Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

Fox News: Tool of The Devil, Tool Of The Right

Friday, March 21st, 2008

News? You be the judge:

“Icky?” Karl Rove is a happy man every time he has lunch with Rupert Murdoch.

Irrational fear of foreign culture or accurate social commentary?

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I report, you decide.

Mark Steyn recently authored the book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, a book which may appear to European multiculturalists and American liberals as the rantings of a hateful, zenophobic rube and to Muslim groups as the textual equivalent of a hate-crime, the mere publication of which constitutes a human rights violation (e. g., Steyn and Maclean’s magazine may have to face investigations by Canadian Human Rights commissions at the instigation of a group of Canadian Muslim law studens at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and the Canadian Islamic Congress; Steyn for having published the book and Maclean’s for having published an extract from the book) for suggesting, as I understand his thesis, that unassimilated Muslims, invited by European nation states to alleviate the problems presented by the demographic declines of their own native populations — populations that are growing older and are demanding to be kept by their bloated welfare states in the fashion in which they’ve become accustomed to demand — are posing a threat to the very democratic institutions and free culture that the Muslims were invited into and this precisely because many of those Muslims refuse to assimilate to their host culture and because their hosts refuse to demand that they do; that the diminishing fertility rate of Western Europeans in these states will eventually see the native Western Europeans be overtaken by the higher fertility rates of those Muslims in their midst; that violent overthrow of these cultures (though violence is already apparent in these countries) will ultimately be unnecessary since, once in the majority, Muslims in Europe will be able to exercise their vote to turn Europe into Eurostan. Indeed, some of these countries have been making said accomodations while Muslims are still minorities, perhaps to stave off violence.

But that’s not what I’m particularly interested in at the moment. What I’d like to focus on is this post by Steyn on The Corner, the group blog at National Review Online because, whatever the merits or demerits of the thesis of his book, I think he makes an interesting point. Quoting from and commenting on a column in the Boston Herald, Steyn writes:

‘A while back I mentioned Harvard’s decision to ban men from its pool and fitness center six times a week in the interests of “accommodating” Muslim women. Our pal Michael Graham picks up the theme:

In the old days, Harvard would have laughed if some Catholic or evangelical mother urged “girls-only” campus workouts in the name of modesty. Today, Harvard happily implements Sharia swim times in the name of Mohammed.

At Harvard, that’s called progress.

‘Well put. And thus “progress” comes full circle. In Minneapolis last year, the airport licensing authority, faced with a mainly Muslim crew of cab drivers refusing to carry the blind, persons with six-packs of Bud, slatternly women, etc, proposed instituting two types of taxis with differently colored lights, one of which would indicate the driver was prepared to carry members of identity groups that offend Islam. Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

‘Every society has culturally self-segregating groups - the Amish and whatnot. But they’re usually in small numbers somewhere out on the edge of the map. In Europe and Canada, the self-segregating group happens to be the principal source of population growth, which presents a profound challenge to societal cohesion. America does not face the same scale of problem, but nevertheless “sharia creep” ought to be resisted before it becomes remorseless. The rest of Michael’s column goes on to explain why that doesn’t happen: at Harvard and elsewhere, bigshot Saudi princes waving gazillion-dollar checks are in effect buying silence about one of the central questions of the day - Islam’s relationship with the west.’

Thus endeth Steyn. This is a good point. Suppose the Phelpses demanded that American universities institute separate exercise and swiming times for gays and straights because they can’t bear the thought of straight Americans sweating or appearing in revealing swimwear in the presence of gays? Oh how the howls would be heard from liberals around the country but how does that substantially differ from Muslims demanding separate exercise and swimming periods for Muslim women over religious and cultural concerns for modesty? Isn’t there a tinge of “separate but equal” here? Sure, granted that we’re not talking about seperate facilities here but merely times when the majority is excluded for the sake of the minority but how is separate for the sake of a minority discriminatory interest any more equal than separate for the sake of a majority discriminatory interest. Doesn’t the evil of discriminatory practices consist in the fact that they are discriminatory? And this is doubly discriminatory in that it tends to (a) perpetuate the Muslim discrimination against women — they’re weak, must be protected by men, cannot be trusted to participate fully in society with men without either drawing to themselves unwanted sexual advances from men or, worse, lasciviously inviting said sexual advances — and (b) it deliberately excludes men during those periods? Or is discrimination that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes of Muslim women for the sake of a minority (Muslims in America) somehow ethically pure while discrimination that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes of gays for the sake a majority (straights in America) or discriminatory stereotypes of women is evil? Or, more succinctly:

Forty years ago, advocating separate drinking fountains made you a racist. Today, advocating separate taxi cabs or separate swimming sessions makes you a multiculturalist.

I don’t call this progress. I call it capitulation to demands for special treatment based upon religious scruple. If the Phelpses can’t bear the thought of exercising or swiming in the presence of gays, they can damn well stay home or move somewhere where gays are hanged. If Muslims can’t bear the thought of their women showing skin in the presence of men, they can keep them covered head to toe, locked away at home or move somewhere where women are gang-raped for the crime of appearing in public insufficiently covered or imprisoned and beaten for the crime of appearing in public unaccompanied by a family member.

Or am I committing a hate crime for even suggesting this?

Institutions that would not dream of making exclusionary and discriminatory accomodations for the religious scruples of Christians should not be making such accomodations for Muslims.

Racism: Still Alive and Well

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

A white teenager got in a violent argument with a bunch of black teenagers at a party. He fled the party and ran home. He went inside and bolted the door and told his father about what had just happened. He said he was afraid some of those black guys — in a drunken rage — would come to the house to finish the argument. And they knew where he lived.

To make things even worse, this white family lived in a mostly black neighborhood. There were a lot of racial tensions, and the most trivial argument could easily explode into an ugly tragic incident.

And now the family’s worst fears have just materialized. Those black thugs from the party have arrived. They’re at the foot of the driveway. They’re in a drunken out-of-control fury and they’re shouting out threats to this white family. They aren’t gonna go away.

The panic-stricken father probably made the wrong choice — 20/20 hindsight and all. He took his gun and walked down to the foot of the driveway to confront the angry mob. One of the black thugs lunged toward the father and tried to grab his gun. The gun went off and the would-be attacker was killed.

And now the father — who was trying to protect his son from an out-of-control mob — has been convicted of second degree manslaughter. He faces up to fifteen years in prison. Do you think this is right?

Let’s see, I’m just gonna pore over this news article one last time to make sure I — OOPS!! Uhh…well, I got most of the story right; I just had one minor detail wrong. I had their races switched around. Doh! OK, so it was a black family living in a mostly white neighborhood, and it was a gang of out-of-control white teenagers who came to the house in a drunken fury, determined to settle a score.

So anyway, that doesn’t change the story or anything. Right???

Property Rights vs. Keeping Them Icky Brown People Out

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance is that uneasy feeling you get when you have two deeply-held beliefs that conflict with each other.

Tens of millions of Americans will reflexively yell out “Property Rights!” whenever an endangered species needs to be protected or a business owner has to comply with safety regulations. And a lot of these same people also think illegal immigration is the root of all of America’s problems, and the government needs to do whatever it takes to keep THEM out. Mass searches and deportations, building a huge fence along the U.S.-Mexican border — whatever it takes to keep those slimy ethnic creatures out of our country — do it!

Here comes the cognitive dissonance. This could be a wedge that splits conservatives into two bitterly divided camps.

The Homeland Security Department wants to complete 370 miles of border fencing by the end of 2008. A lot of property owners in Texas and Arizona don’t want this fence running through their property. And Homeland Security is threatening to confiscate the property of any landowner who doesn’t cooperate.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said “vee can do ziss zee easy vay or zee hard vay The door is still open to talk, but it’s not open for endless talk.”

Juan Salinas, the county judge of Hidalgo County, Texas, said: “I tell you, on this one issue, the Farm Bureau, the United Farm Workers, Democrats and Republicans, white, black, brown, everybody is against the border fence. It just doesn’t make sense. We’ve been trying to talk to them about using other ways. It’s a disappointment that, again, the Department of Homeland Security is not listening to local taxpayers.”

Local people are opposed to the fence for cultural, economic and environmental reasons. The Rio Grande is the only source of fresh water for a lot of ranchers and this fence would cut off their access to it. And the local economies depend on cross-border traffic. It doesn’t just flow one way — many Americans do volunteer work south of the border and lots of extended families live on both sides of the border. Twenty years ago we were urging the Soviet Union to tear down the Berlin Wall; now we’re planning to build one.

OK, Righties — which is it? Which side are you on — the KGB Homeland Security Department, or the “property rights” and “local autonomy” that you’re always screaming about? Well???

To the radical right: Your racism is showing

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I wrote yesterday about Mychal Bell, he of the Jena 6, and his plea bargain to a charge of simple battery, after his court case for attempted murder was tossed out. I thought about how the radical right has risen up lately to bitch and complain about the massive protests held in Jena LA regarding the racist rightwingers overt racism and inequality in the justice arena.

Seems I am not the only one that has sat up and taken notice. The TomPaine.com article really set me on edge as I read it, noting how horrible it actually has become since all hell broke loose in Jena LA.

The NYT has done a comprehensive writeup as well on how far the fuckwits of the lunatic fringe are willing to go to stifle the voices that are protesting the racism and the problems within our justice system with regards to people of color. Read this and weep for our country:

 

But since the huge Sept. 20 rally in Jena, La., where tens of thousands protested what they saw as racism in the prosecution of six black youths known as the “Jena 6,” this country has seen a rash of as many as 50 to 60 noose incidents. Last Tuesday, for example, a city employee in Slidell, La., was fired after being accused of hanging a noose at a job site a few days earlier.

 

If that fact doesn’t bother you, I don’t know what will my dear reader. Since the 1880’s until the 1960’s there were around 4700 men and women lynched in our country.

 

Read that again: 4700 men and women were lynched in these United States of America. 70% of the victims were of course black. Is it a wonder then why the noose strikes terror in the hearts of African Americans?

 

These ‘noose’ incidents are not just occurring in the South either. As the TomPaine writeup states: incidents are also being reported in places like Minneapolis; Cicero, Ill.; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Newark; Baltimore; and New London, Conn.(emphasis mine)

 

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate crimes and hate groups. The SPLC’s Intelligence Project director, Mark Potok has this for us, regarding hate crimes and their rise:

 

These incidents are worrying, but even more so is the social reality they reflect. The level of hate crimes in the United States is astoundingly high — more than 190,000 incidents per year, according to a 2005 Department of Justice study.

 

And the number of hate groups, according to the annual count by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has shot up 40 percent in recent years, from 602 groups in 2000 to 844 in 2006.

 

It seems that the September rally in Jena — much as it was seen by many civil rights activists as the beginning of a new social movement — signaled not a renewed march toward racial and social justice, but a surprisingly broad and deep white backlash against the gains of black America.

 

So, it seems we are going backwards when it comes to equality among the races doesn’t it? Thousands of individuals rose up to point out the heinous acts in Jena. They pointed out how the law is not meted out evenly in Jena and they did it loud and proud, so the whole world took notice during the September rallies held in Jena LA. I was proud of them all, it made me happy to see that little town inundated with thousands of people, of every color, that wanted to show solidarity with the black teenagers being railroaded through the court system in Jena by a bigoted DA, judge and jury.

 

As a ‘woman of color’, the color brown my dear reader, I have long considered the Republican attacks on illegal immigrants as a bigoted issue that paints brown people as the big brown menace to blame for all things that ail America. The rights attempt to paint this issue as part of the ‘war on terror’ has made me sick to my stomach. Seems I am not alone in that regard either. From the TomPaine writeup:

 

But it’s also becoming true on a broader scale as well, with a rising tide of openly espoused ethnic bigotry manifesting itself in myriad ways, particularly on the immigration front, where Latinos are increasingly targeted by rhetoric emanating from the very highest levels of Republican leadership that manifests itself in a tide of hate crimes; and in the “war on terror,” which has provided for an opening for a variety of right-wing figures to spew hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric, with similarly predictable consequences.

 

Isn’t that interesting? Oh, its very interesting to me. I am glad that people are finally putting two and two together as it were. Even CNN has an article that points out how the FBI has stated that ‘hate crimes’ have jumped Eight Percent in the last year with racial hatred accounting for more than half:

 

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability.

 

Disgusting no matter how you look at it, unless of course your a rightwing nutjob that still believes that people of color and gays are taking over the nation. It should also be noted that “Only 12,600 of the nation’s more than 17,000 local, county, state and federal police agencies participated in the hate crime reporting program in 2006”, which should also bother the hell out of progressives and people that despise bigotry and racism.

 

You want to know what really jacks my jaw? That people like Bill O’ Reilly feed the bigotry live and in living color nightly via our airwaves. They push the rightwing nutjobs into action with quotes like this one:

 

But do you understand what the New York Times wants, and the far-left want? They want to break down the white, Christian, male power structure, which you’re a part, and so am I, and they want to bring in millions of foreign nationals to basically break down the structure that we have. (emphasis mine)

 

Disgusting on every level wouldn’t you say? We are NOT a nation of just white, Christian, males. We are a melting pot of all colors, genders and sexuality. We are NOT a nation that should be governed by only the “all white boys club”. All of us should receive representation. Every Single Last One of Us. We All pay taxes, we all add to this nation in one way or another and we all deserve to have a voice. Our, the collective ‘our’, taxes are paying the salaries of those congressional representatives and that worthless man we call President. I will be damned if I will shut the fuck up so that the fearmongerer’s among us get to run this nation into the ground and take us back 200 years to when women and blacks were just considered “chattel” to be traded or used as the white, Christian males saw fit.

Crossposted at the UnCapitalist Journal

Third Rail of Immigration Politics

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Illegal immigration is a real problem in this nation and no matter how much all of the candidates try to bob and weave away from it, it is still the 400 pound gorilla in your part of America. There are those out there that believe we should buy the Great Wall of China and move it piece by piece to the border with Mexico. There are also those amongst us that believe that the only crime many of these illegal immigrants have committed was not coming here legally. Once here they melt into society and fade in to being just another part of America. Huge crime there.

With neither political party willing to admit that our nations immigration policy is busted they are backing off of the topic because it is the easiest route for their campaign. That sounds similar to what the latest votes on immigration reform were in the house recently. Their changes in position is not about illegal immigrants or the broken policies of the past twenty plus years, it’s about votes. Voters have an opinion and neither side has the guts to stand firmly when it comes to fixing our immigration problem.

With our nation having an illegal immigration problem the candidates are backing up to the safe zone that does not offend illegal immigrants or those that might think the current laws are a joke. Does that not in fact point out that this issue, according to the pull back by the candidates, really is not important to legal immigrants and citizens born in the good old USA?

Candidates Walk a Tightrope on Immigration By MICHAEL LUO
Published: November 18, 2007

THE Republican presidential candidates talk about illegal immigration as if they were in an arms race on toughness. The Democratic candidates have begun to tread more warily on the issue, as their debate last week in Las Vegas showed, but they still favor the language of accommodation over alarm.

Each approach, political strategists and officials warn, could have costs next November. Pollsters on both sides agree there is widespread anxiety, even anger, about the impact of illegal immigration. But an increasingly influential Hispanic electorate could be turned off by a hard line from the party they turned to in increasing numbers in the last two presidential elections.

Much will depend, strategists say, on how the candidates balance their statements.  “A Republican who only talks border control or a Democrat who only talks about benefits and services for illegal immigrants are going to find themselves in a lot of trouble next fall,” said Dan Schnur, a Republican strategist who worked on Senator John McCain’s presidential bid in 2000.

Looking at the Republicans at this point, it is often hard to find much difference among most of the leading contenders. They sound just as tough as the candidate who has been the angriest on immigration, Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado, whose shoestring campaign recently began to run a television commercial in Iowa declaring that Islamic terrorists roam free in the United States because of an unsecured border. - New York Times

Maybe we should just all face the facts, while Mitt is down in Miami insulting legal immigrants in their native tongue, and Hillary is off car pooling with her latest potential voter base, the rest of us will be wondering where the 200,000 plus buses are to deport the current illegal’s. Somebody check the bus schedule but I don’t see it on the listing I have.

While many folks would be tempted to vote for the first person to come up with a plan to have our military (What’s left of it anyway) take full possession of Laidlaw, Greyhound, City of New York, Chicago, Houston, LA, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami, Boston Transit systems, and Durham bus companies to expedite the exit strategy for all illegal immigrants that is not the answer. We need a mad man’s plan to fix illegal immigration once and for all and I have just the plan…

While Rudi and John McCain are ready to build the next wall of China on our southern border I propose seizing Home Depot, Lowes and Ace Hardware to get the job done, I might want to add Toy’s R Us, Best Buy and Circuit City for all the high tech electronics needed to maintain the second greatest wall for surveillance and entertainment purposes. We could sell the rights to the news networks or comedy shows. I’m guessing we will need about one million plus people to just watch the southern border based on three shifts round the clock with seventy or so holidays a year and six weeks vacation time each. We are going to need a payroll system to pay them all.

Bank of America should be seized by our government because they have that pesky America thing in their name. They should be honored that my plan chooses to invade them to save America. We will have to change all the signs out front to Border Under Revolutionary Patrol Institution for No Gringo’s or BURPING for short. Most of their customers are used to that happening every six or seven weeks anyway so the transition should be smooth. It should not take more than six or seven divisions to make them do the job for us. Losses to our six division of IRS workers will be high but that is the risk we will just have to take to save America from the plague of illegal immigrants. Then we seize all of the banks along the southern border and turn all of the branches into military outposts with gun barrels facing every direction. We won’t make the same mistake the Germans or French or whoever the hell it was with the marginal line… This is a two-fur because bank robberies will be drastically reduced at all BURPING branches.

We will need to feed these folks protecting our border so everyone in California will need to either get out or be enlisted in the Workers Environmental Nutritional Defense of Your Safety, yup WENDYS for short. We are going to need to level Los Angeles and San Francisco and Sacramento and most of the state to grow buns and pickles and ketchup trees. We may need to save Orange County because we hear that Sesame Seeds roam wild there and only the good ranchers of the area know how to round them up to milk them. Then again, we need someone to administer all the workers at WENDYS too.

We can not overlook healthcare for all of these border guarding protectors of America. For that we move Walter Reed to the border as an example of what kind of care you will get if you dare to cross our borders or guard it. What is good enough for our troops is good enough for the ones lucky enough to make it through the entire state of Texas that will be land mined. This may pose a problem for commuters in many of the larger cities but our border is more important. My apologies to the memory of Lady Bird Johnson and all her flowers but I think they actually were drawing the immigrants to our border.

I’m having a problem with Florida, should we just sink it and make all of the Snow Birds move back to where they came from or just sell the damn state to South America. That might offset some of the costs of a real system or plan that might actually rebuild Louisiana. I here they need some kind of a drainage system or levee or something down there but that is just a rumor.

I’ve got work to do on this plan. If my plan to invade all of them bus companies fail I have to have a counter plan and Kansas is just the right shape for a mega prison for anyone daring to object to my plan to solve the illegal immigration problem. Any Republican candidate for President can feel free to steal my notes here.

Holy crapola, while I have a plan to save the southern border from being over run, the northern border is at risk. I need to get Rush and Billy O on the phone. Together we can save America from future Americans!

OR

We could fix the immigration laws and enforce them! The current law(s) do not work, they are not enforced and it is a joke. Is amnesty the way to go? Ronald Reagan thought so! Is a plan that makes the unknown resident known workable? Yes, it is! How that actually happens is in the fine print that is scary to all of the candidates in fear of pissing off whom? Hispanics? What about the Irish, Polish, Armenians, English, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Germans, Lithuanians, Swedes, Canadians, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Africans, and this list goes on for all nations of the world, are we not all Americans too?

Stop blaming the majority of illegal immigrants for your lot in life’s problems because the politicians tell you that they are to blame. It’s so easy to sling mud and eventually it sticks if you believe the sound bite. There is a big difference in telling you who to blame and the people that are entrusted with your vote that are supposed to protect you as an American that will still do nothing to solve the issue of illegal immigration.

Show me a candidate that tells you the truth that our nation needs a constant flow of immigrants both legal and illegal and that is the candidate that knows that America will constantly need a source of cheap labor with a goal that their children will have a better life than themselves. Parent’s sacrifice for their children. Funny thing is, my parents wanted that for me and they were born in America.

This is the land of opportunity after all. We all came from somewhere and that was the goal of our forefathers. My full apology to native American Indians of course. That is another post for another day though…

Papamoka

Originally posted at Papamoka Straight Talk…

Fed Finally Narrows The Sentencing Gap Between Crack And Blow

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

We’ve all heard the expression “justice is served”…and while most of us leave the table feeling satisfied with what we’ve been fed; others are forced to swallow a less than palatable plate…one that contains an inordinate amount of one particularly foul ingredient. For approximately two decades, those individuals who have made the unfortunate mistake of choosing to partake of crack cocaine over powdered nose candy have been left to endure the lingering aftertaste that accompanies a recipe rife with ill-conceived and inequitable punishment guidelines.

In a move that begins to correct this long-standing injustice, the U.S. Sentencing Commission changed the guidelines to allow jail time to be reduced by up to fifteen months. The change is an attempt to reduce the 100 to 1 equation that was instituted in 1988 as an attempt to combat the sudden increase in the use of crack cocaine. Basically, the law stated that an individual had to possess 100 times more powdered cocaine than crack cocaine to receive the same prison sentence. As it turned out, the law imprisoned far more blacks for far longer periods of time for possessing far less cocaine than their white counterparts.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Since 1988, possession of five grams of crack cocaine – an amount equal to five packets of sugar substitute – landed a person in jail for five years. But people caught with cocaine powder would have to possess 100 times that amount, or 500 grams, to get the same five-year stint behind bars.

It’s known as the 100-to-1 ratio. And because most people convicted of crack offenses are black and most convicted of powder cocaine offenses are white, critics have long argued that the disparity represents an egregious racial inequity in America’s criminal-justice system.

This week the US Sentencing Commission, with little fanfare, officially reduced its recommended sentences for crack-related offenses. […]

As a result, up to 4 in 5 people found guilty of crack-cocaine offenses will get sentences that are, on average, 16 months shorter than they would have been under the former guidelines. Opponents of the 100-to-1 ratio applaud the commission’s move, but they say it’s just a first step because the so-called mandatory minimum sentences set by Congress remain on the books.

Many lawmakers expected that long, mandatory sentences for possessing or selling crack would discourage drug use. And because many perceived crack to be much more destructive than powder cocaine, Congress established the 100-to-1 ratio. In 1988, it passed another law that established a mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine.

Since then, studies have shown that the crack-versus-powder sentencing disparity disproportionately affects minorities. Last year, 82 percent of crack defendants were black, according to the sentencing commission, compared with 9 percent who were white. For powder cocaine, it was almost the opposite: About 80 percent of powder-cocaine defendants were white and less than 14 percent were black.

It remains uncertain if the new guidelines will be applied retroactively. A follow up meeting is planned in November to consider that issue. If the changes were retroactive, the article indicates that as many as 19,500 individuals incarcerated for crack cocaine possession could have their sentences reduced by an average of 27 months.

The situation is a good example of the flaws that have plagued the war on drugs. While I don’t believe the use of cocaine is advisable, I do believe there is no legitimate reason to impose punishments that impartially penalize blacks. Some have suggested the best solution would be to make the sentences for powdered cocaine as severe as those for crack cocaine.

Personally, I don’t believe drug use can be extinguished through criminalization so stiffening the punishment seems like the wrong approach. I suspect those unfortunate enough to become addicted would be better served with improved treatment options and I wouldn’t be surprised if doing so would, in the long run, cost less to implement than the ongoing expenses associated with the existing criminal model.

At the very least, this current revision is a long overdue correction. Hopefully it will be the first step in reassessing our current drug enforcement strategy.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Pay Up Westboro Baptist Church!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Did you ever think that for every bad action in the world there will come several opposing good actions to bring the scales of good and evil into balance. I believe that sometimes the scales of good need to be tipped just a little bit more in the world when it comes to our troops. Especially, in times when one of those soldiers is killed in the line of duty. At times like those, a family is devastated and lost in grief.

I hate to even write about the Westboro Baptist Church because I honestly believe that they are a group of radicals hiding behind the cloaks of their church with their message of hatred against homosexuals. Well, some nimrod in that organization had an epiphany that the only way to spread that hate message was to blame God first and point it out that God killed your son or daughter serving in our military for a reason. Showing up at military funerals and protesting that your spouse, your son, your daughter, or even a parent died while in service to America because God hates homosexuals was not a bright idea. Westboro Baptist Church disgusts me with their actions. How you can call yourself a Christian and think that selling hate at a funeral makes you a better person or more God like is beyond my mental comprehension. I’m not being anti Christian, I’m just pointing out how stupid and self centered these people are.

Tip the scales of right and wrong back to the right side and along comes the Patriot Guard Riders. This is a group of bikers and just regular folks that believe in supporting our troops and proudly show up by invitation of the family, to support a fallen son or daughter of America’s military. They don’t ask for any money, many of the Patriot Guard Riders will drive thousands of miles at their own expense to be there for the funeral to legally block the protestors from the families view. Big American flags and bikes lining both sides of the street is a sight to see that I am sure the parents or spouses of the fallen soldier appreciate more than anyone will ever know. Law enforcement officers tend to have a little more respect for people with a positive message than folks with a very negative message at a military funeral. Gee, that took a ton of brain activity to figure out.

Tipping the scales a little bit further for the good side and we have this court case by a parent against the Westboro Baptist Church by the Associated press in the Houston Chronicle…

Church that pickets military funerals ordered to pay $2.9 million

By ALEX DOMINGUEZ
Associated Press

BALTIMORE — A grieving father won a $2.9 million verdict today against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.”
A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries. But the Maryland lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman. - Houston Chronicle

Three words, IT’S ABOUT TIME! I can hear the Amen coming from all my brother and sister Patriot Guard Riders over this decision. My own personal applause goes out to the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. Albert Snyder, you sir deserve this court decision and from my family to yours I offer my thanks for your sons service to our nation and of course my heart felt prayers over the loss of your son.

Thank you Mr. Albert Snyder.

Papamoka
Proud Member of the Patriot Guard Riders

Cross posted at Papamoka Straight Talk

Clarence Thomas: Blind To The Chip On His Shoulder?

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Clarence Thomas, in his new book titled My Grandfather’s Son, draws perhaps one of the most inane conclusions I’ve heard in a long time. Thomas contends that affirmative action rendered his Yale law degree virtually worthless…leading him to literally and figuratively attach a paltry value of fifteen cents to it.

Perhaps I’m treading on fragile ground, but Thomas’ conclusion suggests to me that his view of reality may actually emanate from persistent resentments and a series of misguided attributions.

The conservative justice says he initially considered his admission to Yale a dream, but soon felt he was there because of his race. He says he loaded up on tough courses to prove he was not inferior to his white classmates but considers the effort futile. He says he was repeatedly turned down in job interviews at law firms after his 1974 graduation.

“I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it,” Thomas writes. “I’d graduated from one of America’s top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value.”

Thomas says he stores his Yale Law degree in his basement with a 15-cent sticker from a cigar package on the frame.

Excuse me, but isn’t is possible that what Mr. Thomas exuded, and employers perceived, in his post-Yale interviews was the same surly “chip on his shoulder” persona that many point to this very day? The fact that a man burdened by such insecurity and conflicted by so many inferred grievances sits on the highest court in the land and likely filters each case through this skewed template is a frightening thought. The fact that many of the current GOP presidential candidates point to Thomas as a model for future judicial appointments is unconscionable.

Let me be clear. No doubt Thomas is a man of extraordinary intellect and possesses the credentials to warrant his position. Notwithstanding, anyone who has been in a position to hire employees realizes that a stellar resume can be negated by an incongruous attitude. In fact, this very circumstance is often rife with the potential for distorted perceptions to overwhelm an otherwise erudite individual.

Anecdotally, one could also argue that Thomas’ difficulty in securing a position following his graduation may have resulted from residual racism that certainly existed in 1974, the year of his graduation. The fact that affirmative action may have facilitated his education and provided the grounds to reject him as an employee (his view) needn’t nullify the significance of the opportunity it afforded and the eventual benefit it provided.

If Mr. Thomas believes his inclusion at Yale was a function of an ill-advised quota system, do his eventual achievements not suggest that affirmative action actually succeeded in opening doors that may have otherwise been closed to those who should have been welcomed based upon merit? Had Mr. Thomas been excluded from Yale and subsequently written a book which argued that racism played a part in denying access to education for individuals of merit, he could easily be a champion for the very program he seeks to skewer…and his seat on the Supreme Court would provide the very same justifications for that argument.

Frankly, Thomas’ difficulties finding work are not foreign to millions of qualified Americans…black, white, brown, Italian, Catholic, or gay to name a few. Fortunately, the vast majority of them don’t focus upon harboring animosities…animosities which tint or taint the views they hold for the remainder of their lives. Some of his fellow Yale students support that very argument.

His view isn’t shared by black classmate William Coleman III.

“I can only say my degree from Yale Law School has been a great boon,” said Coleman, now an attorney in Philadelphia. “Had he not gone to a school like Yale, he would not be sitting on the Supreme Court.”

Edgar Taplin Jr., raised by a single parent in New Orleans, said he landed a job after graduation at the oldest law firm in New York, and does not recall black graduates struggling more to get jobs than their white classmates.

“My degree was worth a lot more than 15 cents,” said Taplin, who retired in 2003 as a global manager with Exxon Mobil.

William Coleman says it’s time for Thomas to move on.

“You did OK, guy,” he said.

In fairness to Thomas, I’m certain he encountered unwarranted obstacles and that is supported by some former classmates and teachers at Yale. His book is noteworthy for the sincere homage he pays to his grandfather. Had it not included the portions that suggest he remains an unresolved and vengeful individual, one could actually view his life as a tale of remarkable resiliency. Unfortunately, my impression is that Thomas is appreciative of the former but driven by the latter.

Thomas has declined to have his portrait hung at Yale Law School along with other graduates who became U.S. Supreme Court justices. An earlier book, “Supreme Discomfort,” by Washington Post reporters Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, portrays Thomas as still upset some Yale professors opposed his confirmation during hearings marked by Anita Hill’s allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

If Clarence Thomas’ experience represents the worst of affirmative action…and it seems he believes as much…then it seems to me that the benefits have far outweighed the costs. Lest we forget, for every Clarence Thomas there was no doubt ten others who faced the discrimination and the inequity of opportunity that affirmative action sought to correct. Mr. Thomas, through his words and actions, continues to ignore the relevance of that actuality.

Mr. Thomas, if your charmed life is so insufficient as to warrant the angry recitations you felt compelled to include in your biographical account and you seem to exhibit in the positions you take as a Supreme Court Justice, then may I suggest you’re little more than the bastion of bitterness many have come to believe you to be?

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

“You kill a dog, you go to jail - you kill a little black boy and nothing happens.”

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

So said the lawyer for the family of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14 year old who died at the hands - and boots - of the Florida boot camp instructors who were acquitted yesterday on charges related to the beating-death incident. Oh, and yes, the jury was all white. This will not be the last we hear of this.

“No government agency is able to say how many children have died at boot camps or wilderness programs.”

The GAO has completed an investigation into these teen “boot camps” for troubled teens. Here’s a few incidents they uncovered as per USA Today…

•A 15-year-old date-rape victim from California enrolled in a 9-week wilderness program in Utah in 1990 to build her self-confidence, her parents said.

•A month later in Utah, a 16-year-old Florida girl struggling with drug abuse died of heat stroke while hiking during a 9-week wilderness program. The program brochure described “days and nights of physical and mental stress with forced march, night hikes and limited food and water.” …

•In March 1994, two former employees of that camp opened a new program in Utah. That’s where Aaron Bacon died from an acute infection that went untreated for nearly three weeks. He had been sent to the camp because of minor drug use and poor grades. …

•A 15-year-old Oregon boy died at an Oregon wilderness program in September 2000 of a severed neck artery. The boy had refused to return to the camp site after a group hike. Two staffers held him face down for almost 45 minutes in an attempt to bring him under control. The death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury did not issue an indictment.

Thousands of abuse allegations have been leveled. Yet of the ten mortality cases investigated by the GAO, only one led to criminal liability. The study showed that staff were poorly trained and vetted, if relevantly trained and vetted at all. Allegations range from torture, to starvation, exposure, incarceration, and torture. Over 1,600 abuse instances were identified, and those just from the only 33 states that report such statistics. These “camps” are privately owned and thus receive little attention from the state governments. Since the Anderson case, Florida has tightened it’s regulations on the camps, and sure enough Florida is down to only one now, and that is soon to close as well. It seems these camps are not up to oversight snuff.

“Tough Love” is an Oxymoron

I have often said that there is no such a thing as “tough love.” Love is not tough. At least, it shouldn’t be. When a woman is in an abusive relationship, her friends will tell her, “Get out! Run away!,” and she will often say, “But he loves me!,” and they will say, “If he loves you, he wouldn’t beat you.” For some reason, we think it’s okay to abuse children, try them adults, put them out on the streets, when we feel they are misbehaving, yet if a husband did that to his wife, she’d have grounds for divorce, if not his arrest. Firstly, privately run detention facilities of any kind should be outright banned, boot camps for youth should be very carefully monitored, and parents should think twice about sending their kids to these places. Secondly, any direction or legal mitigation given by the courts allowing parents to use the boot camp route should also be outright banned. It is a conflict of interest, as it is outside the scope of the government. Finally, it’s time parents learn that there is no such thing as “Tough Love.” Love is never tough.

JMJ


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