Precinct 333

Saturday, February 26, 2005

One Who Gets It

The Terri Schiavo case is one of those that no one would want to have to deal with. End of life decisions are inherrantly difficult, and in this case the individual who claims the right to make the decision on behalf of his stricken wife is the individual who has nothing to lose and everything to gain, while those who seek to keep her alive have nothing to gain but will lose the thing they hold most precious. John Grogan of the Philadelphia Inquirer has a great coulumn in which he explains why he has shifted from supporting Michael Schiavo to supporting Terri's parents.

That's not to say I have changed my opinion about the right of all of us to die with dignity when life has lost all meaning. But for Terri Schiavo, who lingers in a Florida nursing home, the devil is in the details, uncomfortable details that raise sticky moral dilemmas.

Detail 1: Terry Schiavo is not dying. She is not being kept alive artificially. Her heart beats and lungs breathe without help. She cannot swallow food or water. Once the feeding tube is removed, she would slowly starve to death over days or weeks.

Detail 2: Schiavo is not comatose. Her eyes open, and she sometimes responds to stimuli. Doctors say there is no brain activity and her responses are simply reflexive. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, want to believe otherwise.

Detail 3: The Schindlers think their daughter could benefit from physical therapy and might someday swallow on her own, but her husband, as her legal guardian, reportedly will not allow it. Which leads to an equally uncomfortable question: If Schiavo merely required spoon feeding instead of tube feeding, would anyone seriously be arguing to withhold food and water? Does not every human, no matter how incapacitated, deserve sustenance?

Detail 4: Unproven allegations that Schiavo might have suffered physical trauma immediately before her heart stopped for several minutes in 1990, leading to brain damage, have not been fully investigated. The Schindlers have long suggested their son-in-law strangled their daughter; Michael Schiavo's lawyer says the abuse allegations have never been substantiated. Before pulling the plug on this woman, don't these questions need to be fully answered?

The abuse allegations against Michael Schiavo may be nothing but scurrilous rumor spread to damage his credibility. But what if there is even a tiny chance he is guilty of abuse? Should such a person be in a position to decide this life-and-death issue?

Michael Schiavo won a huge judgement in court that was meant to care for her for the rest of her life. He promised to do so. During the trial he claimed that his wife needed therapy, and that the money would enable her to recieve it. Terri never got a day of the promised therapy, and Michael quickly sought to cut off sustenance (not treatment, but food and water) based upon Terri's supposed wish to be allowed to die. Strangely enough, Michael didn't disclose that when he was seeking a court award to do exatly the opposite.

Ultimately, the question is one of what is best for Terri. Either she should be allowed to live on to the end of her natural life, or she should be hastened to death via starvation and dehydration. If someone did such a thing to an animal, they would be branded a monster. When such things were done to Jews during WWII, the perpetrators were convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. How, then, can there be any doubt about the morally and legally correct decision.


Rally To Save Enterprise

I mean, the show has finally gotten good.

Star Trek" fans from around the world gathered at the gates of Paramount Studios in Hollywood Friday to protest the impending cancellation of the television series "Star Trek: Enterprise."

Carrying signs reading "It's Not Just a Show, It's a Responsibility" and "18 Years of Loyalty & This Is the Thanks I Get?," more than 100 people massed at the gates of the studio where "Enterprise" is produced to show support for a franchise that has perhaps the most loyal fan base in the world.

None wore costumes, however, in a departure from many gatherings of "Trekkies."

The UPN network, which like Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc., said earlier this month it would end "Enterprise" in May after its fourth season. But the fans are not letting it go quietly.

I just wish that there was some possibility of SciFi picking it up.


She's Got Legs

And she knows how to use them!

I've got to agree with this analysis of Condi's outfit.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."

As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.

Smart AND Sexy.

Just one more reason to back Condi in '08.


Why The Left Is Doomed

Cinnamon Stillwell, a charming writer from the San Francisco Bay Area, writes a column that explains how 9/11 transformed her from a Nader voter in 2000 to a Bush backer in 2004. The things she has experienced since her conversion show why the Left is unfit for power in this country. Her observations show why the president was reelected in November.

But more than anything, it was the left's hypocrisy when it came to the war on terrorism that made me turn rightward after 9/11. I remember, back in my liberal days, being fiercely opposed to the Taliban and its brutal treatment of women. Even then, I felt that Afghanistan should immediately be liberated, as Malcolm X once said in another context, by any means necessary. But when it came time, it turned out that the left was mostly opposed to such liberation, whether of the Afghan people or of the Iraqis (especially if America and a Republican president were at the helm).

Indeed, liberals had become strangely conservative in their fierce attachment to the status quo. In contrast, the much-maligned neoconservatives (among whose ranks I count myself) and Bush had become the "radicals," bringing freedom and democracy to the despotic Middle East. Is it any wonder that in such a topsy-turvy world, I found myself in agreement with those I'd formerly denounced?

Is it any wonder that we may see a long period of Republican dominance in Washington?


An Excellent Question

"Where have all the peaceniks gone?"

I've been wondering the answer myself. I mean, none of the "human shields" who went to Iraq to protect Saddam Hussein the Iraqi people from the US military have turned out to protect them from the terrorists insurgents who kill them daily.

Where are all the American and European anti-war activists? Here they are with the opportunity of a lifetime to make a meaningful contribution toward a more peaceful world, and all we hear from them is either a deafening silence or else the usual nonsense about the Bush administration being a gang of imperialist, oil-grabbing war criminals.

Why are these protesters, who are so readily energized when it comes to condemning President Bush and the United States, so silent about the vicious anti-democratic forces that are now committing assassinations, beheadings, kidnappings and murders by the hundreds in Iraq?

Surely the Christian- and Jew-hating terrorists who are committing such heinous acts would be completely demoralized if they were to witness millions of people around the world demonstrating against them. Surely such massive international protests would strike a powerful blow for peace.

But the silence of the anti-war groups is broken only by their wild conspiracy theories and their timeworn objections to the war in Iraq. A lot of good that does. The only beneficiaries of that misdirected behavior are the terrorist insurgents, whose only remaining hope is to create enough death and mayhem to weaken the resolve of the coalition member states to stand side by side with the courageous people of Iraq.

Maybe George W. Bush had it right when he said that people must either stand with the forces of freedom or the perpetrators of terrorism. Does their silence indicate which side the "anti-war" folks have chosen?


Glad To Hear It

I'm certainly glad to hear that this lowlife is going to be out of circulation for a while. He's a disgrace to the race, and brings discredit upon the movement he thought he was helping.

The leader of a Ku Klux Klan splinter group who urged "planting bombs to cause maximum damage" was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison in the nation's first federal conviction under a new anti-terror law.

David Wayne Hull, 42, of Amwell, Washington County, taught another man how to use a pipe bomb at a November 2002 white supremacist gathering on Hull's property. He also gave bomb parts to the other man, a government informant who posed as a violent anti-abortion activist.

The 2002 anti-terror statute bans instructing others how to use pipe bombs or other dangerous weapons in furtherance of a crime. It carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Now, when will this law be applied against supporters of the Islamist cause?


Mexico Objects To Americans Defending The Nation's Borders

When will the powers that be in the Third World cesspool to our south recognize that Americans are tired of the steady invasion of our country by its citizens?

EL UNIVERSAL learned on Friday that the Mexican government sent a diplomatic note to the United States earlier this month expressing concern over vigilante activities of anti-immigrant groups on the ArizonaSonora border.

Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) official Gerónimo Gutiérrez said it was "very probable" that these groups are violating the rights of undocumented migrants. The note urged the United States to ensure that vigilante groups do not break the law when dealing with Mexican migrants, he added.

According to Gutiérrez, the SRE has singled out a group dubbing itself the Minuteman project. Around 500 volunteers have joined the movement, which plans to patrol a 40-mile stretch of the border in April when migrants cross in peak numbers.

Sorry, American policy towards these folks needs to be "turn back or eat lead." Illegals have no rights that merit respect until they return to the Mexican side of the border.


No-Class Coach Suspended

A month ago I wrote about John Chaney's no-class attack on president Bush during a dinner intended to honor Chaney for his coaching career. Now Chaney is suspended after inserting a "goon" (Chaney's word, not mine) into a game to harm opposing players.

John Chaney's use of a "goon" might have ended a player's season, and the Hall of Fame coach's career could be the next casualty.

Chaney was suspended for the rest of the regular season by Temple on Friday for ordering rough play by one of his players, Nehemiah Ingram, who fouled out in four minutes against Saint Joseph's after breaking an opponent's arm.

Saint Joseph's forward John Bryant, a senior and sixth man for the Hawks, will likely miss the rest of the season.

The Hall of Fame coach had suspended himself for one game Wednesday and apologized.

Chaney will miss Temple's home game against Massachusetts today and road games against Rhode Island and La Salle, before returning for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

"I think my behavior is reprehensible and, as I've said a thousand times, I take responsibility," Chaney said. "If it's the judgment of the school to suspend me, I can accept the responsibility of my actions."

Gee, John, That wasn't what you said when you threatened BEFORE THE ST. JOHN'S GAME to send in your hitman to punish St. Johns if the officials didn't make the sort of calls you thought they should.

He warned before the game he might send some of his "goons" into the game if referees didn't whistle St. Joe's for illegal screens.

He did it, too.

And you certainly didn't do anything to help control the situation after an opposing player was seriously injured. If you were a responsible educator (hell, if you were a decent human being), you would have stepped forward to control your own fans. But having incited them before the game by promising dirty play, and having carried out that threat (ending a kid's senior season in the process), you could have at least had the decency to step forward and call your fans into line when they displayed some of the worst sportsmanship in recent years.

Saint Joseph's senior forward John Bryant suffered a broken arm after a hard foul by one of Chaney's goons. There also were elbows and punches thrown, hard screens attacked and the like.

Temple fans followed their coach's behavior by spitting on Bryant as he lay on the floor. At that point, the night easily could have escalated into something far worse.

No, you apparently thought that was great. No, scratch that -- you reveled in what happened. Why else would you make the following statement to the press after the game?

Chaney made the matter worse after the game by announcing: "I'm a mean, ornery SOB."

All your "sincere" expressions of regret are nothing more than a pile of steaming bull crap. Your apologies and "acceptance of responsibility" have all the sincerity of words of regret from a Klan leader after inciting a lynch mob or a Mafia don whose been charged with arranging a contract killing. Because that's what you did -- you set up a lynching on the court, you set up for a hit. And you proved that my impression of you a month ago was quite accurate. You have no class, and are an unfit role-model for your players.

Temple administrators shouldn't have suspended Chaney for three games -- they should have fired him on the spot. That they didn't shows they run a no-class program.


Friday, February 25, 2005

Today's Theme Song -- Courtesy Of The Beatles

Birthday -- (Lennon/McCartney)

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too--yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.

Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party.

I would like you to dance--Birthday
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance-Birthday
I would like you to dance--Birthday

You say it's your birthday
Well it's my birthday too--yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Liberal Hypocrite

Well, I bet this little piece of college scum demands the protection of the First Amendment when he writes. Too bad he doesn't respect the First Amendment rights of those whose vehicles he vandalizes.

That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.

So folks around the University of Massachusetts -- this little puddle of dog vomit, Thomas Naughton, will certainly understand and be supportive if you steal and burn all copies of the Daily Collegian that his column appears in. After all, its just an act of free expression against the senseless column written by this senseless columnist. Not, of course, that I advocate such criminal activity, but hey, on what basis could he object? He's already indicated his support for lawless censorship of viewpoints with which one disagrees, and acted upon that belief.

Hey, Naughton, you broke the social contract. In a truly just world, you would have surrendered your rights.

Contact the Collegian.


Theft Of Sperm?

We always hear the tired old -- and misleading -- cliche about "a woman's right to choose" when dealing with anti-life advocates of abortion. The right of a man to choose is not given any consideration under the law, even if the woman has deceived him, placing him completely at the mercy of someone else's choice. Well, this case might be useful in establishing some rights for a man, though the circumstances are pretty outrageous.

A south suburban doctor accused of secretly stealing her illicit lover's sperm to inseminate herself can be held liable for inflicting emotional damage on the unwitting father of her child, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court reinstated part of a lawsuit brought by Chicago physician Richard Phillips against fellow doctor Sharon Irons of Olympia Fields. The lawsuit accused Irons of perpetrating a "calculated, profound personal betrayal" of Phillips after a brief tryst they had six years ago.

When Irons and Phillips started dating in early 1999, Irons claimed she was recently divorced, according to court papers. The pair quickly got engaged and even talked about having children — but both agreed they would marry first.

The pair allegedly never had sexual intercourse during the four-month affair, but did engage in oral sex three times. The lawsuit claimed that after one of those encounters, Irons kept some of Phillips' semen without his knowledge and later used it to impregnate herself.

Soon afterward, the relationship ended when Phillips found out that Irons was still married to her husband, who is also a doctor, according to the appellate ruling. But nearly two years later, Phillips was slapped with a paternity lawsuit, alleging he was responsible for the child Irons delivered after their "sexual relationship" nine months earlier. Court records show DNA tests have since proved Phillips is indeed the father.

Well, it seems very clear that the woman in question is a lying, conniving witch. She deceived him about her availability, and then she acted in a manner designed to circumvent his clear intent of not impregnating her by avoiding sexual intercourse. Her actions are patently abusive, and we wn't even get into the breach of ethics involved.

The judges did toss out a pretty interesting argument that Irons "stole" the sperm she used to impregnate herself. I love the way this is put in the decision.

They also rejected an attempt to sue Irons for stealing the sperm, concluding that her lawyers correctly noted in court filings that Phillips had never asked for it back.

"She asserts that when plaintiff 'delivered' his sperm, it was a gift — an absolute and irrevocable transfer of title to property from a donor to a donee," the decision stated. "There was no agreement that the original deposit would be returned upon request."

Wouldn't you have loved to be in chambers as the judge -- or some poor law clerk -- was trying to come up with a formulation that had even an ounce of dignity to it? I can only imagine the jokes that went with that drafting process.

But this case also brings up interesting questions, ones that I believe merit some consideration. What parental responsibilities does Phillips have in this case, and what parental rights? If Phillips is indeed a victim here, does he have any obligation to support the child? If he does, has his "right to choose" been violated by what the opinion refers to as "outrageous" conduct on the Irons' part? Does he have standing to seek and gain custody based upon maternal unfitness, given the nature of her actions (which I would argue is akin to rape)? Or does Irons' "right to choose" allow her to saddle an unwilling father with all the responsibilities he actively sought to avoid, despite her having been judicially determined to have "deceitfully engaged in sexual acts, which no reasonable person would expect could result in pregnancy, to use plaintiff's sperm in an unorthodox, unanticipated manner yielding extreme consequences."

UPDATE: I found an additional article on the case. It appears that the courts in Illinois saddled Phillips with $800 a month in child support. That is outrageous and disgusting. Apparently there is no action by a woman that is so outrageous as to prevent her from imposing the legal burdens of fatherhood upon him.


Black-White Adoptions

Several years ago, before my wife became ill, we sought to adopt children through Texas Child Protective Services. We attended the first meeting on a Saturday morning, and at the first break stopped to speak with one of the social workers about the process. She looked at us and told us that we had already been “selected out of the process.” Upon further inquiry, it was explained the state gets so few white newborns in its foster/adopt system that we were being excluded from consideration because “that’s all folks like you always want.”

We were floored. We both taught at large, multi-racial high schools. We were looking to adopt a sibling group (two or more related children) of any race or ethnic group, and we were even willing to consider children with special needs. When we told her this, we were informed that we really weren’t suitable for such an adoption. Before we had even turned in our information sheet, we were ruled out of consideration. Calls to the local supervisor and the agency headquarters in Austin brought only denials that this was agency policy and implicit accusations that we were liars. The final blow was the “suggestion” that we might want to consider some other avenue for pursuing adoption if we were “uncomfortable” with the social workers in the Houston office.

That’s why Larry Elder’s current column resonates with me so.

For decades, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) and others called transracial adoptions "cultural genocide." In 1992, the NABSW issued a paper condemning "transracial" black-white adoptions between Americans, warning against "transculturation . . . when one dominant culture overpowers and forces another culture to accept a foreign form of existence," and stated that "children need to be with those who are most familiar with their culture, heritage and family system." I attempted to determine whether NABSW still maintains its official status against "transracial adoptions," but as of final editing of this article, no one from the organization returned a phone call or e-mail.

Responding to the opposition of organizations like the NABSW, adoption agencies pulled back. After all, who could understand the dramatically different "culture" of blacks better than black social workers?

Finally, in 1994 -- concerned about the alarming number of black children waiting for adoption -- Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act, which prohibits delay or denial of any adoption due to the race, color or national origin of the child or adoptive parents. Still, after the Act, the number of transracial adoptions failed to significantly increase. Why? According to the National Adoption Center, government still allows agencies to use variables to calculate "the best interest of the child." For instance, take a 9-year-old black child who has never lived with a white family. An adoption agency could argue that it's not in the "best interest of the child" to be adopted by a white family -- even when a white family wants the child!

Even now, when adoption seems out of the question for us, I still agonize over that door being slammed in our faces. Not because I feel unfulfilled because I don’t have children – I’ve got 160 of them in my classes, and countless others who I interact with and try to love in the hallways and cafeteria at my school. But I wonder if there are children out there – maybe black, maybe Hispanic, maybe Asian, maybe white – who could be, should be, in our home rather than foster care.

And I wonder how many others have been denied a home based upon the racist policy suggestions propagated by racialist organization of the NABSW.


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Free Mojtaba and Arash Day

Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both in prison in Iran.

Their crime? Blogging.

Speak out.

Demand their freedom.

And the freedom of all Iranians to exercise fundamental human rights to freedom of speech, press, and religion.

For details, visit The Committee To Protect Bloggers.


Censored – But Why?

A group of students, formerly members of an eighth-grade gifted class, will finally get their day in court. The issue is the heavy hand of censorship. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why it came to this.

Now high schoolers, the 27 students haven't backed down. They're suing for damages and asking the school to expunge records of any disciplinary action against them for the 2003 episode.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve gave their case steam by certifying the students as a different kind of class -- the kind that can legally seek damages by attaining class action status.

The Chicago Board of Education had asked for students to submit to depositions before the class status was determined, but when St. Eve denied the motion, board attorneys said they would no longer oppose class certification. St. Eve quickly asked if the two sides could settle now that the students have the status, their attorney Irene Dymkar said.

The issue centers on a 2003 vote for a class shirt at the school, 5025 N. Laramie. Students believed one concept won: The name "Gifties" written on the back and a caricature of a boy walking a dog on the front. But school administrators didn't like the design and kept the election results secret, telling students to take another vote, according to the federal complaint.

The students, who were in the gifted program, challenged the election and asked the school to disclose the results. Students and parents said they didn't get anywhere, so students decided to wear the "Gifties" design they believed won.

Though students were asked not to wear the design to school, they wore the shirts anyway in protest.

"That's when the principal told them they'd be suspended for five to seven days," violating the students' First Amendment right to free speech, Dymkar said.
However, none of the students was suspended.

Now it seems to me that this is a clear case of overreaction. I can see no way in which the shirt design could be deemed offensive. The parents involved were supportive of the design, and supported the students in their actions against what appears to be an arbitrary and unreasonable abuse of discretion. And the administration freaked out. They went off on a group of CHILDREN!

Look at the actions taken against them.

Dymkar said Principal Chris N. Kotis did try to punish them. The students say Kotis confined them to their classrooms and denied them access to different parts of the school. Administrators wouldn't allow them to use the bathroom unless they removed the shirts, according to the students.

At one point, they were forced to write an essay describing whether they felt worthy of using the computer lab, the lawsuit says. Later, the school allegedly threatened disciplinary action against any student who signed a petition supporting the T-shirt.

Denial of bathroom privileges over the design on a shirt? That gets into a question of health and hygiene. And determining whether or not they are “worthy” of using academic resources paid for by taxpayer dollars? Perhaps they should have gone the next step and denied them use of textbooks and the pencil sharpener.

And then there is the big screw-up – the threat to punish kids for signing a petition. Unless it was being circulated in class and causing a serious disruption, that is simply out of line. Remember, Tinker v. Des Moines enunciated a clear principle – students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse gate. The right to petition government officials and employees for the redress of grievances is fundamental to our system of government, and yet these folks sought to punish peaceful and civil activities that should have been encouraged by an institution intended to educate citizens in a free society. That is unacceptable, as anyone who has taken a course in education law in the last three decades would know.

Of even greater concern is that the school has denied parents access to student records. Given that the school was keeping a list of “troublemakers” who wore the shirt and was engaging in abusive practices to coerce conformity, it is reasonable for parents to want to see what has been entered in the multitude of files the school keeps on their children. More to the point, it is their right under state and federal law to see such records. So this isn’t just a dress code issue blown out of proportion – it is an assertion of the rights of parents to oversee the education of their children, and to dispute inaccurate or prejudicial information in their records.

As you can see, what started as a relatively trivial matter has become a situation of very serious concern – because a school administrator didn’t like having his authority challenged. I hope he pays personally and professionally, and that the district that enabled him to do so does as well.

And I still don’t get what the big deal was over the design.


Why Is This Case Still Continuing?

Two high school cheerleaders have a couple of drinks before the game. Their peers object, and insist that they won’t compromise their safety or the squad by performing with drunk classmates. The girls are suspended from school and tossed from the team. Seems pretty straightforward to me. Why is it still in litigation, three years later?

What began as an accusation of cheerleaders drinking vodka before a Wentzville Holt High School football game has ended up costing taxpayers more than $400,000, and the legal tab is expected to go higher.

The Missouri United School Insurance Council has had to pay $371,697 in legal fees and $53,899 in costs defending the suit. And despite a federal court's rejection of the cheerleaders' claims, the legal wrangling may be far from finished. A lawsuit filed on behalf of former cheerleaders Lauren Schwaigert and Rachel Jennings and two other girls remains unresolved in state courts.

The tab is approaching a half-million dollars for the school district? Why has the judge let this case go on?

The saga began with a football game on Aug. 30, 2002. According to court documents, Rachel Jennings and Lauren Schwaigert, then 17 and 16 respectively, drank vodka at a friend's house before performing as cheerleaders at the game. A third cheerleader also was said to have been drinking.

Later that night, some members of the cheerleading squad told Diane Moran, the squad's coach, that they were quitting because they couldn't cheer with the girls who had been drinking. Moran brought the squad together for a meeting that lasted until about 2:30 in the morning.

Elizabeth Jennings and Nadine Schwaigert filed suit in federal court in September 2002 on behalf of their daughters. They said the girls were kept at the meeting against their will and berated by other members of the team. They sought $500,000 each in damages.

Meanwhile, the district completed an investigation into the drinking rumors and suspended the girls for 10 days under the student code of conduct.

Moran was removed from her cheerleading duties because of the late-night meeting, but she continued to teach.

The federal court ruled against the girls and their parents last year, and an appellate court upheld that decision last week. The girls and their families were ordered to pay $13,854 in court costs.

Now hold on here. They’ve lost in the district court and on appeal, and they only had to cough up a hair less than $14,000? Why were they not stuck with at least the entire court costs, even if the district and its insurance company couldn’t recover legal fees? I mean, if this wasn’t a frivolous lawsuit, I don’t know what would qualify.

Now they have filed ANOTHER lawsuit over the same incident.

But the case is not over. The two girls were joined by Allyson Justmann, a third cheerleader accused of drinking, and her mother in a suit filed in March in St. Charles County Circuit Court. The Justmanns could not be reached for comment. Lauren Schwaigert's sister Sarah also joined the suit, saying she was subjected to hostile treatment.

In the state court suit, the girls are seeking $100,000 to $500,000 on each of several counts. That case is unresolved.

Sorry, folks, but this matter has already been adjudicated in favor of the district. Res judicata. Hopefully the state judge has heard of that legal concept.

Yeah, sometimes schools mess up, and need to be nailed for their mistakes. But in this case the school really did nothing wrong – and the only school employee who could conceivabley be accused of acting wrongly was the cheerleading sponsor, who was disciplined (for the record, I don’t think she was necessarily that far out of line). Where is the harm to the girls? Where are the damages? I just don’t see them.


Dear Abby Blogging

I never thought I would blog on a Dear Abby column, but this letter and response leaped out at me.

Dear Abby:

My husband and I have been married for 55 years. We come from a generation where living together and having children before marriage was unthinkable.
Our 21-year-old granddaughter, "Stella," and her boyfriend moved in together two years ago, in what they called a "trial marriage." Last month, Stella gave birth to a baby girl and sent my husband and me a birth announcement.

We mailed it back with a note telling Stella we are ashamed of their conduct and lack of morals. We also told them there's nothing to celebrate about this birth of an out-of-wedlock child.

Four days later, my daughter (Stella's mother) phoned us in a rage. She said things are different nowadays and we have no right to impose our "outdated moral values" on their daughter and her boyfriend. My daughter insists we owe them an apology. She says we are out of line. Your opinion, please.

in Arizona

Dear Standing:

Although you come from a generation that believes it is best for a child to be born into an established family, it's time to face the fact that a number of younger people feel differently today.

Your moral values are not outdated, but you do owe the couple an apology for lashing out in anger. It was cruel to have returned the birth announcement and told your granddaughter that the birth was nothing to celebrate. Simply not responding at all would have signaled your disapproval.

Now hold on. What, exactly do the grandparents owe an apology for? I don’t see anger here – I see an honest statement of the moral beliefs of the grandparents. I see an expression of disapproval. Maybe it could have been couched in different terms, but I don’t see where grandma and grandpa should be expected to stay silent about their beliefs because others (by their lights) have low or no morals. And I also don’t see where failure to give a gift communicates the message of disapproval that grandma and grandpa wanted to communicate. The thing I see wrong with the manner in which they communicate their message is that it closes doors and does nothing to encourage the granddaughter and the baby’s father to do what the grandparents view as “the right thing.”

Given that my wife and I have not been blessed with children and have been unable to adopt, I would partially disagree with the grandparents. Even if a child isn’t born into a traditional married two heterosexual parent home, the birth of a child is always something to be celebrated. The miracle of new life deserves nothing less. But as a teacher who has seen too many baby showers in the cafeteria and too many excited tenth-grade parents-to-be, I have to agree that we need to stop accepting out of wedlock birth as simply one option among many that are equally acceptable.

Oh, yeah, and about mom complaining that the grandparents “have no right to impose our ‘outdated moral values,’” how does an expression of disapproval do that? Isn’t her demand that the grandparents apologize an impositon of moral values, in and of itself? Is it not an equally “incorrect” insistance that only one set of values is correct? Doesn’t she seek to require that they adhere to beliefs that are not their own? The answer to all of the above questions is “yes,” and that points up the very hypocrisy of those who complain that others are seeking to “impose their morality” -- it isn’t the imposition that they are objecting to, it is the morality itself that they find objectionable.

Frankly, I think everyone in this situation blew it. Granddaughter and her shack-up boyfriend shouldn’t be having kids while they are still playing house. Mom shouldn’t be demanding that her parents adhere to and abide by beliefs that are antithetical to their own. Grandma and grandpa should have found a constructive way of voicing their disapproval, one which did not burn the bridges with a couple who need support and encouragement to do what is best for their new child or deprive the child of the love and nurturing it deserves. And Abby was wrong in her assessment of the situation -- at least how the grandparents should have responded.


Prayers For Falwell

I’m not always a big fan of Rev. Jerry Falwell, but I’m sorry to hear he is in the hospital.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell has checked into a Virginia hospital for treatment of a viral infection.

The 71-year-old Falwell was taken Sunday to Lynchburg General Hospital after falling ill at a church service. He had battled a severe cold last week and saw a doctor Friday.

The television evangelist and chancellor of Liberty University says doctors plan to keep him at the hospital for a few days until his lungs clear.

Falwell says, "It's not considered dangerous. It is just troublesome."

Here’s hoping for a speedy and complete recovery.


Taste’s Like Chicken?

As a frequent consumer of high school cafeteria food, I find this story to be particularly troubling.

District school officials canceled today's classes at Eaton Elementary School in Cleveland Park to give cleaning crews time to disinfect the building after hundreds of cats were sterilized and vaccinated in the cafeteria over the weekend.

School Principal Willie McElroy had assured parents on Sunday that the school would be open today. But the unexpectedly large number of cats that were treated and public outcry over the clinic delayed the work on the building, he said.

Parents protested the clinic and wondered how the city could allow the sterilizations in a school cafeteria.

"It probably was not the best place to carry out that service in hindsight," said Jim Collier, chief of the city Health Department's bureau of environmental quality.
More than 500 cats were treated during the two-day clinic, said Robin Buckley, a consultant for Alley Cat Allies, one of the sponsors of the event, along with the city Health Department and the Washington Animal Rescue League.

I’m all for spaying and neutering pets, but I would have to agree that a school cafeteria is NOT the place for such an event. There are questions of sanitation, allergies, and public reaction to the event.

Not to mention concerns about what is in the “mystery meat.”


She’s A Ho!

Cher has come out and expressed her opinion of Britney and J. Lo.

"I'm not going to give up show business but I'm going to give up touring because, you know, there are all of these young girls coming out like Britney [Spears] and J.Lo." The crowd booed at the names and, according to New Zealand wire reports, Cher smirked: "I know — they are ho's, aren't they?"

Even though I don’t usually find myself in agreement with Cher on anything…


Carnival of Education -- Week 3

If you have an article from your site that you would like to see included, (or a post from a different site) please contact The Education Wonks at They should receive entries by 10:00 PM (Pacific) this Tuesday. The Carnival opens Wednesday morning. All that is needed is:

* Name of site
* Title of post
* Permalink URL

Please put "Carnival Of Education" in the subject line. And of course, any assistance that you can give publicizing The Carnival is very much appreciated.


Monday, February 21, 2005

I Want One For My Birthday!

And by the way, folks, it is this Friday. (Hint! Hint!)

A toy manufacturer has found inspiration in Condoleezza Rice, creating an action figure of the newly appointed US Secretary of State.

She has been dubbed the most powerful woman in the world and Ms Rice is boldly following in the footsteps of action heroes He-Man and She-Ra.

Dressed in a navy blue trouser suit and powder blue blouse, the figure is complete with a faux pearl necklace. announced the doll would be on sale in the US from today, priced £13 (24.95 dollars).

Any doubt that I'm a Condi fan?

Rice in 08!


Where Was The Teacher?

This situation is utterly shameful.

Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.

That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.

"It's hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don't need to be getting letters like this," Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey.

"If they don't have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all."

One Muslim boy wrote: "Even thoe [sic] you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?"

His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: "I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques."

Most of the 21 letters Jacobs provided to The Post mentioned some support for the armed forces, if not the Iraq war, and thanked him for his service. But nine of the students made clear their distaste for the president or the war.

The letters were written as a social-studies assignment.

These were mailed as part of a class assignment. Where was the teacher’s professional discretion regarding which letters should be sent?


Editor Of Formerly Relevant Newspaper Blasts Bloggers

Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, doesn’t seem to think much of bloggers.

Keller also sees “blogging,” or online writing that blurs news and commentary, as a mixed blessing. While he celebrated the blogger’s ability to uncover breaking news, he noted that a blog’s inherent bias might be detrimental to the reader. “A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole,” he said, noting that it can sometimes fall as low as being a “one man circle jerk.”

Given the recent scandals at the former “paper of record,” I think he might consider his words carefully. After all, we certainly couldn’t do any worse that the folks who supervised Jayson Blair.

But I'm curious if he considers the inherent bias of the Times beneficial to the reader, or does he consider it equally detrimental?

And we won't comment on the type of "hole" through which the folks at the Times view the world, or how far up it their heads are.


Nazis To Defile Yorktown Site

And sadly, the First Amendment requires that we allow it.

The National Socialist Movement plans to hold a rally June 25 at the Yorktown Battlefield, Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said on Feb. 18.

"Because this is a First Amendment issue, it cannot be turned down," Litterst said.

Here’s hoping that enough patriots are able to attend to make it clear that their fascist viewpoint has no legitimate place in America.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Ward Churchill Watch -- The Road To Tenure

More evidence has been uncovered as to how Ward Churchill was granted tenure at Colorado. College of Arts and Sciences Dean Charles Middleton had been unable to pressure either the political science or sociology departments into granting Churchill tenure, so he turned to the Department of Communications, apparently placing pressure on the faculty member in line to be the next department chair.

In a memo to the communication faculty, Michael Pacanowsky, who was in line to become chairman, said Churchill needed to join a department, since the program that sponsored his Native American Studies courses did not have the authority to grant tenure.

"Ward's file was circulated to sociology and political science, and they did not agree to roster him in their departments," Pacanowsky wrote in an e-mail dated Jan. 10, 1991. "Because Ward's graduate degree, an MA, was in communications, we were contacted next."

Pacanowsky goes on to say that Churchill's work was not "mainstream in our discipline," but by appointing Churchill, the department would be "making our own contribution to increasing the cultural diversity on campus (Ward is a native American)."

In other words, the reason for the granting of tenure wasn't scholarship, wasn't fitness, it was ethnic. The university didn't want to lose their pet Native American to another school, so they had to dupe some department into taking him. And it is now clear that the ethnicity claim was a fraud. And it appears that pressure was exerted (who knows, maybe a threat to veto the newly selected department chair) to put Churchill on the faculty.

It seems clear that folks were uncomfortable with having him join the department, but felt obligated to do so because of the need for "diversity" at the university.

Pacanowsky said he was "overwhelmed" by the position in which he found himself.

While he saw the benefit of increasing ethnic diversity on campus, "Ward does not seem to me to be the kind of person who fits our mold of a department focused on interpersonal and organizational communication," Pacanowsky wrote.

Three other faculty members from the department have also said increasing campus diversity was a factor in granting tenure to Churchill.

After the communications faculty voted to grant tenure to Churchill, Middleton wrote a letter of thanks to outgoing Chairman John Bowers.

"I am extremely pleased with the results of the vote of the communication department on Ward Churchill's appointment to the faculty," wrote Middleton on Feb. 12, 1991.

"I think that the decision will both enable the department to contribute to the broad agendas of the college and the campus with respect to the study of ethnicity and race in America, and will also give you a dynamic colleague whose work, though not in the core direction in which the department is going at this time, will nonetheless relate to it in a challenging and stimulating manner."

The documents reveal that Middleton had been thinking about offering tenure to Churchill as early as November 1990.

So we again see the impact of race-based hiring. An unqualified individual was forced upon an unwilling department after two others, more closely related to his field, rejected him. That didn't set off warning bells about the candidate, it apparently alerted Dean Middleton that he needed to engage in more explicit hardball tactics to get his man tenure.

I've not been a big advocate of firing Ward Churchill. But I think that the evidence at hand, given that it shows a pattern of irregularities in the granting of tenure, requires that the decision be revisited. Based upon the evidence publicly available, Churchill should probably be stripped of his tenure and required to submit to a new tenure review, based upon the totality of his scholarship and the relative merits of his case. And it is my belief that, in doing so, the resulting decision will be that he not be granted tenure.


Can The Illinois GOP Recover?

Illinois used to be reliably Republican. When my father was transferred back to his home state in 1976, the state was in the midst of a gubernatorial race that would bring a Republican into office. Republicans would hold that office until 2003. And while Chicago Democrats might be able to tip control of the legislature to their party, many of the Democrats from around the state were of a conservative variety that were willing to work with Republicans.

The problem, though, was the conservative/moderate conflict within the party. As a kid we had Chuck Percy as senator -- one of the most liberal of GOP senators. His eventual loss happened not just because the Democrats ran a candidate who was among the most honorable and decent of men ever to hold public office (Paul Simon), but also because conservatives abandoned Percy. Conservative infighting and moderate strategizing gave Illinois two of the most conservative Senate candidates ever (Judy Koehler and Pat Salvi), but they had no name recognition and were stomped by better known Democrats. Finally, moderate George Ryan destroyed the credibility of the party with the rampant corruption he permitted in the course of his time as Secretary of State and Governor, as well as with his rejection of mainstream GOP principles. Last year's Senate debacle only served to highlight the depths to which the party had fallen.

Can the party be saved? That is up to Andrew McKenna Jr., the new head of the Illinois GOP.

McKenna, who is president of Schwarz [Paper Company], acknowledges that one of the party's first orders of business is to find strong candidates for the 2006 election. The key is to show voters that the party has changed, that it can offer viable political alternatives.

But some Republicans say they simply don't trust that things have changed.

"There's a bunch of people saying they want unification, saying that they're different," said conservative activist Jack Roeser. "That's what [former Gov.] George Ryan told us years ago, and look where it got us."

And the problem is that so many are tainted by their association with Ryan. The state's best known Republican is former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who refused to take the Senate nomination amidst the 2004 fiasco that resulted in the nomination of Alan Keyes as a replacement candidate. The Democrat incumbent is wounded, but who is there ready to take a crack at an incumbent governor, wounded or not?

And then there is the problem of a party more concerned with winning at the top than organizing from the bottom up.

Part of the fresh start means apologizing for ignoring the significance of the suburbs — and the people of Lake County.

From the Lincoln Day dinner podium, McKenna pleaded for local Republicans to set aside the state GOP's troubled past. Again and again, he told the skeptical audience that the future holds enormous promise. And the GOP needs everyone — especially people in the suburbs — to help recruit, raise money and rebuild the party's lineup of political candidates.

In the past, he said, the GOP overlooked the pull of grass-roots political organizing. When it was in power, it consolidated its political pull within the top state offices.

"That won't happen again," McKenna said.

After McKenna spoke, a small crowd gathered around him, curious about the party's solution for boosting the local economy and ideas for persuading local Democrats to vote Republican.

JoAnn Osmond began peppering McKenna with questions and complaints. For years, the local group has had trouble recruiting new volunteers. Longtime members, jaded by the Senate race, have dropped out. Internal squabbling has divided those who remain.

"Are you going to back us and help us unite everyone?" asked the state representative and county chairwoman for the Lake County Republican Federation.

McKenna replied: "I'm here now, aren't I?"

In younger days, I was one of those lake County Republicans. We got ignored until the fundraising letters went out, because we were reliably Republican and refused to allow Chicago to control our destiny. State GOP concern for county politics stated at the state representative level and went up. Maybe now they will pay attention to the county, and even the city and town, races as well. If they don't, the GOP is dead in Illinois.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.