Precinct 333

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Zero Tolerance Idiocy Down Under

Stories like this one make my blood boil!

The bashing of a teenage boy has been filmed by a gang of bullies – and the incident has rocked one of Victoria's top government schools.

Several senior students from Balwyn High School were suspended over the attack at a park near the school and the victim's mother is considering legal action.

Principal Bruce Armstrong confirmed that the students had recorded the attack using a camera on a mobile phone.

Mr Armstrong said it had been the school's most serious incidence of bullying since he became principal.

The school also suspended the Year 11 victim because he retaliated during the attack.

Let's see if I have this right. The attack took place off school grounds. The kid has been attacked more than once. The attack went on for 45 minutes and the kid couldn't even get up off the ground when it was over. The kid was targeted because of his speech impediment. Students stood around and watched the fight, recording it for distribution to others. The kid and his mother have been threatened by the mother of one of the attackers for contacting the police and pursuing the matter through the legal system. The the attackers had kick-boxing training. And yet the victim, because he attempted to defend himself, was suspended just like his attackers.

This case, my friends is horrific. The attack didn't happen at school and, I assume, happened outside of the course of the school day, so I don't see where the school has any jurisdiction over the matter. Apparently the school believes it does, so I'll set that matter aside. But to punish the obvious victim for exercising his basic human right to defend himself is obscene. I'd love to know if the spectators, especially those filming the attack, were punished as well.

I always understood that Australia was a nation of rugged individuals. Apparently it has degenerated into one more namby-pamby nation of wusses. Now it is training its children to be good little Frenchmen, prepared to surrender at the first sign of aggression in the hopes that the enemy won't hurt them too bad.


PC Bunnies

Easter is coming -- surely the local shopping mall has an Easter Bunny, right?

Not if your mall has gone PC.

The Easter Bunny is a vanishing breed.

Not that there's a shortage of 6-foot white rabbits carrying baskets of colored eggs. It's just that Mr. Shopping Mall Bunny is becoming more politically correct.

The bunny at The Gardens mall Easter egg hunt last weekend — oops, make that just plain "egg hunt" — was called Garden Bunny.

"The name just complemented The Gardens of the Palm Beaches," mall Marketing Director Jeannie Roberts said.

Saturday, Baxter the Bunny is available for photos at the Mall at Wellington Green. At Town Center in Boca Raton, Peter Rabbit will hand out goodies and pose for pictures.

"Because we're such a multicultural community, it's good just to remain neutral," mall General Manager Sam Hosen said.

Some stick with tradition. The Easter Bunny still appears at the Boynton Beach Mall and at Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach. The Palm Beach Mall has no bunny at all.

"I suppose the name Easter Bunny is fairly unusual. We have Easter eggs too," Boynton Beach Mall Manager Andrea Horne said. "I know it's probably not the popular thing to call it."

Give me a break! The bunny, like Santa, is a holiday symbol associated with a Christian holiday. That is the only reason the tradition of having the bunny during the spring started. If the name of the holiday is offensive, then get rid of the symbol, too. Don't just neuter the symbol by changing thename. After all, seeing the symbol might freak out that small minority of religion haters that would object to the use of the name of the holiday.


Friday, March 11, 2005

Posts Of Note

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Southern Appeal, that incredible blog by a group of Southern lawyers and professors who blog from several conservative points of view. A recent post there by the blog's founder, feddie (AKA Steve Dillard, Esq.), defends Scalia's dissent in Roper v. Simmons (the teen death penalty case) from an attack by Publius from Law and Politics. I urge you to read feddie's post, and also the original by Publius (if you can spare the time). They are both excellent expositions of their points of view, with feddie advocating originalism and Publius supporting the concept of an evolving Constitution.

Also, look at the comments on these threads over at Americablog. John's commenters have managed to turn the black rapist who killed three folks in an Atlanta courtroom into an automaton conned by the right-wing religious and political extremists. I guess the point of these nutjobs is really simple -- EVERYTHING is a direct result of the creeping fascism supported by Bush backers. I can only imagine what is going on at the Democratic Underground. This reading is not for the faint of heart.


Why Do Democrats Fear Photo ID?

Democrats in the Georgia Senate have walked out over the passage of a bill mandating photo identification for all individuals casting a bllot in an election.

ATLANTA - The state Senate's Democratic caucus, led by the chamber's black members, walked out of the Legislature Friday after an emotional vote on voting rights.

Immediately after a 7 p.m. vote that would eliminate 12 of the 17 forms of identification that may be used at Georgia polls, a majority of Senate Democrats, including all black members, left the chamber.

"This is wrong!" Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, shouted before the exit. "We will not go back."

All but one other member of the Democratic caucus left shortly afterward. Most Democrats returned to the chamber about 25 minutes later.

"We wanted to at least show them we support them," said Sen. Michael Meyer Von Bremen, D-Albany.

Republican sponsors of the bill said it was an effort to cut down on voter fraud.

You need a photo ID to cash a check most places. You need one to get on a plane. Why shouldn't our polling places and ballot boxes be at least as secure?

Democrats -- especially members of the Black Caucus -- are claiming that the bill is designed to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. The bill, however, allows anyone without a photo ID to obtain a state photo ID from the department of motor vehicles. Those who can't afford one may obtain one for free. Those two provisions mean that there is no reasonable basis for a voter not having an acceptable form of identification on election day.

So I ask again -- why do democrats fear photographic identification of voters? Is it simply victim politics run wild? Or is it because they know that their party will lose fraudulent votes cast by folks who go to different polling places to vote under different names using non-photographic forms of identification?


What Are You Hiding, Howard?

For all that the Democrats claim to be the party of the people, it seems they are hell-bent on keeping the people from knowing about the workings of government.

At least in Vermont.

And at least if the government official that the people want to know about is a former governor named Howard Dean.

More than a year after the collapse of his presidential campaign, the fight over public access to Howard Dean's gubernatorial records goes before the state's high court next week.

The state is appealing a ruling from Superior Court Judge Alan Cook in February of last year saying that 86 boxes of records sealed by Dean when he left office in 2003 are presumed to be open.

Cook ordered that Dean and the state had to identify each of the hundreds of thousands of documents in the boxes and say why each should be covered by executive privilege.

Dean had asked as he left office that the records be sealed for ten years. The Washington-based group Judicial Watch sued to gain access to them.

So what do you have to hide, Howard?


Is THIS Enough To Fire Him

Let's ignore Ward Churchill's statements comparing the 9/11 victims to Nazi war criminals. Let's ignore the irregular process through which he obtained tenure. Let's ignore his retaliation via a lowered grade against a student journalist who wrote an unflattering article about him. Let's forget his acts of violence against others. Let's forget his deficient scholarship. Will something as clear and straightforward as plagiarism be sufficient to fire Ward Churchill?

University of Colorado officials investigating embattled professor Ward Churchill received documents this week purporting to show that he plagiarized another professor's work.

Officials at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia sent CU an internal 1997 report detailing allegations about an article Churchill wrote.

"The article . . . is, in the opinion of our legal counsel, plagiarism," Dalhousie spokesman Charles Crosby said in summarizing the report's findings.

Churchill did not return calls to his home or office Thursday seeking comment.

Dalhousie began an investigation after professor Fay G. Cohen complained that Churchill used her research and writing in an essay without her permission and without giving her credit. Although the investigation substantiated her allegations, Cohen didn't pursue the matter because she felt threatened by Churchill, Crosby said.

Crosby said Cohen told Dalhousie officials in 1997 that Churchill had called her in the middle of the night and said, "I'll get you for this."

Cohen still declines to talk publicly about her experience with Churchill, but she agreed the Dalhousie report could be shared with CU officials, Crosby said, because "whatever concerns she may have about her safety are outweighed by the importance she attaches to this information getting out there."

Crosby declined a request for a copy of the report but said it does not contain information about the alleged threat from Churchill.

It is not clear if CU officials are aware of the alleged threat. A CU spokeswoman said officials there would not comment on any matter related to an ongoing review of Churchill's work.

Academic and intellectual dishonesty, confirmed by qualified academics from another university, should be sufficient -- especially when one considers his threats against the victim of his scholarly theft.

Ward Churchill -- do not pass go, do not collect $10 million. You're fired!


Florida Vote Fraud

I've taken up dolphin's challenge of finding vote fraud in Florida. Today I found an article about the indictment of a public official and members of his campaign apparatus for felony charges related to their illegal collection of absentee ballots.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Mayor Buddy Dyer, a judge and two campaign workers surrendered Friday on a felony charge of paying for the collection of absentee ballots in last year's election.

Dyer, Judge Alan Apte and Dyer's campaign manager Patti Sharp declined comment to reporters as they left the Orange County Jail after booking. An attorney for Ezzie Thomas, a campaign consultant to Dyer and Apte, said only that Thomas' indictment doesn't guarantee he will prosecuted.

The indictments had been issued a day earlier by a grand jury that was looking at whether Thomas had illegally collected absentee ballots in predominantly black neighborhoods before the March 2004 electio

For reasons that aren't clear, the article fails to mention the party affiliation of this high profile public official. I pursued the matter a little bit further and checked with Google. Sure enough, he is a Democrat -- one more example of why that party must always be recognized as the largest perpetrator of vote fraud in the United States.


Sarbanes Retiring -- Who Will Replace Him?

Another liberal Democrat announces his retirement.

Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a liberal Democrat who is the longest serving senator in Maryland's history, announced Friday that he won't seek a sixth term next year.

"It was not my ambition to stay there until they carried me out," Sarbanes said during an afternoon news conference at his Baltimore office. "It was just the right time. We think we've served long and well and honorably and we're very comfortable with this decision."

Sarbanes, 72, was elected to the Senate in 1976. He said health was not a factor but added he did consider his age in making his decision.

This raises some interesting questions. Will Gov. Robert Ehrlich seek the nomination for Senate. or will he seek reelection? Will Lt. Gov. Michael Steele run for Senate, or will he seek the gubernatorial nod if Erlich runs for Senate? A Steele Senate run could be quite interesting, as scandal-plagued former NAACP Chairman Kwesi Mfume is widely expected to run for Sarbanes' now vacant seat. That prospect of two African Americans battling it out for the US Senate in a high profile race could result in more blacks returning to the GOP fold as they recognize that Steele is more reflective of their values than Mfume.


Another One For The Archaeology Geeks

Well, here's another one of those archaeology stories that fascinates history teachers like me.

A chariot burial site uncovered in West Yorkshire could be the final resting place of one of Britain's ancient tribal leaders, archaeologists say.

The well-preserved remains, found by road contractors near Ferrybridge, are thought to be about 2,400 years old.

But evidence suggests that people were still visiting the grave during Roman times - 500 years after his burial.

Experts believe that native Britons may have used the site as a shrine to re-assert their national identity.

Archaeologist Angela Boyle said the site, uncovered during the £245m upgrade of the A1, was "one of the most significant Iron Age burials ever found".

Pre-Anglo-Saxon. Pre-Roman. This dates back to the original Celtic peoples of Britain. And the fact that it remained a center for religious/political veneration for centuries after the burial took place does raise questions about the identity of the man in the grave. Who could be so important that the spot of his burial would be remembered for centuries?

This one has the potential to fascinate historians and others for decades.


An Interesting Question

Pro-life activist jeff White is currently on trial in Washington, DC. The charge? Keeping and exposing a dead body or body part during a demonstration on a public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood "clinic".

But wait. There may be a serious flaw with the charges.

Now, nearly a year later, White, 47, is on trial in D.C. Superior Court, being prosecuted by the District's attorney general in a case that White's attorney says underscores the contradictions in U.S. law over the legal standing of a fetus.

The argument of abortion rights advocates has long been that a fetus is nothing more than a cluster of cells and is not a human being, White's attorney, Brian Chavez-Ochoa, said in an interview.

"If that argument is correct," he said, "then how can somebody be charged by the District of Columbia with displaying a human being" when it was a fetus?

"It's a contradictory argument," Chavez-Ochoa said. "If it's not just a clump of cells, is the attorney general willing to concede that a . . . fetus is in fact a human being?"

Now if a fetus is a human being, then there it is crystal clear that a fetus is a "person" under the protection of the US Constitution. And if a fetus is a person, it has an undeniable right to life, one which must be protected under the Constitution and laws of the United States. That would mean that Roe v. Wade, a decision that has never had much in the way of constitutional, legal, scientific, and medical foundation, would have to be overturned as inconsistent with the Constitution. On the other hand, the charges cannot stand if the fetus is not a human being.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Committee Hearings About PR, Not Steroids

I was struck by this quote from an AP article about the subpoenas issued by the House Committee on Government Reform to Major League Baseball officials and players.

Asked why Bonds wasn't invited, a spokesman for the committee chairman, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., said, "Barry Bonds, to be frank, brings a whole crowd and we're not interested in the story being Barry Bonds."

Yeah, the congressmen are interested in the story being about them, not about Barry Bonds. That shows that the hearings are window dressing intended to make members look like they are “doing something,” not about actually doing something. After all, Bonds is the hottest thing in baseball today, and stands accused of using steroids. Why shouldn’t he be invited, especially given this comment by the Davis spokesman?

Asked why [Mark] McGwire was asked to appear, White said: "For some, this is an opportunity to come here and clear their names."

Why shouldn’t Bonds appear, if you really want to offer folks the chance to clear their names of Jose Canseco’s charges? After all, he is the reigning homerun king. Is it that you are afraid that the focus will be on him, and not the committee members, if he and a press entourage march up the steps of the US Capitol Building and into the committee room? Are you afraid that Bonds, and not your boss, will be the central figure in the media reports?

And by the way -- would you mind explaining to me how steroid using baseball players are a matter for the Government Reform Committee?


Historic Sail Displayed

I’ve been reading Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin novels for the last several months, so I finally know what a topsail is. To see one that is two centuries old, and from Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory no less, would be so fascinating.

Members of the public will be given the chance to view the only surviving sail from the Battle of Trafalgar to mark its 200th anniversary celebrations.

The 3,618 sq ft fore topsail from Nelson's HMS Victory will be displayed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, as part of this year's bicentenary event.

It is recognised as the largest single original artefact from the battle.

Pock-marked by some 90 shot holes, the sail would have been one of the main targets for French and Spanish guns.

Look at the size of that thing. It is more than twice as big as my house!


When Will American Muslims Do The Same

After all, there has never been a formal declaration from Muslim religious leaders condemning terrorism as incompatible with the teachings of Islam.

Spain's Islamic Commission, which groups the nation's Muslim community, said it was issuing a fatwa against Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

'We are going to issue a fatwa (religious decree) against Bin Laden this afternoon,' Mansour Escudero, who leads the Federation of Islamic religious entities (Feeri) and co-secretary general of the Spanish government-created Commission told AFP.

The Commission invited Spanish-based imams to condemn terrorism at Friday prayers, when the whole country will be remembering the 191 people who were killed in the train blasts and the 1,900 injured a year ago.

The attacks have been blamed on mainly Moroccan Islamic extremists loyal to Bin Laden.
'We have called on imams to make a formal declaration condemning terrorism and for a special prayer for all the victims of terrorism,' Escudero said.

The Commission has also drawn up a document designed to 'thank the Spanish people and the government for their attitude towards Muslims' since last March 11, in particular for not taking 'disproportionate' measures similar to those which the Sept 11 attacks sparked in the US.

The Commission called on Muslims to take part in Friday's commemorative programme being organised by Spanish authorities and community groups and to work with them to ensure terrorism was defeated.

Interesting, isn’t it, that American Muslim groups are more interested in suppressing the free speech rights of other Americans, complaining about negative portrayals in the entertainment industry, and preventing scrutiny of the most likely terrorist suspects. Could it be that the major Muslim organizations in the United States are not working with our government to ensure terrorism is defeated?


Racist Seeks Mayoral Nod In Detroit

This woman appears to be quite a loon. Why is it that white folks are expected to denounce such race-baiting tactics, while African-Americans embrace them?

It's hard to say whether Sharon McPhail is a racist or just plain stupid. But for sure, she's a liar.

Harsh words, yes. But there's no way to sugar-coat the Detroit councilwoman's character lapses. To do so would be a disservice to the voters of Detroit, who will see McPhail's name on their mayoral ballot this fall.

McPhail participated in a recent dinner sponsored by the Call 'Em Out Coalition, a racist hate group dedicated to divisiveness and separatism. Specifically, she helped hand out the group's Sambo Sell Out awards, given to black officials whom the group decides are too cozy with whites.

This year's top award went to Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Also dishonored at the dinner were Detroit businessman and National Basketball Assocation Hall of Famer Dave Bing, apparently for his efforts to give Detroit's schoolchildren a brighter future; schools chief Kenneth Burnley, who has poured his soul into the thankless task of reviving the city's school system; and McPhail's fellow council member, Lonnie Bates, who received the "I Talk Black but Vote White" award. We can think of a number of dubious awards for which Bates might qualify, but that one escapes us.

Councilwoman McPhail, as someone who is supposed to represent the entire city, all races and ethnic groups, had no business at a dinner sponsored by a group whose mission is rooted in racism. This goes beyond poor judgment and into the realm of gross stupidity.

Her explanation that the dinner was a good-natured "roast" of politicians doesn't fly. Bing is not a politician; he's a businessman trying to do something positive in the city.

This episode caps a bizarre career for McPhail in which she repeatedly has had to explain away goofy and inappropriate behavior.

The editorial goes on to recount Councilwoman McPhail’s history of “unusual” behavior, including her accusations against the editorial board of the Detroit News for reporting comments she had made in a meeting with them.

Sounds like she is a real nutjob, on top of being a liar and a racist. I hope the people of Detroit have the common sense to reject her in favor of a more stable candidate.


Jersey Muslims Seek To Suppress Free Speech

At first glance, many Coptic Christians believed the murder of the Hossam Amranious family in Jersey City was a case of religious violence. Given the persecution of Copts in Egypt by the Muslim majority, that wasn’t unreasonable – especially given death threats received by family members for their proselytizing of Muslims on-line and at school.

Now members of a Muslim group want criminal charges against those who dared to raise the spectre of Muslim violence against dhimmis who didn’t keep to the subordinate place required of them under Islamic shari’a law.

Sohail Mohammed, the lawyer for the American Muslim Union, wrote to Attorney General Peter Harvey Wednesday seeking an investigation of comments made by some in the Coptic community in the days following the slaying of the Armanious family in January.

Mohammed said those comments might have been designed to dissuade Muslims from attending the funeral, and could have been intended to stir up anti-Muslim sentiment.

He noted that many Muslim leaders stayed away from the funeral. The handful who did attend were greeted with abuse and several had to be escorted by police officers from the church hall where the funeral was being held for their own safety, he said.

"We are concerned that those comments were deliberately intended to incite the public," Mohammed said. "If it was intentional, we want Mr. Harvey to do an investigation and determine if it was a bias crime. If there was bias related to it, it becomes a bias crime."

Wait just a minute here. Speech is not a crime. It is not a crime to incite the public to hold negative views about a group, unless immediate violence is intended. Telling the truth about Islam is not a crime, and stating that you believe a hate crime has been committed (as many did in the case of the Armanious killings) does not constitute a hate crime.

What we have here is simply one more case of a Muslim leader trying to make it unacceptable to raise any question about Islam or Muslims. Let’s hope that Peter Harvey has the guts to stick to his guns and defend the First Amendment rights of Arab Christians against this attack by the American Muslim Union.


Care To Guess The Party?

Six members of the Taxachusetts Massachusetts Legislature are on the state list of tax evaders. Care to guess their party?

Six current state representatives are listed by the Department of Revenue as having failed to file state income tax returns for recent years.

Rep. Byron Rushing, second assistant majority leader 12th-term Democrat from the South End
Didn't file for 2002
Rushing previously apologized for failing to file for the years 1990 to 1995.

Rep. David P. Linsky, 4th term Democrat from Framingham, former prosecutor openly discussing a run for Middlesex district attorney
Didn't file for 2002 and 2003

Rep. Colleen M. Garry, 6th term Democrat from Dracut, chairwoman of the Personnel and Administration Committee
Didn't file for 2002 and 2003

Rep. Anne M. Gobi, 3rd-term Democrat from Spencer
Didn't file for 2002 and 2003

Rep. Matthew Patrick, 3rd-term Democrat from Falmouth
Didn't file for 2003

Rep. Sean Curran, freshman Democrat from Springfield
Didn't file for 2000

I guess that means that taxes are only for the little people, not for the power elite in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.


Is Liberalism A Mental Disorder?

Seems to me that we are seeing more and more articles about deranged Democrats engaging in acts of violence against Americans who dare to disagree with their bankrupt views of the world. Here’s another one from, this one from Florida.

This week, a Tampa woman learned that simple Bush-Cheney bumper sticker can bring trouble, if not danger, from a total stranger.

Police say Michelle Fernandez, 35, was chased for miles Tuesday by an irate 31-year-old Tampa man who cursed at her as he held up an anti-Bush sign and tried to run her off the road.

His sign, about the size of a business letter, read:

Never Forget Bush's Illegal Oil War Murdered Thousands in Iraq.

"I guess this was a disgruntled Democrat," Tampa Police spokesman Joe Durkin said. "Maybe he has that sign with him so he's prepared any time he comes up against a Republican."

Police arrested Nathan Alan Winkler at his home on N Cleveland Street near Hyde Park within an hour of the incident.

After finding the antiwar sign in his car, they booked him into the county jail on one count of aggravated stalking, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, Durkin said.

He posted his $2,000 bond and was released early Wednesday, jail records show. This was Winkler's first arrest in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

I see folks I disagree with on the road with their bumper stickers proclaiming their political ignorance. I avert my eyes and drive on. So do most Republicans I know. We don’t chase them for miles, honking the horn and trying to run them off the road. After all, we recognize that the First Amendment protects their right to express dumb sentiments.

I guess that is what differentiates conservatives from liberals – we believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we disagree, while liberals seek to hurt or kill those they can’t shut up through force of law.

Or maybe it is just that they are insane, and that insanity sometimes shows itself in acts of violence.


Uh, Whose Meeting Is It?

Sometimes elected officials fail to understand that they are SUBORDINATE to the voters and taxpayers they serve. Such is clearly the case in Levels, West Virginia. The school board and its attorney there have muzzled parents who wish to address the board about their concerns regarding the district superintendent and another administrator.

Former House of Delegates Education Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta may be the most talked-about man in Hampshire County — but not at meetings of the school board that employs him.

Board attorney Norwood Bentley successfully muzzled people demanding that Mezzatesta be fired from his $60,000 administrative job earlier this week, and Bentley said he's likely to do it again.

Speaking is a privilege offered by the board, not a public right, Bentley argues.
"You can't take an employee of a school board to task in an open session," Bentley told the Associated Press after stopping a handful of residents from identifying Mezzatesta or Superintendent David Friend by name or job title.

"It's not the public's meeting," he said. "It's the school board's meeting."

More than 100 people packed into a school cafeteria on March 7 when resident Robert Lee began calling for Mezzatesta's and Friend's dismissal. Lee and others had signed a list to speak, identifying their topics as required by board rules.

Uh, whose meeting is it? It is the people’s meeting. Since you have forgotten that, here’s hoping that the people remember this and vote out every member of the board and elect new members who will replace Mr. Bentley with an attorney who is competent in the area of First Amendment law.


And I Thought Ex-Lax Brownies Were Evil

This is just sick.

A teenager has agreed to admit to three counts of disturbing the peace after anonymously sending semen-frosted brownies to a fellow student. The recipient shared the treat with two other teens, police said.

They said the 17-year-old Coeur d'Alene High School student was upset after a prank in which the other student put peanut butter in his cheese sandwich days before. He told a school resource officer that "he hated peanut butter and it made him more mad than he could explain," according to the police report.

Talk about your overreaction to a trivial joke! And the sad part is that the maximum sentence is only 90 days on each charge.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Chris LeDoux -- RIP

Chris LeDoux started out as a bareback rider on the rodeo circuit, won the gold buckle at the National Finals Rodeo, and then turned to music when his career was over, developing a fan-base that included mega-star Garth Brooks. He died today from complications related to liver cancer, one of the many illnesses he has battled over the last decade.

LeDoux, known little outside the rodeo circuit until country superstar Garth Brooks paid tribute to him in a song, described his music as a combination of "Western soul, sagebrush blues, cowboy folk and rodeo rock 'n' roll."

He and Brooks teamed up for the Top 10 hit, Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy, in 1992.

In November, LeDoux canceled several tour dates while undergoing treatment for cancer of the bile duct. He had undergone a liver transplant in 2000 after a lengthy illness.

LeDoux (pronounced luh-DOO) had been playing guitar and harmonica and writing songs since his teens, and he used his musical skills to help pay for his rodeo entry fees.

He recorded songs about cowboys, the ups and downs of the rodeo circuit and his adopted home of Wyoming. In 1976, he became the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's world bareback champion.

By 1989, LeDoux had released 22 albums. They were mostly cassettes produced by his parents, which he sold at concerts and rodeos. He had a loyal, if limited, fan base.

But that all changed that year when Brooks had a hit with Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old), which included the line: "A worn-out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women and bad booze/seem to be the only friends I've left at all."

The song came at a time when LeDoux's career was sputtering with an independent label and no marketing.

"And here he comes along and mentions the worn-out tapes in his song," LeDoux said of Brooks in an interview with The Associated Press in 2001. "To me, Garth, he's kind of like my guardian angel. It's like every time I need some help, he's there."

I'm one of those who was introduced to LeDoux's music by the song. I understand why he was such a fan. Chris LeDoux had a style and a genuinness that you don't often find in country music today. I don't know that we will find his like again, given the current plague of pop-disguised-as-country that has been in vogue for the last decade or so.

They held a moment of silence for the great champion and talented singer at RodeoHouston tonight. The prayers of thousands were offered up for LeDoux and his family.

Rest in peace, Chris.

Cowboy up!


Link To Racist Leader In Murder Of Judge’s Family

Initial speculation in the murder of the husband and mother of US District Court Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow pointed to white supremacist Matthew Hale as the culprit. The question was, how did he get orders out to his followers? Well, it seems that he and his mother may have taken a page from the Lynne Stewart playbook.

An attorney for jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale said Hale's mother asked him to relay an encoded message from Hale to one of his supporters, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Hale, who awaits sentencing for soliciting the murder of a federal judge, has been a focus of the investigation into last week's shooting deaths of the judge's husband and mother.

Lawyer Glenn Greenwald said Hale's mother, Evelyn Hutcheson, asked him a few months ago to pass the message to a Hale supporter.

"She said she didn't know what the message meant, but she was going to read it to me verbatim because Matt made her write it down when she visited him," Greenwald told the newspaper. "It was two or three sentences that were very cryptic and impossible to understand in terms of what they were intended to convey."

He said he declined to deliver it.

Hale’s visitation privileges were cut off last week, and he has been held under anti-terrorism provisions implemented during the Clinton administration -- the same ones that were in use with the blind sheik in the Lynne Stewart case.

Having met Hale during his days as a law student at Southern Illinois University -- Carbondale during the late 1980s, I can’t say that I’m surprised to hear he is involved. He was a malignant, hateful individual back then, and time apparently has not improved his character.


Ain’t Sarcasm Fun?

How would you answer the question often posed by animal rights lunatics terrorists activists about how you can “kill and eat such a beautiful creature with a clean conscience”. Dr. Mike Adams has a great answer in his column today.

First, you need to decide whether venison is right for you. I would suggest starting with a rack of deer ribs that can be thrown on the grill the next time you decide to Bar-B-Q some chicken. Just douse the ribs with some KC Masterpiece Sauce and sprinkle them with Lowry’s Seasoning Salt. By the time you lay them all out, it will be time to flip them over. After you do, just pour any excess sauce on the ribs and cover them long enough to extinguish the flames. They should be ready within a few minutes. Just don’t overcook them and remember the following rule, Antonio: charcoal only, no gas grilling!

The column includes a recipe for a wonderful marinade, as well as some pointed comments about unsavory actions taken by PETA and other animal rights nutjobs supporters.


Ice Cap Melt Part Of A Cycle?

We keep hearing folks rant on about global warming. Those who suggest that it might be a normal phenomenon are dismissed as loons. But then again, could it really be a cyclical process?

The melting of sea ice at the North Pole may be the result of a centuries-old natural cycle and not an indicator of man-made global warming, Scottish scientists have found.

After researching the log-books of Arctic explorers spanning the past 300 years, scientists believe that the outer edge of sea ice may expand and contract over regular periods of 60 to 80 years. This change corresponds roughly with known cyclical changes in atmospheric temperature.

The finding opens the possibility that the recent worrying changes in Arctic sea ice are simply the result of standard cyclical movements, and not a harbinger of major climate change.

The amount of sea ice is currently near its lowest point in the cycle and should begin to increase within about five years.

As a result, Dr Chad Dick, a Scottish scientist working at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromso, believes the next five to ten years will be a critical period in our understanding of sea ice and the impact, if any, of long-term global warming.

The article is fascinating, with lots of good historical observations and explanations of what could happen if mankind has disrupted the cycle.



Let’s forget about the issue of bloodborne pathogens – this is just sick!

The Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission is investigating a Central Linn High School teacher and coach accused of licking the bleeding wounds of his student athletes.

The commission is expected to take up the case of Scott Reed in a closed session Thursday in Salem. Its investigation began after a district parent filed a complaint in July, claiming "a pattern of willful, repeated inappropriate behavior, which has threatened student safety and health."

Reed remains a dean of students, science teacher and head football coach at the high school after being disciplined last year for licking the bleeding knee of an athlete. He acknowledged the May 2004 incident during school district and police investigations of another parent's complaint that he had licked blood from several students.

The Linn County sheriff's office found no basis for criminal charges in what Sheriff Dave Burright called "bizarre" conduct. The school district placed Reed on probation and required him to take a "bloodborne pathogens" course - a response some parents considered inadequate.

Am I the only person who thinks there may be a “kink-factor” in this?


What Is There To Investigate?

I guess I'm trying to figure out why a negative comment about lawbreakers would prompt an investigation.

Officials at Colorado State University at Pueblo are investigating a student's allegation that a professor complained about illegal immigrants during an anthropology class last week.

Victoria Watson filed the complaint against Dan Forsyth over remarks she contends he made during a class last Thursday.

Neither Watson nor Forsyth could be reached for comment Tuesday.

However, in a statement, CSU-Pueblo President Ron Applbaum described the investigation into the allegation as "active and ongoing."

"We want to assure both the public and the student population that the university takes seriously such incidents that may hamper a student's ability to express themselves freely or to gain the broadest possible perspective on an issue or a topic."

The investigation is being conducted by academic affairs officials and the university's affirmative action officer.

They plan to interview Watson and Forsyth, as well as other students who attended the class.

Imagine that -- someone might comment negatively on a group of people who illegally cross our nation's border and consume taxpauyer funded service to a degree that puts cities, counties and states in a huge financial bind. Assuming we are not talking about the use of an ethnic slur here, I don't see any grounds for there to be an investigation, much less punishment.

And I'm curious -- when will we hear all the Lefties who are defending Ward Churchill coming to the defense of Dan Forsyth? Is this investigation an example of a new McCarthyism? Does it violate his academic freedom?

Or are only America-hating Leftists entitled such support and protection?

UPDATE: This story contains more details.

Two students claim professor Dan Forsyth called Mexicans "lazy and bitter people." Forsyth also allegedly blamed illegal immigrants and Mexicans for filling up U.S. prisons and argued that they "raped the system."

Forsyth said the allegations are false. He said he gave students only an after-class reminder about an upcoming campus appearance by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who is an outspoken advocate for tighter immigration controls.

"I don't know why anyone would lay these falsehoods at my door," Forsyth said.

Freshman Victoria Watson filed a complaint with the university's affirmative action office Friday.

Watson, and the second student who did not want to be identified, said Forsyth became emotional and angry as he talked about illegal immigrants. During his speech he allegedly told students he would be willing to pay higher prices for food to keep illegal immigrants from working on U.S. farms.

"After listening to this for 10 or 15 minutes, I'd had enough and got up and walked to the door," Watson said.

Now hold on. When liberal professors go on political rants unrelated to their subject, it is almost never investigated, and even less often punished. Why should these remarks receive any harsher treatment. And I say this especially since the remarks are not nearly so outrageous or untrue as the usual rant of anti-American Leftist professors.

I gusess the attitude of the administration is that the expression of social and political opinions by professors is only wrong if they are Right.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Citizen’s Arrest Brings Lawsuit

Illegal immigration advocates have sued an Arizona rancher for apprehending border-jumpers on his property, and the county sheriff for failing to stop his actions in support of US law.

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever is being sued for a share of a $32 million lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

The suit alleges the sheriff has done nothing to stop a Cochise County rancher from apprehending illegal entrants on his own property east of Douglas.

Filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the suit alleges rancher Roger Barnett held a group of illegal entrants at gunpoint on his property one year ago , shouted obscenities at the group, kicked one of the women twice and threatened to shoot anybody who tried to leave. It also lists 10 un-named co-conspirators who have known of Barnett's actions in the past and did nothing to prevent them.

Calling the group "racist liars," Barnett says he doesn't recall the incident ever taking place and said he hasn't been served with a lawsuit.

Dever has not been served with a lawsuit and therefore had no response, said Cochise County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Carol Capas.

The suit alleges that on March 7, 2004, 19 illegal entrants were resting in a wash near Douglas when Barnett pulled up on an all-terrain vehicle with a large, barking dog. It claims that Barnett waved his cocked gun at the group, and yelled obscenities at them.

Barnett then walked up to one of the women and kicked her in the leg, then tried to kick her again, the suit alleges. He then called his wife, who arrived with a truck and summoned the U.S. Border Patrol.

The entrants allegedly tried to tell the Border Patrol agents what had happened but were menaced by Barnett.

Even if we assume the incident happened as described, what we see here is a citizen’s arrest of a group of people who were manifestly breaking state (trespassing) and federal (immigration) law. That mkes the arrest, and any associated coercion, legitimate in my book.

And by the way, don’t call Barnett a vigilante – the new conservatively correct term (as pointed out by Michelle Malkin) is “undocumented Border Patrol Agent.”


Mexico Demands Protection For Border-Jumpers

This just hacks me off to no end.

The Mexican government has asked U.S. officials to ensure illegal-immigration protesters patrolling the Arizona border next month do not abuse Mexican nationals caught illegally entering the United States.

In a diplomatic note to U.S. officials, Geronimo Gutierrez, undersecretary for North American affairs at Mexico's Foreign Ministry, suggested it was "very probable" the protesters could violate the rights of illegal aliens, and that they must be monitored.

"What there is concern about is that some of these actions that could be taken could be in violation of federal and state laws to the detriment of Mexican citizens," Mr. Gutierrez said. "Mexico doesn't want the rights of its citizens transgressed, especially if those actions are in violation of federal and state laws."

You know what, Geronimo? If you folks are so concerned about the welfare of these folks, deploy your army along the border to stop them from crossing our border in the first place. If you won’t do that, then quit complaining about American citizens doing the job instead. And the same goes for the folks in Washington, from George W. Bush on down, who won’t get serious about the issue of border security.


The Price Of Honor

Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh of East St. Louis, Illinois, took on one of the most corrupt Democrat political machines in the country. He volunteered to go undercover for the FBI in order to help investigate and end the corruption there.

Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh said he had no regrets about aiding the FBI even though the agency told him that he and his family would be at risk. He said the investigation that has led to the indictment of five so far would result in several more arrests.

Kelvin Ellis, the city's former regulatory affairs director, was arrested Jan. 21 on charges that he tried to have a federal witness killed. He is being held without bail.

The heart of the case against Ellis is a series of conversations the two men had while McIntosh was wearing a wire. The two men are precinct committeemen, and McIntosh sought Ellis' advice on climbing the political ladder. McIntosh, 45, is running for East St. Louis Township supervisor in the election April 5.

In his first public comments on the investigation, McIntosh said Monday that he was able to work his way into the city's political power base and then use what he had learned against those who trusted him.

"They let an honest man into a corrupt circle," McIntosh said, referring to some in the city's powerful Democratic Central Committee. "That was the biggest mistake they could make."

McIntosh has been threatened, maligned, and suspended from his job because of his courage. Let’s hope that his sacrifice is worth it, and that the people of East St. Louis, like the people of Iraq, will one day be permitted to vote in an honest election.


Cover Unveiled

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is coming out this July. It is the sixth book in the blockbuster series by J.K. Rowling. The cover for the book has been unveiled. Illustrator Mary GrandPre speaks extensively about her work on the art for the books.


Royal Death Not Murder

Results from a CT scan show that King Tut, the XVIII Dynasty boy-king whose tomb was the premiere archaeological discovery of the twentieth century, was not murdered. Instead, it appears he may have died from another, altogether more natural cause.

Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced the results of the CT scan about two months after it was performed on Tut's mummy.

Hawass said the remains of Tutankhamun, who ruled about 3,300 years ago, showed no signs that he had been murdered - dispelling a mystery that has long surrounded the pharaoh's death.

"In answer to theories that Tutankhamun was murdered, the team found no evidence for a blow to the back of the head, and no other indication of foul play," according to a statement released Tuesday by Egyptian authorities.

"They also found it extremely unlikely that he suffered an accident in which he crushed his chest."

Hawass said some members of the Egyptian-led research team, which included two Italian experts and one from Switzerland, interpreted a fracture to Tut's left thighbone as evidence that the king may have broken his leg badly just before he died.

"Although the break itself would not have been life-threatening, infection might have set in," the statement said. "However, this part of the team believes it also possible, although less likely, that this fracture was caused by the embalmers."

So instead of the more fascinating story of royal intrigue, we have a different sort of tragedy ending the life of the young king. I’ll have to admit – I’m disappointed.


Somehow I Can’t Bring Myself To Feel Sympathy

Rudy Michael Romero used to have it all in prison. He had plenty of cash in his prison account, friends and family on the outside, and respect as a tough guy from his fellow inmates. He was just a short time from parole last year for his string of robberies. Then his world came crashing down – because of a DNA sample he was required to give while in prison.

You see, Romero was the Parkway Rapist, the long-unidentified perpetrator of a series of 13 Salt Lake City area rapes. His victims were mostly teenagers, but included one 9-year-old girl.

"They took away everything": Romero's father still speaks with his son. "It's my duty as a father not to abandon him," Michael Romero says. But most other members of Romero's family have ended their support.

A longtime girlfriend cut off contact when she learned of the DNA match. She even offered to aid police in the investigation.

Rudy Romero's square jaw trembles and his hands shake when he speaks about his children. There are eight in all, and he doesn't even know where most of them are.

"They took away my family," he says. "They took away everything - every last bit or respect I had."

Somehow, this piece of filth doesn’t understand that he doesn’t deserve any respect. He is one of the lowest of the low – a sexual predator who preys on children. Those who have turned their backs on him are better off for putting him out of their lives.

And then there is this complaint, one which made my blood boil.

With each move, he has been strip-searched - his body probed for contraband. The searches are unwelcome, invasive, emasculating. Prisoners who resist are searched by force.

"It's sexual assault," he cries, noting that he has never been caught with any contraband. "It's rape. Don't you understand? I don't deserve this."

Suddenly, silently, the man accused of sexually assaulting 13 females - most of them not even old enough to drive - raises his shaved head and wipes the tears from his eyes.

Somehow I just can’t find it in me to find a bit of sympathy. Part of me would really like to see him put in the general population, where he could mix with fellow inmates like the one quoted in the article, though my better nature knows we don’t punish people in this manner.

"Now he's getting a taste of the world he created for his victims," says one inmate who was incarcerated for several months in the same unit as Romero at the Utah State Prison. "He still tries to act tough, but he's no more liked in here than he is on the outside."

Unfortunately, Romero can never be charged with his crimes. The statute of limitations ran out long ago. Fortunately, he was back in prison after a parole violation when the DNA match was made. That meant that the parole board could take note of the match and stop his release – and set a 25 year date for his next parole hearing on the five-to-life sentence he is serving for robbery. Civil libertarians are, of course, outraged.

But I’m not, nor should any other person with a sense of decency.


Faith Of Our Founding Fathers

Christopher Levenick and Michael Novak provide a great overview of the religious lives and beliefs of the Founding Fathers. In the process, they demolish a recent piece in The Nation by Brooke Allen. I couldn’t summarize the column a way that does it justice, so I will simply encourage you to read it for yourself. It’s a keeper.


Prayers For Bill Clinton

There seem to have been a few complications following the former president’s surgery last year. He will be having surgery to deal with these issues.

Former President Clinton will undergo a medical procedure this week to remove an unusual buildup of fluid and scar tissue from his chest, six months after he underwent quadruple bypass surgery, his office said Tuesday. "I feel fine," Clinton said in Washington.

The low-risk procedure will take place Thursday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. Clinton will remain hospitalized for three to 10 days and is expected to make a "full functional recovery," doctors said.

Clinton, who planned to play a golf tournament in Florida on Wednesday with former President George H.W. Bush for tsunami relief, said doctors discovered the condition during a recent X-ray. He called the surgery a "routine sort of deal."

"I feel fine," Clinton told reporters following a visit to the Oval Office with the former president. "And we're going to go play golf tomorrow."

The procedure, known as a decortication, will remove scar tissue that has developed as a result of fluid buildup and inflammation, causing compression and collapse of the lower lobe of the left lung, doctors said. The surgery will be done either through a small incision or with a video-assisted thoracoscope inserted between ribs.

It sounds like a relatively uncomplicated procedure, but any time you are messing with the heart there is the potential for trouble. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.


Monday, March 07, 2005

The Ebb And Flow Of Consensus

Jeff Jacoby makes a great point about the recent Supreme Court decision on the execution of killers who were 16 & 17 at the time they murdered.

The Roper majority purported to ground its ruling in the nation's "evolving standards of decency," which it says have led to a "national consensus" against the execution of juvenile murderers. Even if there were such a consensus -- and there clearly is not -- there is no reason to believe that it is chiseled in granite.

But by deciding that public opinion has moved decisively on this question, then grafting that decision onto the constitution, the court has stripped lawmakers of the right to someday change their minds. Yet when has legislative support for capital punishment ever been static? As Justice Antonin Scalia notes in his dissent, it "has surged and ebbed throughout our nation's history."

In the years after World War II, for example, there was a dramatic fall-off in executions, as many states went through a phase of abolishing or restricting capital punishment. For several years beginning in 1968, in fact, executions came to a halt.

By the logic of the Roper majority, the Supreme Court could have declared back then that "evolving standards" had reached a "national consensus" in favor of eliminating the death penalty once and for all. In hindsight, we know that any such declaration would have been ludicrous -- within a few years, support for the death penalty had soared. "But had this court then declared the existence of such a consensus, and outlawed capital punishment," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a 1988 opinion quoted by Scalia last week, "legislatures would very likely not have been able to revive it. The mistaken premise of the decision would have been frozen into constitutional law."

And so there we have it. One of the myriad flaws of the decision in Roper v. Simmons is that it forever freezes into place an alleged consensus on the juvenile death penalty (one which I would argue does not even exist). By making its decision on constitutional grounds, the issue of the existence of a national consensus is hereafter moot. Bound by stare decisis, any future court would be bound to strike down any law purporting to legalize the death penalty for juveniles, regardless of the will of the people and their representatives in government. The “evolving standards of decency” to which Justice Kennedy refers will not be allowed to evolve the other direction. In short, the position of a minority of death penalty states (a mere 47% of them) against executing 16 & 17 year olds has been incorporated into the sacred language of the Bill of Rights, and it will be virtually impossible to undo the result.


One Tough Deer!

I don’t think there are many Americans alive today who have not seen the movie Bambi. Walt Disney chose a six-year-old named Donnie Dunagan to be the voice of the little deer way back in 1942. But few Americans know what became of Donnie when he grew up – he became Major Donnie Dunagan, USMC.

Dunagan made eight movies as a child after being discovered at a Memphis, Tenn., talent show. They included 1939's Son of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff and Tower of London with Basil Rathbone. But his career ended when his family fractured. He wound up in boarding homes, then joined the military as a teen.

"I adopted the Marines, and the Marines adopted me," Dunagan said.

Dunagan distinguished himself in the service. The curly-haired lad with the Southern drawl whom Karloff had hoisted on a monster's shoulder became the youngest Marine drill instructor ever. A boxer and devoted Harley rider, Dunagan served three tours in Vietnam and was wounded several times.

Like I said – one tough deer.


Too Conservative To Be Protected

While professors at University of Colorado rally around a hack and liar like Ward Churchill wailing about McCarthyism and academic freedom, they’ve been strangely silent about the refusal to rehire a conservative professor, Dr. Phil Mitchell.

He teaches. He doesn't preach.

His reward? After more than 20 years, Mitchell may be out at CU.

Mitchell isn't as alluring as Churchill. He doesn't hold tenure - or a plastic AK-47. Only bachelor's and master's degrees in education, as well as a doctorate in American social history from CU.

He began teaching history in 1984, and in 1998, Mitchell won the prestigious SOAR Award for teacher of the year.

Recently, William Wei, director of the Sewall Academic Program, let Mitchell know that CU would not be renewing his contract after this year because "his teaching was not up to the department standards."

What is the basis for such a judgment? Why has Mitchell been ousted from his non-tenured position? It would appear to relate to a couple of recent incidents in which he introduced “diverse ideas” into his classes.

Mitchell taught at the Hallett Diversity Program for 24 straight semesters. That is, until he made the colossal error of actually presenting a (gasp!) diverse opinion, quoting respected conservative black intellectual Thomas Sowell in a discussion about affirmative action.

Sitting 5 feet from a pink triangle that read "Hate-Free Zone," the progressive head of the department berated Mitchell, calling him a racist.

"That would have come as a surprise to my black children," explains Mitchell, who has nine kids, as of last count, two of them adopted African-Americans.

Then, Mitchell had the audacity to use a book on liberal Protestantism in the late 19th century. So repulsed by the word "god" was one student, she complained, and the department chair fired him without a meeting, he said.

Apparently the failure to remain politically correct is grounds for termination at Colorado. So in all likelihood the outcome is that Mitchell will be fired for being a scholar who introduces mainstream academic material into his classes – and a bomb-throwing, lying America-hater like Churchill will be retained. What a shame that it isn’t the other way around.


The Bitch Is Back

Theresa Heinz Kerry crawled out from under her multi-million dollar rock this weekend and took her private jet out to Seattle to help raise money for Rep. Adam Smith. Here is a sampling of her comments, with a few observations of my own thrown in.

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH: A practicing Catholic, as is her husband, Heinz Kerry remains outraged at attacks by bishops on her husband's pro-choice views.
"You cannot have bishops in the pulpit -- long before or the Sunday before the election -- as they did in Catholic churches, saying it was a mortal sin to vote for John Kerry," she said.

Heinz Kerry gave no examples. Last year, a few ultraconservative prelates said they would not allow the Democratic nominee to receive communion in their dioceses. The bishop of Colorado Springs declared that Catholics voting for pro-choice candidates were not welcome at the communion rail.

"The church has a right and obligation to teach values," Heinz Kerry declared. "They don't have a right to restrict freedom of expression, which they did."

Actually, the bishops restricted no one’s freedom of expression. They refused to allow Church property to be used by your abortion-promoting husband’s campaign, and they exercised their teaching authority to impose a legitimate Church sanction against your husband. But your husband was nowhere prevented from speaking or getting his message out.

COUNTING THE VOTES: Heinz Kerry is openly skeptical about results from November's election, particularly in sections of the country where optical scanners were used to record votes.

"Two brothers own 80 percent of the machines used in the United States," Heinz Kerry said. She identified both as "hard-right" Republicans. She argued that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines."

"We in the United States are not a banana republic," added Heinz Kerry. She argued that Democrats should insist on "accountability and transparency" in how votes are tabulated.

"I fear for '06," she said. "I don't trust it the way it is right now."

The reality is that your husband did about as well as the polls showed he would do in the closing days of the campaign. More votes were cast and counted than any election in US history. And despite all your concerns about high-tech voter fraud, you failed to notice the low-tech voter fraud committed by Democrats in the very state in which you were speaking, which put a fraud-tainted Democrat into the Governor’s mansion. There is also the question of LACK OF EVIDENCE to support your innuendo.

A SECOND KERRY RUN: Heinz Kerry won't stand in the way of a second presidential bid by her husband. She tersely summed up emotions at the end of November's long election night: "No tears, some sadness."

"I think we should focus on '06: If '06 doesn't work out, '08 will be impossible," she argued. "If it were right for John to do it -- and he felt right -- he would do it again (in 2008). If he didn't feel it right, he wouldn't."

Oh please, oh please, oh pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaazzzzzzeeeeeee! Urge him to run. We Republicans won’t even need to do any opposition research. By the way, when will he be signing that DD-180?

Well, there you have it – the woman is every bit as loony as she seemed on the campaign trail..


Giving The Watcher His Due

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

One Reason To Respect Bill Clinton

I never thought that Bill Clinton had a sense of decency. I wished him well during his heart surgery because I would offer sucha wish to any person facing such surgery, not because I had any affection for him. I'll concede that his actions on behalf of tsunami relief have served to raise him somewhat in my esteem, but not much. On the other hand, this story makes me wonder if I haven't been too harsh on the man, and if there might be more than a remnant of human decency still lurking in his soul.

On their tour of tsunami damage in Southeast Asia, former President Bill Clinton once allowed his predecessor, former President George H.W. Bush, to sleep on the plane's only bed while he stretched out on the floor.

The government plane in which the presidents toured the disaster area had one large bedroom and another room with tables and seats, according to an interview with Bush in this week's Newsweek.

Bush, 80, said Clinton offered ahead of time to give the older former president the bedroom so he could lie flat and avoid paining his body. Clinton, 58, decided to play cards in the other room that night.

The next morning, Bush said he peeked in and saw Clinton sound asleep on the plane's floor.

"We could have switched places, each getting half a night on the bed, but he deferred to me. That was a very courteous thing, very thoughtful, and that meant a great deal to me," Bush said.

Bush said he and Clinton are not close, but have been compatible on the tour, partly because Clinton respects his age

Why do I respond this way to a story like this? Because this isn't a "for public consumption" action on his part. Who was going to find out that Clinton did the decent thing by giving Bush the bed for the entire night? The likely answer is that nobody would have known were it not for 41's recounting of the tale. That is reason enough for me to believe that his actions were based upon something other than a desire for good press.


But SCOTUS Says He Was Too Young To Understand Right From Wrong

On the night of Nov. 12, 2003, Robert Aaron Acuna murdered my parents in their Baytown home as they were getting ready for dinner.

My father, 76, was in the garage sitting in a chair, listening to talk radio. Evidence indicates that he was forced to kneel, then shot once through the back of the head with a .38 caliber handgun. His wallet, with credit cards, car keys and cash, were stolen.

My mother, who was 74 and unable to move around without her walker, was in the house, sitting at the kitchen table. She, too, was forced to kneel, and shot twice in the face. The first shot was not fatal. Enough time passed between the first shot and the second shot for her to actually grab a roll of paper towels and wipe some of the gore off of her face. Then Acuna shot her again, this time fatally.

On the morning of Nov. 13, 2003, Acuna was due to appear in court on charges of aggravated robbery. He was charged with, and later confessed to, pulling a knife on an elderly man in the parking lot of the San Jacinto Mall in Baytown.

He did not show up that morning in court. He had stolen my father's car after the murders and had driven to Dallas. On Sunday, Nov. 16, Acuna was arrested at a hotel in Dallas for the murders of James and Joyce Carroll. He had in his possession their credit cards, my father's wallet, car and several personal items, which had been taken from the Carroll house. He was also found to have three shell casings consistent with the murder weapon.

Fortunately for Robert Aaron Acuna, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that he and others like him lacked the capacity to determine whether or not such actions were right or wrong. As a result, Acuna will be spared the lethal injection the crime described above so richly merits.

And Tim Carroll and his family will be denied the justice they so richly deserve. They will have to pay to house and feed Acuna for at least the next forty years, at which point Acuna may be released under a provision of Texas law which declares that a life sentence equals forty years for purposes of parole.


A Voice Against Zero Tolerance

One of the most disturbing trends in education during my time in the classroom has been the trend towards zero tolerance policies. Born of a desire to avoid litigation over disparate treatment of students for misconduct that on the surface seems identical, these policies decree draconian punishment for school disciplinary infractions.

A 15-year-old girl decided to die. She took three bottles of prescription medication and proceeded to school. Later that day, her mother received a phone call from a school administrator causing her to rush to the emergency room not knowing whether her daughter was dead or alive.

Upon entering the hospital, the mother was met, not by a doctor, but by a school administrator. There were no condolences, just an administrator informing the mother that, because of school policy, her daughter would be suspended and then remanded to the district's disciplinary alternative school for a mandatory 60 days. She served her suspension in a hospital bed.

Such policies, of course, leave no room for nuanced decision-making, individual differences, or examination of the totality of the facts. Rather, they take a harsh and legalistic approach that allows for no deviation from a harsh standard that gives no consideration to motive, intent, or outcome. Thus the use of pills on the suicide attempt described above was treated no differently than kids passing a joint under the bleachers, and receive exactly the same sanction. A rational approach would have instead seen the girl referred for counseling and returned to class when she was ready, not put into a disciplinary program with the worst kids in the district.

I think back to a case on a campus in my district, involving a student I knew very well. He was an honor student, and one of the leadership cadre in the ROTC program on the campus. That position made him one of the handful of kids on campus to have access to the email system. One day he received a pornographic picture from a student at another school in another district. He immediately sent it to the trash folder, but didn't empty the trash before logging off the program. The other kid was caught by his school sending porn from his school account, and his principal sent an email to the principals of the students who received the emails. The email was found in the trash folder, right where the receiving student had put it -- and as a result that student received a month in the district disciplinary school and (as a consequence) lost all of his rank in the ROTC program. Rather than considering the fact that the email was in the trash folder as evidence of his intent to get rid of the porn, its presence was viewed as evidence of his intent to keep the picture.

Ask any teacher you know -- they will be able to tell you any number of stories about a student who received a disproportionate punishment under zero tolerance policies. So can many parents. That is why parents in one local district have formed Katy Zero Tolerance, a group devoted to restoring the rights of students and parents to reasonable treatment in school discipline situations and to ending the nonsensical application of zero tolerance policies. The example above comes from a column in today's Houston Chronicle by the group's president, Fred Hink. He's promoting Texas Senate Bill 126 and Texas House Bills 442 and 461, which will rein-in some of the abuses cause by zero tolerance policies. These proposals deserve some consideration, and I encourage you to look at the group's website for further information.


Liberals Protest Abortion -- Of Lambs

One of the hottest fashion trends is the use of astrakhan -- the wool of newborn or fetal karakul lambs -- by top designers and their imitators. Animal rights terrorists activists are outraged, and engaging in various forms of protest.

It is already provoking a backlash. Anna Wintour, the British editor-in-chief of American Vogue, was attacked when she turned up at a Lagerfeld show in a lamb’s wool jacket dyed pink. A woman shoved food in her face and shouted: “That’s for all the little animals.”

The week before, activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) took over a window of Prada’s flagship store in Milan, smearing themselves with blood and carrying slogans declaring “Death for Sale”.

Yeah, those are certainly productive activities. Assaulting someone because you don't like their clothes is a crime. So is trespassing and vandalizing private property.

And then there are the agonized words of this UK Humane Society official.

Rick Swain, an investigator for the Humane Society of the United States, visited a karakul farm in Uzbekistan posing as the owner of a chain of boutiques, making a video of what he saw. “I insisted on seeing the slaughterhouse,” he said.

“We could hear what sounded like the cries of lambs as we were led into this 20ft by 20ft building with hooks in the ceiling.

“The floor was covered with blood and there were carcasses of dead baby lambs.”

And then there are the complaints of this PETA staffer.

Sean Gifford, Peta’s director of European campaigns, said: “The fur trade is a violent, bloody business but these skins are particularly gruesome.

“Upwards of 4m lambs are slaughtered every year for these coats. A ewe can usually have four births in a lifetime. The first three lambs are slaughtered after they are born.

“But the mother is butchered 15 to 30 days before giving birth to the fourth lamb. The unborn lamb is then ripped from her belly. Its skin has not had a chance to develop so it is softer and more highly valued.”

You know, I'm not a big one for fur. I love animals. But I just can't get too outraged by this -- especially when liberals refuse to add their voices against the cruelty found in this sort of outrage.

A pliers-like instrument is used because the baby’s bones are calcified, as is the skull. There is no anesthetic for the baby. The abortionist inserts the instrument up into the uterus, seizes a leg or other part of the body, and, with a twisting motion, tears it from the baby’s body. This is repeated again and again. The spine must be snapped, and the skull crushed to remove them. The nurse’s job is to reassemble the body parts to be sure that all are removed.

Or maybe this one would trouble them.

According to nurse Shafer, the baby was alive and moving as the abortionist “delivered the baby’s body and arms - everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby’s head just inside the uterus. The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks he might fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp.”

But somehow I doubt that they will join the chorus of condemnation of these activities. After all, the latter two only result in the death of human babies, not the much more imporant and morally valued karakul lambs of Uzbekistan.


A Purple Heart-Warming Story

Howard Watters lost his father when he was six months old. Sgt. 1st Class Cecil H. Watters of Company K of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, was killed in action near Kunu-ri Pass on Nov. 29, 1950. His Purple Heart went missing during a family move some nine years later.

Last month, Howard Watters received a delivery via UPS. It was his father's Purple Heart.

"I am excited that the distinguished award is now in the right place. I know it means a great deal to you and your family," read the Feb. 12 letter from Allen Boyd of Weatherford, Okla.

Said Watters: "I still get goose bumps when I think about it sometimes."

Boyd said he bought the medal for $1 at an estate sale while on a summer vacation four years ago in Gunnison, Colo.

In an interview last week, he said as a patriotic gesture he wanted to find relatives of the man whose name was inscribed on the back: Sgt. 1st Class Cecil H. Watters.

"I'm the kind of guy who gets choked up when we have Veterans Day assembly," said Boyd, a math teacher whose father was a Korean War veteran.

You know, it would have been easy to keep the medal. I mean, there are plenty of folks out there who collect such things. They turn up in estate sales, garage sales, and pawn shops all the time. To try to actually return the medal is a difficult task. It would be hard to find who the proper family members would be. But Allen Boyd did.

His search for Watters began in Colorado, on the Internet.

"That was an enormous task," he said. "I didn't know what war it was from. I thought maybe it was World War II ... and then I got to thinking, if this person was awarded the Purple Heart for being killed in action and didn't have a son, there might not be anybody left."

His online sleuthing at a temporary dead end, he sought help from the Pentagon. That too, brought no success.

Then one day he found a Web site he'd never seen before. It listed a Cecil H. Watters from Mahaska County, Iowa, as being killed in action in 1950.

"I didn't know anything about Iowa so I went to a map," Boyd said.

Through phone calls he located William Watters, Howard's cousin from Oskaloosa, Iowa, who put him in touch with another relative. That relative, an uncle, got on the phone to Howard Watters and told him the medal had been found.

Having gown up in a military family, I know how important medals are. They tell the stories of valor, of sacrifice, and of day-to-day acts of courage that are the stock in trade of the soldier, sailor, and airman. Whenever possible, they belong in the hands of those whose sacrifices earned them, or the hands of their family members. Allen Boyd understands that, too. The reaction of Howard Watters explains why that is so.

For Watters, 54, having the medal back is a priceless experience. He said he owes Boyd a debt of gratitude for the effort he made to track him down.

"The odds of me ever seeing this again were astronomical. It's like me hitting the best lottery I could ever hit," he said.

He got "misty-eyed" when he opened the package, his wife, Glenda, said.

"I really don't know how to explain it," Watters said. "It's something I never thought I'd ever see again. I've got something now that belonged to my dad that I wouldn't have had otherwise."

Sadly, we live in a day when men and women of our nation are again being asked to make sacrifices that will leave children without a parent, parents without a child, and groups of siblings one member short. Medals like these are a tangible reminder of the heroism and self-sacrifice of that missing loved one. How many families are missing that reminder because it has been lost or stolen? How important would its return be?

In his letter to Howard Watters, Boyd wrote, "Your dad's Purple Heart was displayed in our home where we were asked many questions about its origin. I continued to periodically search for the owner's family. I knew someone, somewhere was looking for it."

Thank you, Sgt. 1st Class Cecil H. Watters, for your sacrifice for your country.

Thank you, Mr. Boyd, for doing the decent thing.

And to anyone else out there who has a Purple Heart or other military decoration that doesn't come from your family -- consider trying to locate the survivors of the man who earned it. It would almost certainly mean more to them than it ever will to you.


Illegal To Complain About Public Officials & Employees?

Sometimes I think we need a minimum competency test for legislators. If Nevada had one, there wouldn't be legislation pending that would make it illegal to complain about public officials and employees. The genesis of this legislation and its unsavory pedigree appear in an editorial by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In 1999, a misguided Legislature passed a bill that made it a crime to make a false allegation of misconduct against a police officer.

It didn't take long for the law to claim its first victim. In 2000, Washoe County resident Robert Eakins griped about Reno police in a letter to the city's mayor. The mayor forwarded the letter to police, who used the law's vague language to label the correspondence a formal complaint. Mr. Eakins was jailed for 14 hours.

In 2002, a federal judge ruled the law was unconstitutional for many reasons, among them its exclusive application to law enforcement officers and not other public officials.

Last week, Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, introduced Senate Bill 150. To revive the unconstitutional law, this bill would make it a crime -- you guessed it -- to lodge a false allegation against any public official. If this bill is passed, most every taxpayer who has put into writing his frustration with the Legislature's inaction on property tax increases could end up incarcerated.

The public has a guaranteed right to criticize government and public officials. The 1999 law belongs in a distant, unmarked grave where it can never be unearthed for reconsideration.

Now mind you, I don't favor false misconduct claims against cops. My brother is a sergeant with an Oregon police department, and we watched in horror some years back as the district attorney and her ex-con boyfriend used her office to pursue a false charges against two of the cops on the department because they had caused his parole to be revoked. But when filing a legitimate complaint against a police officer can result in criminal penalties against a citizen because of a good-faith disagreement on what is proper police conduct, the law is no good.

To expand it to include complaints against any public official or employee is even worse. Consider this -- does claiming that a member of the legislature is a "tool of special interests" (as opposed to claiming he is a tool) constitute an allegation of bribery? What about a letter to the editor saying that he is dishonest? And we won't get into the dozens of he said/she said conflicts that happen every day between citizens and public employees -- would those be fodder for criminal charges? And what of the right to petition government for redress of grievances if the government can decide that such petitions citizens are wrong and subject them to criminal charges?

Here's hoping that Nevada voters will remember that Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, is opposed to their right to complain about government, and exercise their right to
express their disapproval by voting her out of office.


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