Sunday, September 30, 2007

Is Hypocricy a Sin?

I was reading the blog on Americans United for Separation of Church and State today, as I am wont to do. This could be an organization that I decide to join shortly in the future, as I agree with its core tenet - that the government and religion need to be kept apart to as great a degree as possible.

At any rate, one thing I was reading was this blog post regarding Pat Robertson and what can best be described as hypocrisy. I'm no fan of Robertson, and I haven't been since about 1982 when he told me that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, but I digress. You see, Pat Robertson has railed against the concept of the "Wall of Separation" between church and state (this is a line uttered by Thomas Jefferson regarding the purpose of the First Amendment, and used by the Supreme Court in McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 211 (1948)). He has denounced this concept publicly as recently as 2002 (see link above), and his legal staff has referred to the concept as a "guise" to strip Constitutional protections away from Christians (id).

Apparently, however, Pat Robertson and company believe it is a guise, it is one that they feel entitled to embrace, when it suits them. Recently, several parishioners of a Baptist Church in Tennessee (which held a rally arguing that Supreme Court justices should rely on the Bible in reaching their opinions) have filed suit against the Reverend of the Church, arguing that he "is authoritarian and misused church funds to pay for personal travel and his daughter's wedding reception." The dissident apparently demanded access to church records and were denied, so they sued. The ACLJ (a legal group founded by Robertson) is representing the Reverend, and is raising as a defense the argument of Separation of Church and State.

I don't see why Robertson's team doesn't just release the records. I mean, if the guy has done nothing wrong, then he has nothing to worry about. Maybe the dissidents should get in touch with the FBI - I wonder if the USA PATRIOT Act hasn't yet been too chiseled away by those activist judges in Oregon to be of some use here. Wait, never mind. This is a Baptist Church, not a Muslim Mosque, so they can't be bad.

All snark aside, this reeks of hypocrisy, and Robertson and company should be ashamed.

Bleeding for a good cause

I gave blood yesterday. It's the first time I've been able to make it in for an appointment in some time. This is the fourth time I've gone in to make a donation this year, which is a good thing.

I'm not entirely sure where I got the habit of giving blood. I know my pa gave blood while I was around the age of my kids. Perhaps that's where it stuck. At any rate, I don't mind giving - it's not a difficult thing to do, it doesn't take a long time to do, and you can help save lives. Yeah, it's a little uncomfortable to have a needle sitting in your arm, but I figure it's a small inconvenience for something that could end up doing a lot of good.

I'm also on the bone marrow registry, though I need to update that, since it's been several years since I signed up (and about three cities and two states ago).

Anyway, the kids are going a bit crazy, so I better get to watching them again...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Is it a Degree 2 felony?

A man (or woman, I guess) has been stealing toilet paper from the Fond Du Lac City County Government Center since last June.

The officials confirm that the TP isn't high quality, which tells me that this thief is really desperate to go - or maybe he wants to be a Mummy for Halloween and couldn't afford a costume...

Cruel and Unusual

One of the reasons there is a need for lawyers is that laws are often vague, despite attempts to not do otherwise. Take the 8th Amendment - it puts a ban on cruel and unusual punishments. But, there is nothing that explains what Cruel and Unusual means. Hence the need to parse it out.

Some people will argue that we should retain the standards that were in place in 1791 (strict constructionists). The theory is that if the American People want something to change, then they will band together and petition the Government to make such a change. Of course, with Bureaucracy, this is fallacy, but many people believe that until we tell the officials to change the rules, then we should keep things the same. One very real problem with strict constructionists is that they are only strict constructionists with regard to the laws and rules they think should remain the same (Note the Activist decision on minimum pricing a few months ago).

There are people who argue the "living constitution," that the Constitution should be interpreted to meet the mores of America today. These people note the inefficiency of Government, and how times change much more quickly than laws. They think that one of the roles of The Court is to act as a gap filler, and that decisions that reflect today's world are the best solution. The problem here is that a living Constitution can ultimately be little different than rule by public opinion, which is difficult to follow for any sense in the world.

There are other approaches, but I'll leave it at these two for now.

The Supreme Court recently granted cert on a case in Kentucky challenging Lethal Injection, claiming that the chemical cocktail used causes undue pain in the person being killed. This has had the result of Texas planning to stay executions here until such time as the Court renders its opinion (because Texas uses the same cocktail).

There are a couple arguments at stake here, but all of them revolve around the concept of "what is cruel and unusual?" First, there's the concept of the chemical cocktail. Is it cruel and unusual to cause undue pain to a person who we are killing? People have spent centuries trying to come up with a humane way of killing people (Guillotine), despite the obvious oxymoronic nature of said attempts. This is up to 8th amendment debate because lethal injection was not a method of capital punishment at the time the Bill of Rights was created. Second, and probably not the question that will be answered, but undoubtedly at the crux of the issue, is whether or not Capital Punishment qualifies as cruel and unusual. Here's where the debate between Originalism/Strict Constructionism and other theories comes in. According to one strict constructionist argument, since we had capital punishment at the time of the 8th amendment, then it cannot be considered cruel and unusual, until Congress passes a law or amendment defining capital punishment as cruel and unusual. And those who embrace a living Constitution and oppose capital punishment would argue something similar to the concept that in America today, it is unnecessarily cruel to put someone to death, or that capital punishment is only a deterrent to the person being killed, and we can keep that person from killing again by putting him in prison for life, making capital punishment unnecessary altogether.

While we wait for the Court to reach its decision, let's see what you think...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sherlock Holmes

I'm currently in the middle of reading "The Complete Sherlock Holmes."

It's interesting; when I was a child, I decided I didn't like Sherlock Holmes, because I thought the name was silly, and I hated that hat I saw on the guys that played Holmes.

But I really liked watching Without a Clue, which was Holmes and Watson with a twist. And I am a big fan of Monk, which is Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco. So I figured, if I like things based on Holmes, I very well could like the real thing. And I do.

A couple of the mysteries require conclusions that you really wouldn't be able to figure out unless you had particular knowledge (such as where the ashes on the carpet came from), but in a few of the stories, I've been able to figure it out relatively quickly. In both situations, though, I find myself entertained, and it's a nice change from children's fare and politics.

I think I'm going to go to bed early tonight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Random Trivia

In the movie Jaws, the animatronic shark's name was Bruce. He was reportedly named after Stephen Spielberg's lawyer.

In a separate note - Bruce was also the name of the shark in Finding Nemo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Weakening America

A Federal Judge today demonstrated once again that the Left hates America. Judge Ann Aiken, of Oregon, ruled 2 provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act unconstitutional. Apparently, she believes that the Fourth Amendment (Wait until you hear this) applies to American people. You see, Congress, knowing how important our security is, saw fit to, what's the best word here, "streamline" our Constitutional rights and liberties. President Bush needed this streamlined approach to freedom in order to protect us from Iraq, you see, and Congress did what it could to help him.

One of the things they did was make it possible for the Executive Branch to protect us by searching our properties, possessions, and conversations without securing a warrant, using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. As the Executive Branch said some years ago - if you've done nothing wrong, then what do you have to be concerned about?

Well, then the problem came. The problem was that one of those people who did something wrong got caught. And rather than admit he did something wrong, he decided to challenge The Decider's law. Who was this rapscallion, and what did he do, you might be asking yourself. Well, I'll answer. His name is Brandon Mayfield, and what he did was he was held as a material witness by the FBI because a fingerprint that was not his was found on the site of the Madrid train bombings from 2004. Brandon had the gall to be offended that the FBI recorded his phone calls, searched his house and law offices (really, Attorney-client privilege is not affected when they don't KNOW they're being listened in on), and put him under 24-hour surveillance.

Now, I hate to beat a dead horse, but come on. He had to know this was going to happen. He was a Muslim, and we're at war on Terror. If he didn't want to be detained, then he shouldn't have had fingers.

At any rate, he gets the case to the Activist judge, whose opinion cannot be relied upon, because she's a liberal. And we all know those activist judges. They read the Constitution and twist the words around to mean whatever they want it to mean. In this case, the judge read the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures and requires warrants, and then she read the Supremacy Clause, which states that the Constitution and all laws and treaties passed pursuant to it shall be The Supreme Law of the Land, and then she read precedent which shows that First in Time applies to laws and treaties, but the Constitution trumps all. And then she made the stereotypical Activist Decision - that the Fourth Amendment trumps the USA PATRIOT Act. What a sad day for America.

But, Steve, how do you know she's an activist judge? Well, that's simple - she was appointed by President Clinton (the first one). Which means she's a Democrat appointee, which means she's a liberal, which means she's an activist judge. Very simple. And unfortunate. I'm sure the ACLU had something to do with the choice of venue.

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

One week of work down
About Nine to go. Nice to have
a slight stress respite.

As always, I look forward to reading your contributions - those few of you who still come by

Monday, September 24, 2007

To make up for the energy you burn?

So Halo 3 debuted today. Apparently, it's supposed to be the best selling video game of all time. I know it's coming out not because I play a lot of video games. Not because I read about them, and not because I care. I know about it because while we were watching football yesterday, there were several commercials wherein a bunch of guys who apparently live alone in various apartments in the world are screaming at a computer while another guy (in another apartment, also apparently living alone) is cheering his victory while chugging some overcaffeinated soda that's supposed to give him the energy he needs to play the video game better.

Because everyone needs that energy boost for that hardcore sitting.

Is this what this country has come to? A bunch of losers (says the guy blogging about losers playing video games) who need extra energy to play games with other losers thousands of miles away?

How pathetic.

If you've done nothing wrong...

Then you don't have anything to fear. That's how it works, right? If you want to be free, you have to not do anything the Government might think is wrong, since they're going to be monitoring almost anything. Check this list posted on the Moderate Voice.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley do Comedy

I've written about this before, but it's been quite a while. In 1988, a movie came out with the tag line "The outrageous comedy about the world's greatest detective and his bumbling partner... Sherlock Holmes." The movie was called Without a Clue, and this movie is quite possibly the most underappreciated comedy I've ever seen. The timing of the two leads is impeccable - Ben Kingsley was absolutely perfect as Dr. John Watson. The plot itself, while not necessarily the most difficult mystery, was certainly full enough to support the film. And the writing was absolutely spot-on.

Michael Caine does great with some physical comedy, but his delivery is part of what makes this film so special.

Jeffrey Jones (of Beetlejuice and Ferris Bueller fame) complements the leads with a terrific performance as inspector Lestrade.

If you are in the mood for a movie with a plot and actual dialog, this is the one you want. While there is some action, this is not an overpuffed special effect with some words thrown in to sell it as a movie. This is the real deal, and a comedy that is rare to come by these days.

FirstAmendment and the Military

When an individual enlists in the military, or takes the officer's oath in the military, he or she swears to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Now, it's no real secret that military members enjoy abridged Constitutional rights. For example, individuals living in barracks are subject to warrantless searches without probable cause. Additionally, military members are often given gag orders by the Commanding Officers or base commanders, especially regarding controversial topics.

However, it's paramount to note that the Military officially endorses the concept of free exercise of religion. When I was in basic training, we had a lesson on how to wed religious practices with the government activity (military being a federal entity, and all), and how having chaplains available jives with the concept of free exercise and does not conflict with the concept of establishment of religion.

Unfortunately, not everyone seems to understand that Free Exercise, even in the military, applies to even those who do not share their beliefs, and that this extends to those who believe in no Deity. The writers at Americans United report on a suit filed against an Army Major who allegedly threatened a soldier who followed procedure to convene a meeting of Atheists and non-believers. According to the complaint, the Major threatened UCMJ action against the attendees and threatened to prevent the specialist (e-4, just above a private, not yet an NCO) from re-enlisting.

Now, of course there are going to be people who support the alleged actions of this Army Major. We know this, because even in a country where people are free to choose whatever religion they wish to follow, people insist that some religions are wrong, or that they deserve to be discriminated against. Some people have suggested that Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office, such as Representative Keith Ellison from Minnesota. I've heard it argued that because the Koran does not allow a person to swear to anything else, that his oath was not to be trusted, and thus, as a result of his Religious Faith, he should not be allowed to hold office - his religion failed the test, as it were. This despite the fact that the Constitution is quite clear in stating that No Religious Test shall be used in determining eligibility to hold public office (U.S. Const., Art. VI).

It's bad enough that things like this happens to public officials - to be derided for their faith. But it's even more egregious when such attempts to deny a person their right to believe, or in the above case to not believe, occur against those who are fighting for our nation, and for the freedom of another. And when it's a Commissioned Officer threatening a lower enlisted individual, that just tops it off.

A Moment of Silence, Please

Cross-posted on One Step Sideways.

Marcel Marceau has died at the age of 86. He was an inspiration to many, including Micheal Jackson, who reportedly borrowed Marceau's "walking against the wind" routine and created the Moonwalk.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Escort Service in Houston

When I moved back to the States in '98, I needed a car to get around. It seemed the best choice was something economical and efficient. After a quick search, I decided I liked a '95 Ford Escort. It had a bit of miles on it, but it drove fairly well and matched all my needs - I'd get a bigger/better car soon enough, I figured.

I got rid of that car today. I donated it to the Kids Can Academy (Houston Can!). This was probably the best choice, as the car really wasn't "running" anymore, and probably had no resale value after the flood and all the distress through which I put it.

I miss the car, a little. It wasn't the best car, but we had some good adventures together. Still, it's odd to see it not there anymore.


The Buck Stops There

There were so many reasons to like and respect Harry Truman. For one, he had a sign on his desk that read "The buck stops here." And you knew he meant it.

President Bush has tried over the past few years to equate himself with President Truman, invoking not just his name but his legacy with respect to wars and paraphrasing the phrase noted above.

The problem is, whereas President Truman's actions demonstrated he, in fact, did mean what he said, President Bush's actions suggest otherwise. For example, Congress has recently been working on an expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). The current plan has holes in it that deny health insurance to children who make too much money for medicaid, yet are unable to afford private health insurance. The President, who seems to believe that not only are these people able to afford health insurance on top of their other bills and obligations (really, you can save $100 a month by moving into a crack neighborhood apartment complex!), but all the American people who WOULD qualify for the expanded CHIP would choose it over private health insurance that they could afford, thus costing too much money. Thus, he says he intends to veto the bill. The President, in debating the issue refers to Congress as "irresponsible" and announces that they are leaving children uncovered to make a political point.

You see, here's the spin. Congress, by working together to create a program not only with public, but with BIPARTISAN SUPPORT, is playing politics with children. By vetoing the bill (the current law expires on September 30), the President is saying that Congress is harming children. The alternative? This should not come as a surprise President Bush suggests that Congress should have done what He told them to do. Then he would have passed it, and everyone would be happy, because the President got His way.

Therein lies the difference. Truman accepted responsibility not just for what he said, but what he did. Bush, on the other hand, wants just one thing - everything done his way. When it isn't what He wants, then it's somebody else's fault. Here, it's not His fault he's going to veto this bipartisan-supported bill; it's Congress'. What a great way to run a country.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Bitter with the Sweet

One of the downsides to supporting First Amendment rights is that you need to support them for everyone. This, of course, is part of what leads people to thinking groups like the ACLU are evil, because they dare to take up causes for oppressed groups or demographics who lack the means to represent themselves. But I digress.

The particular incident to which I refer involves public schools and students therein. It seems a school in New Jersey instituted a mandatory school uniform policy. A couple students took offense to said policy. Those students then went to school wearing "buttons depicting a Hitler Youth assembly" to protest the policy. The school district did not care for such a protest, and the school board, in their infinite wisdom, wrote a letter to the children's parents threatening to suspend the students because the district found the buttons objectionable and offensive (a bit of irony, one might suggest, since the students were objecting to school uniforms and the buttons depicted students in uniforms). The parents then filed suit against the school district.

Now the judge at the injunction hearing said something that is very important for school districts (and others) to hear: "A student whose protected expression is stifled suffers an injury that cannot be undone."

It is important to note that the students depicted in the picture were innocuous (I wouldn't be surprised to read that one or more of the students' parents were lawyers); there were no markings indicating the boys in the picture were Nazi children, and this was a key point in the case. The judge noted that if there were swastikas or confederate flags, or something similarly inflammatory, that would be different. To that end, he cited Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969), "A student may not be punished for merely expressing views unless the school has reason to believe that the speech of expression will 'materially and substantially disrupt the work and discipline of the school (emphasis mine).'" There was nothing the school district presented (or could probably present) that could show how a button depicting boys sitting at desks would disrupt the school.

Now, I think this was the right decision. While I support the idea of school uniforms (I really don't see them as functionally any different than school clothes and after school clothes like we had as children), I believe that a student does have a right to voice his objection to the same. To teach children the concept of freedom (or do we? Is civics covered in No Child Left Behind?) while denying them the same is the ultimate in hypocrisy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Random Trivia

The & symbol began with the written alphabet. It showed up between Y and Z, and was shorthand for "and per se, and," which was itself shortened to Ampersand.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And, before it's too late

Everyone enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day! Arrrrgh!

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

The Apple exclaims,
"You exercise! I go to Y."
And so it is done.

I'm going to miss our morning trips to the Y, but it'll be nice to be able to get a little ahead for the first time in a few years.

As always, I look forward to your contributions!

The Gay Agenda

For the past several years, I've had my opinion on homosexuality and gay marriage and whatnot. Basically, my view is if you are gay, then be gay, just don't make a big deal out of it. And if you want to get married, then go get married. Of course, my view seems to be the minority view out there.

So imagine my surprise when I read about the lastest activist decision regarding gay marriage. Apparently, the Maryland Supreme Court granted the petition and heard the plaintiff's case for the right to marry. Their conclusions were little short of an activist decision/judiciary legislation from the bench, which those on the right disdain with such ferocity.

The court actually wrote that plaintiffs "point to several Maryland precedents that, if viewed literally, appear to support the proposition that a statute receives strict scrutiny analysis under Article 46 if sex is at all a factor in determining whether certain individuals are entitled to the benefits provided by the particular legislative enactment under review." (quote was pointed out on The Debate Link article hyperlinked above - David Schraub is a brilliant undergrad) The Court then stated that reading such precedents literally is "beguiling."

Let's edit that to make it a little easier to understand. The Court says that by reading what the courts have said in the past regarding Maryland's Equal Protection Act literally, then it looks like the government would have to prove that banning gay marriage is necessary to further a compelling government interest, and that no less restrictive alternative means are available. The law is presumptively invalid. However, applying such a "literal" interpretation of what has been said before is misleading, or delusional. And therefore, it cannot be right, so it's perfectly legitimate to craft a decision WE (the Court) want to have - namely, a ban on gay marriage.

Rather than try to explain the many things that are wrong with this decision, I would point you to The Debate Link and David Schraub, who has done an outstanding job writing on the topic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gotta Love Americans

First off, so many Americans don't get it. In a recent poll on the anniversary of Constitution Day, a majority of those polled (55%) said that the Constitution establishes America as a Christian Nation. I wonder how many of these respondents have read the Constitution...

But it gets better. While nearly all (97%) of the respondents said that the right to practice the religion of your own choice is essential or important, only 56% said freedom of religion applies to all religions. Perhaps they thought the First Amendment reads "Congress shall make no law respecting the Establishment of Christianity nor prohibiting the free exercise of any denomination thereof..."

And since it is a USA Today article, there is a chart next to the article.


And like that, I have a job.

It's a contract position (temporary work), but it will help pay the bills and get something back in savings while I wait for the bar results.

I smell a Honeybaked Ham for Christmas!

But who would He swear to tell the truth to?

One thing Americans seem to need is someone to blame, and, subsequently, someone to sue. Thus, it probably should come as no surprise that in response to threats and natural disasters, one Nebraska State Senator has chosen to blame (and sue) God. Apparently, he sees God as the culprit behind all of the hurricanes that have plagued Nebraska, as well as the earthquakes and Tornadoes.

The Senator notes that he's filing this lawsuit to show that in America, you can so anyone. Of course, he probably forgot about the lawsuit in South Carolina wherein a man sued the devil, and the case was thrown out of court for want of jurisdiction (I think the judge noted that there was not means of serving process on the devil or even proving his existence in South Carolina).

Apparently, Senator Chambers has filed this suit in response to another suit that was filed recently in Nebraska, wherein a woman is suing a judge for barring the words "rape" and "victim" in her sexual assault suit against another individual. She claims that by barring such words, the judge violated her free speech rights (and made it harder for the defendant to be convicted, which is arguably what she's really pissed about). Of course, this federal suit is a bit unnecessary, and probably should be tossed, since the Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled on this and Federal Courts obey Full Faith and Credit.

But I still want to know who God would swear or affirm to tell the truth to? Buddha?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sounds like an urban legend

I'm not very fond of Crocs. I think they are ugly, and I would never want to see my kids wearing them. But, since my fashion sense is about as sharp as a marble, perhaps I need another reason.

It appears, there is one. Apparently, there have been many problems around the world with people wearing this decade's jelly shoes on escalators. It seems that they soft soles on Crocs and other similar types of footwear can get stuck in the escalators and injure the wearer's toes, as reportedly happened to Rory McDermott.

Now the news article reads pretty well, but this sounds like the type of report that lends itself to urban legend status, so I'm not completely sold, but it seems credible enough that I will resist any (heretofore unseen) urges to purchase these rubber pieces of crappy looking - well, crap - for the sake of my childrens' toes.

Monday Monday

It's been an interesting day. I had an interview today for a document review position at a mass tort firm - it is a contract position, so it would only be for a few months, but it would be a job, and it would be money coming in.

I then went to the Corner Bakery - the best paninis I've had (though I haven't had them at many places), and picked up lunch and some snacks for the family - they have some REALLY good brownies and baby bundt cakes.

I got home and let the wife get back to work; she'd been watching the Apple. He did all right for a bit, but he has been pretty much exhausted all day. I think he's a little under the weather, but he doesn't have a fever; he's just really tired and grumpy.

Grumpy. He started throwing a fit right around 1-ish. He started screaming and crying and carrying on because he wanted to watch a show. He wanted Veggie Tales, so I put Veggie Tales on - the very same tape he handed me. Wow, did I screw up big time. I apparently managed to put the wrong tape in the VCR - he started carrying on like it was going out of style. I held him for a bit, then I let him lay down - neither one worked, so I turned the tape off. Well, that was a mistake. He didn't want to watch the Veggie Tales tape he asked to watch, but he sure as hell didn't want to not watch it. So we had another fit. This resulted in my bringing him upstairs, so he could lay down and relax. I had to basically restrain him for about 15 minutes while he had his fit - I'm pretty sure you could hear him outside and down the street about a half mile - I finally got him to lay still, and told him that if he wanted to go back downstairs, he'd have to lay still for five minutes. This started him up again, but at least he was laying on the bed. I close my eyes and just start counting my breaths (I'm breathing slowly), and the Apple stops crying. I open my eyes, and his are closed. I look at the clock - it's been five minutes.

An hour later and it's time to go get the Princess from school. This requires me to wake up the Apple, which I'm loathe to do, since he put up such a fit before. So I figure I can outsmart him (yes, I'm really trying to figure out a way to outsmart a 3 year old) by getting his clothes on before waking him up. Well, this doesn't work, and he wakes up continuing the same scream fest he was serenading me with as he fell asleep. I finally throw some clothes on him and get him in the car sans shoes, he's screaming at the top of his lungs this whole time, and we drive to the Princess's school. Right as we're about to pick up the Princess, I hear him stop crying, which is always a sign that he's up to something. I look back, and he's climbed halfway out of his child seat and is trying to strip naked. I manage to get him clad again, just in time to pick up the princess, who the Apple tries to hit, because she dared to get in the car - the witch! As we get home, the Apple insists I hand him his socks, which he's thrown into the front seat, and when we get in he buries himself in my chair and hasn't moved for an hour.

So how was your day?

Happy Constitution Day!

Public educators - make sure you teach your students about the Constitution today!

We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hang the Traitor

One common perception in America today is that this administration operates under the implication that those who disagree with it are somehow less patriotic/traitors. This has played out for several years.

So what would they say to someone who said that Iraq was the "biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of our nation?" Another defeatist Democrat? An America-hating liberal? How about Republican Chuck Hagel?

Of course, he's retiring, so he's free to make such statements without it looking like he's politicking. The question next will be - how to address this latest example of dissention?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The wrong kind of ged

One of my favorite Cheers episodes revolved around Cliff going in for an appendectomy. After none of the Cheers gang comes to visit, he decides it's because of his obnoxious behavior, and decides to try to change. In order to fix himself, he seeks out electroshock therapy, and tests it out at the bar, where, of course, hilarity ensues, including a scene where he has the electroshock buzzer, points it at the therapist, and then, shocks himself - because the electrodes are still connected to him. You have to be there - it's funny. But it was funny because it's what he asked for.

It would be a completely different story if I took my kid to a school and that school "handled" their discipline problems by electrocuting them. I would have a bit of a serious problem with that. But, apparently, that is the approach of one school - to shock kids into behaving using a "Graduated Electronic Decelerator" or ged. This is disturbing to me, and I'm not surprised one of the parents filed a lawsuit against the Rotenberg Center. You can read pieces of the article here, an education-oriented blog that I happened upon yesterday while searching around. I'm also not surprised, though, that there are parents who not only laud the program, but are there to defend it in the wake of the suit.

I won't go into any detail - you'll have to read the article yourself, but it's shocking, if you'll pardon the pun.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Maybe I should start reading the Galveston County Daily News

Or at least read a few more Michael A. Smith articles. What he wrote regarding the new Texas Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act is spot on. I don't think I could have said it any better, or with any better placed sarcasm.

From the article:
Texas House Bill 3678 is an important law. It's meant to prevent religious students from being dragged off to gulags by federal marshals for such crimes as praying over cafeteria hotdogs and saying "I love Jesus" in class. The trouble is, such never happens anywhere except in the mythological world of religious conservatives, and yet the law also applies to those of us living in the real world.
But wait; he goes on:
Proponents say the bill clarifies studetns' rights under the U.S. Constitution to express personal religious beliefs at school. In the mythological world of religious conservatives, those rights routinely are trampled on by roving bands of ACLU lawyers and anti-religious educators. Pressed for examples, they provided two lawsuits filed in the past few years. Considering there are about 1100 Texas school districts, that's hardly an epidemic of litigation.
He then gets to the crux of the problem and says what many have been trying to say for so long:
What the Supreme Court understood in 2000, but our lawmakers still don't get, is the other half of the expression exchange. It's not just a matter of who gets to speak but who is compelled to sit there, captive in the classroom or auditorium or stadium, and listen.
Now people will probably say that there's nothing "making" these students stay there; that they don't have to go to the football games, and can leave the assemblies, but as any of you have ever been in high school probably know, that's not just easier said than done, it's taking the fish out of the fishbowl while everyone is watching - and remembering. This new law results in forced coercion of religious beliefs and, since the school district gets to pick who will be giving the sermons, will result in state endorsement of religion - which of course, is unconstitutional. At least, until this comes up on Cert in Scalia's court...

Read the article.

Moral Turpitude

Any law student should be familiar with that phrase. Many of them (such as I) have even been asked, "what is and isn't moral turpitude?" This question leads to a lot of "uhhs" and "umms" and then some answer about sliding scales and degrees of moral turpitude.

Fortunately, we no longer have to guess at where the line is between a regular crime and a crime of Moral Turpitude. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has been so kind as to answer the question for us. Apparently the difference lies in drunk driving. You see, according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, driving while intoxicated is not a crime of Moral Turpitude, but driving while intoxicated without a driver's license is.

Judge Callahan explained:
driving while intoxicated is despicable, and when coupled with the knowledge that one has been specifically forbidden to drive, it becomes 'an act of baseness, violence or depravity in the private and social duties which a person shows to a fellowman or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty.
Simple, no? Of course, one might argue that it's mere semantics. Because it doesn't sound from the definition that driving without a license is a crime of moral turpitude, just driving drunk.

So is it moral turpitude? Let's compare. Moral turpitude: Fraud, Murder, Child Abuse
Not Moral turpitude - malicious mischief, indecency, battery, assault, money laundering... (these lists from the dissent)

Is it right to draw the line at driving while intoxicated with no license? Or was the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals getting a little too fancy with semantics?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


The President, as predicted, has announced that due to the progress we've seen under the Surge, he has chosen to listened to General Petraeus's advice and will start to draw down troops. He hopes to bring home some 7000 by the end of the year and reduce strength by about 30,000 by next summer. What he didn't say, though, was that the troop reduction he approved is the same amount of troops that were involved in the Surge originally. He also didn't mention that this reduction was part of the Surge strategy (indeed, by definition, a surge is a short-term concept). Another thing he didn't mention was how the Iraqi army led the surge, as was sold to us in January, though he did note that the Iraqi army training was going well, and noted some difficulty with the Iraqi police force.

As for progress, he failed to mention his own definition of the Surge's goal from January - the Iraqi government working together - as one of the signs of progress. This, of course, is because the Iraqi government hasn't progressed. He also mentioned the number of troops that will be allowed to re-enter the military, without mentioning that it was under his permission that they were disbanded originally (though he did try to discredit Bremer for that, who, learning from the mistakes of others, kept a paper trail) - though that might have been because he "can't remember."

In other news, the President apparently used this speech to try to tie in as many references to past and potential future events as possible. Of course he invoked 9-11, despite the fact that the war in Iraq has NOTHING TO DO WITH 9-11!!!!!!! He also mentioned Iran. He repeatedly referred to "terrorists and insurgents" as though they are one and the same - again failing to note that the terrorist presence in Iraq is the direct result of our meddling (as is the current threat to our security from any Iraqi instability). He also made a fleeting comment to the "Taliban-like control of al-Qaeda in Anbar Province." Again, the goal was to try to subtly connect the war in Iraq with the war on Terror. And of course, some people will buy it, because some people are stupid.

But one thing I noticed was how well his speech echoed the same progress report given by General Westmoreland that I commented on just yesterday, and which Just Wondering so kindly cross-posted on her blog today.

All in all, I was not impressed with the speech. I'm sure that it will keep his base happy ("But there's progress!") and probably keep a couple Republicans in check, but he didn't really say anything other than "I'm bringing home the troops that I said would only be there a limited time after a limited time because I've decided that the parameters we set for success in January were met close enough, so long as you ignore the overarching goal of the whole thing." And with the President's credibility, even that is suspect.


One thing I'd forgotten to mention was the President's tossing in of a new concept - a long term (open-ended) commitment or "security arrangement" that the Iraqis apparently want. I don't know where the government found the time to ask us to provide them with a security arrangement, but I guess when you're busy not meeting benchmarks or passing laws, you are able to squeeze that in... The problem, as someone else (I've been to many sites tonight and can't remember where I first read this, though I'm willing to bet it was from a link on the Moderate Voice) pointed out, in the other nations where we've kept forces under a security arrangement (the "tripwire troops" such as the famous "Berlin Brigade" necessary to invoke the presidents inherent rescue powers under the Constitution), in Iraq, our forces would be there to protect Iraqis from Iraqis, instead of some outside threat (such as communism). This seems to run contrary to the concept of a security arrangement, but I'm sure we're supposed to ignore that and listen to what the President wants us to hear.

Those Liberal College People!

One of the problems with higher education is that the intellectuals all have heavy liberal biases. This is even more the case in California, the Liberal Paradise. The colleges there are so far left they are actually going to the right. At least, that must be the angle those who insist on constantly trashing academia will rely on for this.

You see, UC Irvine (from what I understand, a good school) is starting up a law school. Because there aren't enough law schools in California. In order to ensure that they had a high profile, comptetent, intelligent start, they chose one of the nation's leading Constitutional Law minds - one Erwin Chemerinsky, who I have met, and who I believe lives up to his billing - to be the founding dean of the UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Law.

This choice was then reneged upon by the school one week later, when Michael Drake contacted the professor at Duke University (another fine school) to ask Professor Chemerinsky to withdraw from the post. Apparently, he is too much of a "lightning rod," what with his ultra-liberal views.

Incidentally, the school is called the Donald Bren School of Law, in honor of the real estate mogul and Republican Party supporter who donated $20 million to the school.

Maybe this will attract a bit of negative attention to the school, but Chemerinsky should have known better. He shouldn't have stood up for 1st Amendment rights when he had the opportunity to potentially be Dean of a Law School in the future. Serves him right (Tongue in Cheek).

Random Trivia

Dr. Watson was introduced to Sherlock Holmes through Watson's former dresser, a man named Stamford; both were looking for lodgings.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The More Things Change

The more they stay the same. In 1967, General Westmoreland gave a report on the progress in Vietnam. It's almost eerie how similar it sounds to what we've been fed by the administration and in General Petraeus's op-ed from 2004.

From the article:
Now for phase IV - the final phase. That period will see the conclusion of our plan to weaken the enemy and strengthen our friends until we become progressively superfluous. The object will be to show the world that guerrilla warfare and invasion do not pay as a new means of Communist aggression.
I see phase IV happening as follows:
Infiltration will slow.
The Communist infrastructure will be cut up and near collapse.
The Vietnamese Government will prove its stability, and the Vietnamese Army will show that it can handle Viet Cong.
The Regional Forces and Popular Forces will reach a higher level of professional performance.
U.S. units can begin to phase down as the Vietnamese Army is modernized and develops its capacity to the fullest.
The Military physical assets, bases and ports, will be progressively turned over to the Vietnamese.
The Vietnamese will take charge of the final mopping up of the Viet Cong (which will probably last several years). The U.S., at the same time, will continue the developmental help envisaged by the President for the community of Southeast Asia.

You may ask how long phase III will take, before we reach the final phase. We have already entered part of phase III. Looking back on phases I and II, we can conclude that we have come a long way.
I see progress as I travel over Viet-Nam.
I see it in the attitudes of the Vietnamese.
I see it in the open roads and canals.
I see it in the new crops and the new purchasing power of the farmer.
I see it in the increasing willingness of the Vietnamese Army to fight North Vietnamese units and in the victories they are winning.
Parenthetically, I might say that the U.S. press tends to report U.S. actions, so you may not be as aware as I am of the victories won by South Vietnamese forces.
The enemy has many problems
He is losing control of the scattered population under his influence.
He is losing credibility with the population he still controls.
He is alienating the people by his increased demands and taxes, where he can impose them.
He sees the strength of his forces steadily declining.
He can no longer recruit in the South to any meaningful extent; he must plug the gap with North Vietnamese.
His monsoon offensives have been failures....
Lastly, the Vietnamese Army is on the road to becoming a competent force...

We are making progress. We know you want an honorable and early transition into the fourth and last phase. So do your sons and so do I.
It lies within our grasp - the enemy's hopes are bankrupt. With your support we will give you a success that will impact not only on South Viet-Nam but on every emerging nation in the world.

But the lesson we need to learn from Vietnam is that we would have won had we just stayed the course and not changed (or left). Perhaps some more research needs to be done - lest we forget what happened the last time those we were fighting were in "their last throes."

Wednesday is Haiku Day

My wife cannot hear
"Propane" and not say "And Pro-
"Pane Accessories."

I think she watches too much King of the Hill, myself. As always, I look forward to your contributions!

Driving While Mexican

I've heard this phrase used to describe a traffic stop for Hispanic Americans by police with no articulable reason for the stop. I've also heard it used as a derogatory term for bad drivers who are of hispanic origin. But, it might actually be an appropriate description to give to the excuse provided by the government to justify it's latest move to ban Mexican Truckers from our highways.

First, a little background information. In 1994, President Clinton agreed to the terms in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - a treaty negotiated by President George H. W. Bush and superseding the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. What NAFTA did was create a Free Trade Zone consistent with the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization's objective of open trade among nations. More specifically, the NAFTA Treaty signers agreed to eliminate tariffs on all products among the countries (so far, the United States, Canada, and Mexico) over a period of fifteen years. The core requirement of NAFTA was that the nations could not discriminate with foreign good or services trade. This means that you cannot discriminate with regard to tax policies, cannot put indirect tax in excess of what you put on your own domestic products, or cannot pass any laws or regulations regarding sale, use, transportation of goods (anything) that treats a like foreign product less favorably than a like domestic product. This last part was important, because there was a concern that countries would partake of "national treatment," and would respond by protecting themselves with measures at home that would protect their goods. If one country does that, then the other member countries could do that, and then there'd be no Free Trade Agreement, which, of course, is the goal of NAFTA, and there'd be restrictions to open trade, which is contrary to the goals of the GATT/WTO (all of which we are signatories). There are some restrictions, but nothing that is of consequence to this post. NAFTA, contrary to what many say, is not a bad thing. We aren't losing jobs to India because of NAFTA, and our economy has grown quite a bit since its inception. Additionally, Mexico (which did benefit a little more initially) has become one of our top trading partners, which has contributed not only to its economic growth but increased our exports to them, as well.

Back a few years ago, there was a case brought up under NAFTA regarding trucking. The case, known as the Mexican Trucking Case, dealt with (surprise) Mexican Truckers. You see, the United States tried to ban all Mexican trucks from operating in the United States (transporting goods) on the premise that the trucks are not yet proven safe, and that Mexican standards are lower than US standards. The idea went to hearing, and the United States lost, because the ban was overbroad - just because the standards are lower doesn't mean that every Mexican truck would not meet U.S. Standards. The standards not being the same did not mean that the trucks from the different countries were not in "like circumstances," and the Mexican truckers should be allowed to file applications the same as American and Canadian truckers could.

You'd think that would be the end of it. But, no. Yesterday, the Democrats in the Senate approved a bill to ban Mexican trucks from American roads. Their reason? Because the Mexican trucks are not yet proven safe. Canadian truckers have no problems, and American truckers have no problems, but we can't let those damn Mexicans in to steal our jobs. As the article notes, over the ten years since the Mexican Trucking Case, the United States has allowed ONE Mexican truck carrier to come in. Strange, that. But we're not supposed to think there's any attempt to limit competition, or that there is some discrimination at work. The ban comes from safety, not from Driving While Mexican. Right.

NAFTA, contrary to what many say, is not a bad thing. We aren't losing jobs to India because of NAFTA, and our economy has grown quite a bit since its inception. Additionally, Mexico (which did benefit a little more initially) has become one of our top trading partners, which has contributed not only to its economic growth but increased our exports to them, as well. We need to ensure that we hold up our end of the deal, to make sure it works all around.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At Last! Troop Reductions!

President Bush is expected to say that he plans to reduce the US troop presence in Iraq by about 30,000 starting next spring, according to this article.

My guess is that he will make some statements to the effect that because of the successes of the Surge, we now have the flexibility to begin to bring home troops. Of course, the troops we're bringing home will be about the same number as we sent over for the Surge, which, by definition, and by the President's design, was to be a short-term operation. So what the President will be doing, essentially, is what he said he'd be doing when he started this whole thing, but he'll be adding a PR twist.

The problem with the twist is that the surge, according to both the President and General Petraeus standards at the beginning, is not working. It did not accomplish what the President claimed to be its goal. Read this article by Real Clear Politics writer George Will. Here are a couple of snippets:
The purpose of the surge, they said, is to by time -- "breathing space," the president says -- for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?"
Of course, there has been some Iraqi political progress - they took August off. Some more from the article:

The progress that Petraeus reports in improving security in portions of Iraq is real. It might, however, have two sinister aspects. First, measuring sectarian violence is problematic: The Washington Post reports that a body with a bullet hole in the front of the skull is considered a victim of criminality; a hole in the back of the skull is evidence of sectarian violence. But even if violence is declining, that might be partly because violent sectarian cleansing has separated Sunni and Shiite communities. This homogenization of hostile factions -- trained and armed by U.S. forces -- may bear poisonous fruit in a full-blown civil war. Second, brutalities by al-Qaeda in Iraq have indeed provoked some Sunni leaders to collaborate with U.S. forces. But these alliances of convenience might be inconvenient when Shiites again become the Sunnis' principal enemy.
In other words, the surge might not have been as effective as advertised (then again, it might be - we don't know). Perhaps the more important question, as Mr. Will suggested, is "If the surge indeed is working, why didn't the President go to Baghdad during his surprise visit?" And the question to be asked regarding the return of the troops is "Why are you selling us a car you sold a year ago and telling us it's new?"

On September 11

It's been six years now since our lives changed forever.

Yet we don't seem to be too much more different.

The government quickly moved in 2001 to limit our civil liberties in the name of security. We have had many discussions on whether we should trust the government or demand accountability. We have declared "war" on the non-entity "terror." We have invaded two countries, yet are apparently no closer to catching the leader of the group responsible for the attack on our nation.

I keep trying to think of something, anything, unique to say, but really, I can't. I feel as though we should have changed, but we didn't. Instead, it feels as though our leaders took this tragedy and tried to milk it for political gain and popular control. I feel like the only real change is that people in America now feel an obligation to stop for a minute and think about September 11, 2001. And that makes me sad.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I wonder how many times I'll ever get to say this:

The Undefeated Detroit Lions.

Congrats, boys, on your mostly impressive win! 9 more to go in order to make good on Kitna's prediction.

For what it's worth, I've been a Kitna fan since he was at Seattle. I thought he was put in an unfortunate position by his coach (Mike Holmgren) who had his star (Joey Galloway) to pander to and his own agenda (Hasselbeck) at Quarterback. I'm happy to see Kitna do well, and even happier to see it at Detroit.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm "uber cool" says I'm an Uber Cool Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

And I swear, the lightsaber I had was when I was like 5, so we're talking from back in the '70s.

Hurts Me More Than Him

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to take the children over to the park to play. This is something I do somewhat regularly, in that I think it important for them to get some exercise and fresh air. So we played for a while, then decided to take a walk around the trail (about .63 miles). We get most of the way around the short section of the trail to where the water fountain and baseball field (with bleachers) are. The kids take their drinks then start climbing up and down the bleachers, ignoring my repeated (and regular for the trips there) requests to not do so, lest they fall and get hurt. After a few minutes, I finally get the first two down and back on the trail, or near the trail and am trying to get the Apple down. As I get nearer to him, the thing I knew would happen one of these days happened - he slipped and fell. Somehow, on the way down (he was only about 3 seats up, so not far from the ground), he hit his head on a bleacher corner. I get over to him fairly quickly and pick him up, thinking he'd just bumped his head. That's when the Boy noticed the cut, "He's bleeding!" I put my hand on the back of his head and it's warm and wet. I look and his bright blond hair has a huge patch of red in it. As I'm trying to collect the other two children and simultaneously rinse the Apple's hair in the water fountain to see how bad the cut is, he stops crying - Dad's holding him, so he's calmed down. I decide if he's able to calm down so quickly, he mustn't be hurt too badly, so I figure I'll run him home and rinse him off there to make sure he's not cut too badly. So we walk quickly back to the car, drive quickly back home, and get him in the shower. The bleeding has subsided quite a bit, but he's bleeding a little still and I finally see the cut. It's about 3/4 of an inch long on the back left side of his head, so while waiting for my wife to get done talking to the family doctor, I decide that I should take him in.

We get to the ER and sign him in and tell them what happened, but he's more interested in watching the fish than getting his cut looked at, which I take to be a pretty good sign. After a bit of a wait, the nurse checks him out, asks what happened, and says he'll need a staple or two. Then the nurse practitioner comes in and checks him out, asks what happened, and says he's going to need a couple staples. This upsets me, because my 3 year old is getting staples. The practitioner notes that the Apple is a little boy, and little boys get hurt, which is true of course, but it's supposed to happen to someone else.

The practitioner tells us he'd like to numb the area before using the staple gun. I'm not too comfortable with the idea of a staple gun being used on my son's head, but if it's going to be used, I'd rather he be numbed first. The nurse then says it'll be about 40 minutes. Joy. The Apple has his Popsicle, so he's happy for the time being. Fortunately, his mom showed up about 5-10 minutes after we did to the ER, so she's able to watch the siblings. I ask the practitioner to tell her how long the wait is, which prompts her to come in and check on her baby, not that I blame her. While we're discussing dinner plans, the Practitioner tells us he's managed to expedite things, so we'll be done in about 20 minutes, then asks who will stay with the Apple. The wife offers, which makes me happy, because I'm still sick that my Apple got hurt, but the Princess protests and insists that mommy go back to the waiting room with her and the Boy. So I stay with the Apple. A couple minutes later, the practitioner and the nurse come in with the equipment. They first bundle the Apple in a white sheet - straight-jacket style - and inform me that I will be laying on top of him and keeping him still, while the nurse holds his head still. Joy.

The practitioner then starts cleaning the area of the cut, which hurts, which starts the boy writhing, which starts me laying on him firmly, holding his body and head singing the Letter Factory Alphabet song ("the A says 'a,' the A says 'a,' every letter makes a sound, the A says 'a,'" etc.). Then the shots and staples come. Understand that the Apple cried more during the actual stapling than he did when he hit his head. It's over pretty quickly, though, and a crying Apple asks so nicely for his popsicle. We then wait for another nurse, who comes in and has me sign a couple papers, and asks me how the Apple got hurt, bringing the total number of medical personnel I had to tell to four. After about 10 more minutes, I go out to the nurse's station to see what else they need, only to find out we're done, and could have left after we signed what the last nurse needed. A minor inconvenience, really, and considering, we got through the whole thing pretty smoothly, though I still feel like crap that my boy was hurt.

He was in good spirits most of the time, which is a really good thing, and did really well as a patient. I was proud of my Apple's behavior in the face of his first injury.

Friday, September 07, 2007

They Blog, I Read

I've been the subject of blog roundups before, but I've never actually done one myself. I think it's about time I remedied that situation. Here's a look at what has been going on on the blogs I visit regularly.

Over at Bookworm's Room, she has an excellent article on the new undocumented immigrant identification cards, and the ICE's command decision to do ... nothing.

Hanns over at Zingela discusses her junk mail adventures.

Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dick Polman has a sneak peek at the Petraeus Report and follow up questions.

Stop on over by Jae's blog, our Good Enough Mom, to read her prescription drug lamentations.

And if you were wondering what Osama Bin Laden has been planning for the 9/11 anniversary, then take a gander at the Gun Toting Liberal.

Those in a mood to coo over babies can stop by Jack's Mama's blog, where you will be able to gaze upon Jack's new sisters.

The Lady Justitia has recently explained a new approach to criminal apprehension techniques in Queensland Australia - borrowing on Florida's plan, go figure. Let's just hope they don't hang any Chads unless they deserve it.

The Law Attack Cat's sidekick is ill, which is a shame for him and for her.

Michael Linn Jones, an excellent writer and coblogger on the GTL (where I first met him) has an excellent synopsis on why the upcoming Petraeus report is not worth the hype.

Anyone in the mood for good music (if you are one of us who claim Rush as good music), then make sure to stop by Nuje's Music Blog.

Papamoka, a former GTL writer and author of his Straight Talk, has a thoughtful article on the lack of leadership in our nation.

My friend and fellow alum Particleman recently went to Cambridge.

Gramma is not just a grandma, she's also a poetess. Here's an example.

Red Hot Mamma has been involved in quite a bit recently, having moved cities. She recently wrote a post advocating And Justice For All license plates in Texas, and I agree with her.

The most awesomest person named Heatherfeather is also the most awesomest knitter I know, with some great designs.

Among the many great posts at the Moderate Voice is this one commenting on Ron Paul and his supporters' fanatical support of him.

And last, alphabetically, is Vim and Vinegar, where Just Wondering has a great synopsis on former Federal Prosecutor Elizabeth De La Vega's essay regarding the current state of the Department of Justice.

Check these out, all these sites are ones I read (almost) daily, and for good reason.

Why, oh why do the activist judges hate America's God?

How could anyone view this as a First Amendment violation? There's a piece of state-owned land, the Mojave National Preserve. On this land, at various points in time, various people have put up crosses on this government-owned land. No problem yet, right? Then, some godless heathen makes the jackass decision to ask if he could put a Buddhist shrine up next to the cross. Who does this jerk think he is? This is one nation, under God, not one nation under some dead, fat asian guy. Of course the state says no. Well, naturally, someone decides to sue, claiming (get this) that by allowing the Christian cross but not allowing the Buddhist shrine, the state is showing favoritism of Christianity, thereby endorsing it over Buddhism and using, (you'll never believe this) such flimsy support as "the First Amendment" and "precedent" as their argument. And of course, because this is California, land of the activist, idiotic judges, this jerkoff wins. Unbelievable.

Well, Congress, always one to know where to intervene, then made a brilliant move and passed a law enabling the land to be donated ("traded") into private hands, so that the cross is not on Government property. You see, this means that the Government is not endorsing the True Religion, but a private individual at the Government's choice is endorsing it by placing a cross on HIS OWN PRIVATE LAND in the MIDDLE OF THE PRESERVE. Everyone's happy, right? Wrong. There's another lawsuit, this time alleging that the Government is trying to circumvent the injunction. And of course, the activist judges agree. Justice McKeown even went so far as to say so, "[t]he government's long-standing efforts to preserve and maintain the cross atop Sunrise Rock lead us to the undeniable conclusion that the government's purpose in this case is to evade the injunction and keep the cross in place. Carving out a tiny parcel of property in the midst of this vast Preserve - like a donut hole with the cross atop it - will do nothing to minimize the impermissible governmental endorsement."

And like that, with a swift stroke of a pen, these heathens (you know they are heathens because they didn't rule in favor of God) undid the will of the people, turning themselves into Constitutional interpreters and legislators undoing what the People want. We have to put a stop to this. We have to find a way to make sure the minority of this country is kept silent and subject to the tyranny of majority. This is the last straw, until the next one.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another Activist Decision

Once upon a time, in 2004, the FBI sent a letter to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). This letter, a National Security Letter, was, essentially a subpoena, which said that the provider had to turn over certain customer information to the Government. The letter authorized the FBI (an executive branch entity) to demand the ISP (or whomever) turn over the information that the FBI determined relevant. The NSL was used because it was preferable to a warrant, which required the Government to go through the court system and show probable cause. The letter, however, did not require the Judicial review. The letter said, in essence, that the ISP's manager was to collect the information, deliver them himself, not challenge the government's authority, and was not authorized to refuse or tell the individuals whose information was demanded by the FBI. The ISP sued on First and Fourth Amendment grounds, and the court ruled that this provision of the USA PATRIOT Act was unconstitutional, inasmuch as the letter looked like a threat and a reasonable person would not know (due to the language on the letter) that they could have a hearing to challenge it. The court was troubled by the concept of plenary executive power to determine when and what is necessary/relevant in terms of individual's information.

In response to this court's striking down of this provision in Doe v. Ashcroft, the Republican majority Congress renewed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2005, and revised said provision. The new provision was subsequently challenged, and the damn activist judge, clearly ignoring what the President insisted we have in order to effectively fight the terrorists, ruled the revised provision unconstitutional as well, because (and get this) the provision allows the Executive Branch to demand information on individuals (a search/seizure) without first procuring a warrant. This is a travesty. If the American People and the Founders were so concerned about searches and seizures by the Government, they would have required warrants in the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights - oh wait...

You see, we're supposed to support this provision, and not challenge this intrusion into our civil liberties or our Constitutional rights because we are engaged in a war against Terrorism, a non-entity, an idea, and thus we have to be extra vigilant and not ask questions when the Government asks for information on us, or on other Americans. If we've done nothing wrong, then we have nothing to fear, right?

Or, perhaps we should listen to the words of a Great President: "Once a government is committed to silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear." Harry S Truman

Or, if that doesn't work for you, how about a former Supreme Court Justice: "As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - William O. Douglas

Bill Richardson and New Realism

I think it's a shame that Bill Richardson has almost no chance at winning the Democratic nomination for President. I really believe that he is the best choice of all the candidates. If nothing else, he didn't try to trump his own party's debate by announcing his candidacy on Leno (Thompson).

One of the things I like about Richardson is that he is usually cogent, and is able to talk about the issues, rather than grandstanding (Clinton). I found this article, written by Governor Richardson for the Harvard International Journal, via Michael Van Der Galien's blog, the Van Der Galien Gazette.

The article discusses Governor Richardson's approach to foreign policy, suggesting that we should develop a program that will deal with the realities of the current world, or in his world that we should "craft a new foreign policy adapted to a world of complex global challenges which require thoughtful and global solutions." He refers to this concept as New Realism, and explains it rather well - better than I could summarize, though Mr. Van Der Galien does an excellent job.

Governor Richardson's approach is unique, and commendable. There has not been much from any of the major candidates anywhere regarding solid, considerable ideas, because it's safer to attack than to put yourself out there. Governor Richardson and his six major points, plus his advocacy of a Middle East-North Africa Marshall Plan are well worth considering. Check it out.

Random Trivia

The catgut used to string your tennis racket comes from sheep, not cats.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Speech Worth Reading

What follows is Barry Goldwater's speech accepting his Presidential Nomination. What he says is poignant, and with a few minor modifications could be well served to work today.

"In this world no party can guarantee anything, but what we can do and what we shall do is to deserve victory, and victory will be ours. The good Lord raised this mighty republic to be a home for the brave and to flourish as the land of the free - not to stagnate in the swampland of collectivism, not to cringe before the bully of communism.
"During [the past] four futile years the current administration has distorted and lost that faith. It has talked and talked and talked the words of freedom, but it has failed and failed and failed in the works of freedom.
"Now failures blot the sands of shame at the Bay of Pigs; failures marked the slow death of freedom in Laos; failures infest the jungles of Vietnam; and failures haunt the houses of our once great alliances and undermine the greatest bulwark ever erected by free nations, the NATO community. Failures proclaim lost leadership, obscure purpose, weakening wills, and the risk of inciting our sworn enemies to new aggressions and to new excesses.

"I needn't remind you - but I will - that it's been during Democratic years that our strength to deter war has been stilled and even gone into a planned decline. It has been during Democratic years that we have weakly stumbled into conflicts, timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression, deceitfully refusing to tell even our people of our full participation and tragically letting our finest men die on battlefields unmarked by purpose, unmarked by pride or the prospect of victory.
"Yesterday it was Korea; tonight it is Vietnam. Make no bones of this. Don't try to sweep this under the rug. We are at war in Vietnam. And yet the president, who is the commander in chief of our forces, refuses to say - refuses to say, mind you - whether or not the objective is victory, and his secretary of defense continues to mislead and misinform the American people, an enough of it has gone by.
"Now, the Republican cause demands that we brand communism as the principal disturber of peace in the world today. Indeed, we should brand it as the only significant disturber of the peace. And we must make clear that until its goals of conquest are absolutely renounced and its relations with all nations tempered, communism and the governments it now controls are enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free.

"We can keep the peace only if we remain vigilant and strong. Only if we keep our eyes open and keep our guard up can we prevent war. This is a party for free men, not for blind followers and not for conformists. In 1858 Lincoln said of the Republican Party that it was composed of "strange, discordant, and even hostile elements." Yet all of the elements agreed on one paramount objective: to arrest the progress of slavery and place it in the course of ultimate extinction.
"Today, as then, the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home, and of safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad, is enough to challenge all our resources and to require all our strength.
"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no ivce! And let me remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!

"Our cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world. Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals. This party, its good people, and its unquestionable devotion to freedom will not fulfill the purposes of this campaign which we launch here now until our cause has won the day, inspired the world ,and shown the way to a tomorrow worthy of all our yesteryears."

Wednesday is Haiku Day

I would rather read
"No thank you" letters for jobs
Than nothing at all.

As always, I look forward to your contributions

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The End of War

Today is a significant day in American History. This is the day that the United States, Great Britain, France, and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris, in 1783, bringing the American Revolution to an end.

Congratulations, and thanks, to those who served and fought to create this Noble Experiment.

And I Ran

So, I've been keeping rather consistent with going to the Y. I've gotten into a pretty good routine. I do some 30 minutes on the elliptical cross-country machine where the resistance is up 4 notches from when I started (that's fairly significant). Then I have been going to the free weights where I've been doing upper body then lower body, switching each day, which has helped with the toning and strength.

On Sunday, though, I decided to run for about ten minutes on the treadmill after finishing the elliptical machine, just to see if I could run the whole time. I set the pace at six miles an hour and started running. I'm pleased to say that I am capable of running one mile in ten minutes after a 30 minute cardio workout, provided I'm running on a treadmill in an air conditioned room underneath a fan. Now, if I can get myself up to running two to three miles at that pace, then I'll feel a bit better. Ultimately, though, I'd like to get back down to about an 8 minute or 7 and a half minute mile. We'll see what we can do. I'm sure I could do more if I ran before the elliptical machine, but I'd rather add to my workout than change it. Why mess with something that's been working, eh?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mmmmmm, Tasty

As I was walking out to the car today to take the children to the park, I happened upon an empty beer can. It was no ordinary beer can, though. It was a Bud Light Clamato beer can. Yes, Beer with tomato and clam juice. Now I've seen Clamato at the store for a couple years now, and I figure since it's still stocked, some people actually enjoy it, but I would not be one of those people.

What I want to know is, who came up with the brilliant idea to mix clamato and beer? Who said "that sounds like a winning combination?"

I don't drink anymore, but I venture if I did, I'd quit after seeing that.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

So, I'm down about 17 pounds (give or take) from when I took the Bar Exam. I just need to do that at least one more time and I'll be happy (two more and I'd be really happy).

I also need to start running. I'd like to do a 5/10K this year (Aaron, I expect you to sign up, too), but I have never been a great runner - part of why I want to do it, I think.

I also need a job. I'm still looking, but nothing's biting out there.

We went to church today; the kids did better than last week; they still have some work to do, though. Little things, like not lying down on the kneelers. I'm not quite sure why we have kneelers at our church, but the kids don't need to be using them as cots.

We're going to go back to the gym today. The wife isn't too thrilled about that (she's still sore from yesterday, and we have lower body today). The kids won't want to go until we're there, then they'll have fun and not want to leave when it's time to go. We might put swimsuits on the kids and let them get in the pool, but I'm not sure about that yet. We'll have to see.

And the college football season is over, after one week.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Faith based initiative

One of the big arguments made by those in favor of the Faith-Based Initiative is that "it works." They suggest that by using Christian programs, criminals getting out of prison will not become repeat offenders. This program has been touted by President Bush in the past as well as other members of the Republican Party and by the Religious Right. Often, what those speaking in favor of the program are seeking is tax dollars to fund their religious programs, to try to preach to the people on the Government's Dime. Of course, this could easily be considered endorsing religion, or using coercive tactics, but try convincing a fundamentalist of that.

Case in point - in Oklahoma, the department of corrections has turned to a group known as Genesis One to help with inmates about to be released from prison. According to this article from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the program does not currently receive tax dollars, but it might after this November, "under the terms of a new state law that requires corrections officials to partner with faith-based groups on reentry programs."

This law would then allow Genesis One to preach (basically) the word of God to whatever convicts it can get its hands on, and do so with the State's tax dollars. The program claims to be open to everyone, according to Americans United, but one of the fundamental requirements is that the participants must be willing to "accept God." In other words, the state would be paying money for the advancement of Christianity, which seems very akin to a Government Endorsement of Religion, which is prohibited under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Perhaps this could be considered justifiable if the program actually cut down on recidivism amongst prior convicts, but a five year study cited in the article has shown that the recidivism rate for non-participating individuals was the same 39.6% as with those who completed the Genesis One program (source cited in the article in Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Steven W. Taylor). So what we end up with is a government-funded coercive endorsement of Christianity that doesn't even reduce what it claims to reduce. But what does effectiveness have anything to do with it?

All Apologies

I blogged a few days ago about President Bush snubbing the widow of Sgt Patrick Stewart, the Wiccan soldier killed in Afghanistan. In the post, I said that President Bush should issue a public apology to Ms. Stewart.

It turns out, he did apologize the next day (Thursday). This was the good and right thing to do. President Bush even went so far as to say that the Wiccan religion should not be discriminated against. I'm not sure how much he believes that statement, but at least he said it, and he deserves credit for that, as well.

Kudos, President Bush.