Precinct 333

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Slavery In Niger

Our country abolished slavery 140 years ago, yet activists rant on as if the "peculiar institution" continues on to this day in America. They demand reparations, affirmative action, and special programs. On the other hand, these same activists, usually black, are rarely troubled to raise their voices on behalf of victims of contemporary slavery.

Slavery in Niger is not an obscure thing, nor a curious relic of the past, it is an intrinsic part of society today.

A Nigerian study has found that almost 8% of the population are slaves.

You wonder how this can be in the 21st Century and why people do not know about it?

When was slavery banned in Niger? Last year. Yeah, you read that right -- 2004. And yet we hear not a word from any of the usual suspects. Where is Jesse Jackson? Where is Al Sharpton? Yoo-hoo -- Maxine Watters? Nope. Not a one of them has anything to say. I guess that long-dead slaves are more important than slaves who are alive today, continuing to be held in defiance of the laws of Niger and all human decency. I guess fattening their own pocketbooks and campaign coffers in the liberal salons of Hollywood and the Upper East Side matters more than men, women, and children held in bondage. After all, there isn't any money to be made in challenging this chattel status of impoverished blacks in a backwards corner of Africa, while affirmative action, minority contracting, and reparations scams are a source of big bucks for the "professional Negros" of the liberal Left.

But since so-called black leaders in this country won't tell you about them, let's hear about the slaves of Niger from the BBC. Who are these slaves, and what are the conditions they live in?

Most slaves in Niger today are the descendents of slaves who were kidnapped in wars and raids centuries ago, and were simply born into their status.

Many slaves in Niger are appallingly abused by their masters.

Slave children are taken away from their parents before they are two-years-old, to break the bonds between parent and child and to eliminate any sense of identity.

The children grow up working in the house of the master.

Assibit was born into slavery, as was her mother and her husband

The slave owners encourage the slaves to reproduce to increase their numbers, sometimes even determining when they have sexual intercourse.

They treat the slaves like their cattle.

Slaves are often beaten for small misdemeanours.

They work long hours and are sometimes deprived of food as punishment.

There are documented cases of slaves being stripped naked in front of their families to humiliate them, of female slaves being raped by their owners, and even of male slaves being castrated by their owners as punishment.

So the next time you hear some Leftist start the usual litany about American racism, ask them why they are not doing something about enslaved blacks today in Africa. And then give them a boot in the ass, suggesting to them that they need to do something constructive with their passion and outrage. Like freeing men, women, and children in Africa who are slaves, rather than demanding "something-for-nothing" for folks in this country who never have been.


VIP Treatment For French Mumia Supporters

The French hate America. They hate Americans. But they do love American criminals, having shielded murderer Ira Einhorn for decades. They've also permitted confessed child rapist Roman Polanski, one of their citizens, to escape punishment for a crime he pleaded guilty to in 1977. Oh, yeah, and there is one criminal they really love.

French politicians and activists seeking a new trial and freedom for convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal were welcomed in a Friday rally at City Hall and given replicas of the Liberty Bell.

Mjenzi Traylor, the city's first deputy director of commerce, told the crowd of about 150 that he was there to "make certain that we are receiving the message that you would like for us to deliver to Mayor Street."

Maureen Faulkner, the widow of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, later called that greeting an "absolute outrage."

Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Faulkner in 1981.

"This man stood over him and shot him, point-blank, in the face," Maureen Faulkner said. "For them to give them replicas of the Liberty Bell and welcome them with open arms, I think it's an embarrassment for the city."

Faulkner said she planned to call Street on Monday to protest the city's actions.

"This is a disgrace," she said. "It is a slap in the face for all of law enforcement."

Street planned to attend the meeting with the French politicians but canceled due to a busy schedule, his staff said.

Instead, Traylor was scheduled to meet in private with Connie Little, the mayor's executive assistant, and the French politicians.

This is pretty disguisting stuff -- allowing foreigners to come to America to protest the conviction of cop-killing scum like Mumia. And even more disgusting is this little tidbit.

Jacques Daguenet, a city councilman from Paris, then decried what he called Abu-Jamal's "racist trial." Paris made Abu-Jamal an honorary citizen in 2003.

"He is the voice of people who have nothing," Daguenet said. "We have to struggle to have him free."

Majid Wannass, a deputy for the mayor of Saint Denis, just outside of Paris, drew cheers when he told the crowd his town would rename a street for Abu-Jamal.

Heck, we need to make a deal with these foreign slimeballs. You think Mumia is innocent? You think he is a victim of a racist system? Fine -- we'll cut him loose right now, and send him back to France with you right now. Surely you folks wouldn't have any problem with that/ Heck, we'll send any other convict you think is innocent as well. After all, we wouldn't want to go against French opinion on such grave matters. I bet they will just LOVE Paris.


Jameson Book Returned To Houston Public Library Shelves

I mentioned Mayor Bill White's act of censorship a couple of weeks ago, after complaints about the book from one member of City Council.

That action has been overturned.

A library system internal memo dated Feb. 1 said a review committee recommended that the books be relocated to the fine arts and recreation section on the third floor of the central library. Books in that section include celebrity biographies.

Michel said Friday that White's decision last month was a temporary measure designed to address community concerns quickly, and that White always anticipated that a library committee would make a final decision.

But no city officials made that claim when the Houston Chronicle published a story Jan. 27 revealing White's decision.

At the time, [Mayor's Office spokesman Frank] Michel said, "We're trying to take action quickly, and we didn't see a need to go through a long bureaucratic process."

Also at the time, Toni Lambert, interim director of the Houston Public Library, issued a news release calling White's decision "a reasonable solution."

Holm said she never was told White's decision was temporary, adding she is "in the dark" about why the committee that issued the Feb. 1 memo was formed.

Does anyone believe that the memo was really written on February 1? Or that a committee really made the decision? I suspect that any close inquiry will show that Mayor White caught so much heat that the new policy was devised as a cover. That seems to be his modus operandi when faced with public criticism.

But regardless, I'm glad to see the censorship of the book end -- not that I have any interest in reading it.

But apparently others do want to read it. Since Mayor White's censorship decision was reported, the number of request for the system's twelve copies has increased from 20 to 41.


Freedom Of Religion And Speech Upheld In Sweden

In an appeal of a case that has been used to point out the danger of hate speech laws, a Swedish pastor has been acquitted of charges of violating Swedish hate speech laws for preaching a sermon which condemned homosexuality.

The appeals court ruled that Sweden's law, which was enacted after World War II to protect Jews and other minorities from neo-Nazi propaganda and was only recently extended to gays, was never intended to stifle open discussion of homosexuality or restrict a pastor's right to preach.

The defendant, the Rev. Ake Green, had a right to preach "the Bible's categorical condemnation of homosexual relations as a sin," the court said, even if that position was "alien to most citizens" and if Green's views could be "strongly questioned," according to news-service translations of the court's ruling.

The prosecution had attracted widespread attention in Europe, where laws restricting speech deemed to incite hatred of specific groups are common. Some conservative Christian groups in the United States have followed the case, saying that similar laws that would restrict speech rights are in the works there.

Now I don't agree with all of Green's words -- in fact, I think he is wrong in his more outrageous statements. But that is irrelevant when one considers the principle involved -- does the government have the right to stifle religious speech, especially a pastor's sermons? Absent an incitement to violence, the answer must be a resounding negative.

Naturally, gay rights activists are outraged.

Gay activists said they were dismayed by the ruling. "I don't think the verdict would have been the same if Ake Green had agitated against Jews or blacks or any other group protected by Swedish law," said Maria Sjodine, manager for the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights. "I really hope this is going to be appealed to the supreme court, and they find him guilty. Otherwise, we are not being treated equally as other groups who are covered by this law."

Actually, Ms. Sjodine, you had better hope that the supreme court rules exactly the same way as the appellate court -- or else the next case brought might be against you and your colleagues for hate speech against Christians with whom you disagree. That is the thing about freedom of speech -- you only have as much as you are willing the other side of the argument.


Are You Sure You Want To Flee To Canada?

Hey, Kerry voters! John Leo provides a whole host of reasons for some other option rather than running to Canada. And some of them should really leap out at you. After all, you claim that the US under George W. Bush is a fascist state that unduly restricts your freedom. You might want to reconsider your choice.

A national infatuation with censorship. Canadians tend to be a benign people who value niceness. So they have a strong tendency to suppress speech that they see as lacking in niceness. Un-nice books and videos are seized at the border or banned from libraries. Any material cited for "undue exploitation of sex" or for being "degrading or dehumanizing" can be banned. Speech is illegal if it "promotes hatred" or spreads "false news." Advertising "directed at children" can be ruled illegal. If the recorded message on your answering machine is deemed discriminatory, you can be prosecuted for it. In Saskatchewan, a newspaper ad listing four biblical citations against homosexuality (just the listing, no text), accompanied by two hand-holding male stick figures with a line drawn across them, was ruled a human-rights offense, and the man who placed the ad was directed to pay $1,800 each to three gay men who were offended by the ad. "Canadians put up with an insane amount of crap that Americans might not," said David Sutherland, former director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Canada's trying to be European. Canada has been aping trends in Europe, from the obsession with multiculturalism to the rising contempt for religion, greater censorship, and even a declining birthrate. Canada's birthrate is 1.49 children per woman, well below the replacement level of 2.1. Canada's elites behave much like those of the United States, favoring judicially imposed decisions over democratic and legislative ones. In Canada, a smaller and less varied nation than the United States, the elites meet less resistance. But there are signs of a pushback. Though the Canadian and American press consistently give the impression that gay marriage is overwhelmingly favored in Canada, a February 2 National Post /Global National poll found that two thirds of Canadians oppose gay marriage and would most likely vote against it in a national plebiscite. The polls suggest that Canadians are close to Americans on this issue. It's elite opinion and judges that make Canada look different.

There are also the standard problems of higher violent crime rate, candidness cuisine, Canadian football, and Canadian music -- plus the screwed up Canadian healthcare system that sends Canadians south to the US for ordinary American healthcare that they must literally be dying to get in Kanuckistan.

Besides, it is only a matter of time before incorporate Canada into the United States (maybe we'll cut loose Quebec and British Columbia). Might I suggest you consider Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea instead?


That's Gay!

Lord, how I hate that phrase! I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to break my students of the habit of using the term "gay" as a synonym for "stupid". I've suggested to them that their test packet really doesn't have a sexual orientation, and that they would be offended if I used "black" or "Hispanic" the same way. I've even pointed out that they ought to show more respect to their classmates who are gay (some of them quite openly so).

That said, I think this school in Swansea, Massachusetts went well beyond the limits of common sense in this case.

A high-school sophomore has returned to his classes after a one-day suspension for using profanity, but he's still sore about the punishment.

"It's made me sick," said the student, Chris Carreiro. "I've been nerved out about it all week."

Carreiro, 16, and a former class president, says he was suspended for telling a guidance counselor that a teacher was "being gay" a week ago Thursday.

He said he was using "gay" as a synonym for "stupid" or "lame," and was not implying anything about the teacher's sexuality. He and his friends often use the word in that context, he said.

The administration has said the Joseph Case High School student isn't giving the full version of events - that Carreiro was suspended for more than just the use of the word "gay."

But Carreiro says letters his family has received from the school corroborate his story. During a phone interview, Carreiro read one, sent to his mother, which lists the reason for his suspension as "inappropriate language and behavior."

"If there was more to the story, wouldn't they have told my mom?" he asked.

Both Carreiro and the school administration agree that his suspension stemmed from an incident last week.

Carreiro said he was helping a friend with books, and was late for computer class. The teacher sent him to the guidance office for tardiness, he said.

In the guidance office, he told counselor Edward Pettine that the teacher was "being gay," but not that the teacher actually was gay.

"There's a difference," Carreiro said. "There was no homosexual thing. I wasn't using profanity."

Carreiro said the guidance counselor shouted at him, and dismissed him from the office. He later found out that he was suspended, and that Pettine wanted him to serve detention.

Come on -- SUSPENSION over the issue? And since the document sent to his mother gives that as the reason, it is disingenuous for the school to come back with a response that there was more to his suspension than the use of the word "gay." In addition, I would have to think that the one place where a student should be able to speak freely would be in the counselor's office.

I'm also curious -- how many other students has the school suspended for the use of the word "gay" in a derogatory fashion?

(Hat Tip to The Education Wonks. Also, be sure to consider making an entry into their Carnival of Education.)


Rice Leads Among Conservative Bloggers

Patrick Ruffini has been running a poll over at his site. Now I'll concede it is uncientific, but its results show that the leader among GOP-oriented folks on the internet is -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He offers a good breakdown of the results here.

Looking at the complete results, the contenders can be broken down into tiers:

Tier I: Rice (42%), Giuliani (14%), Bush (10%)
Tier II: Romney (7%), Pawlenty (6%), Allen (5%), McCain (5%), Owens?
Tier III: Santorum (4%), Frist (3%), Sanford (3%), Brownback (2%), Hagel?

Why take such a survey so early? Does it hold any predictive value? The honest answer is hardly at all. However, by comparing the opinions of blogosphere activists with the broader electorate, we can detect which candidates may be over- or under-valued in the political marketplace come 2006 and 2007. Measuring which candidates generate the most buzz and excitement online can successfully predict significant events like the Dean surge in late 2003. Compare these results to the Gallup poll of 493 Republicans or leaners taken February 4 – 6:

Giuliani 33%
McCain 30%
Bush 12%
Frist 7%
Other 6%

The most glaring difference is the exclusion of Condi Rice (and the limited selection of candidates generally). Rice could be expected to do well in a traditional poll, though perhaps not as well as in the blogosphere, where she also cleaned up in the Right Wing News poll. In the spring of 1997, not every poll included George W. Bush in its list of potential GOP candidates, but those that did showed him leading decisively.

Now what does this mean? Less than meets the eye, I believe. Given that Dr. Rice was not even included in the Gallup poll, it would be expected she would do less well there. Also, as Ruffini notes, this is very early in the cycle. But I think that Dr. Rice has a base of support in the GOP that could make her inclusion on the eventual 2008 a virtual lock, though which spot she would take is an open question. And there is also the question of where George W. Bush would place his support. If his brother ran, would he support Jeb ovr Condi? Or would a privately expressed preference for Condi cause Jeb to sit out the race? The Jeb/Condi dynamic is an interesting one in 2008 -- and might result in the two of them being the 2008 GOP team.


Friday, February 11, 2005

Stewart Convicted As Accomplice To Terror


Providing material support to terrorists.

Defrauding the United States.

Making false statements.

Those are the charges on which radical lawyer Lynne Stewart was convicted yesterday. The crimes took place in connection with her defense of blind Egyptian cleric Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. She is not guilty of representing him vigorously, which was her obligation and his right under the Constitution. Rather, Stewart became an active and willing party to communicating directives for terrorist activities during her press conferences.

During a visit to Sheik Omar Abdel el-Rahman's cell in Minnesota in 2000, she and a translator conspired to distract prison officials in order to receive and later deliver a coded directive whose purpose was to initiate new terrorist acts in Egypt.

The sheik spoke the directive to the translator, who transmitted it to Egypt. But there was some question in Egypt about its authenticity — until Stewart called a press conference to authenticate it.

What passed between the sheik and Stewart was not an attorney-client matter, which would have been considered confidential, but rather a terrorist communication in the guise of an attorney-client discussion.

She had signed a legally binding document promising not to do any such thing so that she could see the sheik in the first place. Apparently, she figured there was no way the government could prove she had knowingly been involved in transmitting the terrorist message. What she didn't know was that everything going on in the sheik's cell was being taped.

In those taped conversations, Stewart and the sheik actually gloated about how they were tricking prison officials.

That goes well-beyond representation of a client. That falls into the area that is an exception to attorney-client privilege – the attorney becoming a participant in the crime. And make no mistake, Stewart’s activities did make her a party to the conspiracy to bomb New York City landmarks, including the United Nations building.

You think this sounds far-fetched? Think again. This lawyer to members of the radical-chic set hd often expressed her belief that violence and terrorism were proper when directed against our country.

The people killed and injured in pursuit of revolutionary goals deserved it, she said. "I don't believe in anarchistic violence but in directed violence," she once said. "That would be violence directed at the institutions which perpetuate capitalism, racism and sexism, and at the people who are the appointed guardians of those institutions, and accompanied by popular support."

Such hypothetical advocacy of violence, while abhorrant, is permissible under the First Amendment. Were Lynne Stewart to have limited herself to such philosophical statements she would have merited our contempt, but not jail time. But when she became the messenger girl for terrorists, Stewart crossed a bright line from free speech to criminal activity. She deserves no sympathy. Especially because she lacks even the faintest trace of contrition for her crimes.


Marquette University – Guilty Of False Advertising?

In his latest column, McCarthyism at Marquette, Professor Mike Adams comments on the recent decision by Marquette University officials to shut down the College Republican Support the Troops fundraiser for on the basis that it was incompatible with the values of Marquette as a Catholic university. Adams questions that, in light of certain other activities permitted at or sponsored by the university.

You have been quoted, Dean McCarthy, as saying that the CR benefit does not “comport to the University’s mission.” Your communications office (414.288.7445) has issued an official statement accusing the CRs of “having a cavalier attitude toward the taking of a human life.”

I found the university’s official statement to be interesting since your own library refers to Planned Parenthood as “an excellent resource for information on women's health and global reproduction issues.” Furthermore, Marquette’s Association of English Graduate Students ( is
allowed to promote Planned Parenthood on your website. Could it be argued
that Planned Parenthood has “a cavalier attitude toward the taking of a human

I also noticed that there will be a Gay and Straight Alliance (“rose sale” on Valentine’s Day at Marquette University. Does that sale
“comport” with the university’s mission of promoting a “Catholic

You have, according to my research, at least two gay organizations on campus. Both organizations seem to enjoy “unfettered pursuit of truth” at Marquette. They are allowed freedom of speech on your website and freedom of association on your campus. Although, as a private school, you are not bound by the First Amendment, you seem to grant these organizations certain rights voluntarily, in the name of academic freedom.

So, how are we to resolve the university’s position that, a) pro-abortion speech is permissible, b) pro-gay speech is permissible, and c) pro-war speech is impermissible?

The answer is simple: Marquette University is not committed to serving God or the Catholic Church. It is committed to advancing the policies of the Democratic

That observation seems accurate to me. Marquette is being very selective in terms of which elements of Catholic theology it is supporting. In doing so, it is following the tenets of the liberal political correctness that has infected much of higher education over the last few decades. Could you imagine the outcry over the university shutting down one of the gay groups?

Having made a pretty damning indictment of the Jesuit institution of higher education. If he stopped there, though, the good professor would have dealt a stinging blow to the university. But as anyone familiar with his work knows, that is not his style. Adams continues on to make a startling demand, based upon the fraud he has demonstrated.

Clearly, the true purpose of your university has not been revealed to potential students at Marquette. Instead, they have been fraudulently induced into paying $22,950 per year in tuition under the false promise of, among other things, academic freedom.

Accordingly, I hereby demand a tuition refund in the amount of $23 million. This refund should be distributed to the 1000 members of the College Republicans at Marquette immediately. Since you are the 124,873rd person to receive this letter from me, it is likely that others will be calling upon you (at 414.288.1412) to do the same.

If, for some reason, you refuse to refund the full amount in 30 days, I will ask the CRs to stop engaging in right wing or, as you say, “provocative” tactics, such as the organization of an Adopt a Sniper benefit. Instead, I will urge them to engage in more liberal tactics. Specifically, I will urge the 1000 members to overtake your office with a sit-in, just like the radical leftists did on campuses in the 1960s.

I don’t know that I agree with Dr. Adams’ solution here. It seems simplistic to me. After all, some of those students have been at the university for multiple years It strikes me that the full amount due in refunds should be at least double his proposed total (assuming each member has averaged two years at Marquette), if not an amount closer to $50 million. And this does not get into the question of damages for the devaluing of their degree, nor the necessary expense of acquiring the Catholic formation they believed they would get at Marquette. And then there are the punitive damages, which could take the total well over the $100 million mark.


Buckley Prays For Pope’s Death

William F. Buckley loves Pope John Paul II. Yet he shocked many when he said he was praying not for the Pope’s recovery, but for him to quickly pass on to his heavenly reward.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's secretary of state, said simply, "If there is a man who loves the Church more than anybody else, who is guided by the Holy Spirit ... that's him. We must have great faith in the pope. He knows what to do."

What to do includes clinging to the papacy as a full-time cripple, if medicine, which arrested death by only 10 minutes, can arrest death again for weeks and even months. But the progressive deterioration in the pope's health over the last several years confirms that there are yet things medical science can't do, and these include giving the pope the physical strength to coordinate and to use his voice intelligibly.

So, what is wrong with praying for his death? For relief from his manifest sufferings? And for the opportunity to pay honor to his legacy by turning to the responsibility of electing a successor to get on with John Paul's work? Muriel Spark commented in "Memento Mori": "When a noble life has prepared old age, it is not decline that it reveals, but the first days of immortality." That cannot be effected by the hospital in which the pope struggles.

What do you think? Is Buckley right, or is he grossly wrong in his thinking on this point?

And please respectfully confine yourself to that question, not turning this into a more general view on religion, Catholicism, or the Pope himself.


More Inhumanity To Children

This event in North Lauderdale should horrify any person with so much as a scrap of a soul.

A newborn boy - believed to be less than an hour old - survived being thrown from a moving car onto a swale alongside a busy street Thursday afternoon, Broward County sheriff's officials said.

The car sped away, and investigators are seeking the parents of the eight-pound, two-ounce child whose umbilical cord was still attached when found by a woman passing by the scene.

Sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal said the unidentified woman who found the baby brought him to a nearby sheriff's office. The baby was taken to Broward General Medical Center, which upgraded his condition from critical to serious Thursday night.

"He's doing remarkably well and we're hopeful that he'll recover," Leljedal said.
Another sheriff's spokeswoman, Veda Coleman-Wright, said Thursday night that the boy is improving. It was unclear what injuries the baby may have suffered from being thrown. Investigators are searching for a white, older-model large sedan that eyewitnesses observed leaving the scene. The woman who rescued the baby - which was inside a small plastic bag when tossed from the car - said she observed a man and woman arguing inside the vehicle.

The baby was thrown from the passenger side of the vehicle, landing three or four feet away in the grass. When the Good Samaritan approached what she thought was a package, it began to move and she realized a baby was inside.

Are you sickened? Are you disgusted? Do you believe that those who did this are evil and deserve no mercy from our legal system?

And if you answered “yes” to the above, how can you rationalize that with support for the status quo on abortion in this country, which would have permitted the mother to have this little one’s life terminated by a physician only twenty-four hours earlier?

UPDATE: It seems the story is not true. The “Good Samaritan" is the mother, and she hid the pregnancy from family and friends. Details here, but my questions above still stand.


Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Danger Of Treaties

She thought she was writing about a good way to ban hate speech. What Beth Goodtree really did was give a great reason for signing on to fewer treaties, and making sure that those treaties do not impinge upon the rights of Americans under the Constitution.

Much of today's anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment is promulgated by hate speech. Falsely wrapping themselves in the 'free speech' provisions of various countries, these haters have been given free rein to spread their repugnant political agendas aimed at genocide and ethnic cleansing. However, we can stop this and we have the legal juice to do it. Even as individuals. Here's how:

Remember those pesky Geneva Conventions? We, the United States, signed them, as did Israel, Great Britain, Canada, and many other countries. Well, when we signed them, we agreed to carry out all sections of them. No "one-from-column-A-one-from-column-B" nonsense. America, and all other signatories, agreed to them all.

Therefore, since the US is a signatory to all the Geneva Conventions; and since the Geneva Conventions list 'hate speech' as a war crime of genocide (or the implied potential to encourage genocide); and also since it clearly states* in Articles III and IV that any signatory must amend their constitutions or other legal processes to be in compliance; this makes it clear that "hate speech" as defined by the Geneva Conventions themselves, is not protected under US or any other signatory country's law. "Hate speech" is defined as incitement towards a group based upon national, ethnic or religious affiliation. Also included in this "Hate Speech" part of the Geneva Conventions are people who aid, fund, abet or help in any way.

Therefore, private individuals or groups can sue others in US civil court for violations of the Geneva Convention's Hate Speech provisions - a war crime.

Her candidates for prosecution for exercising rights guaranteed under the First Amendment?

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, for showing The Road to Jenin and other films that present Israel in a bad light vis-a-vis the Palestinian conflict.

Islamist religious leaders who continually call for "death to the Crusaders (Christians) and Zionists."

Saudi Arabia.

Duke University and other schools hosting pro-Palestinian events.

Maybe the time has come for us to reconsider our continued adherance to these treaties as impinging upon national sovereignty and the rights guaranteed to the American people under our Constitution.

* The Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, 26 November 1968

Article III

The States Parties to the present Convention undertake to adopt all necessary domestic measures, legislative or otherwise, with a view to making possible the extradition, in accordance with international law, of the persons referred to in article II of this Convention.

Article IV

The States Parties to the present Convention undertake to adopt, in accordance with their respective constitutional processes, any legislative or other measures necessary to ensure that statutory or other limitations shall not apply to the prosecution and punishment of the crimes referred to in articles I and II of this Convention and that, where they exist, such limitations shall be abolished.


An Obscene Court Decision

Why would a court ever consider granting special privileges to a confessed child rapist?

FILM director Roman Polanski has won a bid to sue for libel in an English court via videolink in order to avoid the risk of extradition to the US for child sex offences.

In a ruling announced today, England's highest court overturned an earlier Court of Appeal decision that Polanski should be made to live by the "normal processes of the law".

Polanski, 71, who fled America more than 25 years ago after admitting having sex with a child, wants to sue US magazine Vanity Fair over an article he says defamed him.

In a case seen as a test of the rights of libel claimants to avoid having to appear in court to give evidence, Polanski is seeking to use the English courts for the libel action, which Vanity Fair's publishers Conde Nast are contesting.

Ordinary folks would have to appear in court in a lawsuit, but there seems to be a special exception here to prevent Polanski from being brought to justice.

The sick bastard entered a guilty plea to drugging and raping a 12-year-old in 1977, only to flea to France prior to sentencing. Because he is a French citizen, he cannot be extradited from France under French law.

And by the way, what did he do upon reaching France? He soon began a relationship with actress Nastasia Kinski -- who was 15 at the time.


Royal Wedding II

Well, it is finally going to happen. Prince Charles will finally marry Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The Prince of Wales is to marry Camilla Parker Bowles, it was announced by Clarence House today.

The Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles will marry on Friday April 8, at Windsor Castle.

Mrs Parker Bowles will use the title HRH the Duchess of Cornwall after marriage.

When Charles becomes King, Camilla will not be known as Queen Camilla but as the Princess Consort.

The move will end years of speculation about a relationship which has spanned decades.

Let’s be honest – it is about time. Diana has been dead for years, and Parker-Bowles is long divorced with no possibility of reconciliation. Better the two simply make official that which has been openly acknowledged for years.

My one criticism is the decision is not that Camilla is divorced and her husband is still alive. Rather, I am amused by the hypocrisy that anyone in Anglican circles would be troubled by the situation, given that the Church of England traces its roots to Henry VIII's need to give himself a divorce from Catherine of Aragon.


Is This Justice?

I’m not sure that it is. Speaking as a man, I find the nature of the assault pretty appalling.

A jilted woman who ripped off her ex-lover's testicle with her bare hands was jailed for two-and-a-half years today.

Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when 37-year-old Geoffrey Jones rejected her advances at the end of a drunken house party.

She yanked off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

But Monti choked and spat it out before a friend handed it back to Mr Jones with the words: "That's yours."

In a statement read to the court, Mr Jones said: "Amanda attacked me in an unprovoked manner and the attack has ruined my life."

Seems to me that a man convicted of attacking a woman who rejected his advances would have faced more serious charges and a longer term in jail. Especially if he ripped of a body part – say a breast – as part of the attack. What do you think?


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Condi For President

Dick Morris wrote an interesting commentary on why the GOP needs a “Draft Condi” movement for 2008.

Of course, she isn’t running — nor is there any indication that she is harboring thoughts of a candidacy. But as her visibility increases, so will her viability. It may just be possible to draft Condi into the race. A real presidential draft movement hasn’t happened since 1952, when Republicans urged Eisenhower to get into the race. A draft-Condi movement seems almost antiquated in this era of ambitious and self-promoting candidates, but it may well fill a deep need in the electorate to vote for someone who is running in response to a genuine call of the people.

Condi Rice is a work in progress. Her rise has been impelled by her merits and achievements rather than any efforts on her part to curry favor in the media. She is still working and still progressing. But keep your eye on this political star. It is rising and may one day be ascendant.

I agree. As I look at the field as it stands today, it appears that the Democrats will be running Hillary Clinton. After all, what other candidate do they have of her stature and popularity. On the other hand, the GOP has a field of candidates who in all likelihood cannot emerge from the shadow of George W. Bush as he works to complete his legacy. Cheney is out. Frist lacks the appeal, and Rudy stands at odds with the conservative base on social (and personal) issues. More troubling is the lack of a frontrunner.

And then there is Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Attractive, well-spoken, charismatic, intellectual, and a self-made woman, Rice has risen from her start as a Southern black child during the waning days of Jim Crow to a position that would have appeared unattainable by a black woman at the time of her birth a half century ago. She would stand in sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton, who started in the wealthy suburbs of Chicago, married an up-and-coming Bill Clinton, and rode his coattails to power. Rice worked to get to the top, while Hillary got there by virtue of her husband.

What factors does Morris see as helping Dr. Rice in any presidential bid? She is a key part of the team that developed and implemented the Bush policies in the War on Terror. She has academic credentials that she has the intellectual strengths that the Left has argued Bush lacks. Rice’s conservative credentials and strong religious background will make her appealing to the core constituency of the GOP. The symbolism of her candidacy and election would be a capstone on the battle for inclusion of minorities in the public life of the nation. And she appeals to certain demographic groups -- African-Americans, Hispanics and single white women – that formed the core of the recent Democrat coalitions, thereby making it more difficult for any Democrat, including Hillary, to garner enough votes to win the presidency.

In short, Condoleezza Rice appears to be the best choice for the GOP in 2008. However, she has shown no public interest in a run for elective office. It may be that what is needed is a grass-roots campaign to persuade our new Secretary of State to toss her hat into the ring. And as one who doesn’t see any other candidate out there who appeals to me, I’m more than willing to throw my support to her right now.


Democrat Dayton Done In 2006

He cloed down his Senate office because of fears of terrorism. He disgraced himself during the debate over the confirmation of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. And now he is a lame duck -- Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota has announced he will not seek reelection to a second term in 2006.

Dayton said it has been a "tremendous honor" to serve the people of Minnesota for the past four years. However, he said he did not believe he was the best candidate to keep the seat in the hands of the Democrats.

"Everything I've worked for and everything I believe in depends upon this Senate seat remaining in the Democratic caucus in 2007. I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the DFL party to victory next year."

Fundraising was also a factor in the decision.

"I cannot stand to do the constant fundraising necessary to wage a successful campaign," Dayton said. "And I cannot be an effective senator while also being a nearly full-time candidate. Plus, I choose to devote all of my time and energy to the job Minnesotans elected me to do."

In 2000, Sen. Dayton contributed nearly $12 million dollars of his own money to his campaign.

Last month, the Associated Press reported Dayton raised $1.35 million last year, topping his goal of $1 million. However, he finished the year with only $177,000 in the bank.

Republicans need to move quickly to find a strong candidate to run for Dayton's seat. Names currently mentioned include Congressmen Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy, as well as former Senator Rod Grams.

Heck, maybe the blogging world can spice things up. How about Lileks, King from SCSU Scholars, or one of the crew from Powerline? Come on, boys, here's your chance to turn blogging into the new frontier of American politics!


The Crime Of Blogging in Iran

So, you think the United States is descending towards fascism and that freedom of speech is gone? You think that Bush is a warmonger who wants to attack other countries under the pretext of promoting freedom? Why don’t you read this story about one blogger’s plight in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

After three days in prison without being informed of the charges against her, she finally faced an interrogator.

The next day, I was taken to a room down a long corridor and told to sit down. A fat hand with an agate stone ring set an interrogation form in front of me. Then he began asking about my Web log, which has hyperlinks on it to Western feminist groups.

"Do you accept the charges?" the interrogator asked.

"What charges?"

"That you have written things in your Web log that go against the Islamic system and that encourage people to topple the system," he said. "You are inviting corrupt American liberalism to rule Iran."

"I've tried to write my ideas and opinions in my Web log and to communicate with others in Farsi all over the world," I said.

He was displeased.

"These answers will lead us nowhere, and you will stay here for years. Tell us the truth. How much have you received to write these offenses against the Islamic state? How are you and your fellow Web loggers organized?"

How should I respond? I knew my mother must be terribly worried about me. What could I say to make sure I got out?

"We are not organized against the state," I said. "I write because I want to criticize the system. There are some things in our state that should be corrected." "Why don't you write an e-mail directly to the supreme leader's office?" he asked. "The supreme leader considers all criticisms and takes corrective actions."

"I hadn't thought about that," I said. This was nonsense, of course, but I saw an opening. "From now on, I will write directly to the supreme leader and stop writing in my Web log."

"It is too late for that," he said.

So the next time you read Kos, Atrios, Oliver Willis, John Aravosis or some other liberal blogger going on about the oppressive nature of the “BusHitler Regime”, point them to this article and suggest that their wild fantasies of tyranny and oppression are nothing next to the reality faced by those who are critical of a truly oppressive government.


Ninth Circuit In First Amendment Tussle

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, is not know for being part of the religious right. The court, best known for declaring the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional a couple of years ago, is now facing charges from an atheist lawyer that it unconstitutionally promotes religion. At issue is the court’s seal.

The case was brought by an attorney who was admitted to practice before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June. In his lawsuit against the San Francisco-based court, Ryan Donlon said the certificate admitting him contains the court's seal which unlawfully contains what he believes is a tablet object representing the Ten Commandments.

Cathy Catterson, the court's clerk, said the seal highlights a woman, known as "the Majesty of the Law" who is reading a large book. At her feet is a tablet with 10 unreadable lines on it - what Donlon believes is the Ten Commandments.

Catterson said the tablet has "the same shape" of the Ten Commandments but "you can't read the text of it."

She said the drawing became the court's seal decades ago, and is a depiction of a tile mosaic in one of the century-old courthouse's ornate courtrooms.

Now let me see if I’ve got this straight. The mere depiction of tablets representing the Ten Commandments, without a single word upon them, is unacceptable in an allegorical work. The mere presence of the tablet in the context of the larger work unconstitutionally entangles church and state. Have we reached a new level of absurdity in this country?

Like it or not, the Western legal tradition has many sources, one of which is the ancient Hebraic law represented by the Ten Commandments. Its depiction is an acknowledgement of an important source of law. Its presence on the seal in no way requires an affirmation of religious belief or an endorsement of the contents.

UPDATE: Look who weighed in on the case -- and thinks this suit is pretty silly.

Others were skeptical of Donlon's suit, including the lawyer who persuaded the 9th Circuit in 2002 that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance amounted to a government endorsement of religion.

"I'm not impressed," said Michael Newdow, the Sacramento atheist-doctor-lawyer who ultimately lost his challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court but is still fighting the issue on other fronts. After examining the seal and the markings in question, he said: "It could be the Bill of Rights. I don't know what the heck that is."

Newdow said Donlon appears to be hostile toward religion.

"You look at that seal and you don't get the sense that someone is pushing religion," he said. "It's not the same as putting up a giant monument out of nowhere."


Call For Saudi Sanctions

By no stretch of the imagination is Saudi Arabia a beacon of freedom. It is a repressive theocracy that fails to meet the basic standards of human rights necessary to be considered a civilized nation. That we receive half-hearted support in the war on terrorism is hardly grounds for our turning a blind eye to the religious repression that goes on there. Saudi Arabia strictly prohibits all public religious expression other than those that follow the government's interpretation of Islam, and regularly detain individuals who violate religious laws under cruel and demeaning conditions. And even though Saudi Arabia was labeled a “country of particular concern” by the State Department’s religious freedom watchdog, that designation carried with it no sanction. Some folks want to change that.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, the [U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)] recommended that the U.S. identify Saudi government officials responsible for severe violations and not allow them entry into the country. It should also bar officials who propagated around the world "an ideology that explicitly promotes hate, intolerance, and human rights violations."

The government should also issue a demarche (warning), urging Riyadh to stop funding or other support for literature or other activity promoting hate, intolerance, and human rights violations, "including the distribution of such materials in the United States and elsewhere outside of Saudi Arabia."

Further, the U.S. should not issue licenses to export "dual-use" items - materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes -- to any Saudi government agency responsible for severe abuses, it recommended.

Last year, shackles, leg-irons "and other items that could be used to perpetrate human rights violations" were among goods exported from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia.

"As world events of the past several years have confirmed, ensuring that governments respect freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief both advances our strategic interests and is a vital component of securing broader freedoms," Bansal said.

The president’s recent inaugural address dealt with freedom around the world. Let’s continue to promote such freedom by placing these limited sanctions on the Saudis. After all, we must hold our allies to a standard higher than the one to which we hold our enemies.


Judge Stands Up For Military

One of the more outrageous practices in recent years has been the ban on military recruiting on some college campuses because of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Congress passed the Solomon Amendment in 1995, penalizing schools that receive federal money if they refuse to allow recruiters on campus. Unfortunately, that law was recently struck down by a federal judge. But I like the response by another federal judge, U.S. District Judge William Acker Jr., who has decided that he will no longer hire law clerks from those schools.

Acker wrote that he was exercising the same freedom of speech that U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall supported when she ruled Jan. 31. She backed the faculty's claim that their rights to free speech were violated by enforcement of the Solomon amendment, which requires schools to provide access to military recruiters or lose federal funding, including student loans.

In response, Acker said Yale Law School students need not apply.

"Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated," Acker said. "I therefore recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt YLS."

I suspect the judge will find some very fine law clerks from other schools. The contempt that elitist institutions are showing to America will provide students from other schools with a chance to show their ability, and to prove that the mere fact that a school is old does not mean it is superior. I hope more judges will have the guts to stand up to the anti-Americanism of institutions which lack the patriotism and commitment to freedom to allow their students the opportunity to talk to military recruiters.


Unclear On The Concept

Let’s see. Ward Churchill is a professor at Colorado University, a state school funded through legislative appropriations of taxpayer money. And yet he has the gall to make this statement?

"I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for Bill Owens. I work for you. . . . The Board of Regents should do its job, and let me do mine."

Uh, dude, you might want to rethink that position. The reality is that you do work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. Your job exists only at the sufferance of the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. The legislature of the state of Colorado could abolish you department, or even the entire university, tomorrow. Now there might be room for discussion of what your employment by the taxpayers of the state of Colorado allows you to do, but make no mistake -- you work for those taxpayers.


Pizza Delivery -- By Any Means Necessary

When I was in seminary, I heard stories from some of the priests on faculty about the lengths they had to go to, decades before, to get pizza’s surreptitiously delivered to what was then a closed campus. Those stories floated to the top of my mind as I read this article.

The lieutenant stopped off in his Lynx chopper to deliver the takeaway during a training exercise, The Sun newspaper reported.

His landing in the Stanford area was cleared, but the delivery of the pizza was not, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said today.

The 25-year-old Army Air Corps lieutenant pilot, based in Wattisham, Suffolk, was delivering the pizza to his girlfriend, an officer cadet.

A MoD spokesman said: "There was a training sortie by Lynx helicopter on Jan 25.

"The training exercise consisted of low-level map reading. It involved a landing in the Stanford area.

"The pilot took it upon himself to basically deliver this pizza.

"He has been made aware that the chain of command doesn't condone his actions and has been disciplined."

But you’ve got to admit – it will be a great story to tell the grandkids some day.


Problem Solved

I recently blogged on a story in which a trapped vacationer urinated his way out of his snow-covered car after being caught in an avalanche. Now I’ve found this story about putting snow to good, if unexpected, use.

Romanian firefighters managed to put out a fire in an apartment by throwing snowballs through the window.

They used snowballs because they could not got their fire engines close enough to the building in Sibiu.

Fire crews arrived within minutes of the alarm being raised by neighbours of the elderly woman who lived in the apartment.

But icy roads prevented them from getting close enough to the building to use their hoses so they resorted to desperate measures.

Chief firefighter Florian Chioar told National newspaper: "We had to do something because our cars couldn't get near that building. So we used the snow and put out the fire in about 30 minutes."

So remember, folks, that that delinquent that pegged you with a snowball isn’t really a delinquent – he’s practicing fire safety skills!


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Problem With Activist Jurisprudence

Judges are not philosopher kings, no matter what they may believe in their heart of hearts. Their continued failure to recognize their subordinate role in the constitutional order endangers the whole structure. Such activist judges tend to write in terms of sweeping principle not explicitly contained in the Constitution. Consider this famous example from Planned Parenthood v. Casey, devised by Justices Kennedy, O’Connor, and Souter.

"Intimate and personal choices," the justices wrote, are "central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life."

Such a principle sounds reasonable, but it contains in it the seeds of many a decision overturning long-standing legal principles and time-honored laws supported by the people. It was used in Lawrence v. Texas to knock down the Texas sodomy law, and has been cited by those out to legalize homosexual marriage. James Taranto points out the problem with reliance on such a judicially created principle.

Abortion and same-sex marriage, by contrast, do spark strong opposition, but not on privacy grounds. Abortion opponents argue that life before birth is worthy of legal protection, while the case against same-sex marriage is that it confers public approval on gay relationships--approval the New York and Massachusetts courts have given without public consent.

When judges find rights in hidden constitutional meanings, they run a twofold risk. If they limit those rights, striking balances and compromises between such competing values as privacy vs. life or privacy vs. morality, they act as politicians, only without democratic accountability. The alternative, to let those rights expand without limit, seems more principled and thus is more appealing. But it ignores democracy's most important principle of all: the right of the people to govern themselves.

In effect, the judges limit the people and their elected representatives to the regulation of matters that are unimportant, reserving to themselves the role of determining what the law shall be on important matters. This overthrows the constitutional understanding of our republican form of government by making judges, rather than the people, supreme. And if the supremacy of the people is eliminated, does it not take with it the legitimacy of the government?


The Chalabi Challenge

Ahmed Chalabi is emerging as an important in the new Iraqi political landscape. That may create some problems for the US, since America’s former fair-haired boy has been roughly treated by American officials and their allies in the Provisional Government. Barbara Lerner presents an interesting review of the charges made against him by his enemies. It isn’t flattering to the folks at CIA and State.

Her conclusion?

All in all, it is in America's interest to explore the possibility of a new relationship with a newly empowered Ahmed Chalabi, because clinging to the old slanders is more likely to damage us than him. An apology for having maligned him unfairly in the past would be a good way to start.

Sounds like a good plan to me. We need friends on all sides in Iraq -- and if divorcing the policy errors of the former powers-that-be at CIA and State will do it, then it needs to be done.

UPDATE: The New York Sun has an interesting analysis of the Chalabi situation.


Good Things Happen To Good People

If your boss disappeared, could you keep the business afloat for several months – without access to the checkbook? Could you keep the employees paid, inventory stocked, and generally make a go of it? I would personally say no – but I think Dawna Lentz would disagree with me.

Dawna Lentz, the manager who ran a Quiznos Sub shop on a shoestring after the owners went absent, won't lose her job as she'd feared.

On the contrary, Quiznos is flying the 25-year-old to its Denver headquarters to meet company President Steve Shaffer and to go through training to become a certified manager.

"She's shown loyalty to Quiznos like no other employee has," corporate spokeswoman Stacie Lange said yesterday. "Her ability to keep that store afloat through a very difficult time needs to be commended."

Lentz received an outpouring of support after her story appeared in The Seattle Times on Friday. For the past two days, customers lined up at the Holman Road Northwest store, which on Tuesday was out of just about everything but bread and lunchmeat.

Some people gave kudos, some offered jobs, and others just ordered subs that had been off the menu for weeks after store ran out of the special Quiznos ingredients.
"It was so wonderful to have sales," Lentz said. "That big weight was taken off my shoulders."

Lentz and her crew of three had kept the franchise afloat since November, when the bank account ran dry and one of the principal owners stopped showing up. The other partner, an absentee owner, would check in occasionally but hadn't been seen for weeks, Lentz said.

Lentz used the daily cash flow to buy the necessary food supplies, pay employees, and keep the doors open. She paid employees in cash daily, and made sure that wages were kept up to date as best she could. Most folks would have walked away. Is it any wonder that Quiznos wants to keep her and that others want to lure her away with better job offers?


Voter Fraud = Political Insurgency

The dilapidated house at 1717 Ohio St. in East St. Louis symbolizes the insurgency that is oppressing this once-great city.

Nine people are registered to vote there, even though it has been vacant for years. Five of those people cast absentee ballots in the March 2004 primary, and one of them voted in person on Nov. 2. This no doubt is just one example of many.

Like the insurgents in Iraq, the political insurgents of East St. Louis don't want democratic elections. Instead of bombs, they use vote fraud to disrupt the process. But in both places, their power comes from fear, not strength.

Yeah, having worked elections in East St. Louis many years ago, I can attest to that. The political movers and shakers will do anything to keep their power – whether it meant vote fraud, running stalking horse candidates, or out-and-out intimidation of folks who challenge the status quo. It has taken years, but the authorities are finally going after the election fraud in that town. Maybe that means that some day there will be meaningful voting there.

The Belleville News Democrat offers some advice to church and community groups that are concerned about fair elections. I think it should be heeded by folks in every community where there are concerns about the integrity of the voting process.

The city's election commission either can't or won't stop the problems. So we encourage church and community groups to start policing the election process.
Pick a precinct and walk it to compare the registered voters with addresses, so places like 1717 Ohio St. are detected. Organize impartial election observers to watch at the polls during the next election. Report problems to the U.S. attorney's office, which is working to clean up the mess, and [the local media].


Monday, February 07, 2005

Reid Whines -- "Quit Telling The Truth!"

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has charted a course of obstructionism ever since he assumed his leadership position from Tom Daschle. He has indicated in interviews that he intends to use whatever methods necessary to block the president and his supporters from implementing the agenda endorsed by the American voters last November.

Now Reid is angry -- and demanding that President Bush silence the GOP.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on Monday urged President Bush to stop the Republican National Committee from calling him an obstructionist and criticizing his Senate record, a tactic the GOP used to help defeat Reid's predecessor.

Bush repeatedly has said he wants work with Democrats, most recently during his State of the Union speech last week, Reid noted in a speech on the Senate floor.

"Why didn't he stand and tell the American people last Wednesday that one of the first items of business we were going to do in Washington is send out a hit piece on the Democratic leader?" Reid said.

The Republican committee plans to send a 13-page document to more than a million people -- including in Reid's home state of Nevada -- analyzing and criticizing his votes and stances before he officially took over as Senate Democratic leader in January.

Now hold on here. What is wrong with analyzing Reid's record? How is it wrong to point out differences between how Reid's position on the issues differs from the GOP? Notice, the senator is not questioning the veracity of the Republican claims. Rather, he is objecting to their being made at all. What has Harry got to hide?

RNC spokesman Brian Jones said Reid is picking up where Daschle left off.

"Harry Reid right now is the leader of the party of 'no,'" Jones said. "He is the party's chief obstructionist, and we're going to continue to talk about this in the months to come."

Bingo. Harry Reid doesn't want the American people to know who he is and what he is doing. He wants to obscure the record, because knowing his record will show that he is nothing more than another left-winger who is out of step with the American people.

Bush can't divorce himself from what the RNC is doing, Reid said.

The RNC "is the president's organization," Reid said. "He can't say one thing to the American people and then ... send out scurrilous letters saying that I'm a bad guy. In great detail. I mean, is President George Bush a man of his word?"

No, the president cannot divorce himself from the RNC -- no should he. There is nothing to be ashamed of in what is being done. He has said he wants to work with the Democrats, but when members of the Democrat leadership have indicated an unwillingness to work with the GOP for the good of the American people it is appropriate to respond in kind.

Tell you what, Harry -- we will stop the briefing letters just as soon as the Senate Democrats allow an up-or-down vote on every single judicial candidate pending whose nomination is currently pending. Call it a sign of good-faith on your part. And if you can't let that vote happen, just remember this simple truth.

The truth hurts.


All he Wanted Was A Fair Count

The dispute over a Houston area election for state representative is over. Republican Representative Talmadge Heflin withdrew his challenge to the election of Democrat Hubert Vo to represent District 149.

Vo joined Heflin at the conclusion of the afternoon news conference at which Heflin announced his decision. The two shook hands, and Vo said he would seek counsel from the veteran lawmaker on issues in the southwest Houston district.

Heflin's challenge was scheduled to go to a special House committee on Tuesday. He withdrew hours after state Rep. Will Hartnett, R-Dallas, issued a report to the committee saying Vo won the election by at least 16 votes.

Hartnett also concluded that Heflin had produced "no evidence of any intentional voter fraud'' that would have affected his Nov. 2 loss to Vo in District 149. Vo won then by 33 votes.

"We didn't have the data to meet the hurdle," Heflin said of his effort to convince Hartnett and the House that the participation of ineligible voters put the result of the election in doubt. "When you see that you can't meet a criteria that is thrust upon you, it makes no sense to move ahead."

I think the key here is that there was no intentional fraud. While Vo may have benefitted from illegally cast votes, there was no organized attempt to undermine the process. Will Hartnett set a very high standard of proof for Heflin, one that couldn't be met without compelling folks to reveal their votes under oath. So while voters from othr districts (othr counties, in fact) may have voted in the election, proving the impact of those votes is impossible. But the fact that Vo and his campaign were in no way involved in the casting of those illegal votes makes such a high standard proper.

Congratulations, Representative Vo. Do your job and do it well.

Best wishes, Representative heflin. You have my respect, sir, and I wish you well.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

A Dynasty Is Born


The New England Patriots don't have to proclaim greatness. The NFL record book does it for them. The Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years Sunday, 24-21 over the Philadelphia Eagles, and now they are challenging history.

It was their ninth straight postseason victory, equaling Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. It was coach Bill Belichick's 10th playoff victory in 11 games, one better than the great Lombardi. And it matched Dallas' run of three championships in four years in the early 1990s.

"We've never really self-proclaimed ourselves anything," said Tom Brady, who is 9-0 in the playoffs. "If you guys say we're great, we'll accept the compliment."

This one wasn't overpowering, and at times it was downright ugly. But not even Belichick seemed to care about that.

"To me this trophy belongs to these players," Belichick said. "They met all comers this year, a very challenging year. We're thrilled to win. These players played great all year, their best in the big games and they deserve it, they really deserve it."

What more is left to be said?


A Liberal Looks At Ward Churchill

I'm not a big fan of Professor Paul Campos, the Rocky Mountain News columnist who teaches law at the University of Colorado. But I find his observations on the Ward Churchill case interesting because he teaches on the same campus.

Should a serious research university consider hiring a fascist? This question doesn't have an easy answer.

After all, prior to World War II Europe produced several brilliant political theorists and philosophers who could be characterized as fascists, or proto-fascists, including Joseph de Maistre, Carl Schmitt and Martin Heidegger.

Whether, post- Auschwitz, it's possible even in theory to advocate similar views in intellectually plausible ways is an interesting question.

It is not, however, a question that has any relevance to the case of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, despite the obvious fascistic streak in Churchill's writings and public performances.

An interesting question. I would be inclined to say no -- especially if we are dealing with a taxpayer-funded state university, and even more so if that "scholar" regularly provided intellectual coverage for the enemy during time of war. I mean, should any American college have hired Heidegger or kept him on staff in 1942? The answer should be obvious.

As a political inclination and an aesthetic style, fascism is marked by, among other things, the following characteristics:

• The worship of violence as a purifying social force. This often manifests itself as an aggressive and romanticized militarism, that produces a kind of cult of the warrior, and that advocates violent action as a mechanism for social change, and an appropriate way of crushing dissent.

• A hyper-nationalistic ideology, that casts history into a drama featuring an inevitably violent struggle between Good and Evil, and that obsesses on questions of racial and ethnic identity.

• The dehumanization and scapegoating of opponents, who are characterized by turns as demonically clever conspirators plotting to undermine the possibility of a virtuous society, and soulless automatons mindlessly carrying out the orders of a vast and evil bureaucracy. This dehumanization often leads to demands that the evil in our midst be eradicated "by any means necessary," up to and including the mass extermination of entire nations and peoples.

• The treatment of moral responsibility as a fundamentally collective matter. The supposed virtues and sins of a nation or people are ascribed to all of its individual members, so that, for example, one speaks of "the Jew" (meaning all Jews collectively and each Jewish person individually) being responsible for the decadence of modern culture.

An interesting observation. I wish those on the Left who are constantly throwing around the terms "fascist and "Nazi" -- or invoking the name of Hitler -- anytime the oppose a policy or politician would consider this definition. Generally speaking, it doesn't fit, the rantings of and other left-leaning groups notwithstanding.

Anyone who reads widely in the collected works of professor Churchill, and especially anyone who listens to his speeches, will, if they are not blinded by certain ideological commitments, recognize the essentially fascist tendency of his work. If a white American were to speak of any foreign people or nation in anything like the way Churchill discusses America and Americans, the fascist character of his work would be obvious to everyone.

This point is only underlined by the behavior of Churchill's supporters, who, while not actually wearing brown shirts, did a quite convincing impersonation of fascist thugs at Thursday's meeting of the University of Colorado Regents.

All this was merely par for the course for Churchill, who believes that a Columbus Day parade is an incitement to genocide, and therefore something that he and his followers have a legal right to disrupt.

And, of course, there we have the double standard. Churchill's spewing of hatred is considered as acceptable due to his position on the left-wing of the political spectrum, especially since he claims (falsely) that he is a Native American, and therefore a member of one of the special classes of people protected under the guise of "diversity." Opposition is not permitted, and so we are often treated to the spectacle of progressive pogroms against those who dare to differ with their agenda.

But while the question of whether a brilliant scholar with a fascist streak ought to be considered for a place on a university faculty retains at least some academic interest, it has nothing to do with Churchill, whose writings and speeches feature an incoherent farrago of boundless paranoia, wildly implausible theories, obscene celebrations of murder, and atrocious prose.

The question of whether a serious research university ought to hire someone like Churchill is laughable on its face. What's not so funny is the question of exactly how someone like him got hired in the first place, and then tenured and named the head of a department.

That, in the end, is a more important question than what will or ought to happen to Churchill now. Churchill is a pathetic buffoon, but the University of Colorado is far from alone in having allowed itself to toss intellectual integrity and human decency overboard in the pursuit of worthy goals.

Yeah, it is the moe important question. And the answer is that the academicians of the liberal left have been allowed to dominate the academy for too long. In recent weeks, months, and years, we have heard about the dominance of the liberal left on faculties throughout the country. Such a lop-sidedness has seen the spread of ideas that are celebrated as "cutting edge" but never critically examined, because to do so would be "racistsexisthomophobicandelitist", a charge that will kill an academic career. Churchill was clearly a beneficiary of this trend, and that it has taken decades to recognize the problem and begin to confront it is the surest sign of the decline of higher education in the West.

Speaking truth to power, giving a voice to those who have been silenced, pursuing controversial and unpopular ideas in an intellectually rigorous way - these are all things that the university in general, and this university in particular, has done and continues to do.

That through whatever combination of negligence, cowardice and complicity we have allowed Ward Churchill to besmirch those ideals by invoking them in the defense of his contemptible rantings is now our burden and our shame.

And I agree with Campos here. Colleges and universities should be a place where new, controversial and unpopular ideas can be espoused. But it should also be a place where old ideas have a place of honor, where they meet and interact to truly push back the darkness of ignorance and expand the horizons of mankind. But instead we have seen the college classroom become a place where contempt for our own culture is taught, and where critical thinking has been replaced by propaganda and indoctrination.

Can the academy save itself? I don't know. It may be that the negligence, cowardice, and complicity noted by Campos have allowed the rot to spread too far. It may be that outside forces -- legislators, donors, practitioners -- will have to act to reconstruct the our institutions of higher education. And it may be that the absolutist understanding of academic freedom might be jetisonned in the process, and with it extremists like Ward Churchill.


Hmmm... An Interesting Contrast

I mentioned the case of Professor Hans Hoppe at UNLV in a post yesterday. Here's a situation in which a liberal professor gave offense and not only was not punished, but even filed a counterclaim against the student who complained.

Shane Calchera, a student and military veteran, accused associate history professor David Stowell of harassment, saying the antiwar and anti-Bush administration statements on his office door created a learning environment that is hostile to veterans.

The college cleared Stowell of the charge -- a charge he did not learn of until receiving a letter stating he had been exonerated -- but the professor said that the investigation itself was an attack on his free-speech rights.

He filed a complaint Wednesday with the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I was investigated because of my political views because someone objected to them, and that's frightening," Stowell said. "Everyone on campus should be concerned."

Now of course, the statements on his door were typical liberal slogans often seen on the bumpers of Subaru Socialists and Caviar Communists who are in denial that the 1960s are over. And I even agree with the professor -- we should be concerned when a university is inversitgating and sanctioning political or social views. But here is an interesting twist.

Calchera said he took a picture of Stowell's office door late last year, planning to show it to various veterans groups and cite it as evidence that Stowell violated the college's harassment policy.

Calchera said the two talked, and he later tacked a notice about the policy on Stowell's door.

Then Stowell filed a harassment claim, which was later dismissed, though Calchera was ordered not to contact Stowell again, Calchera and Stowell said.

Interesting, isn't it, that the professor engaged in retaliation against the conservative student who filed the complaint -- and that the student was then ordered to stay away from the professor despite the fact that the complaint was dismissed. I guess that freedom of speech only goes one way when you are a liberal. But could you imagine the uproar if Professor Hoppe at UNLV had filed a complaint against his accuser? He would no doubt be facing termination.


Will This Be Investigated?

The FBI investigated sermons at a Christian church. When will they begin the formal inquiriies into these mosques? Yeah, I know -- never.

The libraries of a number of American mosques feature Arabic-language writings published by the Saudi government or top clerics in the desert kingdom that virulently denounce Muslims from different traditions as well as Christians and Jews, and say devout Muslims should think of America as enemy territory, a new study said.

Freedom House, a conservative-leaning human rights organization based in New York, said in its report released last week that the books and publications in question say, among other things, that Muslims who employ a non-Muslim maid or cook "have to hate her for Allah's sake."

The publications espouse the hard-line fundamentalist views of the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia.

The Wahhabi publications "remain widely available in America, in some cases dominate mosque library shelves, and continue to be used to educate American Muslims," said the report by Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom. Freedom House was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941, and its current chairman is former CIA director R. James Woolsey.

The 57 publications discussed in the report "state it is a religious obligation to hate Christians and Jews, and warn against imitating, befriending or helping such 'infidels' in any way," the study said. "They instill contempt for America" as well as "a Nazi-like hatred for Jews."

To read the entire report, click here.

For the press release summarizing the report, click here.

For the main website for Freedom House, click here.

UPDATE: Jeff Jacoby comments on the report, and what those Muslims who reject Wahhabi extremism need to do in response to it.


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