Precinct 333

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Doing The Right Thing

I'm not particularly familiar with Larry Foote of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don't know anything about his play on the field. But I do know something about Larry Foote the man and father, and I am impressed by what I know. Many males (I won't call them men), especially professional athletes, attempt to avoid the responsibility of being a father.

For years, Larry Foote had heard rumors about a kid in Detroit who looked like him. He always laughed them off. Then a friend called to say that a woman wanted to talk to him.

She said Larry was the father of her 8-year-old son, Trey-veion.

Could this really be his kid? Larry was a 15-year-old at Pershing High in Detroit when Trey was born. He'd had a brief relationship with the boy's mother, Khalila Hammond.

When Larry got that phone call, he could have said it was impossible. Hung up. Blocked it out of his mind. He had not been contacted for eight years, and then all he got was one phone call from a mutual friend. There was no lawsuit, no demand of child-support payments.

But this was Larry Foote's one-minute test, and he passed. He said he would take a paternity test, and he wanted to meet the kid who might be his son.

Foote called his fiancée, Flint TV reporter Tara Edwards.

"He said, 'Remember when they were joking there is a kid out there that looks like me?' " Edwards recalled. "Right away, we talked about it before he even got the test back. He said, 'If he's mine, then I want him.' There was no dodging the issue. He wanted to raise him."

Eventually, Foote took the paternity test, but he needed it about as much as an owl needs glasses.

"Once I saw the boy," he said, "I pretty much knew."

Sunday afternoon, Foote will start for the Steelers against New England for a berth in the Super Bowl. Trey will be in the stands at Heinz Field. And when the game ends, they will head home together.

Granted, it would have been a better thing if Larry had kept his pants on at age 15. But having made that bad choice, he has done right by his son. Sadly, that is all too rare. I've got students who don't have contact with their fathers. I had one whose father chose jail over paying child support. Another student, after losing his mother last spring, told me that he had no idea who his father was.

But what moves me is his statement at the end of the article.

"I was one of the few in my neighborhood growing up that had a father that was in my life. A lot of my buddies growing up, they didn't even know their fathers -- they didn't know who they were. My father didn't live with me, but every weekend, me and my father were close. That's how I grew up.

"My uncles that I was close with, they were married and had kids. That's the only way I knew.

"I had to get my son and be a part of his life. My uncle Skip, him and his wife, they weren't fortunate enough to have kids. I couldn't turn back me having a boy, having a son. A lot of people in this world can't have kids.

"I knew it was a blessing."

I know that heartbreak all too well. It may be the hardest thing that my wife and I have had to accept -- harder than her illness. It's good to see this young man recognize the blessing of a child, and to accept that blessing in his life.


Friday, January 21, 2005

ACLU To Punish Board Members For Exercising Free Speech?

Wendy Kaminer and Michael Meyers are ACLU Board members. They’ve been critical of the group’s executive directors and the board, which they feel does not provide proper oversight.

The response? An attempt to oust them from the Board for raising the issues.

In a Dec. 28 letter, Catherine S. Travis, a lawyer who sits on the board of the A.C.L.U. affiliate in Oregon, recommended that the board consider suspending or removing Mr. Meyers and Ms. Kaminer, saying that they had violated their fiduciary responsibilities by talking to reporters about matters she called confidential.

"Appropriate corrective action must be taken now to avoid further incidents that can only impede the organization's ability to meet the unprecedented challenges to civil liberties we face at this critical juncture," Ms. Travis wrote.

Ms. Kaminer and Mr. Meyers began pressing for more information about certain practices last summer. Their pressure led to the disclosure that the organization had signed an agreement that obliged it to check its employees' names against government terrorist watch lists, the type of lists it has decried. They also discovered that Mr. Romero advised the Ford Foundation, his former employer, to use the language of the USA Patriot Act, which the organization is fighting, in its grant agreements.

Most recently, the dissident board members have criticized Mr. Romero's decision to do more extensive research on A.C.L.U. donors and members without fully informing the board what data would be obtained by whom. They say they were concerned that the organization is engaging in the same kind of research that it has contested as a violation of privacy when done by government agencies and corporations.

"They are going after the critics instead of the criticism, and I think that's a gross embarrassment and shameful for the A.C.L.U.," Ms. Kaminer said in an interview.

Mr. Meyers said any effort to punish or silence them would be a violation of the organization's commitment to free speech and the right to dissent. "I am a person who urges them and constantly reminds them that they must practice what they preach," he said, "and I am, therefore, their worst nightmare."

In her letter, Ms. Travis expressed concern that the dissidents' criticism was hurting the organization.

Ms. Travis said in a telephone interview that she had not intended for her letter to be circulated beyond the board and therefore declined to comment on it. "I find this disturbing, this focus on internal governance issues when the organization is doing such important work in the protection of our civil liberties at a crucial junction in our history," she said. "I'd like to see the media looking at that."

Yeah, we wouldn’t want the public to examine ACLU practices and procedures, even though it is a not-for-profit group that is exempt from taxation. We wouldn’t want to risk having anyone look at its books, its policies and procedures, and its compliance with federal law. And we certainly wouldn’t want to see if it complies with the principles it claims to uphold and to which it seeks to hold even private organizations.

The ACLU is one of the most powerful groups in America. If it ousts dissenting board members, it is also among the most hypocritical.


Lost In Translation

I guess that there are some things that are just Texas things. One of them is a hand gesture used by the President and his family during the Inaugural Parade. It seems to have caused great consternation in Scandinavia.

Many Norwegian television viewers were shocked to see U.S. President George W. Bush and family apparently saluting Satan during the U.S. inauguration.

But in reality, it was just a sign of respect for the University of Texas Longhorns, whose fans are known to shout out "Hook 'em, horns!" at athletic events.

The president and family were photographed lifting their right hands with their index and pinky fingers raised up, much like a horn.

But in much of the world those "horns" are a sign of the devil. In the Nordics, the hand gesture is popular among death metal and black metal groups and fans.

"Shock greeting from Bush daughter," a headline in the Norwegian Internet newspaper Nettavisen said late Wednesday above a photograph of Bush's daughter, Jenna, smiling and showing the sign.

Bush, a former Texas governor, was simply greeting the Texas Longhorn marching band as it passed during a Washington D.C. parade in the president's honor, explained Verdens Gang, Norway's largest newspaper.

Someone needs to tell the folks in Norway that Satan backs the OTHER party – and the Oklahoma Sooners.


Is Leftism A Mental Pathology?

Since they cannot accept the clear evidence that Bush won the election this past November, these folks must either be intellectually defective or psychologically unstable. Consider these fine examples.

"I think they stole Ohio," contended Darrell Anderson. "I think Kerry should have won," the Marylander added. "I think he did win. I think he absolutely won. I think he got enough electoral votes to win, counting Ohio." Anderson believes that the Republican party rigged voting machines in the Buckeye state. "I think the exit polls were correct. They were outside the margin of error. I don't care what they say, it falls outside the mathematical possibility that there would have been a six-point swing — Kerry being six points ahead to a three-point win for Bush, it's outside mathematical possibility."

Donning a shirt labeling President Bush an "international terrorist," Michael Bedoian traveled to the International A.N.S.W.E.R-organized rally from Seattle. He offered, "I'm not convinced that [Bush] won the election. My personal opinion of these people is that they have absolutely no regard for human life or the democratic process."
"I think that there was voter suppression, primarily in Ohio," a San Franciscan opined. "If it were an honest election, I would say that Bush would have lost." Fellow Californian Neal Weiner said, "There seems to be a controversy in Ohio and Florida, which was pretty much covered up with the help of John Kerry." Weiner believes that "we don’t know who the right president is, because what happened in Ohio was never properly investigated."

Others are more strident in their belief in an Election Day fix. Holding a modified American flag reading "One Nation, Under Fraud," Stephanie Kornfeld said, "I believe that the Republican party has consistently used fraud to get into office and to stay in office." Traveling to the D.C. rally from suburban Boston, Kornfeld rejected the idea that Bush won the 2004 presidential election. "I honestly don't believe that. I don’t believe those numbers are accurate," she maintained. "I think Kerry did win, because the exit polls would verify that."

Uh, folks – exit polls are known to be notoriously unreliable in close races. Even the best fall within the standard deviation only about 95% of the time, meaning it is possible to get a wildly mistaken result around 5% of the time. And that is only if one presumes the sample was not biased in some way or another – something that the pollsters’ own report says was not the case. So since the numbers from the polls are unreliable, so is the perception of the world spoken of by the protesters above. And without the exit polls, their little theory falls apart, especially since the results of the election on November 2 match up well with the results of virtually every other poll taken in the waning days of the campaign.

So which is it, Leftists? Did we get an erroneous outcome on exit polls that even the pollsters call flawed, or an even more improbable SIMULTANEOUS FAILURE OF MULTIPLE UNRELATED POLLS occur in the days leading up to the election using much more controlled random samples? Only someone with low intelligence or subject to severe distortions of reality could select the second option.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Second Inaugural Address Of George Walker Bush, January 20, 2005

Prepared copy of President George W. Bush's inaugural address:

Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President Bush, President Clinton, reverend clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the durable wisdom of our Constitution, and recall the deep commitments that unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical - and then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:

From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.

From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?

These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something." In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.


The Last Hurrah

Chief Justice William Rehnquist administered the oath of office to President George W. Bush today, after four months out of the public spotlight. It is likely his last time performing this traditional function of the chief justice, if not his last public act in that capacity.

Rehnquist, 80, made his first appearance at a public event since October, when he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a tracheotomy. He also has been undergoing radiation and chemotherapy.

Wearing his black robes of office, Rehnquist was the last dignitary to arrive and join Bush and others on the stage for the swearing-in ceremony.

Just 16 minutes before he was due to administer the oath of office, Rehnquist used a cane and walked slowly down the steps of the East Front of the Capitol, with his administrative assistant and top aide, Sally Rider, behind him.

Introduced by Sen. Trent Lott, Rehnquist smiled as the crowd applauded. He wore a light-colored scarf around his neck and a black cap.

His voice sounded hoarse, and his tracheotomy tube, which helps him breathe, was visible. He read the 35-word oath and then congratulated Bush.

They shook hands, and Rehnquist then left the podium, before Bush's speech.

Rehnquist has been a giant while serving on the Supreme Court, both as an associate Justice and as Chief Justice. He is a noted scholar of Supreme Court and legal history, and has published several books on those subjects while serving on the court. It speaks to his reverence for the history and traditions of the Court that he made a point of being present for today’s inauguration, for no one would have thought any less of him for passing that duty to another justice due to his illness.

May God bless you and comfort you in this time of infirmity, Mr. Chief Justice.


Senator Robert Byrd (D-KKK) Blocks Rice Vote

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"Rather I should die a thousand times, and
see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to
rise again, than to see this beloved land of
ours become degraded by race mongrels,
a throwback to the blackest specimen from
the wilds."

Robert Byrd

Michelle Malkin and Newsmax point out that the only member of the KKK serving in the US Senate, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, is blocking a vote on the nomination of Condi Rice to be Secretary of State, despite the fact that she has more than enough members of the Senate publicly pledged to confirm her.

Let's recap the Byrd Record.

This ex-Klansman wasn't just a passive member of the nation's most notorious hate group. According to news accounts and biographical information, Sen. Byrd was a "Kleagle" -- an official recruiter who signed up members for $10 a head. He said he joined because it "offered excitement" and because the Klan was an "effective force" in "promoting traditional American values." Nothing like the thrill of gathering 'round a midnight bonfire, roasting s'mores, tying nooses, and promoting white supremacy with a bunch of your hooded friends.

The ex-Klansman allegedly ended his ties with the group in 1943. He may have stopped paying dues, but he continued to pay homage to the KKK. Republicans in West Virginia discovered a letter Sen. Byrd had written to the Imperial Wizard of the KKK three years after he says he abandoned the group. He wrote: "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia" and "in every state in the Union."

The ex-Klansman later filibustered the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act -- supported by a majority of those "mean-spirited" Republicans -- for more than 14 hours. He also opposed the nominations of the Supreme Court's two black justices, liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas. In fact, the ex-Klansman had the gall to accuse Justice Thomas of "injecting racism" into the Senate hearings. Meanwhile, author Graham Smith recently discovered another letter Sen. Byrd wrote after he quit the KKK, this time attacking desegregation of the armed forces.

The ex-Klansman vowed never to fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."

Thus Byrd will have the distinction of attempting to prevent the confirmation of the first two African-Americans to the Supreme Court and the first African-American woman to serve as Secretary of State. He is also supporting the delay in voting on Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General. I guess the Democrats are really going back to their traditional values, with "Sheets" Byrd in the lead.


Signs Of Election Fraud Ignored

Wisconsin law requires that all same day voter registrations be verified by post card after the election. Those that cannot be verified (such as postcards returned) are to be turned over to the local prosecutor for investigation and possible prosecution.

That hasn’t been going on in Milwaukee (10,000 unverifiable registrations) and much of the rest of the state following John Kerry’s razor-thin victory in that state.

In the wake of Milwaukee's inability to send confirmation cards to some 10,000 newly registered voters, a Journal Sentinel review suggests that a little-discussed - but key - safeguard in election law is not routinely followed.

The provision requires that any confirmation cards that the U.S. Postal Service cannot deliver be sent to the local district attorney's office for investigation for possible fraud.

District attorneys from around the state said Wednesday, however, that they receive few such referrals - and some did not know it was a requirement. And some cities, including Racine, don't send out confirmation cards at all.

Meanwhile, some clerks have complained to state election officials that the returned cards they do submit are not investigated by authorities.

"People need to follow the statutes," said state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), who expressed dismay at the findings. "This is a process we have established to ensure the integrity of our election."

The situation came to light after revelations that in Milwaukee, more than 10,000 confirmation cards - out of an estimated 84,000 voters who registered on election day - could not be processed.

Milwaukee officials have said the number is comparable to that of the 2000 presidential election, and that the cards may be illegible, missing some required information or duplicates of ones filled out earlier.

The Journal Sentinel has submitted an open records request seeking access to the cards, which officials say contain some private information that must be redacted first.

The election problem is the latest for the city. Among the others: registration cards that were not recorded before election day; absentee ballot requests that were not filled; and 238 absentee ballots that were not delivered to the polls in time to be counted.

And that is just the Milwaukee situation. Some counties aren’t sure what to do, and others ignore this legal requirement.

· In Ozaukee County, District Attorney Sandy Williams said her office does not become involved in voter fraud investigations, and an office administrator reported that she had never seen any of the returned cards in the several years she has worked there.

· In Racine County, District Attorney Michael Nieskes said that his office had not received any returned confirmation cards and it's unlikely that it would.

· In Waukesha County, District Attorney Paul Bucher said he was not aware of his office receiving any returned confirmation cards. If it does, Bucher said, he would investigate.

· In La Crosse, City Clerk Teri Lehrke said, "I don't believe we have ever sent any of those to the DA's office. We usually take them out of the system if they come back non-deliverable."

· In Eau Claire County, District Attorney Rich White said he didn't know anything about rules regarding the verification cards and hasn't seen or heard of any of them. "Unlike some places, I'm not sure that Eau Claire County is a potential hotbed for a lot of election fraud," he said.

· In Brown County, which includes Green Bay, District Attorney John P. Zakowski, said he hadn't seen any voter cards returned to his office.

· In Marathon County, Wausau doesn't send out the cards. "When they register (at the polls), they are signing something swearing they are who they say they are and are qualified to vote," said Mary Goede, deputy city clerk.

· In Richland County, Richland Center does not send out verification cards. And District Attorney Andrew Sharp said sending out verification cards in a rural county would be "silly," because "everyone in the county knows everybody, so that (voter fraud) couldn't happen here."

Democrat activists have not yet sought to question the flaws in the Wisconsin elections system that leave open the possibility of voter fraud. Could that be because Wisconsin was a blue state in both 2000 and 2004, and the margin of victory for John Kerry is significantly below the number of unverifiable votes?


School’s Out For Summer

One of the developments in education I’ve disliked over the last few years has been the practice of assigning “summer homework.” It is more than supplying a summer reading list and telling a kid to stimulate their minds during those weeks – it is actual “to be completed and graded” homework that must be submitted at the start of the term, or work on which a student will be tested immediately upon return from summer vacation. It isn’t really common, and is found mostly in advanced classes for which a student must “opt in”, so I don’t have to worry about it. Teaching average classes in a large school, I’m lucky to know how many kids are enrolled in my class the Friday before school starts, muchless who they are.

Peer Larson and his father, Bruce Larson have decided to strike back, filing suit in Wisconsin to ban the practice.

The Larsons are representing themselves in the lawsuit, which was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last week. Bruce Larson is president of Larson Chemical Corp. in Greendale.

In addition to Peer Larson's Whitnall High School math teacher, Aaron Bieniek, the lawsuit also names the high school math department chair, Nancy Sarnow; Whitnall High School Principal Joel Eul; the Whitnall School District; and state schools superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster.

What provoked this suit? It seems that poor Peer got stressed out by the expectations of an honors math teacher.

The lawsuit emanates from a series of assignments that Peer Larson says Bieniek gave him and his classmates at the end of the 2003-'04 school year.

At the time, Peer Larson says, he was a sophomore in Brenda Hojnacki's class. Bieniek gave what Peer Larson described as a "presentation" for what students could expect in his honors pre-calculus class in the fall.

"He handed out the homework then as well," Peer Larson says. "He told us it was available online to download."

Peer Larson says Bieniek told the students he wanted the homework done at certain points during the summer, and that it had to be "postmarked by a certain date."

He said those dates were approximately at the beginning of July, August, and when the school year resumed.

"Not too many people were exactly happy with it," Peer Larson says. "Nobody really likes to do homework, especially during the summer."

Peer Larson said he completed the first and third assignments, but had trouble doing the second one because it was a lengthy assignment and he was working a full-time job as a counselor at the Indian Mound Reservation Boy Scout Camp in Oconomowoc.

"The second assignment was 16 pages, and that was extremely difficult for me to do," Peer Larson says.

"At camp, there really was never enough time to do it. At the end of the day, I'd be too tired to actually work on any kind of math."

Peer Larson says he could not recall if Bieniek made his phone number available to help the students, but that he thinks Bieniek included his e-mail address and some Web sites that could help guide students through the work.

He says Bieniek agreed to count only the assignments with the two highest scores, but only as long as he did all three assignments, which he says he ultimately did.
He says the whole experience ruined what was supposed to be an enjoyable summer break.

"It provided quite an amount of stress," Larson says. "I barely made the first assignment in on time."

Personally, I think the kid comes off as a whiner. But I also think the notion of three major assignments without direct instruction on the material is unreasonable. School is not in session, and a couple of websites and an email address is hardly a substitute for teaching. But the family didn’t bother to file a formal complaint with the district to challenge the practice – they raised it informally and let it drop. The state reviewed the issue and found it not to be a violation of the law. Rather than work with the school or the board, they file a lawsuit. I guess I don’t see where the kid was harmed, since he was made aware of the expectation in advance and did nothing to get out of the class.

By the way, I wonder if Dad, who runs his own chemical plant, gives his employees the summer off because they need a break? I wonder if he does any work when he is on vacation. And I’m curious if he would hire an employee with the work ethic the son appears to have.

UPDATE: Look at the Milwauke Journal-Sentinel editorial on the suit.

We hope and believe a judge will toss their lawsuit into the middle of Lake Michigan. We are not lawyers, but we are familiar with a legal principle that seems not only to allow, but to compel, throwing it out. It is a principle that lawyers call de minimis non curat lex. If young Larson studies Latin this summer or before, maybe he could learn what it means: “The law does not concern itself with trifles.



A Tragedy From Every Angle You View It

I hesitate to even make this post.

This is what we've been dealing with for the last couple of days at school.

There are no words to express the incredible sadness of the situation.

And only one request.



You Will Be Assimilated!

This one is particularly funny to me – I lived in the town for about a year before I got married.

IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, potentates had a rude method for annexing neighboring communities. The baron's soldiers would surround the town, cut off water and food, then catapult boulders and fireballs at the citizenry.

We live in a gentler society. In St. Louis, a garden spot of polite civilization, municipal annexations today resemble courtship. Suburban towns woo their would-be citizens with promises of water and sewer service, police protection and spiffy roads.

Alas, the leaders of little Millstadt are a throwback to the olden days.

The village wants to annex a 50-home subdivision outside its borders. So, the town lawyer sent prospective citizens a letter: Agree to annexation, it said, or Millstadt will "terminate access to its water system."

In other words, subdivision residents could surrender or face life without showers and flush toilets. More than half of them signed papers agreeing to be annexed.

But there's one thing the municipal barons of Millstadt may have overlooked: Millstadt's new residents will have a privilege that medieval residents never enjoyed. They can vote.

Given the annexation laws of Illinois, I’m not surprised that Millstadt managed to pull this trick off. The state has more or less set a policy that anything that is developed or about to be developed needs to be in some municipality. You might manage to avoid that fate for a while, but you will eventually be assimilated.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to be a part of the town, you really have no right to complain when the town decides to stop providing you services.


Guns For Me, Not For Thee

Hypocrisy, thy name is Michael Moore!

Filmmaker Michael Moore's bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night.

Police took Patrick Burke, who says Moore employs him, into custody after he declared he was carrying a firearm at a ticket counter. Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.

Now this is the same Michael Moore who railed against guns in “Bowling for Columbine.” I guess HE and his employees need guns – just not all of us peons. How does it feel mike, knbowing that you employed and facilitated a GUN CRIMINAL?


Leftist Terrorists Assault Pro-Bush Demonstrators

We've been hearing for the last four years that freedom of speech and assembly don't exist in the US any more. I think those members of the loopy Left who make such claims are correct -- because they are doing their damnedest to stop the speech of anyone who they disagree with. Leftist terrorists have made a point of using violence against conservatives who dare to speak.

That was demonstrated again today in Washington, where the anti-American Left was allowed to assemble, speak, and march; and where a little group of pro-American counter-demonstrators were viciously attacked by those who give aid and comfort to our nation's enemies.

Ten minutes after telling his fellow protesters to stay safe, Gil Kobrin lay huddled in the slush and mud as two anarchists repeatedly kicked him in the back.

How he got from point A to point B is simple enough. Kobrin, accompanied by a dozen members of the conservative group ProtestWarrior, crashed a rally of hundreds of anti-Bush demonstrators at Meridian Park in Washington, D.C. Holding aloft signs that read "Say no to war unless a Democrat is president" and "Not to brag, but Bush won, so shove it!" they had set off earlier on inauguration morning in search of their opposites.

The ProtestWarrior contingent didn't have to search for very long; the party came to them.

"You can go a [expletive] half-mile away and stand on the first street corner you see!" shouted a self-described anarchist, dressed all in black with a bandana covering his face. As they taunted and threatened and liberally profaned Kobrin and the rest of the group, a member of the D.C. Anti-War Network (DAWN) -- the official organizers of the rally -- tried to break it up.

"Your purpose is to instigate people. You're going to have to leave!" shouted the "marshal," DAWN's term for their ad hoc security force.

"We're staying here," Kobrin replied.

Then he went down under a hail of black boots. Once the marshals pulled the anarchists away, ProtestWarrior sued for peace and made for the exit. Their chant of "Four more years!" was answered by the anarchists' reply: "Wah wah wah!"

It wasn't much of a contest. ProtestWarrior's contingent numbered 13, the other side in the hundreds. If they won any hearts and minds, no one said so.

In other words, the Leftist thugs attempted to close off a public place to free speech, and when patriots stood their ground they were assaulted. So insecure in their beliefs and fearful of contradiction were the thugs that they could not stand so much as thirteen voices of contradiction in a sea of hundreds of supporters. They had to engage in physical violence against those whose only crime was engaging in speech they disliked. So much for the freedom these anti-American Leftists claim for themselves.

I can think of no better reason for those who love America to make sure that the Left, especially as incarnated in the Democrat Party, never again achieves meaningful power in this country.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Will Of The Voters Prevails In Louisiana

Back in September, 78% of Louisiana voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution to ban gay marriage. A judge immediately overruled the will of the people on the grounds that the amendment dealt with more than one subject.

Today the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the will of the people, ruling that "each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object."

At issue was a provision of the amendment that stated: ""A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be recognized."

Opponents had warned that the amendment went far beyond banning gay marriage and would deny contractural rights to all unmarried couples — whether gay or heterosexual — in such areas as owning property, willing it to heirs, and taking legal care of an incapacitated partner. As a result, they contended, the amendment had more than one object, and therefore could not become part of the constitution.

The court ruled that the amendment did not take away any of the rights that currently exist in Louisiana law permitting the joint purchase of property by unmarried partners, the delegating of medical decisions to an unmarried partner, or the bequeathing of property in a will. This portion of the decision, while not legally binding in other states, will serve to undercut the argument that the defense of marriage amendments undercut the ability of unmarried individuals, particularly homosexuals, to manage their legal, business, and financial affairs.


Did Hersh Article Break The Law?

A recent New Yorker article by Sidney Hersh disclosed the following.

The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran ... Much of the focus is on accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical and missile sites. ... (The) American commando task force has been set up in South Asia and is now working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists and technicians who had dealt with Iranian counterparts ... The American task force ... .has been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground installations ... The task force members, or their locally recruited agents, secreted remote detection devices ...

Columnist Tony Blankley points out that this disclosure appears to be a violation of Title 18 United States Code section 794, subsections (a) & (b). Those provisions of federal law prohibit the publication of national defense information during time of war in a manner that would be useful to the enemy. These violations are punishable "by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life."

Hersh discloses troop movements, the location of those movements, the missions of the troops, and the assistance received from locals. This would be very useful to al-Qaeda and to Iran. Is there a prison cell (perhaps on death row) with Mr. Hersh's name on it?

And even if there isn't -- what are the ethics of publishing information that increases the level of danger to US military personnel in the field?


Geek Alert -- Ancient History

The hottest spot in Rome during the reign of Nero was Caesar's Palace.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

It was actually the Domus Aurea -- the Golden House -- that he buit for himself after burning the city.

After his death, it was buried as part of a campaign to wipe out Nero's memory.

Now the Domus Aurea has been found.

The entombment of the palace was meant to make everyone forget Nero. Instead, it conserved, as if in amber, his residential compound as few ancient sites in Rome have been preserved. This week, almost 2,000 years after Nero's rule, Rome city officials unveiled a new find from the palace that offers a tantalizing hint of the treasures buried beneath the hill. It is a large mosaic, more than 9 by 6 feet, showing naked men harvesting grapes and making wine, a typical illustration for a Roman palace of the time. Three of the men are stomping on grapes in a vat. One plays a double flute. They all seem to be having fun.

The mosaic adorns a giant arch buried in Colle Oppio, the hill on which Nero's palace stood. The arch was probably part of a large hall. Grottoes and tunnels extend from four exits -- leading to as yet unknown finds.

"Colle Oppio is a giant scrap yard," said Eugenio La Rocca, the city's adviser for monumental assets. "There is doubtless much more underneath. Everything has been sealed. There are acres of a city quarter in there."

Makes a guy want to get out his fedora and bullwhip so he can go out and paly Indiana Jones.


ACLU Head Spills The Beans On Polygamy

Rick Santorum was blasted when he said that the Texas Sodomy and Massachusetts Gay Marriage ruling opened the door for polygamy. He was accused of being absurd.

Someone didn't memo the ACLU about that issue.

In response to a student's question about gay marriage, bigamy and polygamy in certain communities, Strossen said the ACLU is actively fighting to defend freedom of choice in marriage and partnerships.

"We have defended the right for individuals to engage in polygamy," Strossen said. "We defend the freedom of choice for mature, consenting individuals."

So when they tell you that the redefinition of marriage and morality doesn't include multi-partner marriage, don't believe them.


Are We Sure Trial By Jury Is The Best Way?

It would have been a real kick to watch this jury selection.

Defense attorney Leslie Ballin called it the "jury pool from hell." The group of prospective jurors was summoned to listen to a case of Tennessee trailer park violence. Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin's client was found not guilty.

Yeah, buddy. Looks like you got the pick of the litter here.

And a little side note for folks -- while Tennesee might be a red state, Shelby County (Memphis) is reliably blue.


Monday, January 17, 2005

A Story That Frightens Me, Angers Me, And Saddens Me

When you work with adolescents, you realize that they can have attack without warning. It's not always possible to know what will upset a kid. You just hope that the attack is verbal, and it usually is.

Sometimes it isn't.

That leads me to the story of Lisa W. Rath, a teacher at King's Fork Middle School in Suffolk, Virginia. She was violently assaulted and seriously injured by a student on March 19, 2004.

On that Friday, more than 30 students filled Rath’s second-floor civics classroom for the last period of the last day of the week. When the girl entered, the hood on her black sweatshirt covered her head. Not appropriate, not in accordance with school policy.

Off, Rath commanded. The girl complied, but slammed her books on her desk, laid down her head and went to sleep.

Pick your battles, Rath thought. From her stool in front of the class, she began describing the differences between local and state governments.

Twenty minutes later, the squeal of the fire alarm interrupted Rath and woke up the girl. A drill. The students flowed to a stairwell.

Halfway down, the girl flipped her hood back up, as did several other girls.

Take them off, Rath ordered. All complied but the girl.

“I’m not taking my hood off,” Rath heard her mumble.

Rath reached out and pulled the hood down just before they exited the school. The girl spun around, drew back a fist and spat curses at Rath.

“I’m going to get you!” she threatened, inches from Rath’s face.

Another teacher quickly led the girl away. Rath shrugged it off. She needed to take attendance. She’d send the girl to the guidance office after the fire drill.

The all-clear soon sounded. Rath led her class to the door, and asked an office assistant to escort the girl to the office. While another teacher took over her class, Rath also started toward the office.

Almost immediately, she felt something strike her. The girl’s threatening voice was screaming and cursing in her ear.

She had broken away from her escort and attacked Rath from behind, raining blows on her head, grabbing handfuls of hair and pounding her skull against the wall.

Stunned, Rath curled up with her fingers laced across the back of her head, vainly trying to protect herself.

“I kept asking her to please stop,” Rath recalled.

The punching and hair-pulling seemed to last forever; it took a few moments for other teachers to wrench the girl, still cursing and threatening, away from Rath. Meanwhile, teacher Lela F. Joyner wrapped her body protectively around Rath’s head. Hanks of hair littered the floor. Blood smeared the wall.

Joyner pulled Rath into a nearby classroom and locked the door. She held Rath’s head as the injured teacher vomited.

An ambulance whisked Rath to the emergency room at Obici, where she had begun her day seven hours earlier. She arrived with a black eye, scratches on her neck and shoulder, contusions on her face and scalp, knots on her head and missing a contact lens. Quarter-sized patches of hair were torn from her scalp. Doctors discovered a partly torn eardrum, which would leave her with a permanent mild hearing loss.

Discharged from the hospital, Rath went to the courthouse and police station. The ferocity of the attack led to a felony charge of malicious wounding. Rath hoped authorities could force the girl into counseling. She didn’t want another teacher to suffer the same fate.

Rath has a kinder soul than I. She agreed to a plea bargain which kept the girl in the juvenile system, where there would be more appropriate counseling, educational, and rehabilitative services for the girl. I don't know that I would have that level of generosity. There is also a cost -- Rath is going to leave the classroom, and is currently applying to social work graduate programs so that she can go into counseling.

When you teach, you are defenseless. If an attack comes, you hope and pray that there is someone else to help you. Self-defense isn't an option. In the last four years I have known three teachers who have lost their jobs after being assaulted by students. Two had the audacity to physically strike, in self-defense, a kid who had assaulted them first. The third was labeled as unprofessional and insubordinate after leaving campus to seek medical attention for a ruptured eardrum caused by a student screaming an obscenity in his ear. All were given "take it or leave it" severance packages by their districts that included the threat negative references and the filing of action to have their certification revoked. None of the students involved received more than three days of in-school suspension, despite multiple witnesses in each case who supported the teachers involved.

So yeah, I'm frightened -- frightened that some kid will some day come after me for doing my job the way I've been told to do it.

I'm angry -- angry that such assaults happen and that the system is more concerned about protecting the kid than the teacher.

And I'm sad -- sad that good teachers like Lisa Rath are left so scarred by such events that they leave teaching.

How many more leave because something like this happens in their building, or in their district? How many more are discouraged from entering the field by such events? And what is the effect of such violence on every other student in every other classroom?


Terrorist Supporters Attempt To Disrupt Anti-Terrorism Rally

Lest anyone deny that there are supporters of terrorism among both the anti-American Left and the Muslim community in the United States.

More than 200 counter-demonstrators gathered Sunday across the street from the park for what was billed in advance as a silent vigil honoring children slain in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most were reserved, but some 40 people, mostly men of Middle Eastern descent, yelled and exchanged taunts with pro-Israeli demonstrators across the street.

"Two, four, six, eight, we are martyrs, we can't wait,'' chanted the group, most of whom wore kaffiyehs -- the cloth headdress closely associated with Palestinian militants. Some drove around the park, their faces covered, waving Palestinian flags.

"We are here to make sure that these people are ashamed of themselves,'' said Essam Mahgoub, a native of Cairo, who lives in Oakland and attended with his wife and four children.

"They (Israelis) stole our land, raped our women, destroyed our olive trees and destroyed our homes,'' he said.

Amazingly enough, only one arrest was made. Since no name is given by the San Francisco Chronicle, we can only assume it was one of the terror supporters.


Iraqi Catholic Archbishop Kidnapped

The violence against Iraqi Christians perpetrated by Islamists continues.

A Roman Catholic archbishop in Mosul, Iraq, has been kidnapped, the Vatican said Monday.

It identified the kidnapped man as Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, of the Syrian Catholic Church, one of the branches of the Roman Catholic Church.

"The Holy See deplores in the firmest way such a terrorist act," a Vatican statement said, demanding that he be freed immediately.

According to reports from Baghdad, Casmoussa was walking in front of his church in Mosul's eastern neighborhood of Muhandeseen when he was abducted.

Mosul is a northern Iraqi city that in recent months has been a hotspot of violent insurgency.

The reason for the kidnapping was unclear, but Christians - tens of thousands of whom live in and around Mosul - have been subjected to attacks in the past.

Christians make up just 3 percent of Iraq's 26 million people. The major Christian groups in Iraq include Chaldean-Assyrians and Armenians. There are small numbers of Roman Catholics.

Officials estimate that as many as 15,000 Iraqi Christians have left the country since August, when four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul were attacked in a coordinated series of car bombings. The attacks killed 12 people and injured 61 others.

Another church was bombed in Baghdad in September.

Pray for the safe return of the archbishop.


Ban Nazis -- But Commies Are Just Fine!

Andrew Stuttaford had the same reaction I did to German proposals (in response to the tempest in a teapot regarding Prince Harry's poor wardrobe choice for a costume party) to ban Mein Kampf and Nazi symbols throughout all of Europe.

“German politicians have called for a Europe-wide ban on Nazi insignia after Britain's Prince Harry caused outrage by wearing a swastika armband and Nazi regalia at a fancy dress party… Markus Soeder, general secretary of Germany's Christian Socialist Union opposition conservative party told the paper: "In a Europe grounded in peace and freedom there should be no place for Nazi symbols. They should be banned throughout Europe, as they are with good reason in Germany." Soeder also urged the German government to push for a more balanced history program in British schools.”

No word yet on whether those German politicians, who seem to have a thing or two to learn about free speech, would support a Europe-wide ban on Communist insignia.

I wonder why not.

Apparently there is no problem with the sale of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, or the works of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Mao or any or the other thuggish proponents of a bankrupt ideology which killed (and continues to kill) many more poeple than Hitler ever dreamed of exterminated. Why is it that wearing a swastika is seen as evil, while a protrait of Che on one's shirt is trendy and "cool"? Shouldn't both be viewed as equally offensive in the eyes of people who value freedom and human rights?

Could it simply be that Euro-Socialists realize that their platform has no roots if one removes the poisoned soil of Marxist thought?


Is Wisconsin Red?

John Kerry won Wisconsin by a hair more than 11,000 votes. Now it turns out that some 10,000 Election Day voter registration cards cannot be verified in Milwaukee alone. Yeah, that's right -- 10,000 people walked into polling places, filled out a card, were allowed to vote, and now the legitimacy of their vote cannot be verified. And that's just in Milwaukee, where there were some 83,000 same day registrations (which means that 20% of eligible weren't registered until election day in Milwaukee -- a shockingly high number). That doesn't include the rest of the state.

Now, if there are similar trends around the state, especially in liberal hotspots like Madison and Racine, there could easily be more unverified voters than the margin of victory for Kerry. Yet no outcry has arisen on the left, no shouts of voter fraud or demands for investigations to determine whether the integrity of the voting process was compromised in Wisconsin. The Greens and the Libertarians, more than willing to question Bush victories in Ohio and New Mexico, didn't question this much closer and much more questionable Kerry victory. Have we reached a point in this country where even overwhelming Republican victories are presumed invalid, while fraud-tainted Democrat victories are assumed to be legitimate.

Dirty Harry over at Stranded on Blue Islands also discloses that the Racine City Clerk is stalling the release of voter records to Racine County GOP officials (these are public records -- anyone can request them) who are planning to crosscheck those records with county death records, real estate transactions, and the state felon list. What are they trying to hide?


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Someone Who "Gets It"

Yesterday I critiqued a column by someone who doesn't "get it" when it comes to school and social problems. Today I've found someone who does "get it," Joseph H. Brown of the Tampa Tribune. Let me offer a few tidbits for you.

I have to give it to Jeff Rawlins, assistant principal at Jefferson High School. Frustrated by the recent murders of Kwane Doster and John Simmons, he challenged the community in last weekend's Saturday Forum to start a movement against black-on- black crime. I have to give him his props because he, a white man, has shown more outrage about the staggering homicide rate among young black men than any black person around here.

Doster, 21, and Simmons, 15, were shot to death over ``trash talk,'' the in-your-face banter that goes on between young black men over the most trivial of issues. It happens too frequently, and Rawlins, a career educator who has ``spent too much time crying with scores of concerned parents and grandparents,'' has had enough.

Need I recite the sad statistics?

In 2002 the United States had 14,054 homicides, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. Black men accounted for nearly 40 percent of victims, and black men committed 95 percent of those murders. Those are alarming statistics for a group that makes up about 6 percent of the population.

So why, as Rawlins wondered, haven't national black organizations put the issue of black fratricide front and center? The reasons are as old and outdated as some of their agendas.

Yeah, that's right -- it is always either the white man's fault or fear that the white man will take it as confirmation of racist beliefs -- so blacks keep on dying at the hands of other blacks.

On Monday the nation celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King, a man whose tactics to achieve equality for black America stressed nonviolence. There will be much talk of his ``dream,'' but there will be little talk of the fact that King considered self-criticism an essential part of the struggle for equality. In his 1958 book ``Stride Toward Freedom,'' he wrote:

``Negroes must be honest enough to admit that our standards do often fall short. One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self- criticism. Whenever we are objects of criticism from white men, even though the criticisms are maliciously directed and mixed with half truths, we must pick out the elements of truth and make them the basis of creative reconstruction. We must not let the fact that we are victims of injustice lull us into abrogating responsibility for our own lives.''

King went on to say: ``Our crime rate is far too high. ... Negro leaders must develop a positive program through which Negro youth can become adjusted to urban living and improve their general level of behavior.''

Yeah. We never hear THAT Martin Luther King mentioned by Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Julian Bond, and the like among "black leaders." When Bill Cosby dared to echo some of these comments, he was criticized by the "blame the white man" crowd for blaming the so-called "victims" who are committing the crimes of violence against their own people. When acting right is "acting white" and therefore to be avoided, the problem is not one of white racism but rather of a pathology within the community itself.

My students are 75-80% minority -- about 45% Hispanic and 35% black. I am, as I frequently joke with my students, a short, fat, balding, middle-aged white guy. I don't have the power to make the changes that have to happen to stave off violence within their communities -- I don't always have the power to stave off a fight in the hallway. Changing me isn't the answer. It is a concerted effort to change the kids that is needed, one that has the cooperation of all the institutions in the community. But it has to be a program that isn't about a mentality of victimization from without, but rather one of empowerment from within.


Judicially Sanctioned Child Abuse

Evan Scott was kidnapped Saturday morning, ripped from the arms of his parents and carried off by a virtual stranger. This happened before a crowd of reporters and television cameras, at the order of a judge.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. — The adoptive mother of a 31/2-year-old boy at the center of a custody dispute tearfully handed the boy to his biological mother on Saturday, then dropped to the ground and repeatedly screamed: "How can they do this to a little boy?"

Evan, bundled in a blue jacket and sucking on a pacifier, was carried outside by Dawn Scott, who along with her husband, Gene, cared for the child for most of his life. The couple had appealed a judge's ruling transferring custody to the biological mother, Amanda Hopkins.

News crews gathered around the Scotts' home Saturday morning in anticipation of the meeting, and the child's biological father and grandfather pushed a television cameraman out of the way during the transfer.

How could this have happened?

As I pointed out in an earlier post, Evan's mother gave up the child for adoption while Stephen White, the violence-prone sire of the boy, was in jail for physically abusing her. Shortly before the adoption was to become final, the abusive sperm-donor who had taken no interest in the child asserted a claim over teh boy and demanded that the child be ripped from the only home he had ever known. The Florida courts were willing to go along with the charade, and were prepared to give the abuser custody of the child until Amanda asserted her claim to custody of the child. Ignoring the best interests of the child, Amanda was awarded custody and the violent thug was granted visitation.

In the whole process, the only people who have actually advocated for the best interests of the child have been Gene and Dawn Scott, who have raised, nurtured, and loved little Evan. They are the only people who have treated this little boy like a human being, worthy of dignity respect, and consideration.

Gene Scott called it a "very emotional, traumatic situation" and said the family would continue their legal fight.

"If they truly loved him, they wouldn't have done this," he said, tears welled in his eyes.

I couldn't have said it better. Pray for little Evan, and for Gene and Dawn Scott. And trust that there is a just God who will appropriately deal with Amanda Hopkins, Stephen White, and the judge who gave this order.


Was It Islamo-cide?

Hossam Armanious, a Coptic Christian from Jersey City, was an outspoken participant in a chat-room on Middle Eastern affairs, frequently engaging in heated discussions of religion. He was recently threatened for his critical remarks about Islam.

Now Armanious, his wife and his two daughters are dead, victims of a brutal murder.

Armanious, an Egyptian Christian, was well known for expressing his Coptic beliefs and engaging in fiery back-and-forth with Muslims on the Web site

He "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.

The source, who had knowledge of the investigation, refused to specify the anti-Muslim statement. But he said cops told him they were looking into the exchanges as a possible motive.

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.

"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.

Police are not commenting on the issue, but that religious motivation appears to be one that they are looking at closely. The FBI has been called in to help with the investigation.

Armanious' fervor apparently rubbed off on his daughter, Sylvia — who would have turned 16 yesterday.

"She was very religious and very opinionated," said Jessica Cimino, 15, a fellow sophomore at Dickenson HS.

A family member who viewed photos of the bloodbath said Sylvia seemed to have taken the most savage punishment.

"When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia," said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.

The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia's throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross.

So it appears that there was special attention paid to desecrating a religious symbol. Sounds to me like a sign that anti-Christian bias was a motive for the slayings.

And it is clear that robbery wasn't a motive -- the violence done to the bodies and the fact that the family's valuables were left behind makes that rather plain.

In Egypt, home of the Coptic Church, Copts are a minority oppressed by the Muslim majority. The hostility between the groups continues to exist in this country. After all, Copts still resent the oppression of their co-religionists in Eypt, while Muslims continue to expect the Copts to be good dhimmi even in a country where they have religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

Have the Islamists become so comfortable in this country that they believe they may kill with impunity those who criticize their religion and the evil done in its name?


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