The Agitator
Even more good news, this time in my own backyard.
One of two Houston men accused of training to fight with the Taliban pleaded guilty this afternoon in federal court.
Kobie Diallo Williams, 33, a U.S. citizen who was a student at the University of Houston Downtown, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist a terrorist group. His help included withdrawing cash from an ATM to send to the Middle East.
Another man, Adnan Babar Mirza, 29, a Pakistani national who was in the country on an expired student visa, faces a similar conspiracy charges as well as three federal weapons violations. Mirza appeared today before a U.S. magistrate judge.
* * *
The indictments, which were unsealed today after both men appeared in court, allege that during the past 1 1/2 years both men participated in firearms and reconnaissance training in Harris County and surrounding areas.
According to the indictment, the two decided last year to travel to the Middle East to engage in "battlefield jihad.''
Federal law prohibits contributions of goods or services to the Taliban, one of several specially designated global terrorist organizations.
Lock them away and lose the keys.
I love a little good news with my dinner.
The Syrian leader of an Islamic militant group blew himself up Tuesday after trying to cross into Lebanon and engaging in a gunbattle with Syrian border forces. Two border guards were wounded.
* * *
The Syrian Interior Ministry said in a statement the clash began when Omar Abdullah, 28, the leader of the Islamic militant group Tawhid and Jihad, was challenged when he tried to cross into Lebanon with fake documents.
Tawhid and Jihad, Arabic for Monotheism and Holy War, was the name originally used by al-Qaida in Iraq and in 2004, the State Department designated it a terrorist group under its original name. Groups linked to or sympathetic to al-Qaida have used the name Tawhid and Jihad, but such a group had not been known to be operating in Syria.
A witness said Abdullah was standing outside the passport control building when security agents approached. He opened fire with a handgun, wounding two guards, then ran toward the nearby village of Kfeir Yabous about 500 yards away.
More security forces arrived, started shooting and apparently hit the gunman, said the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals. He said the attacker raised one hand in a gesture of surrender, but used the other to detonate an explosives belt.
Blood could be seen splattered on the rocky terrain nearby.
Let's hope we have more of these folks go to their infernal reward without taking anyone else with them.
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Our Rules of Engagement in Iraq by American Future, and Congressman Conyers and Islam by Daled Amos. Here is a link to the full results of the vote.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3 1/3||Our Rules of Engagement in Iraq|
Done With Mirrors
|1||Is This How EduCorruption Smells?|
The Education Wonks
|1||A Dirty Little Secret|
|1||All Your Smoking Are Belong To Us|
Right Wing Nut House
|2/3||UN General Assembly Condemns Israel for Defending Itself... Again.|
|1/3||So, What About the Polar Bears.|
The Sundries Shack
|1/3||What The Democrat "Brain Trust" Thinks About America|
Rhymes With Right
|1/3||Naming the Price, Waiting for Response|
|1/3||Bolton for the Door|
|2||Congressman Conyers and Islam|
|1 2/3||Democrats' Bait and Switch Election Strategy|
The American Thinker
|1 1/3||Lost In Translation (Weekend Thread)|
All Things Beautiful
|1 1/3||A Countdown to War P2: The Caucasian Tinderbox.|
Tao of Defiance
|1||Yes, They Exist. No, They Arenít the Solution|
Our Children Are the Guarantors
|1||Indian Muslims Also Pay for Their Jihadist Leadership|
History News Network
|2/3||Charles Rangel Thinks He Owns You (Updated)|
|2/3||Situation Report on the Expedition to Iraq|
Defense and the National Interest
|2/3||Blogs, Campaigns and the 2006 Election|
The QandO Blog
|1/3||Update on the Porous Border Situation|
La Shawn Barber's Corner
|1/3||Visits With the Man With No Face|
This Thanksgiving has not been one of turkey and trimmings -- this morning as I prepared "Big Bird" for the oven, my dear wife began vomiting blood. She is now resting somewhat comfortably in ICU with some sort of GI bleed.
I ask the prayers of any and all readers -- friend and foe -- for Paula's complete and speedy recovery. And I ask, too, for a prayer or two of thanksgiving that there are dedicated medical professionals available this day -- one which most of us take for granted as a day off for feasting and football -- to aid in her recovery.
And may God send his richest blessings down on each and every one of you who reads these words and responds to them, as I especially give thanks this day for the greatest worldly blessings he has given me -- my beloved.
UPDATE -- 11/24/06, 7:00 PM: She is resting uncomfortably in ICU, all sorts of tubes going in and out -- but Paula is doing better. They found a couple of GI problems, including the one that was causing the bleeding. They fixed that one, and are going to have to decide what to do with the rest. They are also concerned about another, ongoing medical issue and the medication that may have helped bring on this current situation, so there may be an alternate therapy for it as well. And best of all, she may be in a real room by morning.
Many thanks to you who have sent prayers and well-wishes -- they are truly appreciated.
UPDATE -- 11/25, 1:00 PM: Last night was a bad night, with a decision made to keep Paula in ICU until further notice. Her interesting medical history makes thing a bit complicated, and while we have had some good news there has been enough of concern that they want to supervise her closely for a while longer.
UPDATE -- 11/25, 10:00 PM: And then again, the GI doctor comes along and says that if she has a quiet night she can go to a room tomorrow! Paula seems much stronger and her vital statistics and blood work all look much better than they did even 12 hours ago.
UPDATE -- 11/26, 10:00 PM: Paula is out of ICU, and doing well. Here's hoping that she will be home soon, in much better health than she left here.
UPDATE -- 11/27, 10:00 PM: Paula is home.
Can we Christians issue death threats now? Burn the embassies and consulates of Muslim countries? Cause a diplomatic crisis because of a blasphemous comment made about the central figure of our religion by a non-believer?
In other words, can we act like Muslims because of this blasphemous sign displayed at a rally in Turkey?
One of the many titles for Jesus Christ is Prince of Peace. And one of the many symbols of the Christmas holidays is a wreath. One Colorado homeowner combined the two ideas into a peace symbol wreath. Now one man Ė the president of the homeowners association Ė is seeking to force the holiday decoration down because he and a few other community members donít like the perceived message.
A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.
Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said.
"Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up," he said in a telephone interview Sunday.
The homeowner has a different point of view.
Lisa Jensen said she wasn't thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, "Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing."
Jensen, a past association president, calculates the fines will cost her about $1,000, and doubts they will be able to make her pay. But she said she's not going to take it down until after Christmas.
"Now that it has come to this I feel I can't get bullied," she said. "What if they don't like my Santa Claus."
And Kearns is quite clear that he is out to suppress a point of view that he does not like.
The association in this 200-home subdivision 270 miles southwest of Denver has sent a letter to her saying that residents were offended by the sign and the board "will not allow signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive."
But the bylaws state that billboards, advertising and signs (and a wreath, even one with an unorthodox design, does not fall into any of those categories, in my humble opinion) may be permitted by the associationís architectural control committee. When Jensen went to the committee and ordered them to require the wreathís removal, the committee refused, presumably on the grounds that there was nothing wrong with the holiday decoration.
So Kearns acted like any other fascist dictator would when he failed to get his way.
He dismissed the committee and imposed the fine himself.
After all, we canít let ideas like ďPeace On EarthĒ get associated with Christmas.
And who says that Democrats don't have contempt for the military?
Having been shown stats that indicate that members of the armed forces are less likely to be black, poor, or high school dropouts than the American population at large, Rangel was asked a very simple question.
Isn't the volunteer Army better educated and more well to do than the general population?
His response shows the degree of contempt for the US military that exists in his shriveled, anti-American, left-wing heart.
Of course not. I want to make it abundantly clear: if thereís anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.
Got that -- even though the FACTS show that the members of today's military are more educated and from more affluent backgrounds than at any point in our nation's history, Rangel argues that they are simply poor, dumb screw-ups with no options in civilian life. Given his own contempt for America, I guess that Rangel cannot fathom patriotism and service to one's country, rather than the partisanship and service to himself that Rangel has engaged in for decades in Congress.
So let's remember that Charlie Rangel is the "new" face of the Democrat Party -- despite being a hack politician who has served (himself) in Congress for decades.
And if you wonder why this angers me so, it is because I heard the same sort of crap about Vietnam vets growing up -- raised by a father whose career was serving this country in the United States Navy, including multiple tours in Vietnam. And I remember watching him struggle to serve our country by day and complete both a masters Degree and a Doctorate by night -- so that upon retirement he could spend the next two decades running a Job Corps Center, overseeing a group of Job Corps Centers in the Northwest, and finally end his second career (in education) as a college professor. My father did not serve because he had no choices or no brains -- he served because of a great love for this country that he still manifests to this day, a half century after he joined the Navy straight out of college.
And I know that the men and women of the US military serving today in Iraq are every bit the equal in intelligence, ability, and love of country as he was back then, when he joined and when he continued to serve with pride during Vietnam and the dark years for the military that followed.
Others blogging on this topic include The Political Pit Bull, Biga, Macsmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense Ľ Blog Archive Ľ More Rangel hoof in mouth disease, Y.A.C.R.W.B - Yet Another Conservative, Right Wing Blog Ľ Rangel Pulls a Kerry, Sister Toldjah Ľ Rep. Charlie Rangel disrespects our military - again, Post : Military Matters, Growing Old Disgracefully Ľ Tonightís surf-bored, Right Voices Ľ Blog Archive Ľ Rangel Does His Best John Kerry Imitation, Stop The ACLU, Curiouser and Curiouser, RAINGULL: US MILITARY STUPID LOSERS ę Texas Hold ĎEm Blogger, Ace of Spades HQ, Charles Rangel on What the Left Really Thinks ę Woodiahís BlogThe LLama Butchers, SlublogDumbass IV: Canít let it go at Imperium ZorlociHang Right Politics - Archives Ľ First, Mississippi. Now, This., BizzyBlog: The Business End of the Blogosphere Ľ Letís See: Thereís Kerry, Strickland, and Now Rangel Ö..Texas Rainmaker Ľ Rangelís Alternate Punchline to Kerryís ďBotched JokeĒ, Dawnsblood, ď7.62mm JusticeĒ Ľ Rangel, Sit Down & Shut Up, Bill's Bites, Media Lies, Say Anything, Ľ Democrats and the Profession of ArmsIvory Dome, Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend, Blue Crab Boulevard Ľ Rangel Continues To Insult The Troops, Andrew Olmsted dot com, Church and State, The Moderate Voice, Sam Wilkinson isÖTaking It Eaaaaaasy. Ľ Blog Archive Ľ Rangel Hates America, Rangel Hates AmericaÖWait, What?!?, Hoystory Ľ Blog Archive Ľ Keep talkingÖ, The Dread Pundit Bluto, Cop The Truth, Blog-o-Fascists, Bruised Orange Ľ Rangel: Iím With Stoopid, Ľ Blog Archive Ľ Is it Kerry?, Leaning Straight Up, third world county, NW Bloggers
In the Middle Ages, it was common for older works to be "erased" from the valuable, durable vellum upon which they were written so that it could be recycled. Modern technology now allows us to recover the original text of these "palimpsest" manuscripts -- and one recent discovery gives us new insights into Athenian history and democracy.
The Archimedes Palimpsest, sold at auction at Christieís for $2 million in 1998, is best known for containing some of the oldest copies of work by the great Greek mathematician who gives the manuscript its name. But there is more to the palimpsest than Archimedesí work, including 10 pages of Hyperides, offering tantalizing and fresh insights into the critical battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., in which the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., which spelled the beginning of the end of Greek democracy.
The palimpsest is believed to have been created by Byzantine monks in the 13th century, probably in Constantinople. As was the practice then, the durable and valuable vellum pages of several older texts were washed and scraped, to remove their writing, and then used for a medieval prayer book. The pages of the older books became the sheaths of a newer one, thus a palimpsest (which is pronounced PAL-imp-sest and is Greek for ďrubbed againĒ).
After the Christieís sale the manuscript was left at the museum by the private collector for conservation and study. This year imagers at Stanford University used powerful X-ray fluorescence imaging to read its final pages, which are being interpreted, transcribed and translated by a group of scholars in the United States and Europe.
The new Hyperides revelations include two previously unknown speeches, effectively increasing this renowned oratorís body of work by 20 percent, said Judson Herrman, a 36-year-old professor of classics at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. He is one of a handful of classicists who have written doctoral dissertations on Hyperides.
Hyperides lived from 390 or 389 B.C. until 322 B.C. and was an orator who made speeches at public meetings of the citizen assembly. A contemporary of Aristotle and Demosthenes, he wrote speeches for himself and for others and spoke at important political trials. In 322 B.C. Hyperides was executed by the Macedonians for participating in a failed rebellion.
ďItís a spotlight shining on an important moment in history,Ē said Mr. Herrman, currently a fellow at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Until the new leaves were found in the palimpsest, most scholars believed only fragments of Hyperides survived beyond the Classical period. The mystery of Archimedesí treatise on combinatorics, the Stomachion, was solved in 2003 by deciphering the palimpsest. Now W. Robert Connor, the president of the Teagle Foundation, which provides education and financial resources for education, called the discovery of new Hyperides text a ďtour de force of the first order.Ē
A combination of high-tech imagery and old-fashioned deciphering, sometimes letter by letter, was used to resurrect the older text, revealing a slice of Athenian history in the days after its devastating defeat by Philip II, king of Macedonia and the father of Alexander the Great, Mr. Connor said. ďThe number of times you get a new text is very small,Ē Mr. Connor, a former professor of classics at Princeton said. ďItís like hearing an old violin played at a superb level.Ē
It makes you wonder how many other important discoveries are waiting in libraries around the world, hidden behind beautiful but historically insignificant prayer books, Bibles, and other texts.
For more on the Archimedes Palimpsest, click here.
How long did it take for the folks from the Terrorstinian Anarchy to violate the new ceasefire? Two hours. And the Israeli response? Do nothing, in the hopes that the ceasefire will hold.
The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, outlined the terms of a possible cease-fire in a telephone call to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, according to Olmert's aides. The proposal called for an end to the frequent Palestinian rocket fire that has killed two Israelis this month, suicide bombings inside Gaza against Israeli soldiers and the digging of tunnels used for smuggling money and weapons into the strip from neighboring Egypt.
Olmert's aides said the prime minister pledged in return to cease military operations in Gaza -- more than 250 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, have been killed since late June -- effective 6 a.m. Sunday. Israeli forces would begin withdrawing soon after from northern Gaza, where they have been operating for several weeks, if terms of the truce hold. [The Israeli military said early Sunday that it had withdrawn all of its forces from Gaza.]
Israeli and Palestinian officials warned that the next few days would determine the durability of the cease-fire, which does not extend to the West Bank. Similar agreements have been announced since Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza 14 months ago, only to collapse within hours. [There were reports of at least one rocket falling inside Israel after the cease-fire took effect, without reports of injuries.]
"It holds the potential for stability and quiet for both sides," said Miri Eisin, an Olmert spokeswoman. "Israel in that sense is hopeful."
Israel has ordered restraint after Palestinian militants fired a salvo of rockets at the Jewish state, violating a fledgling ceasefire less then two hours after it took affect in the Gaza Strip.
The rocket strike threatened the ceasefire agreement that came into effect at dawn and in which militants promised to halt rocket attacks in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from the impoverished coastal territory.
The Israeli army completed its withdrawal from Gaza shortly after dawn, a military spokeswoman said Sunday.
The armed wings of the ruling Islamist Hamas movement and the radical Islamic Jihad, both of which signed on to the ceasefire accord, each claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks which hit the Israeli town of Sderot shortly before 8:00 am (0600 GMT), causing no casualties.
The attacks, which were quickly condemned by both the Hamas-led government and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, marked an inauspicious start to the ceasefire which came into play at 6:00 am (0400 GMT).
But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, vowing restraint and patience in the coming days, said he had ordered the army not to respond to the attacks.
"We will show restraint and patience in order to give the ceasefire a chance," said Olmert, speaking at the inauguration of a school in the Bedouin town of Rahat in southern Israel.
"I took into account the possibility that ceasefires do not materialize immediately to their fullest extent without any violations," he added. "There are violations of the ceasefire on the Palestinian side, but I instructed the security establishment not to respond."
So let's get this straight -- despite signing on to the agreement, both of the major Terrorstinian factions have claimed responsibility for a new attack on Israel. And prime Minister Ohlmert sits around pretending he is John Lennon, singing "Give Peace A Chance". Fortunately, now Israelis were killed in this attack, but I have to wonder how many dead Jews it will take for the Israeli government to recognize that one does not negotiate with terrorists, but instead must exterminate them like the vermin they are?
This past summer, I wrote about the discovery of the USS Legarto. Now, though, an even more legendary American submarine has been found -- the USS Wahoo.
The discovery of her last resting place has been confirmed by the United States Navy.
ommander, U.S. Pacific Fleet declared Oct. 31 that the sunken submarine recently discovered by divers in the Western Pacific is, indeed, the World War II submarine USS Wahoo (SS 238).
"After reviewing the records and information, we are certain USS Wahoo has been located," said Adm. Gary Roughead, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander. ďWe are grateful for the support of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and appreciate greatly the underwater video footage of the submarine provided by our Russian navy colleagues, which allowed us to make this determination. This brings closure to the families of the men of Wahoo - one of the greatest fighting submarines in the history of the U.S. Navy."
In July, the Russian dive team ďIskraĒ photographed wreckage lying in about 213 feet (65 meters) of water in the La Perouse (Soya) Strait between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and the Russian island of Sakhalin. The divers were working with The Wahoo Project Group, an international team of experts coordinated by Bryan MacKinnon, a relative of Wahooís famed skipper, Cmdr. Dudley W. ďMushĒ Morton.
ďI am very pleased to be part of an effort where old adversaries have joined together as friends to find the Wahoo,Ē said MacKinnon.
Wahoo was lost with all hands on her seventh patrol in October, 1943. She and her skipper, Cdr. Dudley W. "Mush" Morton, had compiled a phenomenal record of success during the sub's time in service. Morton's success as a captain was such that he was still a legend among navy men when I was a boy growing up on navy bases, more than a quarter century after the last patrol.
The following is a list of the brave men of the USS Wahoo, lost when she was sunk on October 11, 1943.
Anders, F. MM3
Andrews, J. S. EM1
Bailey, R. E. SC3
Bair, A. I. TM3
Berg, J. C. MM3
Browning, C. E. MOMM2
Brown, D. R. LTJG
Bruce, C. L. MOMM1
Buckley, J. P. RM1
Burgan, W. W. LT
Campbell, J. S. ENS
Carr, W. J. CGMA
Carter, J. E. RM2
Davison, W. E. MOMM1
Deaton, L. N. TM1
Erdey, J. S. EM3
Fielder, E. F. LTJG
Finkelstein, O. TM3
Galli, W. O. TM3
Garmon, C. E. MOMM2
Garrett, G. C., Jr. MOMM2
Gerlacher, W. L. S2
Goss, R. P. MOMM1
Greene, H. M. LT
Hand, W. R. EM2
Hartman, L. M. MM3
Hayes, D. M. EM2
Henderson, R. N. LT
Holmes, W. H. EM1
House, V. A. S1
Howe, H. J. EM2
Jacobs, O. MOMM1
Jasa, R. L. MM3
Jayson, J. O. CK3
Johnson, K. B. TM1
Keeter, D. C. CMOMMA
Kemp, W. W. GM1
Kessock, P. F1
Krebs, P. H. S1
Kirk, E. T. S1
Lape, A. D. F1
Lindemann, C. A. S1
Logue, R. B. FC1
Lynch, W. L. F1
MacAlman, S. E. PHM1
MacGowen, T. J. MOMM1
Magyar, A. J. MM3
Manalisay, J. C. ST3
Mandjiak, P. A. MM3
Massa, E. E. S1
Maulding, E. C. SM3
Maulding, G. E. TM3
McGill, T. J. CMOMMA
McGilton, H. E. TM3
McSpadden, D. J. TM1
Mills, M. L. RT1
Misch, G. A. LTJG
Morton, D. W. CDR
Neel, P. TM2
O'Brien, F. L. EM1
O'Neal, R. L. EM3
Ostrander, E. E. MM3
Phillips, P. D. SC1
Rennels, J. L. SC2
Renno, H. S1
Seal, E. H. Jr. TM2
Simonetti, A. R. SM2
Skjonsby, V. L. LCDR
Smith, D. O. BM1
Stevens, G. V. MOMM2
Terrell, W. C. QM3
Thomas, W. S1
Tyler, R. O. TM3
Vidick, J. EM2
Wach, L. J. COX
Waldron, W. E. RM3
Ware, N. C. CEM
White, W. T. Y2
Whipp, K. L. MM2
Witting, R. L. MM3
It seems that this unofficial alternate verse to the Navy Hymn is appropriate.
Lord God, our power evermore,
Who 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.
May God grant the men of USS Wahoo eternal and peaceful rest -- and may our country never forget their sacrifice.
Well, that is what the Houston Chronicle is arguing for today.
The ousting of Galveston Councilman Marc Hoskins is a frustrating development ó and not just to the young politician and his supporters. It reflects a natural but counterproductive attitude toward anyone with a criminal record ó an attitude guaranteeing that ex-felons can never be readmitted to society, even after repenting and serving their time.
I'll give them this much -- that Hoskins was not tossed off the ballot last spring and prosecuted for filing a false affidavit at the same time is a bit frustrating. After all, Hoskins affirmed that he was eligible for the office, despite clear statutory language forbidding convicted felons from serving as elected officials. Instead, it has only been in the last week that Hoskins was removed from the city council by a judge.
The ruling affirmed the arguments of Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk, who filed a lawsuit against the councilman. Sistrunk cited a state statute barring from public office any felon who lacks a pardon or other release from felony-related "disabilities." These disabilities include losing the rights to vote and hold office.
Hoskins says several attorneys deemed him eligible, in part due to a new law allowing felons to vote. In any case, he signed a mandatory, pre-campaign affidavit certifying his eligibility. City officials aren't allowed to challenge these affidavits, and no one else took it upon himself to try.
Now that rather laughable contention -- the repeal of one part of the law must mean that the other parts are inapplicable as well -- indicates that a number of Galveston area attorneys are incompetent and need to be disbarred for incompetence. But the legal inability of city officials to challenge Hoskins' candidacy is disturbing, because it meant that a clearly ineligible candidate was permitted to run for office despite his having publicly stated the basis for his ineligibility in campaign speeches and a newspaper column.
Now here is where the Chronicle turns stupid, having conceded that Hoskins broke the law with his false affidavit and that the city attorney was correct in seeking his removal from office.
That's why Hoskins' inaccurate affidavit, and the D.A.'s post-facto removal campaign, both are frustrating for citizens outside Galveston Island. Texas could use as many examples as possible of successful drug rehabilitation; Hoskins seems to be one.
Indeed -- so successfully rehabilitated that he decided to file a false affidavit and seek political office despite knowing that the statute in question CLEARLY declared him ineligible. I wonder what additional acts of malfeasance we would find if we looked into Hoskins' life more closely.
And then the Chronicle goes even further off track.
Even more helpful would be a public reminder that a conviction does not permanently disable young people's ability to exercise their full potential as citizens.
Oh, really? I guess that all those disabilities in federal, state, and local statutes are mere figments of our imagination -- clearly there are limits, including permanent ones, on the exercise of ones' "full potential" as a citizen following a felony conviction.
And it gets worse.
Galveston law implicitly accepts these goals. It includes no ordinance forbidding ex-felons from holding office. Texas law shouldn't either. After serving time, all nonviolent citizens should have the opportunity to rejoin the mainstream. For most, that includes regular employment. For those few who are inclined, it should also include the chance to hold public office.
Actually, Galveston law is silent on the matter because state law is clear on the matter -- convicted felons cannot hold public office. Under the logic of this paragraph, Galveston doesn't think treason is all that big a deal, having left the definition of that offense to the US Constitution rather than adopting its own statutory language on the matter.
But I will raise a question for the editors of the Houston Chronicle -- do you really advocate allowing convicted felons (or at least, as you qualify it, "nonviolent citizens") to regain full citizenship rights after serving their sentences? Does this by any chance include the full and unfettered exercise of their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, with all the associated rights implied by that part of the US Constitution?
I'm willing to allow them to do both -- are you? Or do you place the citizenship right of holding public office above the fundamental human right of possessing and using the means to protect oneself and one's family from aggression?
An excellent piece appears over at OpinionJournal that explains that a draft would water down the military -- and do very little to "spread the burden" of military service from the lower classes to more affluent members of our society.
In this mythology, the military is overly reliant on uneducated dupes from poor communities because those from more affluent backgrounds don't want to serve. But the truth is closer to the opposite, according to a recent Heritage Foundation report on the demographic characteristics of the military. It's titled "Who Are the Recruits?" and Mr. Rangel, a Korean War veteran, might want to read it before implying that the military doesn't look like America.
According to the report, which analyzed the most recent Pentagon enlistee data, "the only group that is lowering its participation in the military is the poor. The percentage of recruits from the poorest American neighborhoods (with one-fifth of the U.S. population) declined from 18 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2003, 14.1 percent in 2004, and 13.7 percent in 2005." Put another way, if military burdens aren't spread more evenly among socio-economic groups in the U.S., it's because the poor are underrepresented.
Or consider education levels. In the general U.S. population, the high school graduation rate is a little under 80%. But among military recruits from 2003-2005, nearly 97% had high school diplomas. The academic quality of recruits has also been rising this decade. According to Heritage, the military defines a "high quality" recruit as someone who scores above the 50th percentile on the Armed Forces Qualifying Test and has a high school degree. The percentage of high quality recruits had climbed to 67% in 2004 and 64% in 2005, up from 57% in 2001.
And what about race? In 2004, about 76% of the U.S. population was white, which was only slightly above the 73% of military recruits (and 72% of Army recruits) who were white. Blacks made up 12.17% of the population in 2004, and made up 14.54% of recruits in 2004 and 13% in 2005. Hispanic Americans are also slightly overrepresented in the military compared to their share of the population, but also not to a degree that suggests some worrisome cultural chasm among the races.
The overall truth is that today's recruits come primarily from the middle class, and, more importantly, they come willingly.
And, of course, there is the more key issue -- the nature of those who would be drafted and the impact of the draft on military resources.
An Army of draftees would so expand the number of recruits that training resources would inevitably be stretched and standards watered down. Meanwhile, scarce resources would be devoted to tens of thousands of temporary soldiers who planned to leave as soon as their year or two of forced service was up.
It's true that such training would help to shape up more young Americans who could use a few weeks of Marine discipline at Parris Island, and if this is what Mr. Rangel has in mind he should say so. But the price would be a less effective fighting force, and precisely at a time when experience and technological mastery are more important than ever in a fighting force.
"The military doesn't want a draft," says Tim Kane, an Air Force veteran and author of the Heritage study. "What the military wants is the most effective fighting force they can field. They want to win wars and minimize casualties. And you don't do that when you're forced to take less-educated, unmotivated people."
But then again, a buffoon like Charlie Rangel really wants a less-educated, less motivated, less-effective military force, so that the US will be perpetually under-prepared for military action. That way the military won't be used aggressively to fight for freedom around the world -- but that also means that in time of crisis we will be less able to defend this nation from attacks from abroad (you do remember 9/11, Charlie, don't you -- I hear it happened near your district).
Personally, I oppose a draft for a different reason. My father spent over a quarter century in the US Navy. The last part of it was in positions overseeing basic training and the more advanced service schools . Based upon my conversations with him and with officers and senior enlisted personnel at the time that Jimmy Carter re-instituted draft registration, I learned of the benefits of an all-volunteer military -- and that military professionals do not want draftees, barring a conflagration of the scale of WWII. Unless Congressman Rangel and other supporters of a draft envision widening the Crusade Against Jihadi Terror to wipe that scourge from the face of the planet for the benefit of all humanity (as was done with Nazism), there is no military need for a draft.
I almost glossed over this little snippet in a Washington Times column this morning.
Pandering, whether by bishops or government officials, invites contempt, not respect. Nevertheless, after a Saudi national was convicted in Colorado of keeping an Indonesian nanny as a family slave and sentenced to life in prison, the State Department dispatched the Colorado attorney general to Riyadh last week to apologize to King Abdullah for American justice and the 14th Amendment.
Now one can argue that this is spin on the incident, but I don't think it is.
Let's look at why a state AG was dispatched to justify the trial and conviction of a Saudi citizen on serious charges
The door to the palace swung open and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers found himself being escorted through a room that seemed about 50 yards long.
That room led to a second door and another room about 75 yards long.
At the far end, Suthers could see King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia stand up and begin walking toward him.
They met halfway. Photographers with the Saudi news media recorded the event.
Suthers had flown 19 hours from Denver to Riyadh to meet with the king, the Crown Prince and other Saudi officials at the request of the U.S. ambassador to explain how the U.S. justice system handled the case of Homaidan Al-Turki.
In June, an Arapahoe County jury convicted Al-Turki, son of a prominent Saudi family, on charges of sexually abusing an Indonesian nanny and holding her a virtual captive in his Aurora home. He has been sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, pending an appeal.
The case has become a major story in Saudi Arabia where the media, siding with Al-Turki, have portrayed him as the victim of a judicial system biased against Muslims.
For two days last week, Suthers tried to explain to Saudi leaders and Al-Turki's family how the system treated him fairly throughout his arrest, conviction and appeal.
Suthers feels that the trip did some good, but he encountered several cultural differences that were as vast as some of the palace rooms.
Two examples became apparent right away.
"Under (Saudi) law, to prove a rape case, you need four eyewitnesses," Suthers said during an interview at his office Monday. "And they considered it inconceivable that an Indonesian maid was considered a competent witness in our courts."
Another significant difference is how civil and criminal courts mesh under Saudi law, making it possible for a victim or a victim's family to come to a financial settlement when it involves a criminal matter.
"They didn't understand how that wasn't possible here," Suthers said.
Oh, yes -- the need for four witnesses to a rape. Four male witnesses. For male Muslim witnesses, to be precise. Otherwise the victim is a whore and stoned to death. Ah, the civilized Saudi justice system!
And let us not forget that the perp in this case, refused to express remorse because his actions constituted "traditional Muslim behaviors".
That the Bush Administration, in the form of the State Department, would find it necessary to bring in a state's top prosecutor to explain that rape is considered a crime and slavery is banned by our Constitution is sickening. King Abdullah should have been told that he could settle for an explanation by a low-level legal attache from the embassy -- and the al-Turki family should have been told to go pound sand.
Or maybe they could have taken the approach proposed in this column in the Denver Post.
Surely a brief e-mail could have done the trick and saved taxpayers thousands:
"Guys, you simply can't keep slaves over here ... nope, not even sex slaves."
And while it was the Saudi government that picked up the tab for the trip, I'm still sickened. We don't need to make an apology -- in any sense of the word -- for our laws with regards to these two serious violations of human dignity. That the Saudis would insist upon one speaks volumes.
Just as I am critical of Islam, I want to be fair and note any positive developments within that faith. This is one.
A conference of Muslim scholars from around the world declared female circumcision to be contrary to Islam and an attack on women, and called Thursday for those who practice it to be punished.
The conference, organized by the German human rights group TARGET, recommended that governments pass laws to prohibit the tradition and that judicial bodies prosecute those who mutilate female genitals.
"The conference appeals to all Muslims to stop practicing this habit, according to Islam's teachings which prohibit inflicting harm on any human being," the participants said in their final statement.
Egypt's two top Islamic clerics, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the foremost theological institute in the Sunni Muslim world, and Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, attended the conference, which drew scholars from as far afield as Russia. Tantawi's and Gomaa's edicts are considered binding.
A few more steps like this and we might just see Islam reach the twenty-first century.
These two stories seem to create such a lovely contrast about the relationship between Islam and truth -- even in allegedly secular Turkey.
First, there is this story about converts from Islam to Christianity.
Two men who converted to Christianity went on trial Thursday for allegedly insulting "Turkishness" and inciting religious hatred against Islam, the Anatolia news agency reported.
* * *
Hakan Tastan, 37, and Turan Topal, 46, are accused of making the insults and of inciting hate while allegedly trying to convert other Turks to Christianity. If convicted, the two Turkish men could face up to nine years in prison.
The men were charged under Turkey's Article 301, which has been used to bring charges against dozens of intellectuals ó including Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk.
The law has widely been condemned for severely limiting free expression and European officials have demanded Turkey change it as part of reforms to join the EU.
They also are charged under a law against inciting hatred based on religion.
Prosecutors accuse the two of allegedly telling possible converts that Islam was "a primitive and fabricated" religion and that Turks would remain "barbarians" as long they continued practicing Islam, Anatolia reported.
The prosecutors also accused them of speaking out against the country's compulsory military service, and compiling databases on possible converts.
Tastan and Topal denied the accusations in court.
"I am a Turk, I am a Turkish citizen. I don't accept the accusations of insulting 'Turkishness,'" Anatolia quoted Tastan as telling the court. "I am a Christian, that's true. I explain the Bible ... to people who want to learn. I am innocent."
So let's break it down and examine the nature of the alleged offense.
1) They stated that Islam was untrue, and that it was made up by Muhammad. Not an unreasonable position for a Christian to take, if you think about it. After all, if one believed that Islam were true and revealed by God, one would be intellectually and spiritually compelled to be a Muslim, correct?
2) Let's consider the contemporary evils committed in the name of Islam, and determine whether there is an element of barbarism in the faith. Has the Islamic world particularly advanced beyond barbarism?
3) They criticized conscription -- hardly an unreasonable position, particularly if they are of a Christian sect that takes a more pacifistic approach to Christian theology.
4) The compiled a database of possible converts -- which means they decided to engage in evangelism in a logical, organized manner. Why should this be a crime?
In other words, there is nothing in any of these charges that any reasonable person could consider a crime -- but for speaking the Truth of the Gospel, these men are on trial for offenses against Mosque and State. Taken as a whole, it seems clear that their real offense is apostasy from Islam.
Let's hope that this case is used as the final piece of evidence to end Turkey's chance of becoming part of the EU.
On the other hand, Muslim Turks are demanding that the Pope tell a lie when he visits Turkey.
Turkey's top Muslim official said on Thursday Pope Benedict should state clearly during a planned visit to Turkey next week he believes Islam, like Christianity, to be a religion of peace.
* * *
"I think the attitude the Pope should take is that neither Islam nor Christianity is a source of violence," said Ali Bardakoglu, who heads Ankara's Directorate General for Religious Affairs which controls Turkish imams and writes their sermons.
"If they ask me if Christianity has been the cause of violence, I would say no, that is not so ... We believe all prophets sent by God, from Moses to Jesus and Mohammad, are messengers of compassion," he told Reuters in an interview.
Violence committed in the name of religion was the fault of fallible and misguided human beings, he said.
"I believe the Pope shares this view and his saying this will be in the interests of all humanity," he said.
And I don't doubt that any failure by Benedict to make a statement that Islam is a religion of peace will be met with riots, arson, beatings bombings and other assorted acts of mayhem committed by Muslims in protest. After all, that has been their response to cartoons and comments that have offended them in the past. While I'll concede that the vast majority of Muslims are good, decent, and peaceful people, there is clearly something in their religion that propagates violence.
I guess I've seen this happen too many times to even feel much sympathy any longer.
Sylvia James hardly considers herself clueless in mathematics. After all, she finished sixth grade with a B-plus in the subject and made the Honor Roll, which she saw as a victory in a challenging year of fraction conversion and decimal placement.
But what happened when she took the state math test?
She flunked it.
I'd come up with a list of reasons that could explain this outcome, but the Washington post already does that for me.
Students and teachers offer an array of explanations for why test scores sometimes fail to match up with grades. Some students don't take the exams seriously. Some freeze up. Still others trip over unfamiliar language. And teachers sometimes are not prepped in what the exams cover, especially when the tests are new. Occasionally, some school officials suspect, classes aren't rigorous enough to prepare students adequately.
How about all of the above. I've got students who don't do well on the sort of standardized tests that are used to test competency by the various states -- heck, my class valedictorian scored lower than me on both the SAT and ACT despite making straight As for four years of high school except in PE. Some kids do come in and just start bubbling -- or put their heads down and take a nap instead of testing. In some cases, teachers have not covered what will be on the test -- in my state, tenth graders take World History but the Social Studies TAKS covers primarily the pre-Civil War American History they took two years before in eighth grade and which I have time to only spend three or four class periods reviewing in the week or so before the test.
And then there is course rigor.I hear stories from teacher friends about what they do -- indeed, what they are required to do -- to keep the grades up and prevent too many students from failing. I've heard about principals walking into faculty meetings and telling teacher that no period may have a failure rate of more than 10% -- and that teachers who exceed that rate had better start polishing up their resumes. I know of one district that requires (in a policy adopted by the school board in open session) teachers to take any late work up until three days before the end of a marking period, and that further requires that any kid who fails a test be permitted to come in and correct it for a grade of 70% (the minimum passing grade) any time during the marking period. Do such grades really reflect learning -- or simply the ability of students to copy late assignments and make better guesses with wrong answers eliminated?
I won't even get in to the question of how some states, like Texas, change standards after the test is taken to ensure that the passing rate (or failing rate) isn't too high -- during the first year of the TAKS test, the test was "re-meaned" and the number of correct answers needed to pass was raised, causing six of my students to fail despite achieving the score that school districts had been told all year constituted a passing grade.
Quite frankly, the current testing regime around the country is a failure. It doesn't show what the government thinks it shows. What needs to be implemented is a set of rigorous start-of-course and end-of-course tests that show where a student begins and ends the school year, and how much actual learning has gone on in between. Otherwise, we have a free-floating measurement that doesn't show what a student learns, and is instead a mere snapshot of where kids are on a given day during the year.
But then again, the two-test strategy might actually reveal something relevant about student learning, rather than serve as a club to use against all of us crappy public school teachers.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
We are ready, willing, and eager to live that philosophy as a nation NOW, as we do in our day to day lives as individual citizens. Unfortunately, a host of racial set-asides, special programs, and affirmative action schemes make that impossible, for government classifies Americans by race and ethnicity for the purpose of distributing benefits to them -- and forces private industry to do the same.
That is why the people of Michigan passed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative -- despite opposition by the party establishments of both major parties.
On Election Day, when Michigan easily re-elected a Democratic U.S. senator and governor, a ballot measure to end such programs in college admission and state government hiring and contracting won by an even larger margin.
But virtually every major GOP official and organization, including the gubernatorial candidate, opposed the measure, as did Democratic leaders and candidates.
Yet the proposal won overwhelming support from Republicans and independents, and almost all demographic groups.
But how deep does support run for such a colorblind policy? Pretty deep, if the polling data can be trusted.
The ballot measure won majorities among virtually all demographic groups except blacks, self-described liberals and Democrats. It passed 64-36 percent among whites who were 85 percent of the electorate, and lost 86-14 among blacks, who were 12 percent (roughly the national average) of the electorate.
Other than a 50-50 split among the 15 percent of the electorate with incomes of $15,000-$30,000, the measure carried every income group and every age group.
Interestingly, the only group of voters, when classified by education, among whom it lost was the 16 percent of the Michigan electorate with post-graduate degrees. And it received 49 percent from them.
Do we have the guts to stand up as a party and push for true equality? Do we have the guts to stand up as a party and push for colorblindness? Do we have the guts as a party to truly embrace the notion that distributing benefits and burdens based upon race and ethnicity is morally and constitutionally reprehensible and must end?
Or will we be cowed by those who would call us racists for following such a strategy for equality -- and who would call us racists even if we did not?
The very future of America depends upon our willingness to stand for principle.
Come on, folks, its a matter of civic pride for us here in Houston -- get out and vote our local rag the worst paper in the United States!
The folks from PowerLine tell all about their poll -- and list this reason for the Chronicle's nomination.
The Houston Chronicle: A reader who worked for the Chronicle for ďquite a whileĒ: ďIts main problem is not even its liberalism, which it suffers from, but its vapidity. On top of that, the editor from Hearst Corp. is trying to teach Houstonians how to be proper liberals. The fact that no one ever hears about the newspaper at Americaís fourth largest city should tell you a lot.Ē
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are The March of Folly by Joshuapundit, and Why Intellectuals Love Defeat by TCS Daily. You can find the full results of the vote over at Watcher of Weasels.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3||The March of Folly|
|2||The Politics of Iraq|
|1 2/3||Youíve Caught the Firetruck. Now What?|
The Glittering Eye
|1 1/3||The Slaughter of the Moderates|
Right Wing Nut House
|1||Don't Cry For Me Bangalore|
|2/3||How To Disagree Civilly...|
The Sundries Shack
Done With Mirrors
|1/3||Leftist Bankruptcy in a Time of Abundance|
|1/3||Itís Much Too Late to Worry|
Gates of Vienna
|3 2/3||Why Intellectuals Love Defeat|
|2 2/3||Have You a Daughter?|
|1||Picking on Islam?|
|1||A Perfect Storm?|
Michael J. Totten
|1||It's Jerusalem They Want (Chicago edition)|
Boker tov, Boulder!
|2/3||(UPDATE) The Chance for Bi-Partisan Agreement on Iraq Starts to Slip Away|
The QandO Blog
Out of the Race
|1/3||Defeat for Republicans -- Or for America?|
TMHís Bacon Bits
|1/3||A New Cabal Rising!|
Amarji -- A Heretic's Blog
McDONALD'S latest bid to attract more customers -- Muslim fast-food lovers -- has caused uproar among customers. The fast-food chain has introduced halal products at two Melbourne restaurants, significantly boosting sales.
However some non-Muslim customers are furious they were not told their hamburger meat was slaughtered and blessed in accordance with Islamic rules laid down in the Koran.
McDonald's consulted Muslim leaders before introducing halal products at its Brunswick East and St Albans stores.
Halal meat is from animals that have been killed facing Mecca and blessed using the name of Allah.
Brunswick East store assistant manager Nicholas Yacoub said the move had attracted a surge of new customers.
"It has pretty much doubled our sales," Mr Yacoub said.
The store does not tell drive-through customers about the change and has only one small sign inside advertising the move.
Coburg resident Miriam McLennan was stunned to discover the hamburger she bought from the Brunswick East store was blessed.
"Just as a Muslim would not want to eat anything that isn't halal . . . I should have my rights to eat normal, ordinary food that hasn't been blessed," she said.
A Catholic Church spokesman said non-Muslims deserved to know if the food was halal before buying. But he said there was no biblical reason for Christians to avoid halal food.
A McDonald's spokeswoman said customers who did not want halal food should buy from any of its other stores.
As I said this morning on Laura Ingraham's show (I was the first caller of the day), I don't necessarily have a problem with eating halal meat, any more than I do kosher meat. I simply wish to be told that the meat is halal so that I have a choice.
On the other hand, I do understand that there are those who say no -- I Corinthians 10:28 would certainly give them reason to object.
But I have to wonder -- is this the shape of things to come?
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is seeking to let the people of Massachusetts exercise a right under their state constitution -- the right to vote to amend the state constitution.
Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts said on Sunday that he would ask the stateís highest court to order a question banning same-sex marriage onto the ballot if legislators did not address the issue.
Mr. Romney, a Republican, said he would file a request this week for a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to direct the secretary of state to place the question on the ballot if lawmakers do not vote on the issue on Jan. 2, the final day of the session.
The governor, an opponent of same-sex marriage who decided not to seek re-election as he considers running for president, made his announcement to the cheers of same-sex-marriage opponents at a rally on the Statehouse steps. Supporters of same-sex marriage staged a protest across the street.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in November 2003 that same-sex marriages were legal. Since then, more than 8,000 same-sex couples have married in the state.
More than 170,000 people have signed a petition in support of the ballot question, which would define marriage as between a man and a woman. Mr. Romney has criticized lawmakers since they refused this month to take up the question during a joint session. They voted instead to recess until Jan. 2, all but killing the measure.
ďA decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nationís founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people,Ē Mr. Romney said. ďThe issue now before us is not whether same-sex couples should marry. The issue before us today is whether 109 legislators will follow the Constitution.Ē
By refusing to do its duty and vote, the Massachusetts legislature has decided that the will of the people -- and the dictates of the Massachusetts Constitution -- don't matter when it comes to the issue of overturning the decision of a rogue court that favored a favorite liberal constituency.
Supporters of homosexual marriage make the following specious argument.
ďOne of the tenets of the Constitution is that you do not put the rights of a minority up for a popularity contest,Ē said Mark Solomon, campaign director of Mass Equality, a group that supports same-sex marriage. ďIt is one of the very principles this country was founded upon.Ē
Actually, Mr. Solomon, that is a fundamental misstatement of the nature of the Constitution -- both state and federal. Perhaps the most basic tenet of constitutionalism is that the people limit government through the use of constitutions -- and that they have the right (to crib from Jefferson) to alter or abolish the governments they establish under them. In failing to take a vote the Massachusetts legislature is exceeding its authority under the state constitution -- forbidding the people as a whole their right to alter that document.
Bravo for governor Romney for his courageous stand in favor of the right of the people to be heard.
The United States military has functioned effectively as an all-volunteer force for three decades. Statistics show that our soldiers today are better educated, and broadly representative of the American population -- and that if anything, whites from the middle class are OVER-REPRESENTED in the armed forces.
But that doesn't stop a certain senior Democrat from claiming that the military is not representative enough -- and from proposing a solution that will make it non-volunteer and filled with less-educated, less qualified, less-motivated soldiers and sailors.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) has long advocated returning to the draft, but his efforts drew little attention during the 12 years that House Democrats were in the minority. Starting in January, however, he will chair the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. Yesterday he said "you bet your life" he will renew his drive for a draft.
"I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session," Rangel said on CBS's "Face the Nation." He portrayed the draft, suspended since 1973, as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably and prompting political leaders to think twice before starting wars.
"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," said Rangel, a Korean War veteran. "If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft."
And while we are at it, Charlie, how about a proposed amendment to repeal the provision in the Constitution banning involuntary servitude -- because that is what you seek to propose on every single American young person.
UPDATE: Not only does the Dem Leadership oppose the Rangel Draft, but so does the New york Times. The latter shouldn't come as a surprise, though, since they have opposed the draft in most circumstances all the way back to when Lincoln implemented one back during the Civil War. Come to think of it, the Democrat Party opposed that draft as well -- and if they had succeeded in undermining that war effort like they did in Vietnam and are doing in Iraq, Charlie Rangel wouldn't be a Congressman today!
MORE AT Michelle Malkin, Gina Cobb, Blogmeister USA, 7.62 mm Justice, Babalu Blog, Public Figures. . . Beware, Hot Air, Not Ready For My Burqa, Nasty Brutish & Short, The Waterglass, Pajamas Media, Conservative Outpost, Stop the ACLU, Urban Grounds, World According To Nick, Tammy Bruce, It Shines For All, StikNStein, Broken Chair, Bill's Bites, Valletta Papers, Captain's Quarters, Church & State, Y.A.C.R.W.B., Blogmeister USA
The Powys County Council in the UK, for this humdinger of a regulatory decision.
A SPICY sausage known as the Welsh Dragon will have to be renamed after trading standardsí officers warned the manufacturers that they could face prosecution because it does not contain dragon.
The sausages will now have to be labelled Welsh Dragon Pork Sausages to avoid any confusion among customers.
Jon Carthew, 45, who makes the sausages, said yesterday that he had not received any complaints about the absence of real dragon meat. He said: ďI donít think any of our customers believe that we use dragon meat in our sausages. We use the word because the dragon is synonymous with Wales.Ē
His company, the Black Mountains Smokery at Crickhowell, in Powys, turns out 200,000 sausages a year, including the Welsh Dragon, which is made with chili, leak and pork. A Powys County Council spokesman said: ďThe product was not sufficiently precise to inform a purchaser of the true nature of the food.Ē
In-frickin'-credible! Consumers might not realize they were not eating actual dragon meat? I don't know how any other government agency in any part of the world could possibly top this one.
Michelle Malkin brings us this photo by Mike Fumento, taken in Iraq at Camp Ramadi. It delivers a profound message about the importance of military might to preserve peace, and the need to stand firm in the face of aggression by our enemies.
And note the quote from George Orwell, whose observation about the nature of security in a free society is spot on. And while I've not been able to find that quote confirmed from any other source, its message is clearly conveyed in this one.
And let us not forget his observation on pacifism, which applies as well to the "Peace Movement today as it did to those who objected to war with Hitler.
Pacifism. Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, Ďhe that is not with me is against meí.
America must combat the forces of jihadi terror abroad, or we will surely combat it on American shores. May God bless the men and women of the United States military who have volunteered to fight that battle on our behalf, and may He frustrate the plans of those who would do harm to them or their mission.
Given the celebrity driven nature of Democrat politics these days, perhaps you should consider the profound ideas coming out of their leading political philosophers.
How about this: You can own any gun you want, as long as it works on technology developed before 1787. This is what conservatives call "original intent," you can look it up. By candlelight. If Robert Blake wants to allegedly kill another wife, he has to use a musket. Or burn her at the stake, but who has the time?
And how about getting rid of the Electoral College? We don't have to protect the farmer in his sparse state anymore; let the votes count from where the people are. And besides, the farmer is now a huge corporation called Monsanto.
And most of all, let's take a little re-look-see at what you can be impeached for: starting unnecessary wars, yes; having sex, no. Which leads me, OK, one more request for our Constitutional Convention: Get rid of the 22 d Amendment that says you can't run for president more than twice. That was just hatin'. If a guy can win the popular vote, he should be able to run, or that's not democracy -- and there's somebody you might call Mr. Popular named Bill Clinton, and he should be able to run for president in 2008. It'd be worth it, just to see him debate Hillary.
Well, there is one decent idea there -- repealing the 22nd Amendment. But as for the rest, he lacks any semblance of a clue. After all, the entire point of the Second Amendment was to ensure that the citizenry has sufficient firepower to overthrow the government in the event it becomes tyrannical. Maher would ensure that the people are effectively disarmed should such a situation ever arise. And, of course, he would never support other "original intent" reversions to 1787 -- like churches endorsing candidates for office or property ownership requirements for voting, not to mention criminal penalties for sodomy or public profanity.
Let's start at the beginning and redraw the map. First of all, is there a reason for Wyoming to exist as a state? I have often wondered about this. Why give two Senate seats to a half-million dime-store cowboys while California gets two seats for 34 million people? (Wyoming has roughly the population of Sacramento.) It's OK if Wyoming sends somebody with brains and an independent streak, but when they send a couple of Republican hacks, then it makes no sense.
The idea behind the Senate was to create a sheltered body of wise counselors who, because they don't have to shill for money perpetually, can rise above the petty tumult and think noble thoughts and do the right thing in a pinch. Can you think of a time when Wyoming's senators have done this? No, you can't. So let's bite the bullet and make Wyoming a federal protectorate and appoint an overseer. This would be a good assignment for Halliburton. It's done a heck of a job in Iraq, and let's give it Wyoming and, while we're at it, Alaska. A wonderful postcard place, but what have its congressmen done other than grub for federal largesse for Alaska? Change the name to Denali and put Halliburton in charge of it.
While we're at it, let's admit that Utah, Texas and Vermont have never been completely comfortable as part of the United States. They've tried to fit in, but it just isn't working, so let's allow them to pull out and find their own paths. You could attach Nevada to Utah and make a lovely little desert nation out of that, and let Vermont join Canada, and make Texas a republic. Add Oklahoma to it. They really are part of the same thing. This leaves us with 43 states, which we could reduce to 40 by joining Rhode Island and New Hampshire and making Idaho part of Montana and combining North and South Dakota into one state called West Minnesota. It's called consolidation, folks. It goes on all the time in corporate America and also in local school districts, so let's make it work for America.
Now yeah, that would require eliminating participation in democratic government for the people of one state, the violation of constitutional provisions protecting the territorial integrity of states, and a wholesale redefinition of who would serve in the Senate (an idea that isn't half bad and comes later in the article -- maybe their should be ex officio seats for for former presidents and vice presidents). But he admits that his goal is to disenfranchise Republicans by throwing them out of the country and reducing the number of Red States, so what we are seeing is nothing less than a proposal for a coup.
Has no ideas. True, he did publish a piece -- but it appears to be plagiarized from this liberal blogger. Proof positive that Moore is not only a liar but also a thief -- and an ungroomed, uncouth one at that. Don Surber rebuts the piece very effectively.
But in doing so, they need to seek the overturn of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as the recently approved Prop. 2. After all, the ballot initiative took its language straight from that landmark civil rights legislation.
In the wake of a decisive Nov. 7 vote to prohibit race- and gender-based preferences in employment, education and contracting, leaders in government and academia who fought to preserve affirmative action are now hurrying to assess the impact. Officials said the response is likely to start with a court challenge.
Business and civic leaders who opposed the anti-affirmative-action measure are gathered here on Friday to develop a strategy. The University of Michigan Board of Regents is also meeting, with announcements expected soon. At City Hall, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) is drafting an ordinance that would favor companies based in the city, which is more than 80 percent African American
"The voters went to the polls and Proposition 2 passed, and we have to live with it now," said Matt Allen, the mayor's spokesman. "As of December 22, there can be no more gender or race preferences."
The first attempt to block the new law in court was filed soon after the election, although courts have upheld a similar California law.
"There will be both offense lawsuits and defensive lawsuits filed to understand what this actually means for Michigan," said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the Michigan office of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I do think it's necessary for the courts to slow this thing down and . . . interpret some of the language."
But really, how much is there to interpret -- or object to -- in a law that declares that state and local government entities "shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting"?
After all, the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination based upon "any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin". After more than four decades, how can an enactment like the MCRI even be controversial -- unless one supports discrimination or preferences based upon one or more of those categories?
My only objection is that this 18-year-old punk will get a shot at parole when he turns 48. Life ought to mean life -- especially since this scumbag has spent three of the last four years in jail because of race-based assaults on others.
As a fifth-grader, David Henry Tuck had punched and kicked his teacher, leaving the woman with broken glasses and a black eye. A few years later, he beat a man unconscious because of his ethnicity. When a deputy tried to arrest him for that attack, he kicked the officer in the hand.
After listening about the violent past of the 18-year-old, jurors sentenced him Friday to life in prison for beating another teen so severely that the youth still requires medical attention for internal injuries caused when Tuck kicked a plastic pipe into the youth's rectum.
On Thursday, a Harris County jury convicted Tuck of aggravated sexual assault for the April incident, in which a witness said he shouted "white power!" and racist epithets while assaulting the Hispanic youth.
The jury sentenced Tuck to the maximum under the law, including a $10,000 fine. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years. The jury deliberated for less than an hour. It declined to comment afterward, court officials said.
Why the attack? Because the Hispanic victim had allegedly kissed a white girl.
Now some want the Legislature to pass a new "hate crime" law because of this incident. I disagree. It seems pretty clear to me that the statutes that exist right now are more than adequate to deal with such offenses -- just as the legal system adequately dealt with the killers of James Byrd (two death sentences, with life in prison for the third perp for his testimony against his co-defendants). The question comes down to one of the will of prosecutors to pursue the cases with the tools they have -- tools that offer the maximum punishments available under state law for any crime.
Abazid or Mutha? Come on, I'm serious -- which one should we be listening to, the commanding general on the ground who believes we can win or an old corrupt congressman who wants to surrender?
The top American military commander for the Middle East said Wednesday that to begin a significant troop withdrawal from Iraq over the next six months would lead to an increase in sectarian killings and hamper efforts to persuade the Iraqi government to make the difficult decisions needed to secure the country.
The commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, made it clear that he did not endorse the phased troop withdrawals being proposed by Democratic lawmakers. Instead, he said the number of troops in Iraq might be increased by a small amount as part of new plans by American commanders to improve the training of the Iraqi Army.
And yes, I recognize that he criticized the Bush Administration for not sending more troops earlier. I agree with him. But the solution isn't to cut and run now.
More from Captain Ed.
Even if one accepts (as I do) that Trent Lott was simply paying a courtly compliment to an elderly colleague when he made his poorly received statement regarding Strom Thurmond, rehabilitating the man back into a leadership role simply seems like a bad idea.
Four years after racially impolitic remarks cost him the Senate's top post, Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.) rejoined Congress's leadership ranks yesterday when his Republican colleagues turned to the veteran insider and skilled vote-counter to help them plot their return to majority status.
By a 25 to 24 secret-ballot vote, Lott defeated Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) for the position of minority whip, the party's second-highest post. As expected, GOP senators elected Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as Senate minority leader for the new Congress that will convene in January. But his victory was tempered by Lott's come-from-behind win over Alexander, who was seen as McConnell's and the Bush administration's preferred choice for whip.
An assistant whip might have been acceptable, but certainly not the second-highest GOP slot in the Senate. It just looks bad at a time when we need more new faces in leadership.
But then again, considering the news in the post below this one, perhaps it isn't such a big deal -- if a Kluxer like Robert Byrd can be elevated to a position three heartbeats from the presidency, then certainly we can forgive an awkward statement made to an old man on his birthday.
Jawa Report offers this analysis of what is wrong with John Boehner's position on the issue -- and implicitly supplies a good reason for getting him out of leadership.
According to Human Events:
10. U.S.-Taiwan Military Ties - NayIssue summaries here.
9. United Nations Funding Cap - Nay
8. Religious Freedom for Churches - Nay
7. End Foreign-Language Ballot Mandate - Nay
6. Eliminate Federal Mandate for English Language Assistance - Nay
5. Government Spending Cuts (1%) - Nay
4. Illegal Immigration Residency Extension - Yea
3. Border Security Measures - Nay
2. No Child Left Behind - Yea
1. Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit - Yea
Vote for Pence and Shadegg -- Dump Boehner and Blunt.
Courtesy of the "Party of Civil Rights".
Robert Byrd -- the only Klansman serving in the US Senate -- was named President Pro Tempore of the Senate today.
Indeed, I believe every member of the Klueless Klux Klan to serve in the US Senate has been a Democrat. That ought to make you think.
After all, the US Constitution defines what entities get representation in the House and Senate. Pelosi wants to change that by statute.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the incoming speaker of the House of Representatives, supports District voting rights and is a co-sponsor of legislation that would give Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) a full vote in the House, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
The statement from Pelosi's office clarified her position after heated discussion on Washington Post Radio about her position on the issue. On Thursday, Pelosi said she would change House rules on the first day of the new Democratic-controlled session in January so that Norton could vote on proposed changes but not final approval of legislation on the House floor. That would be a temporary measure, Norton said.
"She wants D.C. to have full voting rights in the House," said Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for Pelosi (D-Calif.). "She doesn't co-sponsor many pieces of legislation."
The District of Columbia is not a state. It is therefore ineligible to have a voting representative in Congress --period.
Indeed, there are only three legitimate avenues available to accomplish that end.
The first is to admit the District of Columbia as a state -- which would upset the Founders' desire to not have the nation's capital in any state or other jurisdiction outside of control of the Federal government. In addition, since the District is territory ceded by the state of Maryland for purposes of establishing a capital city, that state would need to grant permission for any such move.
The second would be to amend the Constitution to permit such representation without statehood -- something that I do not see as being possible politically.
The third would be to allow the District of Columbia to be counted as a part of Maryland for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives, and for residents of the District of Columbia to vote in Maryland's Senatorial and Congressional elections.
But the solution proposed at this time is unacceptable from a Constitutional standpoint -- and Pelosi's championing of it bodes ill for the level of respect to be given the Constitution over the next two years.
UPDATE -- 11/15/2006: Here is the contrary argument from the District's Mayor-elect. I still say it takes a Constitutional amendment.
OPEN TRACKBACKING AT Samantha Burns, third world county, Pirates Cove, Uncooperative Blogger, Wake Up America, Clash of Civilizations, Is It Just Me?, Adam's Blog, Random Yak, Right Nation, Pursuing Holiness, Blue Star Chronicles, Conservative Cat, Sister Toldjah, Stop The ACLU, Amboy Times, Woman Honor Thyself, Church & State, Bullwinkle Blog, Right Wing Nation
That is what his statement comes down to -- and is about as believable.
Actually, that isn't quite accurate. What he really seems to have said is that having ethical leadership in Congress isn't nearly as important as surrendering in a war that we are winning.
In his first interview since reportedly calling a Democratic bill on lobbying and ethics "total crap," Rep. John Murtha told "Hardball" host Chris Matthews he meant it was "crap" to deal with ethics problems when there are more serious issues facing the nation such as the war in Iraq.
"It is total crap that we have to deal with an issue like this when weíve got a war going on and we got all these other issues," Murtha said.
And this is the guy who Pelosi wants in leadership as she allegedly seeks to "clean up Congress." It says everything that needs to be said about Democrat ethics reform.
And by the way -- has any member of the Democrat leadership gone down to Louisiana to campaign against William "$90K in the freezer" Jefferson? If they have, it sure hasn't mate the press -- which makes me reasonably certain that they haven't done it. That is the even bigger sign that all the ethics talk is just that -- talk.
This is going to be just swell -- preemptive surrender on matters political.
Sen. Mel Martinez, who will become the new general chairman of the Republican Party after it lost control of Congress, said on Tuesday he would not be an "attack dog" in the 2008 White House race.
..."One of the things that I made clear as I discussed this job role with the president is I was not going to be an attack dog, and I don't intend to, and I wasn't asked to be one," he told reporters at the White House.
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Irony so Thick You Can Bathe In It by Right Wing Nut House, and The Demand for Perfection by Rants and Raves. Here is the link to the full results of the vote.
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|2||Irony so Thick You Can Bathe In It|
Right Wing Nut House
|1 2/3||Why Not Turkey?|
|1 2/3||Damned Fools|
Done With Mirrors
|1 1/3||Just Saying "No" To Junior R.O.T.C.|
The Education Wonks
|1||Sob Stories and Voter IDs|
The Sundries Shack
|1||A Stale Question: What Will It Take for the French to Rebel?|
Gates of Vienna
|1/3||Weekend Monkey Interviews Senator Kerry|
|1/3||The Democrats' Looming Disappointment|
|3 1/3||The Demand for Perfection|
Rants and Raves
|2 1/3||Discussing the Developing Role of the Media During Times of War|
The QandO Blog
|1 2/3||John Kerry STFU|
|1||The Battle for the Middle East.|
Iraq the Model
|1||Hamas in the New York Times|
|2/3||Shame on Him|
Cox & Forkum
|1/3||The Roast Beef of Old England|
The Roast Beef of Old England
|1/3||Army Times Against Rummy|
|1/3||Borat Brilliant, Babel Drivel|
Minor Fast Days
|1/3||Keith Ellison, the Wahhabist Choice for Congress|
House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi's endorsement of Rep. John P. Murtha's bid for House majority leader set off a furor yesterday on Capitol Hill, with critics charging that she is undercutting her pledge to clean up corruption by backing a veteran lawmaker who they say has repeatedly skirted ethical boundaries.
Pelosi (D-Calif.) directly intervened in the heated contest between Murtha (D-Pa.) and House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) on Sunday by circulating a letter to Democratic lawmakers. The letter voiced her support for Murtha and put her prestige on the line in a closely fought leadership battle. Some Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups say they are baffled that Pelosi would go out of her way to back Murtha's candidacy after pledging to make the new 110th Congress the most ethical and corruption-free in history.
Murtha, a longtime senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, has battled accusations over the years that he has traded federal spending for campaign contributions, that he has abused his post as ranking party member on the Appropriations defense subcommittee, and that he has stood in the way of ethics investigations. Those charges come on top of Murtha's involvement 26 years ago in the FBI's Abscam bribery sting.
"Pelosi's endorsement suggests to me she was interested in the culture of corruption only as a campaign issue and has no real interest in true reform," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Democratic-leaning group. "It is shocking to me that someone with [Murtha's] ethics problems could be number two in the House leadership."
"People have known about these things for months," said one Democratic House member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to anger the presumed incoming speaker. "I am sure they are going to become much more important in the next few days."
I love it when they eat their own.
And Murtha's spokesperson says "Just ignore the man behind the curtain!"
Andrew Koneschusky, a spokesman for Murtha, declined to discuss ethics issues, saying: "We are focused on the future. We are focused on electing the best candidate to lead our party and deliver the change the American people want, and that is Jack Murtha. We are looking forward, not backward."
In other words, "Ignore the fact that my boss has a history of corruption that stinks like the NYC Sewer system -- we need to cut-and-run from Iraq at a speed that only John Murtha can reach!"
The man once dubbed ''America's mayor'' has taken the first step toward becoming America's next president.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican moderate who achieved near-mythic popularity for his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, filed papers Friday in New York to create the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Exploratory Committee Inc. A copy of the document was obtained by The Associated Press.
Creating an exploratory committee does not make Giuliani a declared candidate, but it does mean he intends to travel the country gauging support and preparing for a White House bid.
''Mayor Giuliani has not made a decision yet,'' Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel said in a statement Monday night. ''With the filing of this document, we have taken the necessary legal steps so an organization can be put in place and money can be raised to explore a possible presidential run in 2008.''
We love him. We admir him. But are GOP primary voters willing to put aside differences with Rudy on key issues in order to nominate him? He is so centrist as to go over the line into liberal on a number of issues -- abortion and gay rights among them -- that I think many of them won't be able to hold their nose and vote for him. But he is McCain without the baggage of campaign finance reform -- and his efforts in the days and weeks following 9/11 are undeniably the stuff of legend -- and the great story of our time.
But I'm still backing Mitt.
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), a close White House ally and a Cuban American, has agreed to become the next general chairman of the Republican National Committee, GOP officials said. The appointment comes in the wake of an election that yielded shrinking GOP support from Hispanic voters.
Martinez, a first-term senator, will remain in office and serve as the party's chief spokesman and fundraiser heading into the 2008 elections. Mike Duncan, the RNC's current general counsel and a former party treasurer, will manage day-to-day operations and be elected chairman in January, Republican aides said.
* * *
The selection of Martinez was a setback for Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, who last week lost a Senate race and who has expressed interest in the job. GOP officials said it was not coincidental that both Steele and Martinez are minorities who have shown an ability to broaden the party's appeal. Republicans captured 10 percent of the African American vote last week, identical to the 2004 number.
It also does not hurt that Martinez is familiar with Florida, the electoral prize that has been a main arena in recent presidential elections. Martinez won election there in 2004, after resigning as secretary of Housing and Urban Development to make the run.
Martinez earned some national fame in 2000 when, as a top U.S. official, he strenuously argued before Congress and TV cameras that a Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez should not be forced to return to Cuba. Five years later, he was again on the national stage, this time unintentionally, when a top aide of his was outed as the author of a memo detailing a political strategy for intervening to keep Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman, alive.
The only Hispanic Republican in the Senate, Martinez, 60, is expected to focus mostly on speaking out for GOP candidates, raising money and pushing the party to broaden its reach. Duncan will be the nuts-and-bolts leader. The dual-leadership model is fairly common for modern party committees. It allows high-profile party officials to lend their experience to the committee without being consumed by managing a large organization.
The GOP base -- myself included -- is unhappy with this announcement.
Oh, well. Michael Steele has been passed up for Sen. Mel Martinez. Yes, a squish on border security is now the RNC chair. Has the GOP learned anything?
Oh, this is simply priceless. With Ken Mehlman retiring, we need a new RNC Chair.
We could have had a promising up-and-comer with a great life story, fantastic political skills, and odds-on-sharps like you wouldn't believe.
We could have had a dirty machine politico, who may make us all cringe a little at what he's willing to countenance, but who is used to the odd knifefight with a K-Bar and a rusty razor, and who could help us work our way back into the majority.
We could have had a lobotomized sea lion, who would at least know to bark to get some kind of fish on command.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next best thing (by a little) to making Kevin Phillips the new RNC Chair: Bonehead Martinez. Yes, that's right, Bonehead, who with a five-point Bush win in trending-Red Florida at his back, barely managed to beat one of the more anodyne, bland Democrats to run for the Senate outside of Massachusetts; Bonehead, who managed to take a dicey political situation in the Terri Schiavo affair and make himself into a Google search result; Bonehead, who if asked to eat eggs over easy and shave at the same time, would end up with shiny whites and yolk smeared in fork-tine streaks across his face; Bonehead is going to be the RNC Chair.
And if gets better! He's going to multitask!
This was brought to you today by the same morons who griped all last week about do-nothing leadership in the House, only to ... wait for it ... prepare to vote in the same losers!
I'm proud to be a Republican today.
Even the more circumspect Captain Ed is underwhelmed.
I completely agree with the sentiments expressed over at BizzyBlog.
As a member of the base you appear to be abandoning, allow me to make two points:
- The current apparent pick is a sitting Senator, and no matter how worthy he may be as a person, putting someone who actually is voting on laws and resolutions (in charge) is inappropriate bordering on irrational.
- Michael Steele ran such a stellar campaign to get as far as he did in the Maryland Senate race. He is a passionate and outstanding spokesperson that who the party could rally around. Frankly, selecting anyone else would be foolish.
I am surely supported by millions of other Republicans BEGGING you to PLEASE select Michael Steele.
There's a poll over at HotAir.
Sorry -- I just don't think we need to have a part time party chair. If Martinez is staying in the Senate (and I think he would be a fool not to do so), then he will have to delegate much of the day-to-day activity to staffers. But the GOP needs full-time nurturing after the debacle that occurred a week ago, with a full-time public face who will not conxstantly be triangulating between his role as a senator, a supporter of the administration, and a party-builder.
And in addition, Michael Steele needs to stay out of the "black slot" in the Cabinet.
UPDATE: The President has announced the Martinez appointment -- before the RNC members even vote on the matter. Seems to me that he is counting on an acclamation. Why don't we start contacting the men and women of the RNC from our states and tell them Mel Martinez is not acceptable -- and demand Michael Steele. If you think it can't happen, just remember the words "Harriet Miers".
House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) yesterday as the next House majority leader, thereby stepping into a contentious intraparty fight between Murtha and her current deputy, Maryland's Steny H. Hoyer.
The unexpected move signaled the sizable value Pelosi gives to personal loyalty and personality preferences. Hoyer competed with her in 2001 for the post of House minority whip, while Murtha managed her winning campaign. Pelosi has also all but decided she will not name the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) to chair that panel next year, a decision pregnant with personal animus.
Pelosi had been outspoken about her frustration with Murtha's declaration that he would challenge Hoyer, currently the House minority whip, for the majority leader post long before Democrats had secured the majority. Many believed she would remain on the sidelines, just as Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) did earlier this year when three Republicans vied for the post of House majority leader.
But in her first real decision as the incoming speaker, Pelosi said she was swayed by Murtha's early stance for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Her letter of endorsement yesterday made clear that she sees Iraq as the central issue of the next Congress and that she believes a decorated Marine combat veteran at the helm of the House caucus would provide Democrats ammunition in their fight against congressional Republicans and President Bush on the issue.
"I salute your courageous leadership that changed the national debate and helped make Iraq the central issue of this historic election. It was surely a dark day for the Bush Administration when you spoke truth to power," she wrote. "Your strong voice for national security, the war on terror and Iraq provides genuine leadership for our party, and I count on you to lead on these vital issues."
Seems to me that they really are Surrendercrats.
And the decision on Rep. Harman means that the new chair of the Intelligence Committee will be Alcee Hastings -- whose impeachment and removal from his federal judgeship on bribery charges seems not to be an obstacle in Pelosi's eyes, even though she voted for it. So much for fighting the culture of corruption.
I somehow doubt it Ė though we will see changes in the areas of strength for both.
Though red-eyed and exhausted from staying up most of Election Night, Amber Moon was ebullient over tasting the first victories of her career in Democratic politics.
The 27-year-old University of Houston graduate began working for Democrats in 2002 and now is the state party's official spokeswoman. The last time Democrats had a major victory in Texas, Moon was 14.
Though they were small in comparison with the gains Democrats made nationally, the changes were noticeable: Democrats swept county races in Dallas and Hays. They narrowed the Republican margin in Harris County. They picked up five seats in the state House on Tuesday, plus one more earlier this year.
They captured the U.S. House seat once held by Republican strongman Tom DeLay, and U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, is facing a runoff.
"We were very excited about the victories we have," Moon said. "People definitely sense a wind of change, and it's not just a national mood trickling down."
But the big question is whether these gains are a fluke of this one election cycle.
The statewide Republican vote this year was the lowest since 1998. And the top vote-getter of the Democrats' 2006 ticket still received fewer votes than the best-performing loser of the party's 2002 ticket.
Plus, the Democrats still face a Republican Party that is far better financed.
And therein lies the story. The vote for the statewide ticket was down because of a four-way gubernatorial race,and many people not voting down-ballot. Had it been a straight-up race between Chris Bell and Rick Perry, Perry would have handed Bell his head by a margin of at least 20 percentage points Ė and the other statewide races would have been even more strongly Republican than they were this year. The CD22 race would have turned out different if there had been a Republican on the ballot (Dems won a court fight to prevent that) and the Bonilla race is a runoff because of the redistricting decision this summer and the resultant free-for-all with multiple candidates. Bonilla will likely hold his seat, and CD22 will be Republican again in two years.
But there are changes. Dallas County continued its trend towards the Democrats, with a sweep of local races. Harris County judicial races went for the GOP, but by smaller margins which were probably the result of the drop in straight-party voting this year. And the shift of GOP voters to suburban counties from the urban core in Dallas and Harris are likely to make both Democrat strongholds with a majority of minority voters Ė but with shrinking populations. In the mean time, the suburban counties are growing and growing Republican.
And then there is the Hispanic vote Ė and the question of how it ultimately breaks here in Texas. If Republicans can get anywhere near a 50% share, we are likely to remain the majority party. And there is evidence of such a trend.
Carney said Hispanics cannot be counted on as Democratic voters when the new immigrant population begins voting. He said Republicans are reaching out to those potential voters.
He said that is why a decade ago a quarter of the Hispanic voters cast Republican ballots and now it is about 35 percent.
Perry won heavily Hispanic South Texas with 35 percent of the vote.
So what will happen here in Texas? My guess is that we will remain a conservative Republican state, but that races might get more competitive Ė particularly if the Blue Dogs begin to have significant and long-term influence in the Democrat Party.
Iíve got students on probation in my classes. Iíve even got students on parole. But I only know about it if they tell me Ė and only know what their crime was if they disclose it.
Thatís right Ė as a teacher, I have no right to know that I have students who are felons Ė even violent felons Ė in my class room.
There is one exception Ė convicted sex offenders. But even then, will the local police do their job and notify my school? Will the school do its job and notify me? This article leaves me questioning whether I really know who is in my classroom.
Background checks prevent teachers who are registered sex offenders from working in schools, but no law keeps students with histories of committing sex crimes from sharing history lessons and hot lunches with their classmates in Texas.
That leaves parents in the dark about who might be sitting in the desks next to their children.
No single authority knows how many registered sex offenders are high school students. About 2,400 registered sex offenders are younger than 21, the oldest age allowed for high school students in Texas. About 320 are younger than 17, said Tela Mange of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
But those figures do not likely reflect the actual number of youthful sex offenders. Those who are 17 or 18 can petition the courts to have their cases removed from the registry. Others may have dropped out of school, said Shannon Edwards, a staff attorney with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association.
"It's a very fluid number," said Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the public safety department.
In one recent case in Austin, a teacher was attacked by a student who was already a registered sex offender Ė one of three in the district. She didnít know about his status, though it is unclear whether the school knew and withheld the information or whether they were unaware.
One of the major state teacher organizations (we have four Ė and as a right-to-work state, membership is voluntary) is seeking to ensure that the current law is followed. They are also seeking closer monitoring of those students convicted of violent or sexual crimes.
It's also led at least one teachers' advocacy group to call for stricter monitoring of students with histories of committing violent or sexual crimes.
"In my mind, good public policy dictates that the public and specifically educators be aware when there is a registered sex offender in their midst," said Jeri Stone, executive director of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.
I agree wholeheartedly Ė and question why students with histories of sec crime or crime of violence are permitted back in a regular classroom setting. This isnít me looking to add one more level of punishment, it is me being concerned about the safety of every other student on the campus. Shouldnít these individuals be in a closely monitored alternative setting where it is less likely that they will have the opportunity to do harm to other students?
The only way the government can survive is to keep the terrorists in it Ė but the terrorists want more influence or they are going to walk.
Cabinet ministers from Hezbollah and an allied party resigned Saturday, a decision that could cost the Western-backed government crucial support from Lebanon's Shiite Muslims.
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he would not accept the resignations. He has the authority to order the five cabinet ministers to stay on, but it was unclear if his weak government could enforce the demand.
The resignations are not enough to bring down Siniora's government -- eight cabinet ministers must resign for the government to collapse -- but they could cost him support among Shiites, the majority sect in Lebanon, and make it difficult for him to govern.
The ministers of Hezbollah and the allied Amal party resigned because talks on forming a national unity government collapsed hours earlier, Hezbollah said in a statement broadcast by its al-Manar television station. Hezbollah accused the government of insisting on "imposing terms and premature results for negotiations," the TV station said.
Hezbollah, a Shiite militia that is by far the strongest political and military force in Lebanon, has been demanding at least one-third of the seats in the 24-member cabinet for itself and its allies. That would give them veto power over key decisions and the power to bring down the government if they disagreed with a decision.
Lebanon exists because of borders drawn by outsiders in the early 20tth century. As has happened elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa, the resulting borders have placed together groups that are traditional rivals with seriously different interests. The result has been states which are not truly viable entities. Thus Lebanon is a conglomeration of groups that have been unable to live together peacefully for decades. And when militias and terrorist groups hold more sway than the government authorities, then there is little hope for an end to civil strife Ė or conflict with Israel brought on by terrorist attacks by Hezbollah.
Today is Veteran's Day.
We owe so much to those who defend us -- men and women who ask so little in return.
Project Valour-IT is a program to supply voice-controlled laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at home or in military hospitals. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.
In honor of my father, a retired US Navy officer, I have affiliated myself with Team Navy in this fundraising effort. Please give generously.
The Washington post publishes this piece on race, gender, and presidential politics today -- Is America too Racist for Barack? Too Sexist for Hillary?
The 2006 elections were for the technocrats and the operatives, pitting the Democratic tacticians against the Karl Rove machine. But the next election is already beginning to look quite different: 2008 may be one for the novelists.
Viewers of the election returns late on Tuesday, after all, got an early start on the iconography of the next presidential race. The cable networks' cameras cut between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, thanking her supporters for an overwhelming victory in the New York Senate race, her husband standing pointedly behind, and a smiling Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, giving cautious, professorial analysis to the television viewers. Nobody noted the significance, but it stared us all in the face: The two presumed leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are a woman and an African American.
Their candidacies -- coming after elections resulting in the presumed first female speaker of the House and the second black governor since Reconstruction -- suggest that the next elections may play in ways that are more cultural and symbolic than tactical and political. Are Americans ready to put a black man or a woman in charge of the country? And does the hefty symbolism that Obama and Clinton would bring help one of them more than the other -- in other words, is the country more racist or more sexist?
Of course, this commentary makes some incredible assumptions -- assumptions that need to be challenged.
Does the author, Rolling Stone national affairs correspondent Benjamin Wallace-Wells really believe that a vote against Obama is a vote against blacks? That a vote against Clinton is a vote against women? Is it really his contention that ideas, policies, and ideology don't matter -- that candidates are and should be judges by the color of their skin or the genitalia between their legs, not the content of their character or (just as importantly) the content of their policy statements?
If that is the case, what does Wallace-Wells make of the defeats of Michael Steele, Ken Blackwell, and Lynn Swann on election day? Are the voters of Marryland, Ohio, and pennsylvania racists who for having rejected these highly qualified African American Republicans? Or does the presumption of bias only apply to votes against Democrat candidates like Obama, Clinton or (as happened Tuesday in Tennessee) Harold Ford?
And I cannot help but notice that Wallace-Wells gives dismissively short shrift to the possibility of a Secretary of State Condoleezza as a presidential candidate, despite the fact that she currently sits just four heartbeats from the Oval Office. Too bad he doesn't consider the implications of the reservoir of support that exists for Rice among conservative Republicans -- including this conservative white man -- if she would even hint that she were interested in making a presidential run. Nor does he consider that Rice is the name most often heard as a potential Vice Presidential pick in 2008 even if she doesn't seek the nod for the top spot.
Could it be that he, like most left-wingers, believe that membership in the GOP revokes the membership cards of the offender in the black race and the female sex?
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A great column today in the Rocky Mountain news, dealing with the issue of crimes committed by illegal aliens -- and not the ones they commit merely because of their immigration status.
What percentage of arrests for DUI offenses in 2005 were illegal aliens? Recall that Justin Goodman of Thornton was killed in 2004 on his motorcycle by an illegal alien driver who had six prior DUI and other driving violations in Boulder and Adams counties. The man had never been referred to ICE for deportation.
Does the Denver city attorney's standing policy of not asking questions in court about the legitimacy of Mexican driver's licenses presented by defendants have any consequences for the law-abiding citizens of Denver? Recall that the man who killed police officer Donnie Young had used an invalid Mexican driver's license to avoid jail in Denver municipal court only three weeks before the slaying.
Why is it that a full year after the Colorado attorney general stated that one- quarter of Colorado's outstanding fugitive homicide warrants are for people who have fled to Mexico, no newspaper has asked how many of the individuals named in the warrants were illegal aliens with prior arrests? (In Los Angeles County, there are more than 400 such fugitive warrants.)
How are sanctuary cities like Durango, Boulder and Denver responding to SB 90, the new state law passed in 2006 to outlaw sanctuary cities? What is ICE doing to respond to SB 90?
If Denver received federal reimbursement for the incarceration of more than 1,100 illegal aliens in 2004, why were only 175 deported when they finished their terms? What subsequent crimes did the other 925 criminal aliens commit?
After the murder of officer Donnie Young in May 2005, the Denver ICE office renewed its routine surveys of the Denver jail population to identify illegal aliens subject to deportation. How many criminal aliens have actually been deported out of the Denver jail since then, compared to prior years when such checks were not being made?
There is a societal cost to our nation's lax immigration policies. Why don't we honestly discuss it and try to solve teh problem? Or will the newly elected Democrats surrender on the border issue like they want to in Iraq?
That is what this statement clearly implies.
Democrats will look again at the legislation mandating 698 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border and might seek to scrap the plan altogether when they take control of Congress next year.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat, told reporters this week that he expected to "revisit" the issue when he becomes chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee in the 110th Congress.
Never mind that fencing/walls are an important part of border security in urban areas where the proposed electronic monitoring system will be rendered ineffective by the ability to quickly hide in densely populated areas.
In other words, the Democrat solution to border control is erecting billboards that read "Welcome Undocumented Workers!"
Even though I don't come anywhere near where it would kick in, I'm pleased to see this development -- but have some questions.
Democratic leaders this week vowed to make the alternative minimum tax a centerpiece of next year's budget debate, saying the levy threatens to unfairly increase tax bills for millions of middle-class families by the end of the decade.
The complex and expensive tax was designed to prevent the super-rich from using deductions, credits and other shelters to avoid paying the Internal Revenue Service. But because of rising incomes, the tax is expected to expand to more than 30 million taxpayers in 2010 from 3.8 million mostly well-off households in 2006.
Fixing the AMT has long been a top priority for Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who is in line to head the Senate Finance Committee. Last year, Baucus co-authored a bill to repeal the tax with Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), the presumptive chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, this week put fixing the AMT at the top of his agenda, calling it far more urgent than dealing with President Bush's request to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire in 2010.
And yesterday, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), who is campaigning to keep his leadership post, said Democrats will make "fixing the AMT . . . a priority of tax policy next year."
But hold it -- doesn't this mean you are giving tax cut to "wealthy" Americans? Isn't cutting taxes for such folks a blow to the poor? And aren't such cuts irresponsible in a time of war and "skyrocketing" budget deficits? And didn't you folks just campaign against tax cuts, and for repealing (or allowing to expire) the ones implemented by the Bush administration? Why would you do this?
The focus on the AMT is hardly surprising, given that victims of the tax have been concentrated in high-cost urban areas such as Washington, New York and San Francisco -- places that tend to vote Democratic. Rangel, Hoyer and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the presumptive House speaker, all represent states hit hard by the AMT, which is sometimes called the "blue-state tax." To map states with the highest concentrations of AMT taxpayers is to draw bull's-eyes over California and the Northeastern seaboard.
Oh, I see -- you want to fix a tax that hits the Democrat base. This isn't good tax policy, fairness, or anything else -- it is tinkering with the tax structure to reward your political base, rather than cutting taxes for all Americans like the Bush plan did. And your decision to forgo over $1 trillion over the next decade seems fiscally irresponsible for a party that ran on a platform of reducing budget deficits or getting GOP agreement or other tax increases.
And the utter hypocrisy of this complaint from the top Democrat staffer for the House Ways & Means Committee is so brazen as to almost be beyond belief.
"The real story on the AMT is how it takes back the Bush tax cuts," Buckley said. "For people who are married with children or live in states with income taxes, the tax cuts are temporary unless you fix the AMT."
But wait -- I thought you were the folks who complained that the Bush tax cuts were irresponsible and that people were wrongly being permitted to keep
their own the government's money. Why on earth would you object to some Americans not getting them when you have committed yourself to taking those cuts away from all Americans?
Oh, by the way -- who originally supported the Alternative Minimum Tax and insisted that most tax breaks and deductions be taken from those who pay it? I believe it was the Democrats, who insisted that too many folks were not "paying their fair share" when they followed the rules that Congress applied to everyone. It was originally passed by a Democrat controlled congress in 1969, and restructured to its current form by a Democrat Congress in 1978, when it was signed into law by Democrat President Jimmy Carter. And efforts at repeal or reform have been blocked by Democrats, who object to wider tax cuts and changes sought by Republicans -- including the Bush tax cut mentioned above.
If this is going to be the sort of stuff tried by the Democrats for the next two years, i expect that we Republicans will have a lot of fun during that time -- and big celebrations in November 2008.
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Sorry, but I would rather see eight years of Hillary Clinton than four of John McCain in the White House.
His party may have taken "a thumpin'," in the words of President Bush, but ABC News has learned that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and his political team have decided it's full steam ahead for his 2008 presidential campaign though he has yet to make the final, official decision.
Sources close to McCain say on Wednesday in Phoenix, he and a half dozen of his top aides huddled and decided to proceed more formally with his quest for the White House.
A final decision will come after Christmas.
But there are a few problems.
Moreover, McCain has yet to resolve the problems he's had with the Republican Party's conservative base.
"He has a problem with pro-lifers on judges, he Ö became very hostile to the Second Amendment community and supportive of gun control. He has a problem with the economic conservatives because he's been bad on taxes for six years now," said longtime critic Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, which includes individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes.
"Conservatives who care about the tax issue are very concerned that he opposed Bush's tax cuts," Norquist said.
Count me among the disaffected.
I cannot imagine supporting any ticket with John McCain on it, short of a joint apparition of Jesus Christ and Ronald Reagan telling me to give him my vote.
I reject him because of the sell-out of President Bush's judicial nominees as a part of the Gang of Fourteen, which he led.
I reject him because he tried to keep veterans who served with John Kerry from speaking out about his Vietnam service.
I reject him because he counts the dishonorable Richard Armitage among his close advisors.
The next time John McCain runs for any elective office, I pledge to support his opponent. I will use my blog to encourage others to vote for his opponent.
I am singling him out because of his fascist campaign finance law, which will not stop me in any way from using this blog to oppose John McCain for the rest of his days.
That is my solemn pledge to you.
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1) A quick reminder of why we need to support Israel Ė it is the only place in the world (with the exception of the US) where anti-Semitism is not the rule. Even places like England are cesspools of Jew-hatred Ė and always have been.
2) Of course, it could be worse Ė at least they are not reenacting Kristallnacht style destruction of Jewish institutions, like they are in France.
3) And speaking of Kristallnacht, will the world ever learn the lesson of that evil night? Or will we continue to allow Jew-hatred to be taught unchallenged by Muslim governments and schools around the world Ė and by ďanti-ZionistĒ professors in the rest of the world.
4) Which leads us, of course, to the issue of terrorism. In the UK, they are tracking two hundred plots and hundreds of plotters. Care to guess the religion of the overwhelming majority of the terrorists?
5) Illegals can get away with murder in this country Ė if they are taken into custody by immigration authorities, they may be deported without ever facing charges for the death they cause. If they are not taken into custody by immigration authorities, they often get bail and skip town. We need a new solution Ė no bail for illegals, and all costs of imprisonment should be reimbursed to the state or federal government from their homelandís foreign aid allotment.
6) Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has the genes for this comment about the election results Ė ďI'm Dan Rostenkowski." If he carries his fatherís genes for dishonesty and corruption, he might just live
up to down to the level set by the original Rosty.
7) To all those who voted Democrat this week Ė did you feel a draft in the polling place? If so, it was just John Murtha and Charles Rangel killing the all-volunteer military and taking you or your children into military service against their will. Did you know thatís what you would get? If it passes, I hope the president lets it become law without his signature Ė just so the American people recognize how the Democrats are all about taking away freedom of choice.
8) Speaking of Democrats, Evan Bayh recognizes that his party has no mandate for a liberal agenda.
9) Hereís a congresswoman I think the world of Ė and hope there is a place for her in the leadership of the GOP. After all, anyone who stands up to the terrorist apologists of CAIR clearly has her head screwed on right.
10) Hereís an interesting First Amendment conundrum Ė can a school ban on drug paraphernalia and images trump the right of students to wear shirts promoting a ballot initiative favoring medical marijuana?
11) Look at who sees the Democrat victory as a sign America is in retreat Ė al-Qaeda. Rumsfeld is ďfleeing the battlefieldĒ and they plan on blowing up the White House.
After great work at the head of the RNC, Ken Mehlman has stepped down as head of the GOP.
And his replacement? If all goes as expected (and, for my part, hoped), outgoing Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele will be the new head of the Republican National Committee.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, whose party just lost both chambers of Congress, will leave his position in January, and the post as party chief has been offered to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.
"It is true," Mr. Mehlman told The Washington Times when asked about reports last night that he would resign. "It's something I decided over the summer. No one told me I needed to. In fact, folks wanted me to stay."
Mr. Mehlman said he "told the White House over the summer it was my decision" to leave the RNC post, "win, lose or draw."
Also last night, Republican officials told The Times that Mr. Steele, who lost his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, has been sought out to succeed Mr. Mehlman as national party chairman. Those Republican officials said Mr. Steele had not made a decision whether to take the post, as of last night.
Other Republican Party officials said some Republican National Committee (RNC) members, including state party chairmen, have mounted a move to have Mr. Steele succeed Mr. Mehlman.
Word is that Karl Rove would prefer that Steele be made Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, but I oppose that. It is the traditional "black" Cabinet job, and I don't want to see us go back tot he days where serious black leaders within the GOP are shunted that direction by default. Besides, Steele showed what a fighter he is, and we need such a personality at the helm of the national party in the wake of this week's defeats.
MORE AT GOPBloggers
The first step in getting gay marriage was to force it on the people through the courts.
The second step is preventing the people from having their say on the matter.
And that is exactly what has happened in Massachusetts, where a parliamentary tactic was used to prevent the people from having a say on the issue.
In a flurry of strategic maneuvering, supporters of same-sex marriage managed to persuade enough legislators to vote to recess a constitutional convention until the afternoon of Jan. 2, the last day of the legislative session.
On that day, lawmakers and advocates on both sides said, it appeared likely that the legislature would adjourn without voting on the measure, killing it.
ďFor all intents and purposes, the debate has ended,Ē said Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat and the assistant majority leader. ďWhat members are expecting is that the majority of constituents are going to say, ĎThank you, weíre glad itís over, we think it has been discussed enough.í Ē
The measure had been expected by both sides to gain easily the 50 votes required from the 200 legislators as the first step toward making same-sex marriages illegal.
If Mr. Rushing really believed that a majority want this matter to be over, he and his colleagues would have sent the measure on to the people, where they could have voted it down. Could it be that they left-leaning legislators know that the people will vote to uphold tradition and what to prevent that at any cost? Given that poll numbers show that a gay marriage ban would likely be adopted by teh electorate even in liberal massachusetts, i think the answer is obvious.
All but the most stunted of moral midgets recognize that the two great evils of the twentieth century were Communism and Nazism. Just as the former still holds some attraction for the Mercedes Marxists on college campuses and in Hollywood, so, too, does the foul ideology of Hitler attract those with hate in their hearts.
German neo-Nazis, some shouting ``Sieg Heil,'' rampaged in the eastern city of Frankfurt on Oder and destroyed wreaths placed to mark the anniversary of the 1938 Nazi pogrom against the Jews, police said on Friday.
A police spokeswoman said the group had launched an attack on Thursday evening, shortly after a memorial service by community and Jewish leaders at a monument where a synagogue once stood.
She said the neo-Nazis trampled floral wreaths placed at a memorial stone to the synagogue in the Polish border city that was destroyed 68 years ago in the Nazis' Kristallnacht or ''Night of Broken Glass.''
They threw away candles left at the memorial, which had been attended by about 200 people. When police arrived, some of the neo-Nazis shouted ``Sieg Heil,'' police said. Authorities stayed on guard at the memorial site through the night.
That this malignant mindset still holds sway over any minds after the documented evil perpetrated in its name is rightening. And the choic of the anniversary of Kristalnacht is clearly intentional, showing that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe.
1) China and Russia are going to collaborate on future space ventures. Plans include robotic missions to the Moon and Mars. America is planning manned missions. Are we seeing the beginning of a new space race? Is there any possibility of international cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the new Russo-Chinese consortium? After all, space exploration ought to be about advances for all mankind, not individual nations.
2) Democrats back-stabbed Joe Lieberman Ė but he remains loyal to them. Proof positive that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
3) A controversial speaker is invited to campus. The administration condemns the invitation. Students attempt to assault the speaker to prevent the speech. Welcome to the wonderful world of left-wing collegiate academia at Ball State University Ė where everyone is encouraged to be diverse in precisely the same way.
4) How did the Democrats do it? By running to the right, and winning with conservative candidates. Meet the Blue Dogs.
5) Even Bill Clinton agrees Ė this election does not represent a fundamental shift to the Left in American politics.
6) Given that observation, who will control the agenda Ė the far-left bomb-throwers, or the more conservative candidates who made the victory possible? We will find out once the Democrats outline their policy proposals.
7) Maybe the outcome of this leadership election will be the sign. Hoyer or Murtha Ė moderate or liberal?
8) They shipped their Jew to Hitler, so why should we be surprised that the French are itching to fire on the Israelis? The ďpeacekeepersĒ have let the terrorists rearm, so maybe the time has come for Israel to recognize that the UN forces are not a neutral broker Ė and to treat those forces accordingly.
9) Speaking of which, the UN is seriously concerned about the death of Palestinian civilians as Israel tries to defend itself from terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, they are not at all concerned about the Qassam rockets that Hamas has been launching from civilian neighborhoods into various areas of Israel. After all Ė dead Jews donít matter to the international community today, any more than they did in the 1930s and 1940s.
10) Sad news at CBS Ė Ed Bradley, long a mainstay of 60 Minutes and the CBS Evening News, has died at age 65 of leukemia. Rest in peace, Ed Ė and may your name be found written in the Book of Life.
And if there is, will it be based on preserving the security of our nation's borders and the sovereign right of the US to control immigration? Or will it involve another round of amnesty, legalization, and incentives for even more of border-jumpers to come to America in order to skip to the head of the immigration line? That is the question as Democrats take control of Congress.
Jolted by the dramatic shake-up on Capitol Hill, the incoming Congress may prove more receptive to sweeping immigration changes such as a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, lawmakers and policy experts said.
Among the causes: Democrats' big gains, a shift by Latino voters away from the GOP and the defeat of several conservative Republicans who ran on a strident anti-illegal immigration message.
"I do see a light at the end of the tunnel," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, of Houston, the top Democrat on the House immigration subcommittee, said Wednesday.
But if Jackson-Lee sees a light, it is probably a flashlight being held by human traffickers leading even more illegals across the border. After all, she has steadfastly opposed shoring up our nation's borders.
And those of us worried about a repeat of the mistakes made in the 1980s with the Simpson-Mazolli amnesty legislation don't find the president's words comforting.
On Wednesday, President Bush identified immigration as an area in which he'd work with Democrats. And in comments directed to congressional conservatives who stymied his push for a guest-worker plan, Bush noted that strides have been made on border security.
"I would hope we can get something done," Bush said. "There's an issue where I believe we can find some common ground with the Democrats."
But if it involves legalization/amnesty, we may as well throw open the borders and admit that our nation can and will do nothing to stop the flow of illegal immigrants. And a guest worker program may be exactly that -- especially if it contains no effective enforcement provisions to make the "guests" leave.
In his first visit to Washington as Mexico's president-elect, Felipe Calderon is expected to urge President Bush today to resolve the immigration problem by investing in Mexico and eventually creating a European Union-style economic region where goods and services ó and people ó flow freely throughout North America.
* * *
Their cooperation will be key in determining the fate of 700 miles in new border fencing that Congress approved, but didn't completely fund, this year.
The fence has been heavily criticized in Mexico, and Calderon has called it an unnecessary barrier that threatens to permanently damage the relationship between the two neighbors and trading partners.
In other words, he wants to expand upon NAFTA -- something the Democrats are unlikely to go for. And the EU analogy will turn off conservatives, who recognize that the EU has eroded the sovereignty of European nations and placed it in the hands of a more or less unaccountable EU bureaucracy.
Any solution that doesn't involve building a fence to control access to the United States through regulated border checkpoints is doomed to failure -- and any solution that rewards those here illegally is a surrender of the national interest.
He tried to quit a couple of years ago, but the President refused his resignation. now Donald Rumsfeld becomes the first to leave the first member of the Bush Cabinet following the debacle in the mid-term elections.
With a wry smile, Donald H. Rumsfeld gently alluded to the controversies of his tenure as defense secretary, perhaps the most consequential since that of Robert S. McNamara during the Vietnam War.
Thanking the president for the opportunity to serve, Rumsfeld said in a brief Oval Office session yesterday afternoon that the experience brought to mind the words of Winston Churchill -- "something to the effect," he quipped, "that I have benefited greatly from criticism, and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof."
It was a rare melancholy moment for the alpha male and onetime Princeton wrestler who ran roughshod over the military brass, sparred bitterly with the media and mounted fierce rear-guard battles against the State Department during a six-year run that saw him become, first, an unlikely television celebrity and then the face of an unpopular war.
Though Bush affectionately patted Rumsfeld on the shoulder as he ushered him out of the Oval Office, there was little sugarcoating the reality that the defense chief, 74, was being offered as a sacrificial lamb amid the repudiation of Bush and his Iraq policy that the American electorate delivered on Tuesday.
Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff, had actually recommended this course of action to Bush two years ago. The fact that the defense chief lasted so long in the job was essentially a reflection of the fact that, in firing Rumsfeld, "you are basically admitting you made some serious mistakes in the conduct of the war," observed former White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta.
Bush has made a solid move by naming former CIA director Robert Gates to fill the vacant cabinet position. Let's hope that the new Democrat majority in the Senate chooses to act responsibly and not play politics with the nomination.
Farhan Shamsi couldn't be troubled to condemn terrorism during his campaign, but he could take the time to condemn this blogger for condemning terrorism and otherwise questioning evil committed in the name of Islam.
Republican Ken Cannata maintained a sizeable lead in his victorious campaign for Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace, taking 21,745 votes, or 69.6%, to Democrat Farhan Shamsiís 9,499, or 30.4%.
That sort of warms my heart. Maybe he'll have the time to answer my questions now.
The new Democrat majority in Congress presents the first opportunity for Nick Lampson to keep or break a promise he made to the voters of CD22.
During the campaign, many of us in the GOP pointed out that a vote for Lampson was a vote to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House. His supporters responded that Lampson had said he would not support her selection.
Question -- When will the newly-elected Nick Lampson declare his opposition to the selection of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House? Will he vote against her on the floor of the House on the first day of the new Congress in January? Or will his first action as the "representative" of CD22 be to break faith with the people of the district by voting for her?
I suspect that Lampson Watch will become a regular feature of this blog.
Shelley Sekula-Gibbs won election to the US House of Representatives in yesterday's special election with around 62% of the vote. Unfortunately, this only makes her my Congresswoman until January, when Democrat Nick Lampson takes over for the full term, having won a race in which Shelley's name was not allowed on the ballot. The final outcome of that race was around 52%-42%, with Sekula-Gibbs' write-in campaign doing quite well in a race where only the Democrat and the Libertarian appeared on the ballot.
1) Shelley's victor came in a race in which Lampson didn't compete -- because he knew he could not win and did not wish to expose the weakness of his support in CD22. That is part of why the Democrats fought so desperately to keep any GOP candidate off the general election ballot. But if you can barely scrape by with half the vote when you are the only major party candidate on the ballot, how much of a mandate can you really claim? I'd suggest that the answer is NONE -- and that Lampson begins his term in office as a lame duck.
2) Why did Shelley Sekula-Gibbs lose the general election? Because of the difficulty associated with casting a write-in vote. As an election judge, I spoke with at least a dozen folks (mostly elderly) who thought they had to cast two different ballots to vote for the special election and the general election -- and unintentionally cast their ballot before seeking to move on to cast any votes in the general election. I've heard similar stories from other precincts in the area. Others thought they could vote for Sekula-Gibbs by casting a straight-ticket GOP vote. They couldn't -- and came back later wanting to know if they could "fix" their error. And I have heard horror stories from the early ballot board of folks who sent in their ballots not marked "just so" -- Lampson's folks fought tooth and nail to keep them out, despite the clear intent of the voter. I suspect the same thing is going on now with any write-in vote that did not spell the name exactly right -- and we do not know exactly how many that would be. In other words, it is likely that a majority of voters in CD22 intended to vote for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs in the general election, but failed to do so because of confusion with the process of doing so.
3) Shelley's victory in the special election makes her the odds-on favorite for the GOP nomination in 2008. I know that those of us who supported her during the nomination this spring very happy. I don't know if we have any local office-holders willing to give up a safe seat to challenge her for this position -- and David Wallace lacks credibility after his behavior back in August. I have no doubt that CD22 will be safely back in Republican hands two years from now -- and am pretty confident that Shelley Sekula-Gibbs will be returned to Washington for a full term at that time. After all -- being the face of hope for the party when all seems lost is what made ultimately made Ronald Reagan President of the United States.
By the way, let's attribute the loss of this at to the man who deserves the blame -- Tom DeLay. If, as is often claimed by the Democrats, DeLay knew he was not going to run in the general election as early as January, he should never have filed for office. His decision to drop out after getting an atta-boy for the GOP primary voters was selfish and led, I believe, to the Lampson victory and the larger GOP meltdown nationwide.
MORE ON THE CD22 RACE AT Texas Safety Forum.
Unless a huge line is straggling out the door of the library, the polls are closed in my little corner of Texas.
Here's hoping that I can get everything shut down and delivered to the county pretty quick -- I want to get to the celebration for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs!
The winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are Female Genital Mutilation in Georgia: Who is the Perp? by Gates of Vienna, and Isis' Guide to Sensible Islam Posting by Smart and Final Isis. Here are links to the full results of the vote
Here are the full tallies of all votes cast:
|3||Female Genital Mutilation in Georgia: Who is the Perp?|
Gates of Vienna
|2 1/3||You Would Weep|
Done With Mirrors
|2||The Least Bad Choice|
|1 2/3||Day Book, October 23, 2006|
The Glittering Eye
|1 1/3||Rats in the Kitchen: A Parable|
|2/3||The Best Hasbara|
|1/3||John Kerry Says Soldiers Just Arenít That Smart|
The Sundries Shack
|1/3||Gays Win In New Jersey -- GOP Handed Winning Issue|
Rhymes With Right
|1/3||Enough Is Enough|
Right Wing Nut House
|3||Isis' Guide to Sensible Islam Posting|
Smart and Final Isis
|2 2/3||Covering Iraq: The Modern Way of War Correspondence|
|1 1/3||Absolute Moral Authority Revisited|
|1||The Dark Ages|
VDH's Private Papers
|1||Hanson on the Terror Network|
|2/3||Muslim Solidarity and Veiled Threats|
|2/3||One Good Punch, That's All I Ask|
|2/3||If Todays Press Covered the "Battle of the Bulge"|
|1/3||More John Kerry "Misinterpreted Jokes"|
Ace of Spades HQ
Polls here in Texas just opened at 7:00 AM. You have 12 hours to get out and cast your vote.
I expect a heavy turnout, so don't wait until the last minute to come to the polls -- PLEASE!
By the way, in my precinct I've had a 12% early voting/absentee rate this year.
If so, it is one more step towards the canonization of the much loved Pope John Paul II.
A man apparently cured of lung, kidney and spinal cancer just weeks after doctors said he had no hope left has been cited as the final miracle required to secure the sainthood of Pope John Paul II.
Nicola Grippo, 76, a tailor from Salerno, southern Italy, contracted the cancer three years ago. Until a few months ago his body was riddled with tumours and his doctors told him he would die.
However, he made a dramatic recovery after a vision of John Paul II apparently came to his wife Elisabeth. "One night, the Pope appeared to her in a dream, holding a small child in his hand and walking on a road of white cobblestones," he told La Stampa newspaper.
"The doctors came to me and asked if I was a believer, if I had prayed to a saint. So my wife told them about her dream. They told me that my lungs were clear of all traces of cancer, and that they could not claim credit for the cure," he added.
His recovery has been held up by a senior Vatican prelate, Archbishop Gerardo Pierro, as the second miracle that John Paul II needs to be canonised. "It was a prodigious intervention, a miracle of the first order," he said.
This is the second miracle ascribed to the late pontiff. We may see the canonization of Saint John Paul the Great in our lifetimes.
And yet, this miracle is tinged with sadness for the Grippos.
He also spoke of his sadness that the miracle did not come to save his daughters, both of whom died young. "Now I and my wife are alone. I have lost two daughters. One was 20 and died of leukaemia. The other died in a car crash. I would have wanted the miracle for them," he said.
May God look with great love on these dear people, and comfort them in their old age. And may He also bless those considering the cause of Pope John Paul II.
1) Shooting the guy in the head was the stupidest thing Jerry Rose had ever done Ė before he confessed to the murder as a part of a game of truth or dare.
2) It seems that American isnít the only country where the Left would rather ignore Islamic extremism rather than risk someone thinking an un-PC thought about Islam.
3) How much voter fraud will there be in St. Louis this year?
4) This is unprofessional, and the principal in question should be fired. No educator should be trying to use his or her job to influence the political views and voting patterns of students or their parents. That is why I have fought so hard to keep this blog anonymous Ė I view it as a professional responsibility.
5) Looks like the people of West Virginia will send a Klansman back to the US Senate Ė Democrat Senator Robert Byrd.
6) British doctors proclaim that Hitler was right Ė Disabled children should be killed.
7) The poll margins are closing, favoring the GOP Ė turnout tomorrow will be the key. We can win if we show up and vote GOP.
8) In another oppressive move, Iranís president has closed down newspapers and broadcast outlets critical of the government and its policies. So much for human rights.
9) If you want to talk about absolute moral authority on the war in Iraq, maybe it is best found among the men and women serving our country over there Ė and they say ďFight on!Ē So shut up, John Murtha, John Kerry, and Cindy Sheehan!
A former head of the KKK is dead -- too bad it is of natural causes.
Former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Samuel H. Bowers, who was convicted eight years ago of ordering the 1966 bombing death of a civil rights leader, died Sunday in a state penitentiary, officials said. He was 82.
He died of cardio pulmonary arrest, said Mississippi Department of Corrections spokeswoman Tara Booth.
Bowers was convicted in August 1998 of ordering the assassination of Vernon Dahmer Sr., a civil rights activist who had fought for black rights during Mississippi's turbulent struggle for racial equality. He was sentenced to life in prison.
"He was supposed to stay there until he died. I guess he fulfilled that," Dahmer's widow, Ellie Dahmer, told The Associated Press on Sunday. "He lived a lot longer than Vernon Dahmer did."
Booth said that the Klansman died at approximately 11:30 a.m. in the Mississippi State Penitentiary Hospital in Parchman, a sprawling prison carved out of the cotton and soybean fields in the impoverished Mississippi Delta.
Here's hoping that not even Bowers' family mourns this creep's death -- though I'm sure that I'll hear from at least one of his fans on this site.
BAGHDAD, Nov. 5 -- Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was found guilty by a special tribunal Sunday of crimes against humanity for the torture and execution of more than 100 people from a small town north of Baghdad 24 years ago. He was sentenced to death by hanging.
Hussein, 69, was led into the courtroom by seven guards and immediately sat in his chair, refusing to rise for his verdict until Chief Judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman ordered guards to force him to his feet.
"Long live the people!" Hussein shouted as the verdict was being announced. "Down with the stooges! Down with the invaders! God is great!"
Just before his appearance in court, one of Hussein's co-defendants, Awad Hamed al-Bander, the former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, repeatedly bellowed: "God is great!" as he, too, was sentenced to death. "On the tyrants, God is great!" he shouted. "On the colonizers, God is great! On the agents, God is great!"
The verdict and sentence will automatically be sent to a nine-judge appellate panel for appeal. That panel has wide latitude to review the case and call for additional testimony, and it has an unlimited time to rule. But once it does, any sentence must be carried out within 30 days.
Celebratory gunfire rang out over Baghdad as jubilant Iraqis expressed their happiness with the outcome by racing to rooftops, front yards and windows to fire into the air. National television showed smiling Iraqis dancing in the streets of cities around the country, including in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, which technically was under an all-day curfew.
UPDATE: The New York Times isn't happy with the verdict or sentence. Why am I not surprised? Maybe they will deck the paper our in mourning black when the dictator is dead.
My fellow Americans -- do you want more Supreme Court Justices like Roberts and Alito, or would you prefer that they have to pass Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer's litmus tests? And a seat on the Court could come sooner than you think.
For the past several weeks, there has been a rumor circulating among high-level officials in Washington, D.C., that a member of the U.S. Supreme Court has received grave medical news and will announce his or her retirement by yearís end. While such rumors are not unusual in the nationís capital, this one comes from credible sources. Additionally, a less credible but still noteworthy post last week at the liberal Democratic Underground blog says, ďSend your good vibes to Justice Stevens. I just got off the phone with a friend of his family and right now he is very ill and at 86 years old that is not good.Ē
Normally, this news might be too ghoulish to repeat publicly. Nevertheless, with the election just days away, it is news that should be considered. It points out what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the 20-year movement to recast the court with a constitutionalist majority. It would be a cruel twist indeed for conservatives to ďteach Republicans a lessonĒ next Tuesday, only to be taught a lesson themselves within months when new Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) leads a Democratic majority against the most important Supreme Court nominee in decades. Conservatives whose mantra is ďno more SoutersĒ should bear in mind Robert Borkís fate after the Senate changed from Republican to Democratic hands in 1986.
And the "moderate" Democrats running this year? What would they do?
With 55 Republican senators, the majority needed for the ďconstitutional optionĒ was never a sure thing. But with significant Republican losses on Tuesday, it will surely be buried, leaving Senators Teddy Kennedy (D.-Mass.) and Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) free to return to filibusters, including against Supreme Court nominees. Schumer is reported to have assured Democrats that Bob Casey Jr. -- despite running as a moderate Senate candidate -- would be supportive of Democratic efforts to block constitutionalist judicial nominees. ďThereís no worry on judges,Ē said Schumer. ďAnd judges is the whole ball of wax.Ē Other supposedly centrist Democratic candidates including Harold Ford Jr. (Tenn.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Jim Webb (Va.) have refused to rule out filibusters against judicial nominees.
So my friends, get out and vote Republican if you have a Senate race (not to mention in your local House race). Even if you don't like the candidate, vote for Republican.
Or else all the progress we have made over the last six years in filling judgeships with strict-constructionist judges will be ended in an instance.
Turkish secularists are protesting in opposition to Islamist influence in Turkey.
About 12,000 Turkish secularists marched in the capital on Saturday to protest against what they see as a rising Islamist influence under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, Anatolian news agency said.
The demonstrators, who represented 112 non-governmental organisations, shouted "Turkey is secular, will remain secular" and "Independent Turkey" and protested against Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has roots in political Islam.
Overwhelmingly Muslim, Turkey is governed by secular laws that separate religion and state.
Since winning 2002 elections, Erdogan's government has alarmed secularists by promoting an increase of religious schools, seeking to lift a ban on wearing Islamic headscarves in universities and government offices and filling senior government posts with Islamists.
I support this movement against further erosion of the constitutional secularism of Turkey. The difficulties that would be created by a NATO member falling under the sway of the same ideology that motivates our enemies in the War on Terrorism cannot be overestimated.
I spent part of the morning (while my wife was out with friends) working preparing a last-minute mailing to go out to local Republicans on behalf of our local congressional candidate, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs -- and stopped to participate in a block walk in a friend's precinct along with Shelley while driving up to get supplies for the polling place.
National Republican luminaries, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney, have stumped through this congressional district recently, praising the conservative credentials of candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs.
What Sekula-Gibbs has been doing is much more basic: She is trying to get voters to understand that she's running.
Congressional District 22, encompassing parts of four suburban counties south of Houston, used to be a slam-dunk for Republicans. Then its representative -- Tom DeLay, who was the House majority leader -- ran into ethics and legal troubles.
Under an ethics investigation and indicted on state money-laundering and conspiracy charges, the 12-term congressman handily won the March GOP primary but then announced his resignation from Congress and his official move to Virginia. DeLay assumed Texas Republican officials would replace him with a viable candidate -- but that was when the race got complicated.
One lawsuit and several federal court decisions later, DeLay officially withdrew as the nominee in late August. Sekula-Gibbs, a Houston City Council member, subsequently emerged as the GOP choice, but under Texas election law it was too late to put her name on the ballot. Voters instead will get a ballot with a blank space next to "Republican" for District 22. But Sekula-Gibbs will be listed as the GOP nominee for the special election -- also to be held on Tuesday -- to fill the remainder of DeLay's term, which will officially end in January.
Sekula-Gibbs, 53, has tried to simplify the story: "Vote Twice for Shelley," goes her campaign jingle, to the tune of "Roll Out the Barrel." "Write In" and "Vote Twice," say her blue-and-yellow campaign signs.
"That's probably the number one issue to get across," Sekula-Gibbs told GOP activists called together for a Friday breakfast to ask them to promote her write-in candidacy in the final 72 hours before Election Day. "We think 92 percent of voters know there is a write-in," she said of the Republican electorate. "We're in the final quarter of the game, and we cannot take anything for granted."
Shelley is surging in the polls and supporters are enthusiastic. Indeed, she is more energetic, enthusiastic and excited this close to the end of a campaign than any candidate I have ever worked with. I believe that we have a winner.
The junior senator from Illinois and presidential hopeful proves that even election to high office doesn't guarantee that one knows or speaks the truth.
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois on Friday urged hundreds of blacks not to vote along racial lines next week in Maryland's Senate race.
Obama, the only black U.S. senator, came to the state to rally support for Democratic Rep. Ben Cardin, who is white. Cardin's Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, is the first black candidate ever elected statewide and has been courting black Democrats.
"Listen, I think it's great that the Republican Party has discovered black people," Obama said to laughter from students at the rally at predominantly black Bowie State University. "But here's the thing. ... You don't vote for somebody because of what they look like. You vote for somebody because of what they stand for."
Let's give this man a quick history lesson.
If one goes back to the birth of the GOP, it was a party that had the rights of blacks as its primary issue. Remember, the GOP was the party of abolition -- and that among those who were a part of its founding meeting was Frederick Douglass. At a time when the Democrats believed every black should be a slave, the Republican Party was co-founded by black men like Douglass -- an escaped slave. While they could not vote because they were women, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman were also active supporters of the Republican Party. The Democrats, on the other hand, fought tooth-and-nail to keep blacks from voting in general elections -- or participating in party primaries, until the Supreme Court told Texas Democrats in Fort Bend County (and, by extension, Democrats in the rest of the country) that such actions violated the guarantees of the Fifteenth Amendment.
When the Civil War came to an end and the black slaves of the solidly Democrat South achieved the freedom guaranteed them by Republican President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Republican Congress' Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, the Republican controlled legislature of Mississippi sent Hiram Rhodes Revels to be the first black United States Senator (filling the seat left vacant by the resignation of Democrat Jefferson Davis -- President of the Confederate States of America. He was later succeeded in the Senate by Blanche Bruce, the first black United States Senator to serve a complete term. At the end of his term, the Democrat-controlled Mississippi legislature replaced him with a former Confederate officer who had helped draft and sign the Mississippi Ordinance of Secession.
Incidentally, the next black man to serve in the US Senate was Edward Brooke of Massachusetts -- another Republican, from 1967-1979, at a time when the Democrat Party was still fighting against civil rights and trying to determine if blacks should have representation at Democrat nominating conventions. On the other hand, should the Democrat Party regain control of the US Senate next week, they will choose a former leader of the KKK, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, to be the president pro tempore of the Senate, placing him third in line for the presidency of the United States.
Republicans were active in their defense of the rights of African-Americans for the next century -- and every significant piece of civil rights legislation passed during that time was the product of GOP authors and/or an overwhelming number of GOP votes in Congress. Democrats, on the other hand, fought against civil rights every step of the way, writing and enforcing Jim Crow policies. It took a Republican Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Earl Warren, to craft a decision to overturn such segregation.
It was a proud Republican who, in 1963, gave a speech at the Lincoln Memorial that clearly enunciated the Republican position on civil rights and racial equality -- of an America in which all people "will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Today the GOP continues to stand for the vision of our brother Martin Luther King, Jr., while the Democrats continue to seek to divide and balkanize along racial lines.
So you see, Senator Obama, it is pretty clear that neither party needed to "discover" black people. The problem is that one of them is the party of Ol' Massa, Jim Crow and the Klan, while the other is the party of emancipation, civil rights, and equality. Michale Steele is a part of the latter -- and any African-American should be ashamed to vote for or serve in office as part of the former.
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Well, I suppose if you consider writing a 300-hit-a-day blog and being a party precinct chair (about as grassroots as you get) makes me really important, but most folks would consider that reasonably obscure. But I guess the Democrats need something to run on down here in Texas, so one of them (running for a local office some 40-50 miles from me) has decided to send out a campaign mailer devoted to... ME!!!!!!
It's the same sort of crap that I wrote about last week -- in fact, the exact same crap. Same quotes, edited and/or removed from context to achieve maximum distortion. But let's go over them again, just to make it clear what was really said. And while I am at it, how about if I put a few pointed questions to Farhan Shamsi, Democrat candidate for Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace in Fort Bend County. After all, it seems to me that this prospective judge ought to answer some questions for the voters.
"That's one more dead terrorist in Hell with Allah."
MY RESPONSE: Of course, that statement comes from a post making fun of a jihadi suicide bomber who blew himself up early while riding a bicycle to his target. He believed he was going to spend eternity in Allah's abode, and I presume he knew best -- and since he was on a mission of murder and mayhem, I can only presume that his final destination was Hell. I simply acted upon the assumption that both of us are correct.
I'd like to ask Farhan Shamsi what he thinks -- did Allah reward this would-be murderer or is he burning in Hell? After all, sir, if you are going to question my theological assertion, I'd like to know your position -- and I believe the voters have a right to know.
"Where are the peacemakers from the Religion of Peace? All I see are jihadi swine."
MY RESPONSE: I was commenting on a story about the arrest of a group of would-be terrorists under arrest for their conspiracy. That should be clear from the excerpt from the news story, so I was clearly talking about extremists. Unfortunately for Islam, it is such folks that have become the public face of Islam. Why are you more concerned about the fact that someone would criticize your faith and connect it to terrorism than you are about the fact that there are so many folks engaged in acts of murder and mayhem in the name of your religion, Mr. Shamsi? Why didn't you spend those campaign dollars sending out a denunciation of jihadi terrorism and a pledge to fight it, instead of a condemnation of someone who doesn't like jihadi terrorism and dares to say so. You would have my respect and support if you had -- but I guess I can tell what your priority is, and it isn't cleaning up your religion or stopping terrorism. I think your decision speaks volumes to the voters, sir.
"Sorry, no respect for any ethnicity or religion with this scumbag...Just following the example of Muhammad, I guess. I recall that he liked sex with little girls, too. Would somebody please remind me what is there in Islam that is good and noble?"
MY RESPONSE: Sir, do you really respect a man who violates a child custody order, takes his twelve-year-old daughter to a foreign country, with the intent of marrying her to a man in his twenties? Most Americans would call those actions criminal and disgusting -- and the religious and/or cultural motivations beneath contempt. If you don't, I question your fitness for public office.
As for the assertions regarding Muhammad, I suggest you read up on his marriage to Aisha -- who he married at age six and with whom he consumated his marriage at age nine. Those are not my numbers -- these come from various hadiths and early Muslim historians, among these being Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Nasíai, Ibn-i-Majah, ibn Ishaq, and al-Tabari. It is hardly an act of disrespect to speak the truth about Muhammad by citing authoritative Muslim sources -- unless you consider these same sources to be unreliable and unworthy of respect.
So let's get a quick answer -- does Islam REALLY condone kidnapping and child marriages? Do you? Are these good and noble aspects of your religion? The voters deserve to know.
"Israel has the capability to nuke your camel-humping ass."
MY RESPONSE: This is a statement made about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust-denying Jew-hater who has expressed a desire to remove Israel from the map of the world and is seeking to develop nuclear weapons in order to carry that out. That is the context of my comment. Mr. Shamsi -- do you support the Madman of Teheran's policies, and his desire to commit a second genocide against the Jewish people? Do you support his intent to attack America's closest ally in the Middle East? If you don't, would you explain what you find objectionable in my insulting comment directed at a man who took American diplomats and military personnel hostage in the US Embassy in 1979? I'm sure the good people of Fort Bend County would like to know, sir -- especially since Iran today tested missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to targets in Israel.
Better idea Ė the civilized world will keep the Christian and the followers of the Religion of barbarism can keep their co-religionist.
MY RESPONSE: Since it is only one paragraph, why don't I let you see the complete context.
Italian journalist who converted to Islam kidnapped by jihadis in Afghanistan Ė who demand the return of an Afghan convert to Christianity for application of the sharia penalty for apostasy (which is, of course, death). Am I the only one who smells a set-up here? Better idea Ė the civilized world will keep the Christian and the followers of the Religion of Barbarism can keep their co-religionist.
Is hostage-taking to accomplish a religiously-based aim a barbaric practice or not? Is demanding that an individual be turned over for execution because they have left Islam an act of barbarism? Would you characterize the actions of these terrorists to be a part of a religion of barbarism -- or are such actions acceptable? Please, Mr. Shamsi, there are voters whose decision depends upon your answer.
6) HE OBJECTS TO:.
"In other words, fundamental human rights are anathema to Islam."
MY RESPONSE: Mr. Shamsi, this was commentary about a case involving a woman who has been baptized and seeks to be recognized as a Christian. She has been told by Malaysia's civil courts that it is a matter for the Muslim religious courts, and the Muslim religious courts have indicated the she will be imprisoned until she recants her so-called apostasy. Do you believe in religious freedom, Mr. Shamsi, as embodied in the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Or do you believe, as has been the ruling of sharia-based courts around the world, that no Muslim has the right to follow their conscience on religious matters, and that those who would do so must be coerced against their will to practice Islam? The voters have a right to know, sir.
Most Muslims that I know (and I have known many) are good and decent people. Indeed, my wife is alive today because of a group of medical professionals who are almost exclusively Muslim. I hold them in great esteem as individuals -- as I have any number of Muslim classmates, students, co-workers, and neighbors over the course of my life. Indeed, at the 2000 GOP State Convention I worked to see to it that a young Muslim woman was selected as a delegate representing CD22 at the Republican National Convention. I gladly extend the hand of friendship to any Muslim who wishes to enjoy the blessings of liberty that this nation and our Constitution stand for.
Now there are those who would argue that my views indicate an intolerance for Islam. To the degree that Islam is expressed in acts of terrorism, I'd agree. But I do know there is more, a heritage of art, literature and architecture that are worthy of honor and respect. As a lover of history, I see much in Islam to praise -- and recognize that Western Culture lives today because the Muslim world preserved it during the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately, that is not the face of Islam that presents itself to the world today. Sadly, there is a cancer at work within Islam -- one that manifests itself in events like those in New York, Washington, London, Bali, and Madrid. Its symptoms include acts of oppression and violence against those who reject the Muslim faith. It looks like this.
Mr. Shamsi, will you be as strident in your condemnation of this real hate speech by real Muslims in the name of Islam as you are of what you and your fellow Democrats imagine is "hate speech" on my blog? Or will you remain silent because there is no partisan or electoral value in speaking out?
Regardless, I must be clear about something. I do not consider Muhammad a prophet. I do not accept the Quran as the word of God. And I have some doubts about whether or not my God and Allah are really the same deity, for all of Islam's insistence that they are one-and-the-same. But why would you be surprised? If I accepted those things, I would be a Muslim!
However I am not a Muslim, and I reserve the right to speak critically of the Islamic faith (or things done in the name of that faith) -- just as I support the right of every Muslim to speak critically of Christianity.
That's not bigotry -- it is the American way.
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