Precinct 333

Saturday, March 19, 2005

An Oath Of Defiance

There has been much discussion lately regarding the possibility of the FCC attempting to regulate blogs as political contributions under McCain/Feingold. This would have the effect of eliminating political speech on the internet during the weeks leading up to elections.

Let's set aside the fact that this is blatantly unconstitutional. Heck, the whole McCain/Feingold speech suppression scheme is unconstitutional, but has been upheld by the Supreme Court anyway. In short, the courts are not going to protect us, the Congress isn't going to protect us, and the FEC is part of the executive branch so that tells you the likelihood of help from that part of the government. In other words, all three branches of government are arrayed against the free speech rights in the blogosphere. Ain't no help coming -- the only thing available to us is the personal decision on compliance or defiance, and our mutual solidarity.

Patterico has called upon bloggers to sign on to the following statement.

If the FEC makes rules that limit my First Amendment right to express my opinion on core political issues, I will not obey those rules.

I wholeheartedly subscribe to it, but find it a bit bland as a rallying cry. Doc Rampage has a much more colorful version of the pledge.

I'll stop blogging when I've got nothing more to say. Or when I move somewhere that I don't have Internet service. Or when I get bored with it. Or if I find something else I like better. Or something like that. But I stand firm on this! I shall not stop blogging just because someone passes a law telling me to. Screw you.

That comes a bit closer to my point of view, and I wholeheartedly subscribe to that formulation as well. My problem with this version is that it is, like so much of the internet, very individualistic. That's great, because we each need to make our decision as an individual, but I still find myself looking at it as being centered on the self and not the greater good. There is not solidarity in either of the two oaths -- each of us is, in effect, a rugged individual going it alone. Unfortunately, that independence makes us easy to pick off. We need to be banded together for mutual support.

That said, I propose the following, and ask others to offer constructive criticism. If you like it, please sign on to it.

We are the blogosphere, brothers and sisters, friends and foes, united together in support of freedom. We are diverse voices united in the pursuit of a multiplicity of goals and ideals, based upon our many divergent sets of beliefs and principles. Despite our differences, we together hold firm to this single unifying principle -- freedom of speech is the cornerstone of liberty, and we reject as tyranny efforts by any entity, be it religious, economic, political, or governmental, to regulate or forbid the free exchange of ideas on the internet. We pledge to resist, to the best of our respective abilities, any regulatory scheme which seeks to inhibit or prevent the publication or dissemination of facts and opinions on any matter of public concern, and promise our support to one another in that resistance. We are the blogosphere, and we will not be silenced.

And don't worry, folks, you will not be assimilated.


Friday, March 18, 2005

If Homosexuals, Why Not Cousins?

Come on, gay marriage advocates -- what do you say to this one? Do you accept the right of society to apply rules here, just not to you?

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. - A county judge refused to make an exception for two first cousins who want to marry, even though the couple assured the judge they don't want to have children.

Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva on Thursday denied the marriage license application for first cousins Eleanor Amrhein, 46, and Donald W. Andrews Sr., 39, of Logan Township.

The couple say they have been together for several years, but Kopriva said state law bars first cousins from marrying because of an increased likelihood their children will have birth defects.

Don't these folks have the right, as expressed in Lawrence v. Texas, "to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life." Shouldn't they fall under the same prescription, as written by Justice Kennedy, to "an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct." Doesn't this involve "liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions"?

Or is it only in the case of gay sexuality and gay marriage that those rights apply?


Boxer Admits Democrats Violating Constitutional Confirmation Requirement has the audio of Barbara Boxer's speech to the rally. In it, she admits that the Constitution requires only 51 votes to confirm a judge, but that the Democrats are insisting in going beyond the dictates of the Constitution to confirm Bush appointees.

Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.

She may have a point. Maybe we do need a supermajority to confirm judges. But that isn't what the Constitution requires, by her own admission. To set that standard she needs to get a constitutional amendment passed.

Remember these words -- we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That is the sound of the Democrats pissing on the Constitution.


Apologize For Crusades?

Well, now it looks like Muslims are demanding that the Pope apologize for the Crusades.

The principle of demanding apology from the Vatican germinated following Pope Jean Paul II's visit to Syria and Egypt a few years ago, and the apologies the Catholic Church presented to the Jewish and some other Christian doctrines, explained Sheikh Zafzaf. “Al-Azhar is only asking for a similar treatment,” he added.

I agree. The Pope should apologize for the Crusades -- and the fact that Christian Europe did not pursue them to their stated end, the permanent exclusion of Islam from the Holy Land. And I think the apology should come immediately after Islamic authorities apologize for their conquest of the Christian Middle East, their eight oppressive centuries in Spain, the destruction of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and the repeated incursions into Christian Europe. I mean, if we want to get into a game of historical tit-for-tat.


Police Arrest 5-Year-Old For School Tantrum

This is just outrageous. There need to be multiple firings -- both at the school and the police department -- over this brainless absurdity.

A 5-year-old girl was arrested, cuffed and put in back of a police cruiser after an outburst at school where she threw books and boxes, kicked a teacher in the shins, smashed a candy dish, hit an assistant principal in the stomach and drew on the walls.

The students were counting jelly beans as part of a math exercise at Fairmount Park Elementary School when the little girl began acting silly. That's when her teacher took away her jelly beans, outraging the child.

Imagine that -- a 5-year-old acting silly. I'd love to know what the silliness consisted of, that it would result in the child being denied participation in the academic work of the class. That is not ordinarily appropriate punishment at any age.

Minutes later, the 40-pound girl was in the back of a police cruiser, under arrest for battery. Her hands were bound with plastic ties, her ankles in handcuffs.

"I don't want to go to jail," she said moments after her arrest Monday.

Now, it seems to me that two things are true here. First, the child has an anger management problem and threw a whale of a tantrum. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is not, however, grounds for restraining a child in such a manner or for placing her under arrest. Was there no one in the building equipped to deal with a child having a tantrum? Were there no trained professionals employed in this building? Whoever called the police was just plain wrong -- even the district agrees.

While police say their actions were proper, school officials were not pleased with the outcome.

"We never want to have 5-year-old children arrested," said Michael Bessette, the district's Area III superintendent.

The district's campus police should have been called to help and not local police, he said.

Bessette said campus police routinely deal with children and are trained to calm them in such situations.

So who screwed up here? Find out and fire them. Period. They clearly failed to follow proper procedures laid out by the district. Rather than call in trained professionals to deal with the situation (though one would have thought that the teacher and the AP were trained professionals with a knowledge of how to deal with a 5-year-old having a tantrum), their choice was to have the child arrested, bound hand and foot, and hauled off in a squad car. That doesn't happen often with the 15-year-olds at my school of 2200!

And then there is the cop. Plastic ties on the hands and handcuffs around the ankles? For a forty-pound 5-year-old? Didn't that seem excessive to you as you were putting them on? Couldn't you have handled the situation with less drastic measures rather than how you would have dealt with, for example, a serial rapist or a cop killer?

And as for the district spokesman, I think this may be the most absurd thing he could have said.

Under the district's code of student conduct, students are to be suspended for 10 days and recommended for expulsion for unprovoked attacks, even if they don't result in serious injury. But district spokesman Ron Stone said that rule wouldn't apply to kindergartners.

"She's been appropriately disciplined under the circumstances," he said.

Really? You think that ANY of this was appropriate? You must have been smoking crack before you talked to the reporters about this, because there is nothing I would call appropriate about the discipline administered here.

Mama says that the little girl won't be going back to that school, and that she plans on talking to a lawyer. Good for her. No 5-year-old should be treated this way over a temper tantrum.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Daley Administration Ignores Minority-Business Contracting Fraud

We've all heard about set-asides for minority-owned businesses. There's always been room for fraud in awarding those contracts, as it is not difficult to set up a front-man as the "owner/operator" of the business. The city of Chicago has ignored one such case for three years -- and the perpetrator is a major contributor to Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Two restaurants at O'Hare Airport have been allowed to rake in millions of dollars, even though the Daley administration learned back in 2002 that the company running them was probably a phony minority "front" for Panda Express and Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich.

Crucial Inc. won the O'Hare concessions in part because it was certified as a minority-owned business. Its largest shareholder was listed as Jabir Herbert Muhammad, son of the late Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad.

But a compliance officer inspected the firm nearly three years ago and was told by Muhammad himself that he was not running the day-to-day operations of the restaurants as required by the city.

"Everything is done by Panda Express," certification officer William Cunniff concluded in a July 31, 2002, report obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. "Herbert Muhammad said that he was used to get Panda in the airport."

Crucial "seems to be a front for [minority business enterprise] status for Panda Express," Cunniff continued, noting that Crucial appeared to be operating out of an office for "Rezko Panda Express."

When did they take action on the matter? Tuesday, March 15, 2005.

How big is the apparent rip-off of public dollars? Pretty big.

Crucial -- which at one point also had a concessions deal with the Chicago Park District -- grossed $15.7 million between 1999 and 2002, city records show.

Not bad -- over $5 million a year, for contracts that most businesses could not bid on because they were reserved for minority businesses. All you need is someone to be your face, and you rake in a nice chunk of cash. I wonder how much of this Muhammad got, and how much went to Rezko.

But that may not be the only fraudulent minority business involving Muhammad and Rezko.

A separate company also run by Muhammad and Rezko -- Crucial Communications -- is a minority subcontractor to SBC on the pay-telephone contract at Cook County Jail. Some county commissioners questioned what Crucial does for SBC when the telecommunications giant was awarded the no-bid, $10 million contract two years ago.

Yeah, what would the business be doing for SBC? My guess is that SBC supplies the phones, and we know that they handle all of the wiring and operations. That means that Crucial probably just took a kickback for no work.

But wait, there is more. Apparently Rezko has another minority front-man currently operating Muhammad's restaurant business for him, and this same front-man has a minority business contract himself.

Muhammad, boxer Muhammad Ali's former manager, told the city's compliance officer that Panda does pricing, marketing and contract negotiations for the O'Hare restaurants. When it came to managing Crucial's office, he said he wasn't responsible and that the work was done by Al Chaib, a Rezko business associate who has since won a Subway franchise deal at Illinois tollway oases.

You know, I just love Chicago area politics. The corruption is unbelievable, and usually you can trace it back to some Democrat office-holder. It's that way now, and it was that way in the days of Richie Daley's daddy "Hizzona DaMaya", Richard M. Daley


The Voice Of The People Must Not Be Heard!

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is supported by 60% of the residents of the state of Michigan. The only likely way of defeating the measure is to keep the people of Michigan from voting on the measure.

The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative will probably pass if it reaches the 2006 state ballot and most likely can only be defeated by efforts to have it disqualified before the election, said Miranda Massie, lead attorney for the BAMN-led student intervenors in the Grutter v. Bollinger case.

Supporters of the civil rights measure, designed to ban government discrimination and preferences based upon race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, have submitted over 500,000 signatures (they needed around 317,000) to place the measure on the 2006 ballot.

Massie argues that Michigan voters are simply too stupid to know what they were signing or understand what they are voting on.

Although polls show that MCRI has well over 60 percent approval among the Michigan public, Massie attributed its support to confusing language, saying California’s similar Proposition 209 passed for that reason.“The majority of people who voted for Proposition 209 did not know they were voting against affirmative action,” Massie said. “They thought they were voting for an expansion of the civil rights movement.”

Well let's look at what the MCRI actually says, and whether or not the language is too confusing for persons of average intelligence to understand.



Civil Rights.

1. The University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and any other public college or university, community college, or school district shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

2. The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

3. For the purposes of this section "state" includes, but is not necessarily limited to, the state itself, any city, county, any public college, university, or community college, school district, or other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the State of Michigan not included in sub-section 1.

4. This section does not prohibit action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, if ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.

5. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

6. The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party's race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of Michigan anti-discrimination law.

7. This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with the United States Constitution or federal law, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that the United States Constitution and federal law permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

8. This section applies only to action taken after the effective date of this section.

9. This section does not invalidate any court order or consent decree that is in force as of the effective date of this section.

Seems rather clear to me. Government cannot discriminate against anyone based upon race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Government cannot give preferences based upon race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. Certain limited exceptions exist to this rule providing equal protection of the law to all people. What's not to understand? Who do you wish to discriminate against, Ms. Massie? To whom do you wish to give preferences? Why do you not prefer to judge people based upon "not the color of their skin,, but the content of their character," ability to do the job, academic achievement, or other factors that do not consider race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin?

But that isn't the end of Ms. Massie's outrageous statements.

Also, they will try to convince the courts that MCRI has hired black parolees to administer the petition in order to appeal to minorities.

Really? You mean that minorities are incapable of determining whether or not they support the measure when they sign the petition? Is it your position that they just don't know what's good for them, so they need a smart white lawyer like you to swoop in and protect them from themselves? Or is it that you don't believe that blacks should be allowed to circulate petitions? I'm certain it can't be the use of parolees, since it is an article of faith for liberals that all parolees should be permitted to vote and participate in the political life of their communities. Are you trying to disenfranchise black felons? If so, how does that square with your alleged support for civil rights?

When it comes right down to it, I'm pretty shocked by what appears in the article. In essence, Miranda Massie argues that the people of Michigan should be disenfranchised on a matter of public policy since they are going to vote in a manner she opposes. She argues that the voters are really too dumb to be permitted to dictate the policies of the state, so liberals like her should be allowed to dictate those policies for them. And she argues that minorities are not smart enough to participate in the political process, and that parolees should not be allowed to be involved in political activity despite the massive disenfranchisement of minorities that policy causes.

Now if Miranda Massie were a conservative Republican, say Trent Lott or George Bush, we would be hearing outraged wails about the racist nature of her arguments. We would be treated to throngs of minority activists marching on the University of Michigan campus chanting "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Miranda Massie's got to go! Hey, hey! Ho, ho! BAMN's got to go!" The campus chapter of BAMN would be shut down, and its members would be required to attend "sensitivity sessions" and forced to admit their thought crimes. But none of that will happen, you see, because Miranda Massie is on the right left side of the issue of affirmative action. And the double standard for liberal hypocrites continues.


Liberals Rally For Vote Fraud

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was indicted last week on charges related to vote fraud. Yesterday his supporters turned out to protest the indictment.

"This is a rally for justice; this is a rally for democracy," said Orlando resident Thomas Alston, the former leader of the Orange County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "I'm not saying it is or isn't racist, but all these votes they're taking away from us are black votes."

So if breaking election laws increases the black vote, its a good thing?


Call Them What They Are

What's wrong with this lead?

A family of three illegal entrants was taken to Northwest Medical Center to be treated for dehydration and multiple bee stings after Marana police found them in the desert Wednesday afternoon.

"Illegal entrants"? Why do the media insist on coining new and ever more genteel terms for those who break our nation's immigration laws?


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

More Proof That Baseball/Steroid Hearings Are A Fraud

Several days ago I noted that I believed that the planned hearing on steroid use in baseball was nothing but a publicity stunt. That my suspicions regarding the fraudulent nature of the hearings were correct is proved by this story.

Less than 24 hours before the start of the highly anticipated session, Jose Canseco's request for immunity was denied by the House Government Reform committee. Canseco's lawyer said the former AL MVP will not be able to answer questions that would incriminate him.

"No witnesses have been or will be granted immunity," David Marin, a spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, said in an e-mail to the AP.

Given that the matter of steroid use is the subject of a grand jury investigation, the failure of the committee to grant use immunity for the testimony given leaves the players and executives abbearing under subpoena subject to criminal indictment and prosecution if they answer any questions. Even Jose Canseco, who has presumably told all in his book, is in danger if he testifies.

Canseco's lawyer, Robert Saunooke, was angry with the decision.

"It begs the question as to what they're convening this hearing for," Saunooke said in a telephone interview. "They effectively cut the legs off from underneath us."

Saunooke has said that without immunity, Canseco would invoke his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to answer questions.

"They told me we can't do the Fifth to every question," he said. "It's an absolute right of every citizen to not be compelled to give testimony against themselves. They do not make the decision. We do."

Actually, if Saunooke wants to give his client the best available advice, he will instruct him not to even state his name for the record. There have been cases brought in the past arguing that by answering even such innocuous questions as name and place of residence can be construed as a waiver of Fifth Amendment rights.

So what we have here are hearings being held by a committee that has "anything we want" as its jurisdiction holding hearings at which all those testifying will be obliged to assert their rights under the Fifth Amendment in order to escape a possible indictment for perjury. But it will get face time for the members of the committee on the evening and cable news shows and C-Span And that, ultimately, is what the hearing is all about.


Supreme Supermajority?

Democrat political consultant Mark Mellman writes in today's issue of The Hill that Supreme Court nominees should need 60 votes to be confirmed. It is an interesting polemic, clearly set out to justify the current Senate filibuster of Bush appellate nominees as well as the anticipated Democrat obstructionism of future Bush Supreme Court nominees. Mellman, in fact, insists that the 60 vote requirement should be demanded.

Most Americans agree. In a recent poll we conducted, 69 percent said, “A nominee should have to get the support of at least 60 of the 100 senators.” Just 29 percent believe, “When the president nominates a justice to the Supreme Court it should take the votes of only 51 of the 100 senators to confirm the nominee and make them a Supreme Court justice.”

In short, a supermajority of the electorate backs a supermajority to confirm a Supreme Court nomination.

It’s a view shared by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

Supermajorities are appealing because Americans believe in government by consensus. If a nominee can’t muster 60 votes in the Senate, there is not a sufficient consensus to put that person on the Court for life. If the president does not believe a candidate can meet the 60-vote threshold, he should not submit the nomination. If the president finds out during the course of hearings and debate that a candidate will not garner 60 votes, he should withdraw the nomination.

Frankly, I'd love to see that polling data, because I'm suspicious of such in-house polls.

But setting the question of the veracity and reliability of Mellman's poll and the partisan nature of his arguments (including ad hominem attacks on Clarence Thomas, Orrin Hatch, and Bill Frist), there is a bigger question -- is a supermajority really desirable for Supreme Court nominations? It might be, but Mellman fails to make a clear case for them, so interested is he in bashing his political opponents.

What Mellman also fails to do is consider the actual Constitutional requirement for confirmation, as set out by the Constitution in Article II, Section 2, Clause ii.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Right there you have it. The Constitution itself does not set out a supermajority requirement. It in fact does precisely the opposite, excluding the confirmation of "Judges of the supreme Court" (as well as appointments to executive branch offices) from the supermajority requirement set for the ratification of treaties. The standard for confirmation is therefore clearly set by our founding document, the supreme law of the land, as a majority vote. There is no interpretation needed, because the requirement is right there. End of discussion.

Now is there a way to change the number of votes required for confirmation as a"Judge of the supreme Court"? Yes, there is. It is found in Article V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress....

Let Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi propose an amendment to the Constitution to set the bar for judicial nominees at 3/5, or even 2/3, of the Senate. See if it gets out of the House and Senate (which requires one of Mellman's beloved supermajorities) and let's see if 3/4 of the states (another supermajority required by the Constitution) will ratify it. My suspicion is that it won't ever get out of Congress.

And I wonder -- would Mellman be interested in requiring a supermajority of the Supreme Court be required to strike down a law as unconstitutional, since a mere majority of the justices does not represent a consensus of Americans on the matter?

UPDATE: I wonder how Mr. Mellman would reconcile his poll numbers with these poll numbers?

The survey, conducted by the Judicial Confirmation Network, concluded that 67 percent of voters agree that politics should be taken out of the courts and out of the confirmation process.

"It is abundantly clear that the American people are tired of the partisan, political maneuvering and the unwarranted character assassinations against qualified candidates for the federal bench," said Wendy Long, counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, in a press release.

Eighty-two percent of voters agree that "if a nominee for any federal judgeship is well-qualified, he or she deserves an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate," the poll found.

"People see through these aggressive and negative attacks waged by some individuals and groups on the left and they want it to end," Long said. She added that voters want senators "to do their jobs" and vote up or down on nominees "based on their qualifications, not the baseless, negative rhetoric of the left."

The survey also found 75 percent of voters agree that "President Bush should keep his promise made during the campaign to nominate a U.S. Supreme Court justice who will apply existing law, not make new law." And by 78 to 12 percent, voters agreed that senators have a "constitutional duty" to vote on judicial nominations.

Now again, I have no access to the actual polling data, so I have the same concerns about this poll as I do about Mellman's. I've been involved in survey research in the past, and know that how you ask the question can determine how respondents answer (we got 75% of our respondents to support legalized abortion in one question, while getting 67% to oppose it on another). But I find it interesting that on the same day we get such diametrically opposed numbers quoted at us.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Democrats -- Politics Trumps People's Business

Once again, the Democrats have proclaimed their intent to obstruct the business of the American people if a minority is not permitted to exercise an unconstitutional veto over judicial nominees.

n a letter to Majority Leader Bill Frist, Reid wrote that Democrats, who have 44 seats in the 100-member Senate, would refuse to cooperate on any legislation not related to the U.S. military presence in Iraq, national security measures and other "critical government services."

"Beyond that very limited scope, however, we will be reluctant to enter into any consent agreement that facilitates Senate activities, even on routine matters," Reid wrote.

Reid, however, dangles this little gem.

Reid wrote that if Frist would "abandon the nuclear option, I can assure you that Senate Democrats will cooperate with you to consider legislation and nominations."

Hopefully Frist will write back that he will drop any consideration of plans for the GOP to follow the 1975 Democrat precedent of changing filibuster rules by majority vote in mid-session as soon as the nominees who were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee during the last Senate are allowed an up-or-down vote. Absent this immediate capitulation to the dictates of the Constitution, Republicans have no choice but to enforce change the rules in order to ensure that the Constitution is followed.


Muslims Seek Taj Mahal Land (And Cash) Grab

The Taj Mahal is India's most recognizable symbol. Built as a tomb for the Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal by her husband, Shah Jahan, it is a symbol of the enduring love of a husband for his wife. Now a Muslim group has claimed ownership of the Taj Mahal and its grounds, on the basis that it is a Muslim cemetary.

The Sunni Waqf Board (SWB), a Muslim trust, was given ownership of Uttar Pradesh's Muslim graveyards by the Indian government itself.

The board has issued notices to the Archaeological Survey of India as well as the central government, seeking their reply to its demand by the end of March.

Speaking to the BBC, SWB chairman Hafiz Usman said that other than the graves of the emperor and his wife, several other Muslim graves were also located within the Taj Mahal's boundary.

The presence of a mosque and a tomb within the complex clearly brings it under the board's jurisdiction, he says.

The board has quasi-judicial powers and has threatened to take an ex parte decision if its end March deadline is not met.

Frankly, this action is outrageous. For a private group to attempt to steal this historic site from the Indian people goes beyond arrogance. It is part of the heritage of the entire nation, not a minority religious group.

Later in the story, we get to the heart of the matter -- money.

Mr Usman said once the ownership issue had been decided, the board would demand that 7% of the total earnings from tickets should be transferred to its coffers.

The board also wants the power to regularly audit the accounts of the monuments and ensure that the money is not frittered away but used properly for the maintenance of the building.

He said the board did not stake a claim to the monument earlier as it had not wanted to enter into any controversy.

See, what the group is after is a chunk of the cash that the government makes off of the admission fees. I'm not sure what that would come to, but I think we can presume that we are talking about a hefty chunk of change.


Why Do ACLU And Planned Parenthood Protect Perverts?

In Indiana, a 12-year-old cannot consent to sex. In Kansas, the age is 16. In both states, the attorney general is attempting to access records of abortions performed on under-age girls so that their abusers can be prosecuted. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood are fighting both states.

Why is it that these groups are more concerned about covering up sex crimes rather than the prosecution of sex offenders? Could it be the money?


Did Hitler Have The Bomb?

A new book says that the answer is "Yes."

A German historian has claimed in a new book presented on Monday that Nazi scientists successfully tested a tactical nuclear weapon in the last months of World War II.

Rainer Karlsch said that new research in Soviet and also Western archives, along with measurements carried out at one of the test sites, provided evidence for the existence of the weapon.

"The important thing in my book is the finding that the Germans had an atomic reactor near Berlin which was running for a short while, perhaps some days or weeks," he told the BBC.

"The second important finding was the atomic tests carried out in Thuringia and on the Baltic Sea."

Mr Karlsch describes what the Germans had as a "hybrid tactical nuclear weapon" much smaller than those dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

He said the last test, carried out in Thuringia on 3 March 1945, destroyed an area of about 500 sq m - killing several hundred prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates.

I don't know if this is accurate or not. If it was, a few more weeks might have resulted in a very different outcome for WWII.


Can Islam Be Accommodated And How?

Daniel Pipes writes an interesting piece today about accommodating Islam in American society. In it he tries to differentiate between acceptable government accommodations of Islam (those which are generally made for religious groups) and unacceptable ones (special privileges not granted other religions). I find it to be a great analysis, though I might argue against him on certain points.

Throughout the West, Muslims are making new and assertive demands, and in some cases challenging the very premises of European and North American life. How to respond?

Here is a general rule: Offer full rights – but turn down demands for special privileges.

Pipes points to two Canadian cases as exemplars of what to do and what not to do.

By way of example, note two current Canadian controversies. The first concerns the establishment of voluntary Shar‘i (Islamic law) courts in Ontario. This idea is promoted by the usual Islamist groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Canada and the Canadian Islamic Congress. It is most prominently opposed by Muslim women’s groups, led by Homa Arjomand, who fear that the Islamic courts, despite their voluntary nature, will be used to repress women’s rights.

I oppose any role for the Shari‘a, a medieval law, in public life today, but so long as women are truly not coerced (create an ombudsman to ensure this?) and Islamic rulings remain subordinate to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I see no grounds on which to deny Muslims the right, like other Canadians, to revert to private arbitration.

On the other hand, Muslim demands for an exclusive prayer room at McGill University in Montreal are outrageous and unacceptable. As a secular institution, the university on principle does not provide any religious group with a permanent place of worship on campus. Despite this universal policy, the Muslim Student Association, a part of the Wahhabi lobby, insists on just such a place, even threatening a human rights abuse filing if it is defied. McGill must stand firm.

Pipe is spot on in this analysis. What follows is a list of cases in which he sees the possibility of accommodation and others in which he sees the notion of special "Muslim only" privileges. It is in the latter group that I have some concerns. Take this one, as an example.

Changing noise laws to broadcast the adhan (call to prayer) in Hamtramck, Michigan.

Pipes is dead set against this accommodation. I, on the other hand, don't have a problem with doing this, provided that the same regulations apply to other religions. I miss the sound of the local Catholic church tolling out the Angelus at noon. I miss the ringing of bells on Sunday morning. Surely there is a reasonable approach that can let both the bells and the adhan be heard.

Similarly, I disagree with pipes on this matter.

Allowing students in taxpayer-funded schools to use empty classrooms for prayers in New Jersey.

I think there is a way to do this, but it would require the voluntary cooperation of a teacher who would be willing to cooperate. I know this because I have done it. My conference period runs during the lunch period, and one of my Muslim students asked if she could stay and "hang out" in my room during Ramadan. She got herself all oriented and spent the first day in prayer alone. By week's end there were a couple more who I didn't know well popping in and out of my room at lunch time. They were quiet; I got my work done and they got to pray. Call it a win-win situation, and one that I would have been willing to do for members of almost any religious group on a short-term basis (I don't know about letting Satanists sacrifice a goat in my classroom, or about committing to hosting a full-year, student-led Bible Study). But I do agree with Pipes that there shouldn't be an officially designated prayer room.

This is a great column, and a great place for a discussion to start. As religious diversity increases in the United States, we need to figure out what the lines are for accommodation of different beliefs, practices, and sensitivities. I just wish that Pipes hadn't written it, since he is such a lightening rod because of his other writings on Islam..


"Kill Israelis" Not Hate Speech In Canada

In Canada, it is illegal to say that it is acceptable to murder Muslims, batter Baptists, or garotte gays. But it apparently is legal to say that it is acceptable for terrorists to kill Jews -- at least if they are Israeli Jews.

Police have decided not to charge a controversial Muslim leader under Canada's hate-crime laws for suggesting on a television talk show last fall that all adult Israelis are "legitimate targets" for Palestinian terrorists.

Investigators with Halton Region police said that while the comments by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry "were described by many as [a] hate crime," they did not meet the legal definition.

"Although the comments would be considered distasteful to many, in this context they do not constitute a criminal offence," police said in a news release. "The comments were made during a free-flowing discussion between subject-matter experts who were encouraged to express their opinions openly on a topic of significant public interest."

Dr. Elmasry, a University of Waterloo professor and president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, drew widespread public condemnation last October for telling a television panel discussion that all Israelis over the age of 18 could be targets for attacks by Palestinians because they are all members of the country's army.

I find it interesting that the Canadian Islamic Congress refused to accept Dr. Elmasry's resignation, which to me indicates that they agree with his support of terrorism. And that the university where he teaches refused to discipline him at all, when a Christian high school teacher in Canada had his career effectively ended for writing a letter to the editor calling homosexuality immoral, again shows the double standard applied in the Soviet Canuckistan.

I'm disgusted that Canada is willing to allow advocacy of a new genocide against Jews a mere six decades after it helped stop the last one.


Shooting The Messenger

Most politically aware Americans know about the massive vote fraud in King County that resulted in the selection of a Democrat to fill the Governor's mansion after a Republican won the election. Well, yesterday King County election officials admitted that at least six-hundred provisional ballots were counted without verifying that they were cast by qualified voters, in addition to the nearly four-hundred extra ballots that exceeded the number of votes cast in the county. That alone is nearly eight times the margin of victory for the selected Democrat.

The response of members of the King County Council? Shoot the messengers.

The dialogue remained civil. In contrast with strong Republican rhetoric in the past about King County goofs in the election, the toughest talk yesterday came from Democrats.

Councilman Dow Constantine, D-Seattle, referring to comparisons made to Chicago's reputation for election fraud, said he had heard enough "loose talk about Cook County — hyperbole about taking names off tombstones and whatnot."

Julia Patterson, D-SeaTac, took "hot talk" radio stations to task, saying, "If there is anything that will undermine people's trust and confidence in our election system, it's those radio stations continuing to lie about fraud in King County."

Yeah, that's right -- the problem is all those conservatives out there talking about vote fraud and the failure to follow the basic requirements of state law. Not the fraud, not the errors, not the fact that King County's vote totals included more votes than ballots cast and unverified voters. The problem is people talking about the problems, not the problems themselves.

Any wonder that most of us view the Democrats as the party of vote fraud.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Sounds Like A Good Case For Eminent Domain

The UAW has allowed Marines from a local reserve center to park in the lot of "Solidarity House" for some time. The union is now placing restrictions on that policy -- banning Marines who drive foreign cars or have pro-Bush bumper stickers on their vehicle.

"While reservists certainly have the right to drive nonunion made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn't mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW," the union said in a statement released Friday.

The Marines of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines are not taking that lying down. The commanding officer of the unit has banned all use of the UAW lot.

"You either support the Marines or you don't," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commanding officer of the battalion's active duty instructors. "I'm telling my Marines that they're no longer parking there."

At a time when U.S. armed forces are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, quibbling over parking privileges is "silly," Rutledge said.

Sounds to me like there is a serious need for parking at that reserve center. That would certainly be a public purpose, and so I hope that the Department of Defense will consider using the power of eminent domain to take the property and tear down the union facility, converting the whole place into parking lot for the Marines.

And I am particularly fond of this little reminder from Lt. Col. Rutledge.

"I don't know what a foreign car is today anyway. BMWs are made in South Carolina now."

I had the same thought as I read the article, having gone to school in Illinois only a stone's throw from a plant that makes Mitsubishis using UAW labor. And Chrysler is now a foreign-owned nameplate, a subsidiary of Daimler.

What I do know, though, is that when I buy that new truck in the next couple of months, I'm going to try to find one that wasn't made with UAW labor.

UPDATE: Blackfive (via Michelle Malkin) reports that the president of the UAW, Ron Gettelfinger, has intervened and overturned the unAmerican actions of those union thugs who banned Marines from a UAW parking lot for exercising their First Amendment rights or driving the vehicle of their choice. Gettelfinger, a former Marine, issued the following statement.

"I made the wrong call on the parking issue and I have notified the Marine Corps that all reservists are welcome to park at Solidarity House as they have for the past 10 years,"

The Marines, for their part, have told the UAW (UnAmerican Auto Workers) to pound sand.

"I talked to Ron; I let him know that I understand he has rescinded his decision," said Lt. Col. Joe Rutledge, commander of the battalion. "However, I've made my decision -- either you support the Marines or you don't."

You know -- that Toyota Tacoma looks better all the time.


Lights! Camera! Inaction!

While folks are currently trying to blame the female deputy who was required to escort Brian Nichols un-handcuffed to his trial, I think that we need to look a different direction.

A surveillance camera captured Brian G. Nichols' surprise attack on a Fulton County sheriff's deputy, but no one in the control center noticed the assault and sent help, said a law enforcement official who viewed the security tape.

The camera, one of more than 40 stationed in the Fulton County courthouse, showed the 6-foot-1 Nichols assaulting Deputy Cynthia Hall and escaping with her gun. Hall was escorting Nichols to a holding cell before his rape retrial resumed.

No one noticed the assault?????? What was the purpose of the cameras? What was the purpose of having them monitored? Why weren't the cameras adequately monitored? Two people doing the monitoring hardley seems adequate. It strikes me that the number should be at least double that.

The article also goes on to detail how it was poorly designed holding cells and flawed security procedures that seem to have enabled this tragedy, not Deputy Hall's gender or size, that enabled this tragedy to take place. At best, the size differential only made the escape easier, but it wasn't the major factor.


The "Free Speech Hero" Who Wasn't

Dalton Trumbo was one of the so-called "Hollywood Ten" -- a group of Communists subpoenaed to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1947. His refusal to testify resulted in his blacklisting in Hollywood by a motion picture industry that (at that time) did not wish to be associated with an evil ideology bent on the destruction of America. The Left in America usually depicts these men as victims, martyrs for freedom of speech and association. That is a lie, as Trumbo's own actions show.

As a senior member of the Communist Party in Hollywood, Trumbo was a member of the committee which enforced ideological discipline on Party members. Take, for example, the case of Albert Maltz.

Trumbo was part of the Party's inquisition against the screenwriter Albert Maltz in 1946, for Maltz's published statement that artists should be free to say what they feel, and that literature should be judged by its human and humane quality, not the politics of its author. Trumbo and his fellow communists browbeat Maltz for publishing this heresy, until Maltz finally issued a humiliating public recantation. Maltz, who also later was brought before HUAC (and went to jail for refusing to testify), told Gerda Lerner that his appearance before HUAC in 1947 was simply nothing compared to the real and psychologically-destructive trauma of his criticism/self-criticism sessions before the Communist Party in 1946.

Yeah, that's right -- saying the wrong thing resulted in Maltz being subject to discipline for daring to engage in free speech, led by a supposed defender of freedom of speech. Ideological purity was to be the standard by which "art" was judged, not its quality. And failure to toe the party line would become grounds for persecution.

But then again, this man who would later denounce people who "named names" to the FBI or HUAC was a government informant against those who differed with his politics. His great work, Johnny Got His Gun, was strongly anti-war at a time when the CPUSA insisted that the US should not join England and France in fighting Stalin's ally, Hitler. Once the pact broke down and the CPUSA line (dictated by Moscow) became one of support for an "anti-fascist war", Trumbo sought to suppress his own book. When people opposed to the war contacted Trumbo seeking copies of the book, Trumbo took action.

"Johnny Got His Gun" became a big hit with right-wing isolationists, as well as sincere pacifists, after Dec. 7, 1941 and the entry of the USA into the world war. A number of such people--some real fascists and anti-Semites, who saw the war as a plot perpetrated by Jews, but also some sincere isolationists and pacifists--wrote to Trumbo between 1941 and 1944, asking where they could buy copies of his book.

In 1944, Trumbo voluntarily invited FBI agents to his house, showed them the letters he had received, and turned those letters over to the FBI. And not only did he "name names." He followed up the invited FBI visit with a letter to the Bureau, urging that the people who had written him asking for copies of his book be dealt with. Trumbo was acting here in conformity with then-current CPUSA policy, which was--since the Soviet Union was under attack--to denounce to the U.S. government anyone who opposed the war. Needless to say, Trumbo did not notify the people whose names he had named to the FBI of what he had done; nor did he tell them that the FBI was now in possession of their letters to him (The information on this unlovely incident can be found in Dalton Trumbo, ed., "Additional Dialogue: Letters of Dalton Trumbo, 1942-1962" (New York, 1970), pp. 26-31).

Thus, even before he was ever called before HUAC to testify truthfully about the attempts by a foreign power to impose ideological conformity on one of the major forms of mass media in the United States, Trumbo was already a government informer against those with whom he differed politically -- a "rat", to use his description of those who spoke freely to HUAC and the FBI about Communists. Ironically, when the great historian and social commentator Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. stated in 1949 that he believed that Trumbo did not support freedom of speech for all (including those on the right with whom he disagreed), but only for those whose speech conformed with Trumbo's communist view, Trumbo denounced him as a fascist. His letter to "The Saturday Review of Books" responding to Schlesinger included the following statement.

"I deny the right of any agent of government to call American citizens to account for their political affiliations or sympathies."

However, Trumbo was already a party to doing the exact same thing five years previously when he contacted the FBI to initiate investigations designed "to call American citizens to account for their political affiliations or sympathies."

I cannot help but notice that the slinging of the term "fascist" against political opponents and the demand that certain conservative political positions be investigated and banned is still a part of the Left's ideology today. Political freedom should not extend to those on the Right, as their views are oppressive while those of the Left are liberating. That Trumbo and others of his ilk, pawns of a foreign power that sought to undermine American freedom through its puppet political party, are today seen as heroes by the Left proves the Left's historical ignorance, their political cluelessness, and their ideological bankruptcy. The true heroes of the era are those who fought against the communist influence in Hollywood -- Reagan, Wyman, Kazan, and many others -- in the face of a political machine which was hostile to American values.


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Morrison Tape Discovered

When I was 11 years old, my father's commanding officer was Admiral G.S. Morrison. I met he and his wife several times. It was only a couple of days before he left the command that I found out that he and his wife had lost their son a few years before.

His name was Jim.

And he was the lead singer of a rock band.

It was called The Doors.

You may have heard of them.

And now there has been a new videotape found of him, the earliest known tape of Jim Morrison. It dates to before he went to film school in Los Angeles.

It was discovered when the Department of State went through 1,000 films in its archive and may have gone unnoticed if Jaime Madden hadn't noticed a familiarity in the way young Morrison was standing in part of the brief clip.

"He said, 'Oh my god! This is Jim Morrison!'" said Jody Norman, supervisor of the Bureau of Archives and Records Management. "It really tells a lot about an archivists' duty to pay attention to detail."

In the FSU promotional film, Morrison is seen walking to a mailbox and opening a letter. He stops suddenly with his leg thrust forward as a voiceover says, "We regret to inform you that we are unable to accept your application."

A little while later, Morrison is in a university office, dressed in a jacket and tie and questioning authority.

"We would like to accept you," Morrison is told. "Indeed, we'd like to offer more courses, more sections, but we just don't have the space that together with the lack of professors."

"But what happened?" Morrison asks. "How come my parents, and the state and the university didn't look ahead?"

Morrison later dropped out of FSU to attend the University of California Los Angeles film school.

The clip was discovered last year among films WFSU a PBS station operated by the university donated to the state in 1989 and was recently posted to the state's film archive Web site after being digitally converted. It will air on VH1 this Friday.



A Story Of Faith

Dr. Earl Tilford of Grove City College presents and interesting story of simple faith. It involves a trip to Jerusalem and a visit to Golgotha. I won't ruin it by excerpting the story. Read it for yourself.


Science Geek Story

When we moved back Stateside from Guam in 1976, our family drove across country from San Francisco to San Diego, on to Washington, DC, north to Rhode Island, and finally on to Great Lakes, Illinois. The reason for the circuitous trip was to visit family members around the US, and also to allow we boys to see something of the US. One of my favorite stops was the Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona. I was fascinated by the site of that big hole in the ground, and have kept track of articles about it over the years.

Now we have some scientific speculation on why the crater is the size it is, and why it didn't melt much of the rock in the area when it struck.

Using computer models for how such objects would interact with the atmosphere, Melosh and astronomer Gareth Collins of Imperial College London concluded that the 300,000-ton, 130-foot-diameter meteor fractured before it hit the ground, with about half of it dispersing into small fragments.

The remaining half struck the ground at a speed of 26,800 mph, about 10 times the velocity of a bullet fired from a high-powered rifle, but not fast enough to melt large quantities of rock, the scientists reported this week in the journal Nature.

The intact fragment exploded with the energy of at least 2.5 megatons of TNT, they said.

I'll have to get that copy of Nature magazine to read the article.


Not Running?

After much speculation over her future plans, US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice stated that she will not run for president.

Rice told The Washington Times last week, "I have never wanted to run for anything," although she seemed to leave the door open to the possibility.

She closed the door in appearances on Sunday talk shows, telling NBC's "Meet the Press," "I will not run for president of the United States."

"I won't run," she told ABC's "This Week." "I won't. How's that? Is that categorical enough?"

Actually, I don't consider the statement to be an obstacle to a run in 2008, and certainly not to a run in 2012. After all, it is only March of 2005, and there is a lot of time for her to be persuaded to jump into the 2008 race, especially if Dubya urges her to do so. But right now, any talk of running for president would only hurt her ability to serve as Secretary of State. If she indicated that she planned on running, her every action would be looked at for potential political ramifications. And given that she may need to do some housecleaning at State, a statement that she would be a candidate would enable her opponents within the department to simply lie low and await her departure in mid-2007. This way she avoids that scrutiny and that covert opposition..

In other words, we have time to get Dr. Rice to change her mind and see that she is the best candidate we have for 2008. After all, as the article reminds us, "a poll conducted in February, 42 percent of voters said Rice should run for the White House." If her nation calls her to serve, I believe that Condoleezza Rice will answer that call.


Rodeo Reflections

Today's Houston Chronicle has four letters to the editor about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. While I don't usually comment on letters, I think these four deserve some commentary. My wife and I have found this year's RodeoHouston to be wonderful.

Kindness everywhere a thrill

My wife and I attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last week and were thrilled, not only with the way the rodeo is operated with great efficiency and attention to its quests, but also how we were treated by complete strangers and the rodeo staff.

With my wife in a wheelchair, we had never experienced kindness like this before displayed by complete strangers.

The parking accommodations for the handicapped were close to the stadium and kind police officers guided us so we could quickly and easily enter the rodeo arena.

Everywhere we turned there were people who were sensitive to our needs.

When it got close to time for the show, we got in line. A young man came over and guided us to a different gate where we were first in line. He made the effort by searching the gates for the best one. That spontaneous gesture will long be remembered as reflective of the spirit of respect shown to us by so many of the youth we encountered.

After the show, we were again assisted to the elevator, given priority for entering it and guided to the proper exit. What a wonderful experience this town gave us.

We have not lived here long and it was with some anxiety that we even went to the rodeo, considering the crowds and all the excitement. But we certainly will come back, thanks to those who went out of their way to assist us.

This event proved for us to be another reason to take pride in being Texans and Houstonians.


I cannot help but echo Mr. and Mrs. Beardsley. The on-going health problems my wife faces finally caused us to get handicapped plates a couple of months back. We have been quite pleased with the parking situation which has cut her walking significantly. We've even been pleasantly surprised as we've discovered that they have implemented a wheelchair service for those who have difficulty with the ramps and escalators at Reliant Stadium. She has been whisked onto an elevator and straight to her seat at each of the performances we've attended, and back out again after the concert is over. All the staff has been great, and most of the other folks attending have been accommodating when they have seen her getting around with her walking cast and cane (the latter a permanent feature, the former only temporary). The Rodeo has made some giant strides over the last few years in dealing with handicapped individuals, and has responded to suggestions from the public.

Help kids without the cruelty

I was disgusted with the picture of the calf shown in the paper this week. The fear shown in the animal's eyes as a teenager threw and wrestled the animal to the ground made me extremely sad.

Isn't there some other way we can help these kids without making the animals suffer?

There's got to be a better way to get these kids to college rather than having them raise an animal from birth, to love, feed and tend it daily, only to have to sell it to the highest bidder for slaughter!

We should not make these kids choose between an education and an animal they love. That's just cruel.


A couple of points, Ms. Broaddus.

1) The local Humane Society has keeps close tabs on rodeo animals and ensures that they are not being mistreated. So do the stock contractors, because their living depends on these animals. So rest assured that what you saw was not cruel treatment.

2) The kids involved in the calf scramble are 4-H and FFA members. Most of them plan on being involved with animals in some way or another as a career, whether in agriculture or veterinary medicine. They have been raising animals for years (chickens, turkeys, goats, pigs) and are well aware of what happens to the animals they raise. It isn't a shock to such kids what happens to the Grand Champion Steer -- as a former teacher of the girl who raised last year's Grand Champion Steer, I can assure you of that fact.

3) The sale of the Grand Champions and other animals is a major source of the scholarship money. Yesterday they sold this year's Grand Champion Steer for $340,000. After the girl who raised it gets her cut, that is still $265,000 that goes for scholarships. The Reserve Grand Champion (second place) went for $250,000, and put $210,000 in the pot. In real terms, that means that 38 students will be receiving the $12,500 rodeo scholarships from the auction of those two animals. My only regret is that this year's prices were a bit low compared to some past years.

4) Do you have any better suggestions on how to raise that money, or are you only going to complain? After all, I don't think that it would be nearly so much fun to watch the kids wrestle animal rights activists to the ground, nor is there enough meat on their bones to make a reasonable barbecue when they are grown. I certainly know that animal rights activists would not bring much money at auction.

Not the place for a war tribute

While attending the rodeo last weekend, I was taken aback by the tribute given the U.S. military. Although it was touted as "support for our troops," it was apparent that the real purpose was to generate support for the failing war policies of the Bush administration.

I don't believe the rodeo is the appropriate place to try to bolster support for an unjustified war that more and more people are realizing is not worth the great loss of life that has been experienced by our troops and by the Iraqi people.

The rodeo chairman gave a speech preceding the tribute and claimed we should show our support for the troops because they are "fighting to protect our freedom." This is bunk!

The war in Iraq has nothing to do with the freedoms that we so cherish in this nation.

I tire of the politicians and others who support this war and claim that it protects us in America.

If they wanted to support our troops, they would bring them home.

The Woodlands

I don't know whether I should be bored or outraged by Ms. Cortina's letter.

Ms. Cortina, I've only been to the rodeo eight times this year, but I've noticed that at every single one of the performances the crowd has jumped to their feet to applaud the serving members of the armed forces who are being honored when they march in. I think that indicates that most of us disagree with you about the propriety of honoring the troops -- as do most Texans. We also tend to disagree with you about the war. If you don't agree with us, sit down, shut up, and let us have our moment of honoring the troops. And if you cannot do that much, might I suggest that you stay home from future performances so you are not offended by the three minute video accompanied by the singing of "God Bless America" by which you are so troubled. After all, we have just as much right to our belief as you do.

No returning, rain or shine

A March 8 Chronicle report on the rodeo had a headline that said, "Numbers down despite concert crowds," and blamed the recent rain for lower attendance. Let me tell you the real reason for attendance decline: poor transportation and parking policies.

My husband and I took two of our grandchildren to the Houston Livestock Show last week. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. to find the yellow cash parking entrance closed. We had to go out and back to South Main and around to enter at the purple lot entrance and then drive back to the yellow area to park, seemingly miles from where we needed to be.

After making our way to the tram station, we found it operates only after 4:00 p.m., so we had to walk around the Texans' training facility and over the road to get to the Reliant entrance.

This was an incredibly long walk with two small children. The rain was just a small part of our troubles. We would have taken a shuttle bus from a Park 'n Ride facility, but they only run after 5 p.m. on weekdays!

We decided not to take our other two grandchildren as planned, nor are we likely to attempt this "adventure" in future years.


Mrs. Sweet, all you had to do was plan in advance and you would not have had that problem. If you had bothered to plan, you would have known that there is very little paid parking on the grounds of Reliant Park. That is why they advise you to take the Rodeo Shuttle. And no, they do not run only from 5:00 AM -- there is the Reed Road lot about three miles from Reliant Park that operates from 5:00 AM. Had you gone there (like HLSR advises), you would have found plenty of parking on a day during the middle of Spring Break when the star performer for the rodeo was going to be Kenny Chesney, one of the hottest stars in country music. You really can't blame the event planners for your failure to check out the situation in advance.

Anyway, that's how I see the letters about the Rodeo in today's Houston Chronicle. We still have one more week of rodeo left, and there are still tickets available for most of the performances. Come on down if you can!


Surreal Campus Politics

Were the implications not so scary, I would find this story quite funny. But while I do find some dark humor in the situation, it leaves me wondering about the future of Israel and any state that the Palestinians ever manage to set up. I'm guessing that this is simply a microcosm of things to come.

Hundreds of student supporters of the Hamas group clashed with supporters of Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah party, throwing punches, sticks and stones during a Hamas campaign rally for student council elections.

Hospital officials said at least nine people were injured, including an Agence France Press photographer who received five stitches in the head.

The massive brawl erupted when several hundred Fatah supporters at Hebron University in the West Bank started shouting their own party's slogans in the midst of a large Hamas rally. Harsh words erupted into a fight, sending photographers and cameramen at the scene running for cover.

Student supporters of the Islamic Jihad intervened, acting as a buffer and eventually ending the violent fight between the two parties.

Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad running candidates for STUDENT COUNCIL?????


Hiding Vote Fraud In Wisconsin

There seem to have been a lot of irregularities in the November 2004 election in the state of Wisconsin. That should come as no surprise, as there was wel-documented vote fraud there during the 2000 presidential election as well. But there is one difference. Changes in election laws in 2003 make it much harder for the public to get their hands on the information needed to prove that such fraud took place.

In the United States, your ballot is secret, but almost everything else about an election is part of the public record: Who voted and at what ward. Where they live. How old they are. Even what number they were in line.

Until recently, that is.

At least in Wisconsin, where a 2003 change in state law put the birth dates of voters off limits to the public, making it nearly impossible to determine whether someone voted twice, a felon voted improperly, or someone voted as a dead person.

So if Mr. John Smith, born January 24, 1908,up and passed away in March, 2004, there is now no way to tell if the John Smith who voted in his precinct was him or another John Smith, because the public cannot check the birtdate to find out if we have "dead man voting."

What is even more disturbing is that after the Milwaukee Journal-Star discovered some 7000 unaccounted for votes in Milwaukee, the city cut off their access to the records because of a federal investigation into vote fraud -- an investigation that was prompted by the newspaper's own investigation! Apparantly discovery of potential voter fraud significant enough to cause an investigation is grounds for denying the public access to records that might allow them to find more fraud.

Read the entire account of the obstruction of access to public records. The informationa vailable shows pretty clear evidence of vote fraud, and the denial of access shows how far some in government will go to keep people in the dark.


Do Saudis Support Terrorism Against Israel?

Adel al-Jubeir is the official spokesman for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In that capacity, he recently addressed the issue of Saudi involvement in the war on terrorism. His response was interesting, though quite telling on one point.

Now, however, al-Jubeir wants Americans to believe that Saudi Arabia is remaking itself that what it has been is not what it will be. As he puts it, "The bottom line is that no Saudi citizen will be able to escape the clear message that intolerance, violence and extremism are not part of our Islamic faith, or of Saudi culture or traditions.”

Asked how Saudi Arabia defines terrorism, al-Jubeir said that the kingdom had adopted the UN’s formula, which defines terrorism as an act that causes victims among civilians, “anywhere.”

Sounds good, doesn't it? Saudi Arabia opposes terrorism, and rejects the notion that it is acceptable under the teachings of Islam. We should all celebrate and honor the Saudis as full partners in the war on terrorism, and those Saudis (including Osama and most of the 9/11 hijackers) were acting outside of the acceptable norms of Saudi religion, culture, and history.

And then came the ever so inconvenient question from an Israeli reporter from the Israeli business news website, Globes.

"Globes’" reporter, who identified himself as an Israeli journalist, wanted to hear how Saudi Arabia defines Palestinian organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other like them. Are these terrorist organizations? Does Saudi Arabia support them, and will it continue to do so? The reporter also asked whether the Saudi Arabian royal family would agree to diplomatic relations with Israel after implementation of the disengagement plan.

Without blinking, al-Jubeir answered, “Let’s wait a minute with that. Let’s finish with the subject of terrorism.” He turned to two other reporters, unexpectedly stopped the press conference, and quickly left the room. Several people, apparently employees of the Saudi Arabian embassy, physically blocked access to the retreating spokesperson. A group of Arab journalists began to shout, “What about the briefing in Arabic that you promised us?”, but al-Jubeir was already out of hearing.

In other words, al-Jubeir chose to cut and run rather than offer an answer that legitimized Israel or condemned the many acts of terrorism committed against it by Palestinian terrorist groups. He refused to say that the use of terrorism against Israel is "intolerance, violence and extremism [that] are not part of our Islamic faith, or of Saudi culture or traditions." One can only presume, then, that his original answer was a lie, and that terrorism is a part of Saudi tradition, culture, and religion -- at least if the victims are Jews. And if terrorism is acceptable against Israel, why should we believe his assurances that terrorism is unacceptable elsewhere. After all, al-Jubeir chose not to disclose the "Israeli exception" in his initial answer. Why should we presume that there is not also a "US exception" or a "Christian exception" to the Saudi condemnation of terrorism?

In any case, before his tactical retreat, al-Jubeir demonstrated amazing command of the art of spin. Imams giving poisonous sermons against the West? In the US, al-Jubeir says, the Ku Klux Klan delivers poisonous messages ostensibly based on the principles of Christianity. Would anybody say that the US is a racist country, or that Christianity spreads hatred? The Ku Klux Klan hijacked Christianity, and uses it for its own ends. Extremist Muslims in Saudi Arabia have hijacked Islam, and are using it for their own ends.

”We won’t let deviants distort our religion,” al-Jubeir said, “We’re overhauling our educational system to instill the true values of our religion.”

Except, of course, that imams in Saudi Arabia are paid by the government, and preach only with government approval. That isn't true of clergy in the US. The extremist teachings of the imams are common in Saudi Arabia, while those of the Klan are the exception and nearly universally condemned in the US and by Christians generally. When the Klan holds an event, they are usually outnumbered 10-to-1 by their opponents, while that is not the case with the extremist imams in Saudi Arabia.

So when will the US pressure the Saudis to condemn all terrorism, including attacks against Jews intended to force Israeli concessions to the Palestinians? When will we pressure them to recognize Israel? Or will we continue to pretend that the Saudis are really our allies in the war on terrorism, rather than the source of the problem?


Somebody Finally Gets It!

The St. Augustine Record recently started carrying Ann Coulter's column. While I disagree with that decision (I may be conservative, but I don't like Coulter -- give me Michelle Malkin any day), I think that the goals of having a balanced editorial/opinion page is a good one.

Needless to say, there have been protests over the decision. Some point to Coulter's recent ethnic slur against Helen Thomas and use of the term "injun" in another as part of the coarsening of politics in this country. They object to Coulter's rudeness and condescension towards her opponents. The editors of the Record, on the other hand, refer to her style as refreshing. I disagree, but only because I believe she goes too far, into an unrelenting arrogance that does more harm than good.

But that said, I found refreshing this analysis of the history of American journalism.

Their brand of journalism is not new. It was common in the 1800s and into the early part of the last century. Back then it was the norm for newspapers to practice "advocacy" journalism in which newspapers deliberately slanted their news to a particular point of views. Communities had many newspapers, some took the labor perspective, others business, some supported Protestants, others Catholics. At one time, New York City had 17 newspapers, each espousing a political tilt.

I've made the same point many times. Go back to the election of 1800. Look at the articles that appeared in print. Those papers supporting Jefferson savaged John Adams. The writers for Federalist newspapers relentlessly abused Jefferson. It was presumed that a paper was publishing the opinions and points of view of its publisher. The notion of "objective journalism" was nowhere to be seen. The result was a print media market not unlike the blogosphere today, with a multiplicity of views and voices contributing to a healthy discussion of the events and ideas of the day.

So what if Fox News is tilted right, and CNN slants left? Provided that Americans actually look at all sides, that diversity of viewpoints is good for America. It forces Americans to think critically, to question what they hear on both and to do a litte closer research. No longer do we have to accept an anchor's assurance that "that's the way it is" at the end of a newscast -- we can flip the channel, pick up a paper or magazine, or surf the Net to see what other voices are saying.

And THAT'S the way it should be.


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