Precinct 333

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Vets to Dorgan: Apologize!

Senator Byron Dorgan willingly acted as a useful idiot in Michael "Jabba the Hutt" Moore's movie, Farenheit 9/11. Now two constituents who served the United States in Iraq want an apology for his service to Saddam and Osama.

Dorgan appeared in the film asking questions about who authorized the departure of bin Laden family members and other Saudis in the days following the terrorist attack on our country.

"Not only will I not apologize for asking these questions, I intend to continue to ask them at every opportunity," Dorgan said in a statement. "The American people deserve to know."

Bin Laden praised the attacks, and 15 of the 19 people who took part were Saudis. Dorgan said he wants to know who gave permission for the flights to depart.

"I'm not alleging any kind of conspiracy," Dorgan said. "I think this is an example of gross incompetence by some in our government, and I want to know who's accountable."

Unfotunately for Dorgan, the answer has already come out. Richard Clarke, a Bush critic and Moore hero, admits that he authorized the departures after the FBI interviewed those leaving and gave each individual clearance to depart. The filmmaker neglected to put that acknowledgement of responsibility in his film, despite its availability during the period when the film was being made.


Friday, July 09, 2004

MIA -- Jury Duty

You folks may have noticed that I haven't been around this week. No, I'm not secretly John Edwards bloging as a conservative -- I got picked for jury duty for a two week long (we hope) civil trial. And with just a pinch of irony, it is in the 333rd State District Court. I'll tell you more next week, after the case is over.

And yes, I have time-stamped this so it is on top.


Congressman Threatens Archbishop!

I think the time has come for formal excommunications. Bell book and candle, the whole nine yards. I say this after reading a news report indicating that Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-MO) stated in an interview that:
I think Archbishop Burke has gone too far; he is now delving into politics. Perhaps the Catholic Church should surrender their 501-C status.

So there we have it. Attempting to enforce the moral teachings among members of a church is going too far, and grounds for lifting tax-exempt status. All Archbishop Burke has said is that the protection of human life is so crucial to Catholic teaching that failure to uphold that teaching is a serious sin that merits the denial of the Church's sacraments. That is his obligation as a bishop, and any attempt by the government to interfere with that is a violation of the First Amendment.

But Clay doesn't care. He says he intends to block the communion line if a priest has the audacity to refuse communion to him, a congressman, on the dirction of a mere archbishop. He claims that the Church is out of step. Unfortunately, that view means that Clay is out of step with the Church.

Clay's implicit threat is clear. The archbishop should start the excommunications with him.


Ditka for Senate!

The leftists in the media did-in the GOP's Senate candidate with a no-sex scandal, but they may have gotten more than they expected in return. A grassroots movement has begun to promote the candidacy of Mike Ditka, former player and coach for the Chicago Bears. He has name recognition and the affection of folks in all parts of the state. And more to the point, he has been active in GOP politics for a number of years. He was already being touted as a candidate for state GOP chair, but the current situation may have made it critical for him to step into a larger role, one that only "Iron Mike" can fill at this critical time in the Land of Lincoln.

For more info:


Leftists Degrade Wounded Vet in Parade -- Organizer Justifies It

Baby killer!


Those were the words that greeted Jason Gilson as he marched in the Fourth of July parade on Washington State's Bainbridge Island carrying a sign that read "Veterans for Bush." He was booed and insulted by the crowd, and verbally degraded by the parade announcer.

The response of the parade organizer?
I'm sure it wasn't so much directed at the kid as it was the president. A soldier with a sign represents that.

I'll be staying far away from Washington, as it represents the nadir of Kerry's America.

And since the leftists find such stuff acceptable, I'll be making up my "Kerry is a War Criminal" sign

UPDATE: I love it when a little light shed on the situation gets apologies from the wrong-doers.


Welcome to John Kerry's America!

The Kerry/Edwards ticket raised itself and the DNC over $7 million in cash last night at a star-studded fundraiser. It was also profanity-laced, as the candidates and their wives laughed it up when Whoppi Goldberg launched into an act in which she made repeated reference to President Bush and female genitalia. Others accused the president of hostility to Hispanics and treason for his tax cuts. At the end of the event, Kerry stated that
"every performer tonight ... conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."
I don't know about you, but those are not the heart and soul of MY America!

UPDATE: Neither the candidates nor their campaign have found it necessary to apologize for the slime-fest. The campaign also refuses to release a tape of the event to the media, despite repeated requests to do so. But in an another amazing flip-flop (a Kerry trait), spokeswoman Marry Beth Cahill has said
"It is not what Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards would say and they don't approve of some of the comments that have been made."


Six Conservative Principles

The House Republican leaders have issued members a wallet-size card containing six principles of conservatism that should guide them in considering legislation. They emphasize that these points undergird the philosophy of the "Goldwater-Reagan" wing of the party that has prevailed over the last four decades. All legislation should be evaluated based upon whether it would
• Tend to reduce government regulations, size of government, eliminate entitlements, or unnecessary programs.
• Promote individual responsibility in spending, or reduce taxes or fees.
•Encourage responsible behavior by individuals and families and encourage them to provide for their own health, safety, education, moral fortitude, or general welfare.
•Increase opportunities for individuals or families to decide, without hindrance or coercion from government, how to conduct their own lives and make personal choices.
•Enhance the traditional American family and its power to rear children without excessive interference from the government.
•Enhance American security without unduly burdening civil liberty.

Would that they would follow these principles.


Kerry/Edwards -- A ticket that looks like ultra-liberal America

In a move that surprised few, billionaire white giggolo John Kerry picked multi-millionaire white trial lawyer John Edwards to be his running mate for the fall election.

No blacks, women, Asians, women, or individuals with disabilities were considered for the position and the only Hispanic under consideration bowed out of the running early (perhaps because he knew he was not a factor).

And yet we keep being told that the Democrats are the party of inclusion.


Monday, July 05, 2004

Defense of Marriage Act? What Defense of Marriage Act?

I almost skipped over this story when I saw the headline. After all, we all knew that some homosexual couple would file suit to force the recognition of their Massachusetts marriage outside the borders of that state. That is how liberals operate -- if the voters and the legislature won't give it to them, they bypass the democratic process and go to court to obtain the heretofore unobtainable. That has been what happened every step of the way in this battle, and a large part of why the movement for gay marriage has no legitimacy.

But then I saw this little gem, part way down the page:
Katy, an FBI agent, said she has already used her marriage license to obtain medical benefits for Kristin under her health plan at work. With the dangerous nature of her work, Katy, 40, also rushed to have Kristin, 38, listed as her beneficiary on her life insurance and pension.


Don't we have the Defense of Marriage Act? Isn't it federal law and federal policy that marriage is a heterosexual thing only? How on earth has this woman been able to obtain her putative spouse benefits through her job as an FBI agent? What action has been taken to deal with this situation in which an FBI agent appears to be flouting the law by obtaining benefits for someone not legally entitled to them?

I guess this is one more reason for passing the Federal Marriage Amendment -- to keep folks in fraudulent marriages from fraudulently obtaining benefits for their significant other.


Post-Dispatch: Abortion trumps religious mission, academic freedom

A couple of weeks back, I blogged here and here about the decision of Catholic University of America to deny recognition to a campus chapter of the NAACP due in part to the parent organization's support for abortion. Well, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has decided to weigh in on the decision in an editorial.

I'll give you one guess as to which side they favor.

And that's fine, since there are certainly good arguments out there for recognizing the group, even though I think the better ones are on the side of refusing recognition. But as the editorial points out,
A university is supposed to be a place where students are exposed to and are allowed to explore ideas, including unpopular ones that might be at variance with the values of the university itself.

I can agree with this. Students should explore those ideas, and decide for themselves whether or not to embrace them. And no doubt they are explored in the classrooms of Catholic University. That is a hallmark of academic freedom, something that Catholic University has long been noted for protecting. It may be the only educational institution officially sponsored by the Catholic hierarchy in this country, but that does not make it parochial in the sense of being narrowly focused.

The editorial goes on to say that
Catholic universities have every right to weigh moral issues in the context of church teachings.

Gee, that's right neighborly of them to concede that the same First Amendment that permits them to publish this piece of trash on their editorial page alows Catholics and their institutions the right to exercise religious freedom in the context of discussions of morality.

But the very next sentence is where they whipsaw us with this gem:
But that shouldn't mean making abortion a litmus test for deciding which student organizations and speakers will gain approval from school officials.

In other words, say what you want, but don't you dare act like you mean it. The writer argues it is mandatory that school money and resources be used to bring in speakers and sponsor organizations which contradict the mission of the univerity. In short, Catholic University shouldn't behave like it is Catholic!

Of course, the conclusion of the editorial makes it clear that the liberal Sacrament of Abortion trumps all else, pontificating that
Women should and do have the right to safe abortions. That's the law. It's a right that no university or church can take away or should be afraid to debate within its walls.

The Post-Dispatch has spoken ex cathedra. All must give assent.


A bad idea whose time is past

So they want to try for a flag burning amendment. Bad idea. It's not that I am not sympathetic to the sentiments expressed by the supporters of the amendment, but I think they miss some key points.

First, most flags are private property. As such, an owner has a virtually unfettered right to modify his or her flag in any way he or she desires, or to destroy it outright. The amendment strikes at the heart of the ownership interest of every flag-owner. The courts have already held that one can punish someone for burning a stolen flag, both for theft and vandalism.

More importantly, the flag is hardly the thing folks fought and died for. Soldiers swear to defend the Constitution, not the flag. It is the Constitution that is at the heart of what it means to be an American, not the flag. Similarly, the Declaration ofIndependence more truly represents what America is. But I see no great uproar to protect either of those.

Flag burning is a trivial problem. Just ignore the folks who do it and we'll be fine.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

A Quick Note

I'm making sure this post goes at the top of the page because I never thought to do what I will do today. I'm about to blog several stories out of one paper, and no place else. And no, it isn't my local paper, the Houston Chronicle. Nor is it a "national" paper like the New York Times, Washington Post, or LA Times. It is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


It is just that some days there are so many stories in one paper that strike my fancy on the topics that concern me. They are all about one of my driving passions. And all (with one exception -- I'll note it) are in today's paper, linked from either the front page or the op-ed page. More to the point, they are all GOOD articles to write about.

So here goes!


Right result, faulty reasoning -- on the part of the editorialist

The concluding paragraph got it right when it praised Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia:
What is reassuring, though, is that in the term just completed, the justices were able to put principle ahead of politics as they charted a course through turbulent times.

Unfortunately, that was the only thing the editorialist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch got right in this editorial.

After all, the editorial takes a slap at the 7-2 decision in Bush v. Gore that held that the Florida recount ordered by the Supreme Court of Florida (SCOFLA) was too constitutionally flawed to continue. Apparently the editorialist prefers a recount in which the standard for counting a vote varies from county to county within the state and from table to table within the counting room.

And there is also the labeling of abortion as a "basic right" despite the fact that it took nearly two centuries for it to be discovered by the Supreme Court. Even then the justices who decided Roe v. Wade couldn't agree on why abortion was a fundamental right and where it was found in the constitution, much less how it could have been consistently overlooked from the time of the Founders until January 22, 1973. The decision in the case is generally conceded to be among the worst in the history of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

What the editorialist does not understand is that the two justices praised are possibly the two most consistently principled SCOTUS justices today. While Scalia's "originalist" views and Thomas' "textualism" may put these justices outside the mainstream of the editorial committees of the left-wing media, they are both judicial philosophies which hold as their bright-shining principle that the Constitution means what it says. It is the more liberal wing of SCOTUS that flies far afield, unmoored to any fixed principle upon which it can rely.

But since the editorialist only likes Scalia and Thomas (and, one would presume, Chief Justice Rehnquist) when their decisions are in accord with the ACLU view of the world, I'm inclined to believe that the editorialist cared not a whit for principle.


Who runs the schools, if not the board?

This article about the schools in Dupo, Illinois caught my eye, since it is also from my old neck of the woods. Now I don't really have a dog in this fight, because I'm a long way away and am ambivalent about out-sourcing support services.

Then why am I writing about it? Well, it is because of two little nuggets, packed right together in the middle of the article:

School Board President Brian Thompson confirmed that the board had gone out for a bid, but he was not allowed to provide any more details on the subject. He also stated that seeking a bid was not the board's wish, but he would not comment on where that decision came from.

Really, Mr. Thompson? The elected board of the district didn't want to seek bids, but they are being sought anyway? Whose idea was it? Who authorized it? Why didn't the board stop it if seeking such bids is not in line with the wishes of the board? And why can't you provide any further details? You are the elected president of the board -- one of the people who is responsible for running the district! Who is running the show in the district ifnot you and your fellow board members?

"Everything's in negotiations and there is a media blackout on negotiations. When everything has been negotiated then everyone will get to vote, including them, on a settlement," said Superintendent Michael Koebel, as he motioned toward the protesting crowd.

Hold on. A media blackout? By whose orders? And what exactly is being negotiated? I thought you were only seeking bids. Sounds to me like you are already setting up a contract, and that a decision has already been made to let the contract. Is that the case? If so, who made that decision? And what kind of settlement are we talking about here? With whom? We've gone from bids to negotiations to settlements. And by the way -- since when do the voters of the district get to vote on contracts let by the district. Last time I checked, they only got to vote on bond issues, not day-to-day operational decisions.

Sounds to me like there is a fast one being pulled on the people of the Dupo School District. I hope they keep up the good work, and hold these folks accountable.


Schools try to stop perverts, but some just "pass the trash"

I've talked about child abuse and other sex-related misbehavior on this site before. When I commented on the Shakestaff study last week, I expressed my concern about it giving rise to a hysteria akin to what we have seen with regard to priests. Carolyn Bower's article doesn't reassure me. It includes examples in which teachers are simply allowed to resign to move to another district, and districts not checking up on the employment history of newly hired teachers. And it includes this little nugget:
The practice of allowing a school district employee accused of sexual misconduct to resign to take a job in another district is known among school officials as "passing the trash." The practice can perpetuate sexual harassment or abuse in schools.

The article then goes on to quote a lawyer for several districts, who claims that schools don't do this -- anymore. At least not in the last 10 years. We're then told that there are procedures in case to revoke teacher certification without a conviction, or even the filing of criminal charges.

I guess I still feel concerned. Both for victimized students, and for fellow teachers falsely accused.


Closed schools left to vandals; books, equipment, and student records abandoned

Some days you want to scream at the stupidity, waste, and irresponsibility of school district administrators. This story from St. Louis certainly provokes such a reaction from me.

The description of Lowell Elementary School makes the incompetence of those responsible for the mothballing of the school quite obvious:
Though the entire school is in disarray, the epicenter of the destruction at Lowell seems to be the art room. There, vandals found jugs of paint and splattered the contents around the building. The windows in one classroom have been painted black. Another room has a message on the chalkboard, "Save our Schools." Next to it is the date "July 15, 2003," the day the School Board voted to close Lowell.

A soda machine in the teachers lounge lies on its side. "They worked really hard at that one," Sirna says, eyeing the hacked machine. "Pepsi probably wants their machine back."

The closed schools were supposed to be cleaned out before they were locked up. It's clear the process stopped. Hundreds of books - encyclopedias, science texts, a collection of the Oedipus plays - lie abandoned.

Sirna says the bags of trash in the hallways are the work of district custodians who collected the garbage but never took it out of the building.

Perhaps most startling of what remains are file cabinets full of student records, some of which have been dumped on the floor of the former school office. One form is part of a student's special education learning plan. It shows he is "mildly mentally retarded," and has his Social Security number, phone number and mother's home address.

So let's look at the problems.

1. Confidential student records -- required by law to be stored in a place both secure and accessible to the students' current schools -- were left abandoned and unsecured. Right there you have several thousand violations of laws related to special education, student health, and other issues, all in one school.

2. School supplies were not removed. Why weren't books and other supplies taken to the nearest appropriate school, or even to a central supply warehouse, so that they could be used rather than destroyed? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars were left behind to rot?

3. Why weren't bags of trash taken out? It sounds to me like there was no supervision of the process of closing each school down.

4. The schools were given alarms, but those were quickly bypassed. According to the article, the schools were largely ignored from July to November. Why were they not better monitored? What is being done to liquidate this real estate? How much value was lost by allowing the deterioration of these properties?

5. When the problem was discovered, why did no one take sufficient action to deal with the above problems?

The Board just closed down five more schools in St. Louis, and vows to do a more thorough job. But what about Lowell and the other schools closed with it last summer?


Priests support Archbishop Burke, face challenge

We've heard a lot about Archbishop Raymond Burke in recent weeks. After all, he is the archbishop who explicitly denied John Kerry communion in his archdiocese. He has also indicated that those who vote for pro-abortion politicians would sin by doing so.

Liberals, of course, have been outraged. But many of his priests are supportive, though faced with pastoral challenges. The folks in the pews are concerned -- especially since the president's position on allowing abortion in cases of rape and incest is not completely pure from a Catholic perspective. Some wonder if they can vote for any presidential candidate without sinning. Seems to me that the priests of the diocese have their work cut out of them between now and the election -- and beyond. It is a matter of suplying good moral formation.

I was very nearly ordainded for the diocese just across the river from St. Louis. I actually looked at studying for the Archdiocese, so I have thought about this a lot. If I were one of these priests, the issue would an easy one. Some political positions are so far outside the bounds of moral acceptability that a vote for a candidate who takes sucha position is objectively sinful. One could never morally vote for a candidate who supported a return to slavery. One could never legitimately back a candidate who one knew favored genocide without sinning gravely, regardless of how good the rest of his positions were. Support for the status quo on abortion falls into the same category -- it is a sin to knowingly vote for a candidate who supports it if there is another option available. That is even more true if one embraces that candidate (even in part) because of that support for the abortion status quo.

But what about the situation in which there is no completely pro-life candidate? The answer, then is equally simple. One must cast the vote that is most likely to reduce the number of abortions. One has an obligation to try to stop evil in its tracks, and in such a clear-cut case there could be little moral doubt on how to vote.


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