Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
www.myspace.com/embryonicproductions and listen to "Mary Did You Know"...just for fun.
Have a happy new year.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Hell, I would've voted for McCain had he not let the GOP trample him after he won the nomination and push him to pick the [disastrous] Palin. He said "Country First" yet he put the party's leadership first. Not something I want in the leader. And then, to make it worse, after he picked Palin, he shoved her under the bus during his campaign. I couldn't have confidence in a man who would pick someone he didn't believe in, and I couldn't have confidence in a vice president who doesn't even have the respect of the guy she's running with.
Guiliani: I would've voted for him. I'm willing to bet a lot of other centrists and moderate/progressive Republicans, not to mention even independents, would've too. He held New York together after 9/11. While Bush was off starting two wars and blaming them both on 9/11, Guiliani was rebuilding New York. He was a true leader.
Too bad he dropped out of the primaries.
And too bad he won't be running for Senator, or Govenor, and will instead remain on the sidelines.
Too bad. He's a real player, and a real leader. I could definitely have confidence in him.
Friday, December 18, 2009
District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a measure recognizing such marriages as legal. The district council overwhelming passed the bill Tuesday, following a similar vote December 1.
Fenty signed the measure at All Souls Church, a Unitarian Universalist house of worship in the northwest part of the district that is known for its diversity and for the welcoming of same-sex couples.
The measure now goes to Congress for a 30-day review period, but it's considered unlikely that the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill would block the bill. By law, Congress has the right to review and overturn laws created by the District of Columbia's council.
If the measure becomes law, the district will join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa in legalizing same-sex marriages. A law legalizing such marriages in New Hampshire takes effect January 1.
Earlier this year, lawmakers in Maine approved a measure legalizing same-sex marriages, but voters in the state last month passed a referendum to overturn the new law. Last week, New York's state Senate defeated a bill that would legalize such marriages. A similar bill stalled last week in New Jersey's state senate.
Tuesday's vote in the nation's capital prompted approval from gay rights groups. The Human Rights Campaign called passage of the legislation "a victory for all D.C. residents."
"The legislation the council passed today reinforces the legal equality and religious freedoms to which all D.C. residents are entitled," the organization's president, Joe Solmonese, said in a written statement.
The National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, said "the fight is not over."
"Politicians on the city council are acting as if they have the right through legislation to deprive citizens of D.C. of their core civil right to vote, but we will not let them get away with it," said Brian Brown, the organization's executive director.
"We will go to Congress, we will go to the courts, we will fight for the people's right to vote," he said.
Opposition to the legislation also came from the Catholic Church's Archdiocese of Washington, which has said that the measure could restrict the church's ability to provide charity services, apparently because the church might cut back on services rather than comply with the measure's requirements.
It is inevitable. One day all of the US will have equality in this arena. The US does seem to gravitate towards equality, albeit sometimes after quite awhile.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
So we ordered, ate our wonderfully bland mediocre gourmet food and headed
And there she was. Sitting on the concrete right by the doorway. Maybe 40
years old, dirty, disheveled, and not looking good.
...Living in a somewhat urban setting, you get used to this type of attack.
The homeless/lazy/down on their luck/lookin’ for a buck person. But this
was different. Because she looked right at me and asked me for some
food. Maybe some chow mein and an egg roll. And she apologized. She said she was
I quickly went inside and ordered her food. A big plate of noodles and her
egg roll, with chicken. And since the guy told me an additional item wouldn’t
cost any more, I decided to treat her to a plate of orange chicken as
As soon as I gave her the food she apologized again and dove into it as if
she hadn’t eaten in a week. Which was quite possibly true.
I really like where he goes next.
Christians are pretty quick to defend “our” season. We are almost
cataclysmic if stores say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. And heaven
help the person who suggests that maybe for their own religious reasons, they
would rather not participate in the office gift exchange or Christmas
But is it possible that God, just as He was with Israel, is pretty upset
with us? Maybe our version of Christmas has just become another empty burnt
Maybe in the face of our hungry fellow man, whether he is in Darfur,
Indonesia, an abandoned inner city, or down the street from where we live, our
trees, twinkling lights, and rush to get the latest iphone or Wii Fit
gadget are the things that the ancient prophet Amos says God
Last night God broke my heart again. I hate when he does that. And believe
me, it happens over and over. Because I can be a stubborn guy.
I cannot get that woman out of my mind, and yet I am pretty sure God is
okay with that.
Sometimes Christmas can be such a struggle.
I totally agree with Dave here. Even on my own blogroll, I see many that are so concerned with the "cultural war" as Focus on the Family puts it, or the so-called "war on Christmas" that O'Reilly is bemoaning. But I think we lost those battles two generations ago, during the prosperity of the '50s, and it's only gotten worse. We lost the "cultural war" to ourselves.
We shouldn't be worrying about stores saying "happy holidays" vs. Merry Christmas. I don't think Christ would really care, honestly. I think where his heart gets broken is just as Dave mentions: when we are so worried about buying gifts and preserving the tradition of Christmas that we forget that Christ came to SAVE the world. Not to make a really cool excuse to buy each other stuff and make wishlists.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Bruce Bartlett was one of the original supply-siders. He shows that in the 1970's and 80's, three US Presidents (Nixon, Ford, and Carter) had all tried, and failed, to effectively fight the sluggish economy and high inflation of the time.
At the time, most economists were saying that a recession and inflation cancelled each other out and couldn't exist at the same time, even if the reality was disproving the theory.
A small, "dissident" group of economists came up a way to fight non-inflationary growth: supply-side economics. And it worked. "Carter's Recession" as Reagan called it, ended, thanks largely to supply side economics.
But Bartlett argues further that supply-side is not a cure all. It was a cure for the '70s and '80s stagflation. Supply side economics were "...elegantly designed to counter stagflation. Other problems required other solutions. And boy, do America and the world now face other problems: deflation, debt, and the failure of economic growth to translate into rising incomes for most Americans."
I like the way Frum ends his review:
"A free-market economic policy for our time would stress reflation to combat deflation and a payroll tax holiday to spur job creation. It would propose health reforms to control costs and thus boost middle class incomes and slow the rise in government spending. It would, as Bartlett has done, call for consumption taxes to balance the budget and avert the payroll and income tax increases that will otherwise befall.
Such a policy would depart from present conservative orthodoxy. But the supplysiders departed from the conservative orthodoxy of their day, and we admire them for it! We do not honor them by refusing to emulate them."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
A comedian, Mark Gungor, said something along the lines of "Really, if you ask most women to describe their ideal man, listen to them, they'll describe another woman!" saying things like, "You need to be more emotional. You need to be in touch with your feelings. You've got to go shopping!"
I don't think we need to go back to the days where women were second class citizens. Far from it. But I think somewhere along the road to gender equality and suffrage, it was thought that in order to achieve equality for the woman, the man needed to be brought down and made inferior. Masculinity has been made out to be something wrong, something that men need to rise above, or grow out of.
A friend of mine is going through a rough time right now. His girlfriend cannot accept that he likes masculine things, like guns, motorcycles, and such. She thinks of these things as juvenile and sophomoric, without realizing that he is just being who he is supposed to be, who he wants to be; he is being who and what he was made to be: a man.
As much as I don't like product plugs, over at Docker's, their ad campaign sums up so much. I'll repost the text here:
ONCE UPON A TIME, MEN WORE THE PANTS, AND WORE THEM WELL. WOMEN RARELY HAD TO OPEN DOORS
AND LITTLE OLD LADIES NEVER CROSSED THE STREET ALONE.
MEN TOOK CHARGE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY DID.
BUT SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, THE WORLD DECIDED IT NO LONGER NEEDED MEN.
DISCO BY DISCO, LATTE BY FOAMY NON-FAT LATTE, MEN WERE STRIPPED OF THEIR KHAKIS AND
LEFT STRANDED ON THE ROAD BETWEEN BOYHOOD AND ANDROGYNY.
BUT TODAY, THERE ARE QUESTIONS OUR GENDERLESS SOCIETY HAS TO ANSWER FOR.
THE WORLD SITS IDLY BY AS CITIES CRUMBLE, CHILDREN MISBEHAVE AND THOSE LITTLE OLD LADIES REMAIN ON ONE SIDE OF THE STREET.
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE BAD GUYS, WE NEED HEROES. WE NEED GROWN-UPS. WE NEED MEN TO PUT DOWN THE PLASTIC FORK, STEP AWAY FROM THE SALAD BAR AND UNTIE THE WORLD FROM THE TRACKS OF COMPLACENCY.
IT'S TIME TO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.
IT'S TIME TO ANSWER THE CALL OF MANHOOD.
IT'S TIME TO WEAR THE PANTS."
Susannah, over at Get the Big Idea, also posted on this.
Monday, December 7, 2009
This is the Litmus Test:
(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;
(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;
(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation
(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check
(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants
(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges
(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat
(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act
(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion
(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.
In order to be considered for political backing by the GOP, a candidate must sign off on 8 out of 10 of this list. The rationale for this? They are invoking the spirit of Reagan, albeit misguidedly, by saying that since he said that “that someone who agreed with him 8 out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent,” the resolution will embody that spirit of Reagan and cut off all Republicans who don't fit at least 8 out of 10 items from the resolution.
I don't know about that. Reagan constantly talked about the "big-tent party." This doesn't seem like a big tent. This seems like an eight out of ten pup tent to me.
Oops, looks like I only score 7 of 10 (I'll leave it to you to guess which 7). I guess I can't be a Republican anymore. But wait...I'm a moderate, with pretty common views for my generation. Oh well. Guess the GOP doesn't need Generation X and Y.
This just doesn't make sense at all. Before, I've blogged about building a moderate part (here, here, here, here, and here) of the GOP, much like the Democrats have their blue dogs and their DLC (Democratic Leadership Committee) to balance the far-left. We need a Red-Dog or RLC (Republican Leadership Committee) type organization to balance the Republican National Convention, especially if they pass this suicidal GOP litmus test.
If there is a candidate that Progressive Republicans could support, that we believe could bring embody the GOP's spirit and win again, but doesn't meet the RNC's 8 of 10 lunacy, the Progressive Republican organization should be able to rally behind said candidate and provide backing and support. Why should we let the far-right drive the party into obscurity?
Let's not only defeat the resolution, but let's make sure similar resolutions are not only circumvented, but defeated as well. There are more of us, and we want a winning GOP again. Not some pure minority that just spouts off items from a ten item list.
One major group in the Tea Party movement -- named after the famous Boston Tea Party -- is set to host its first convention in February, with former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin as its keynote speaker.
But there are fractures in the movement that threaten its future. And if history's any guide, such movements tend to flame out.
The Tea Party movement erupted on April 15 -- tax day -- over criticism of President Obama's economic policies and what organizers called big government out of control. The movement, made up of local, state and national groups, continues to protest what it considers fiscally unsound policies.
And the movement is well funded. Action groups like FreedomWorks -- chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey -- helped organize and fund its April 15 rally in Washington.
Other groups, including Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party Nation and Tea Party Patriots, are also vying for the helm of the movement, and it's creating what some are calling "competitive chaos."
Some Tea Partiers have voiced anger and concern over whether the powerful groups are "astroturfing'' what is supposed to be a grass-roots coalition -- the idea that the movement is being organized by old-fashioned GOP bigwigs to promote their agenda.
Donna Klink, of the Golden Triangle Tea Party-Texas, said in a post on the Tea Party Patriots Web site that the chaos needs to be addressed.
"We must craft a simple coalition message that we can all agree on. ... We should all remember the simple principles of 'Strength in Numbers' and 'United We Stand, Divided We Fall,' " she wrote.
Klink added that individual Tea Party groups can keep their own identity and beliefs while "still reaching out to and working with other groups that share common goals."
"We MUST stop this battle within and fight together," she insists.
The factions, however, have said they are only trying to engage citizens in fiscal conservatism -- and disagreements are inevitable...
...While anger over economic issues sparked the movement, it has come to represent anger in general -- from anger over health care reform to just anger against politicians, like Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
At rallies over the summer and fall, crowds carried signs portraying Obama as Hitler and likening his policies to those of Nazi Germany. In one case, heavy criticism forced a Tea Party group in Danville, Virginia, to cancel a bonfire in which an effigy of Pelosi was to be burned.
And there's the threat that fringe members will taint the public's perception of the movement.
"The Tea Party combines the best elements of civic activism with some of the worst elements of fringe extremism," said GOP strategist and CNN contributor John Feehery in a CNN.com commentary. "While most Tea Party activists are genuinely concerned about the future of the country, some others see conspiracies around every corner and use unacceptable rhetoric to communicate their displeasure with the president."
Steinhauser noted that the fringe elements only make up a small part of the movement and should not come to represent the cause....
...That issue is similar to what other populist movements in the U.S. have faced over time.
Jon Avlon, author of "Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics," has said that history shows that Tea Party-esque movements and "demagogues rise when the economy turns south."
"They specialize in blaming others for the troubles with wild accusations. It's a time-honored formulation, a powerful narcotic for the nervous and dispossessed, with violent side effects," he wrote in a CNN.com commentary.
The populist movement started in the 19th century. The Populist Party later emerged, made up largely of farmers, and coalesced around opposition to the gold standard as currency.
Its ties to the free-silver movement, among other things, failed to resonate with a broader base of Americans -- especially urbanites in populous states.
Later in the 20th century, populist anger rose up during the Great Depression, focused on big business's role in the 1929 stock market crash and its subsequent effect on American society. And in the late 1960s, populist anger was geared against big government.
"But now we've got both -- anger at big business and big government," said Avlon, a columnist for The DailyBeast.com. "It's a perfect political storm, primed for a return to pitchfork politics. ... The fringe is blurring with the base, creating leverage on the party leadership."
Nathan Gonzalez of the Rothenberg Political Report said that in order for Tea Party activism to blossom into a lasting movement, it "has to exhibit some real influence that goes beyond a set of rallies."
He said that while there's the risk of fading away -- based on the divisions within the movement -- it has growth potential.
"There's certainly a risk of dying out [like many populist movements] but there's the potential for having some staying power as well," he said. "If they become larger or more organized there's a potential to have more influence. It depends on how they're able to harness the energy that's there now and translate that into future success."
And part of that organization could come from having a face to associate with the Tea Party name.
Palin, Fox News' Glenn Beck and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, have emerged as Tea Party darlings.
Gonzalez said the Tea Partiers need to have a one person to identify with their message -- much in the way Obama became identified with "change" in the 2008 presidential election.
If the Tea Party movement wants to develop into a political party or force, Gonzalez added, it should take the lessons of the populists and other third-party movements to heart.
"I think if a third party wants to take off, there has to be a face with it. And Ross Perot was a good example of that in 1992 and 1996. It's become more difficult [with this movement]."
Watching the tea-party movement, I've seen some things that are worth protesting. But I've also seen the fringe there; those that call Obama a Hitler/Socialist/Fascist etc...I liked that they were protesting fiscal irresponsibility. But I really wish those same people would hold accountable those they hold up as heroes. For example, both Bush and Palin were extremely fiscally irresponsible while they were in charge of their respective states. Bush caused the worst deficit ever (Obama's hasn't hit yet, so it doesn't really count as the worst-yet), and Palin's bridge to nowhere was a disaster (yes, she started the bridge to nowhere, she was for it before she was against it, it was in fact her baby).
What I hope to see if this movement takes hold and becomes a third party, as the commentary above postulates, is true fiscal responsibility [read: fiscal conservatism]. Until then, it's just another populist movement destined to fizzle out.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I seriously cannot understand the utter idiocy of some people. Not only does the religious right try to read conservative politics into texts that are 2,000 years old and older, but they are now trying to actually write these biases into the text...this is just as bad as when liberal scholars have tried to rewrite the bible in gender-neutral terms (i.e. God as the "Father-Mother" in places where "father" appeared before).
"Professors are the most liberal group of people in the world, and it's professors who are doing the popular modern translations of the Bible," said Andy Schlafly, founder of Conservapedia.com, the project's online home.
Experts who have devoted their careers to unraveling the ancient texts of the Scriptures, many in long-extinct languages, are predictably skeptical about a project by amateur translators.
"This is not making scripture understandable to people today, it's reworking scripture to support a particular political or social agenda," said Timothy Paul Jones, a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., who calls himself a theological conservative.
Religious publishers already provide an alphabet soup of Bible translations for a range of theological outlooks, from the King James Version (KJV) to the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and beyond. The most widely used traditional translations were overseen by scholars who are considered the best minds in conservative Christianity.
"The phrase 'theological conservative' does not mean that someone is politically conservative," said Schlafly, who lives in Far Hills, N.J.
This liberal slanting, Schlafly argues, ranges from changing gendered language — Jesus calling his disciples to be "fishers of people" rather than "fishers of men" — to more subtle choices, like the 2001 English Standard Version of the Bible, which uses "comrade" and "laborer" more often than the conservative-friendly "volunteer."
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Washington (CNN) – A new group wants former Vice President Dick Cheney back in the White House.
The organization - "Draft Dick Cheney 2012" - launched on Friday, and unveiled their new Web site. Their aim: To convince the former vice president to seek the Republican presidential nomination in the next race for the White House. But there may be a major roadblock to the group's pitch - Cheney himself.
"The 2012 race for the Republican nomination for President will be about much more then who will be the party's standard bearer against Barack Obama, the race is about the heart and soul of the GOP," said Christopher Barron, one of the organizers of the Draft Cheney movement. "There is only one person in our party with the experience, political courage and unwavering commitment to the values that made our party strong – and that person is Dick Cheney."
The former vice president has been a frequent outspoken critic of the Obama administration's security policy. He recently suggested that Obama was "dithering" over deciding on adding more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. National polls suggest that the former vice president remains popular among conservatives and Republicans.
Does Cheney want to run for the White House? He was quite blunt earlier this month about whether he had any desire make a bid for the presidency in the next election. At an event in Houston for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who's running for Texas governor, Hutchison was joined by Cheney, who endorsed her bid against fellow Republican incumbent Rick Perry. During the rally, Hutchison yelled out to the crowd "Cheney 2012!" and some one in the audience quickly responded "We need you, Dick!"
Cheney's response: "Not a chance."
Barron says the group hopes to follow up Friday’s Web launch with a more formal structure, which will include building a database and reaching out through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Barron adds that there is no budget set yet, and that the effort is grassroots at this point. He says the group plans on targeting tea party events and plans on building grassroots chapters in key early presidential caucus and primary states including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
I have a great idea! Let's run a Cheney/Palin ticket in 2012. That way we are guaranteed that we'll either lose, or if we win, this country will lose.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
(CNN) -- A Kentucky census worker who was found dead in September committed suicide and staged the scene to look like a homicide, authorities said Tuesday.
The body of William E. Sparkman Jr., 51, was found September 12 near a cemetery in southeastern Kentucky's Clay County. He was wearing only socks.
"A thorough examination of evidence from the scene, to include DNA testing, as well as examination of his vehicle and his residence, resulted in the determination that Mr. Sparkman, alone, handled the key pieces of evidence with no indications of any other persons involved," Kentucky State Police said.
Sparkman's wrists were bound with duct tape, and a rope around his neck was tied to a tree, but his body was touching the ground, authorities said. He had "Fed" written on his chest in black ink.
However, Sparkman's wrists were loosely bound in front of his body at shoulder width apart, allowing for "considerable mobility," said Kentucky State Police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski.
He was also in contact with the ground, "almost on his knees," she said.
"To survive, all Mr. Sparkman had to do was stand up."
Lividity on the body -- marks made as blood stops pumping and settles in areas of the body -- showed that Sparkman died in the same position, Rudzinski said.
His glasses were taped to his head, and that tape was underneath tape that held a rag in his mouth, she said.
"Mr. Sparkman had extremely poor eyesight" and so would have needed his glasses secured, Rudzinski said.
But the most compelling evidence came from the fact that Sparkman had obtained $600,000 in accidental-death insurance, which would not have paid in the event of a suicide, as late as May, she said.
In addition, he told a "credible witness" of his plans to commit suicide and stage the scene to make it look like he was slain because he worked for the federal government. The details were consistent with how Sparkman died and was found, Rudzinski said.
The witness did not take action after Sparkman shared his plans out of a belief that he would not follow through, authorities said.
"It was learned that Mr. Sparkman had discussed recent federal investigations and the perceived negative attitudes toward federal entities by some residents of Clay County," Kentucky state police said in a statement.
Police believe that Sparkman's primary motive in staging the scene was to ensure that the insurance would be paid, Rudzinski said. His motive for committing suicide or any secondary motives might never be known, she said, as Sparkman left no note.
"We don't know what Mr. Sparkman was thinking or why he ultimately committed this act," she said.
Autopsy results showed no evidence of any cancer or terminal illness, officials said, although it was reported that Sparkman had previously had lymphoma. Police would not say who the beneficiary of the insurance was.
Forensic analysis of the writing on Sparkman's chest showed that he had written it himself, Rudzinski said. Analysts found ink dots, made by writers on completing a letter, at the top of the letters, rather than at the bottom -- as would be expected if someone had made the writing on Sparkman. Despite a search by authorities, the black felt pen used for the writing has not been found.
Police do not believe that anyone assisted Sparkman, she said.
Sparkman had told the witness, whom police declined to name, that he intended to dispose of some of his personal effects, including his laptop computer and other items. Police have not found those items, Rudzinski said.
Toxicology tests showed that Sparkman was not drugged or under the influence of any substance, she said. The red rag removed from his mouth was similar to those found in his pocket and at the scene.
DNA testing of the rags and the rope used in creating a ligature on Sparkman's neck, as well as 7 feet of discarded rope discarded near his body, found only Sparkman's DNA, she said.
The police investigation is still open, and additional test results are expected in the next two to three weeks, authorities said.
Authorities met with Sparkman's son and told him of their findings before publicly releasing them.
"Our hearts go out to him," Rudzinski said. "He still lost his father at the end of the day."
She would not say whether his son accepted the findings, saying she did not want to speak for the family.
Looks like Mr. Sparkman was not the victim of hysteria after all.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Area Man Passionate Defender Of What He Imagines Constitution To Be
ESCONDIDO, CA—Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head."Our very way of life is under siege," said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. "It's time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are."
According to Mortensen—an otherwise mild-mannered husband, father, and small-business owner—the most serious threat to his fanciful version of the 222-year-old Constitution is the attempt by far-left "traitors" to strip it of its religious foundation.
"Right there in the preamble, the authors make their priorities clear: 'one nation under God,'" said Mortensen, attributing to the Constitution a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, which itself did not include any reference to a deity until 1954. "Well, there's a reason they put that right at the top."
"Men like Madison and Jefferson were moved by the ideals of Christianity, and wanted the United States to reflect those values as a Christian nation," continued Mortensen, referring to the "Father of the Constitution," James Madison, considered by many historians to be an atheist, and Thomas Jefferson, an Enlightenment-era thinker who rejected the divinity of Christ and was in France at the time the document was written. "The words on the page speak for themselves."
According to sources who have read the nation's charter, the U.S. Constitution and its 27 amendments do not contain the word "God" or "Christ."
Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance "since the Ten Commandments."
"And let's not forget that when the Constitution was ratified it brought freedom to every single American," Mortensen said.
Mortensen's passion for safeguarding the elaborate fantasy world in which his conception of the Constitution resides is greatly respected by his likeminded friends and relatives, many of whom have been known to repeat his unfounded assertions verbatim when angered. Still, some friends and family members remain critical.
"Dad's great, but listening to all that talk radio has put some weird ideas into his head," said daughter Samantha, a freshman at Reed College in Portland, OR. "He believes the Constitution allows the government to torture people and ban gay marriage, yet he doesn't even know that it guarantees universal health care."
Mortensen told reporters that he'll fight until the bitter end for what he roughly supposes the Constitution to be. He acknowledged, however, that it might already be too late to win the battle.
"The freedoms our Founding Fathers spilled their blood for are vanishing before our eyes," Mortensen said. "In under a year, a fascist, socialist regime has turned a proud democracy into a totalitarian state that will soon control every facet of American life."
"Don't just take my word for it," Mortensen added. "Try reading a newspaper or watching the news sometime."
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
But let's look at Bush Derangement syndrome first. According to Wikipedia's entry on it, Bush Derangement Syndrome was coined by the conservative political columnist and pyschiatrist Charles Krausthhammer in 2003. He defined it as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush". The entry further says that some extreme criticisms of President Bush are of emotional origins rather than based on facts or logic, which is exactly what I'm seeing in many of those that find fault no matter what Obama does. That is irrational and paranoid.
Just as Bush didn't turn this State into a Republican paradise with the government's cameras in everybody's bedrooms, neither will Obama turn us into some socialistic State where the rich aren't anymore and the poor are now the middle class.
People, calm down.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Washington (CNN) -- Five Guantanamo Bay detainees with alleged ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, including accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be transferred to New York to go on trial in civilian court, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.
Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi will all be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York -- a short distance from the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
"After eight years of delay, those allegedly responsible for the attacks of September 11th will finally face justice," Holder said.
He said he expected prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
Holder also announced that five other detainees held at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be sent to military commissions for trial. They were identified as Omar Khadr, Mohammed Kamin, Ibrahim al Qosi, Noor Uthman Muhammed and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Al-Nashiri is an accused mastermind of the deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole; Khadr is a Canadian charged with the 2002 murder of a U.S. military officer in Afghanistan. Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured in July 2002.
Mohammed "will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice," President Obama said Friday in Japan.
"The American people insist on it, and my administration will insist on it," Obama told reporters at a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.
Mohammed is the confessed organizer of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon. But his confession could be called into question during trial. A 2005 Justice Department memo -- released by the Obama administration -- revealed he had been waterboarded 183 times in March 2003.
Obama has called the technique, which simulates drowning, torture.
The alleged 9/11 conspirators are among 215 men held by the U.S. military at the Guantanamo prison camp. The Obama administration has vowed to close the detention facility but acknowledges it is unlikely to happen by its self-imposed January 22, 2010, deadline.
Bringing some of the world's top terror suspects to be tried in New York has already sparked outrage, as well as security concerns.
"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the most wanted terrorist in the world. Everyone in the world is going to know precisely where he is at precisely one time," CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. "The Foley courthouse could become the focus of a great deal of interest from terrorists. That's going to take a tremendous security effort."
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, issued a statement Friday denouncing the decision to try the 9/11 suspects as "common criminals."
"The attacks of September 11th were an act of war," Cornyn said. "Reverting to a pre-9/11 approach to fighting terrorism and bringing these dangerous individuals onto U.S. soil needlessly compromises the safety of all Americans. Putting political ideology ahead of the safety of the American people just to fulfill an ill-conceived campaign promise is irresponsible."
But Kristen Breitweiser, whose husband was killed on 9/11, said she welcomed the trial.
"Some would say New York would now be a target by allowing his [Mohammed's] trial to take place in New York, but I disagree," she told CNN. Breitweiser still lives in the New York area. "It would give many of us access to attend the hearings."
She also said that for some who lost loved ones on 9/11, "this will be our opportunity to see justice served and have our day in court.
"Our ability to prosecute terrorists successfully in open courtrooms has less to do with the our judicial process and more to do with Bush's policy on torture that will make these prosecutions more difficult," she said.
I do intensely hope that Bush's [torture] policies don't interfere with these terrorists getting their just due. I doubt it, however. Having the trial in New York, with juries made up of New Yorkers, will most likely end with a "guilty" verdict, and hopefully with an execution recommendation.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This is a time of war. And yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle. They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great American community. It is this fact that makes the tragedy even more painful and even more incomprehensible.
For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that has been left. We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers.
But here is what you must also know: your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy.
Neither this country - nor the values that we were founded upon - could exist without men and women like these thirteen Americans. And that is why we must pay tribute to their stories.
Chief Warrant Officer Michael Cahill had served in the National Guard and worked as a physician's assistant for decades. A husband and father of three, he was so committed to his patients that on the day he died, he was back at work just weeks after having a heart attack.
Major Libardo Eduardo Caraveo spoke little English when he came to America as a teenager. But he put himself through college, earned a PhD, and was helping combat units cope with the stress of deployment. He is survived by his wife, sons and step-daughters.
Staff Sergeant Justin DeCrow joined the Army right after high school, married his high school sweetheart, and had served as a light wheeled mechanic and Satellite Communications Operator. He was known as an optimist, a mentor, and a loving husband and father.
After retiring from the Army as a Major, John Gaffaney cared for society's most vulnerable during two decades as a psychiatric nurse. He spent three years trying to return to active duty in this time of war, and he was preparing to deploy to Iraq as a Captain. He leaves behind a wife and son.
Specialist Frederick Greene was a Tennessean who wanted to join the Army for a long time, and did so in 2008 with the support of his family. As a combat engineer he was a natural leader, and he is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Specialist Jason Hunt was also recently married, with three children to care for. He joined the Army after high school. He did a tour in Iraq, and it was there that he re-enlisted for six more years on his 21st birthday so that he could continue to serve.
Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger was an athlete in high school, joined the Army shortly after 9/11, and had since returned home to speak to students about her experience. When her mother told her she couldn't take on Osama bin Laden by herself, Amy replied: "Watch me."
Private First Class Aaron Nemelka was an Eagle Scout who just recently signed up to do one of the most dangerous jobs in the service - diffuse bombs - so that he could help save lives. He was proudly carrying on a tradition of military service that runs deep within his family.
Private First Class Michael Pearson loved his family and loved his music, and his goal was to be a music teacher. He excelled at playing the guitar, and could create songs on the spot and show others how to play. He joined the military a year ago, and was preparing for his first deployment.
Captain Russell Seager worked as a nurse for the VA, helping veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress. He had great respect for the military, and signed up to serve so that he could help soldiers cope with the stress of combat and return to civilian life. He leaves behind a wife and son.
Private Francheska Velez, the daughter of a father from Colombia and a Puerto Rican mother, had recently served in Korea and in Iraq, and was pursuing a career in the Army. When she was killed, she was pregnant with her first child, and was excited about becoming a mother.
Lieutenant Colonel Juanita Warman was the daughter and granddaughter of Army veterans. She was a single mother who put herself through college and graduate school, and served as a nurse practitioner while raising her two daughters. She also left behind a loving husband.
Private First Class Kham Xiong came to America from Thailand as a small child. He was a husband and father who followed his brother into the military because his family had a strong history of service. He was preparing for his first deployment to Afghanistan.
These men and women came from all parts of the country. Some had long careers in the military. Some had signed up to serve in the shadow of 9/11. Some had known intense combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some cared for those did. Their lives speak to the strength, the dignity and the decency of those who serve, and that is how they will be remembered.
That same spirit is embodied in the community here at Fort Hood, and in the many wounded who are still recovering. In those terrible minutes during the attack, soldiers made makeshift tourniquets out of their clothes. They braved gunfire to reach the wounded, and ferried them to safety in the backs of cars and a pick-up truck.
One young soldier, Amber Bahr, was so intent on helping others that she did not realize for some time that she, herself, had been shot in the back. Two police officers - Mark Todd and Kim Munley - saved countless lives by risking their own. One medic - Francisco de la Serna - treated both Officer Munley and the gunman who shot her.
It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next.
These are trying times for our country. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same extremists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans continue to endanger America, our allies, and innocent Afghans and Pakistanis. In Iraq, we are working to bring a war to a successful end, as there are still those who would deny the Iraqi people the future that Americans and Iraqis have sacrificed so much for.
As we face these challenges, the stories of those at Fort Hood reaffirm the core values that we are fighting for, and the strength that we must draw upon. Theirs are tales of American men and women answering an extraordinary call - the call to serve their comrades, their communities, and their country. In an age of selfishness, they embody responsibility. In an era of division, they call upon us to come together. In a time of cynicism, they remind us of who we are as Americans.
We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it. We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing that they would serve in harm's way.
We are a nation of laws whose commitment to justice is so enduring that we would treat a gunman and give him due process, just as surely as we will see that he pays for his crimes.
We are a nation that guarantees the freedom to worship as one chooses. And instead of claiming God for our side, we remember Lincoln's words, and always pray to be on the side of God.
We are a nation that is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal. We live that truth within our military, and see it in the varied backgrounds of those we lay to rest today. We defend that truth at home and abroad, and we know that Americans will always be found on the side of liberty and equality. That is who we are as a people.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It is a chance to pause, and to pay tribute - for students to learn of the struggles that preceded them; for families to honor the service of parents and grandparents; for citizens to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made in pursuit of a more perfect union.
For history is filled with heroes. You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe; an uncle who fought in Vietnam; a sister who served in the Gulf. But as we honor the many generations who have served, I think all of us - every single American - must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who have come before.
We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.
This generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have volunteered in a time of certain danger. They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known. They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different and difficult places. They have stood watch in blinding deserts and on snowy mountains. They have extended the opportunity of self-government to peoples that have suffered tyranny and war. They are man and woman; white, black, and brown; of all faiths and stations - all Americans, serving together to protect our people, while giving others half a world away the chance to lead a better life.
In today's wars, there is not always a simple ceremony that signals our troops' success - no surrender papers to be signed, or capital to be claimed. But the measure of their impact is no less great - in a world of threats that no know borders, it will be marked in the safety of our cities and towns, and the security and opportunity that is extended abroad. And it will serve as testimony to the character of those who serve, and the example that you set for America and for the world.
Here, at Fort Hood, we pay tribute to thirteen men and women who were not able to escape the horror of war, even in the comfort of home. Later today, at Fort Lewis, one community will gather to remember so many in one Stryker Brigade who have fallen in Afghanistan.
Long after they are laid to rest - when the fighting has finished, and our nation has endured; when today's servicemen and women are veterans, and their children have grown - it will be said of this generation that they believed under the most trying of tests; that they persevered not just when it was easy, but when it was hard; and that they paid the price and bore the burden to secure this nation, and stood up for the values that live in the hearts of all free peoples.
So we say goodbye to those who now belong to eternity. We press ahead in pursuit of the peace that guided their service. May God bless the memory of those we lost. And may God bless the United States of America.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I'm not completely okay with capital punishment. But one exception I'm okay with is terrorists, mass murderers, and serial killers.
John Allen Mohammed meets all three categories.
Washington (CNN) -- John Allen Muhammad, the mastermind of the 2002 sniper attacks that terrorized the suburbs of the nation's capital, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday evening at a state prison near Jarratt, Virginia.
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine denied a clemency request from Muhammad's lawyers, closing off what is likely to be his last avenue of appeal.
"Having carefully reviewed the petition for clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no compelling reason to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts," Kaine said in a statement.
The Supreme Court denied Muhammad's appeal on Monday. He is all but certain to be executed at Greensville Correctional Center at 9 p.m. ET.
Muhammad, 48, has chosen his final meal but has requested that it not be made public, said Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Muhammad continued to profess his innocence during two lengthy trials -- including one featuring testimony from young accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo -- and in several years of legal appeals.
He repeated his assertion that he was an innocent victim of racial bias in a letter to the federal court released last week by his attorneys. Muhammad charged that police and prosecutors "lied to the American people" about his case and withheld evidence that could clear him.
Read Muhammad's letter to the judge
If Muhammad enters the death chamber without acknowledging his crimes, he will be known as the leader of one of the most enigmatic mass murder teams in history: Muhammad -- a Gulf War veteran who was described as a "gentle man" by acquaintances; and Malvo, a young Jamaican and "A" student on a desperate search for a father figure.
Prosecutors say Muhammad, fueled by grudges against the Army and his ex-wife, plotted the cross-country shooting rampage, culminating in a killing spree in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs surrounding Washington, D.C..
During three weeks in October 2002, Muhammad and Malvo killed 10 people and wounded three, while taunting police with written messages and phoned-in threats and demands.
It could have been much worse. During Muhammad's second trial in Maryland, Malvo testified that Muhammad originally planned to kill up to six people each day for 30 days.
Indeed, after killing five people during the first 24 hours, the sniper team began the second day scouting for locations for another barrage of shootings. But, concerned about possible witnesses and the lack of escape routes, they slowed their deadly pace.
Prosecutors say Muhammad intended the killings to provide a smokescreen to cover up his real goal; he hoped to kill his wife Mildred and gain custody of his three children.
Defense attorneys and some supporters say Muhammad is mentally ill, and suffered post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during his service in the first Gulf War.
Defense attorneys released a scan of Muhammad's brain which they say shows signs of brain damage to both the front and rear of his brain, consistent with schizophrenia and other brain dysfunction.
Though Muhammad worked with explosives in the Army, his weapon of choice for the killing spree was a Bushmaster XM-15 rifle and .223 ammunition, usually fired from close range from the trunk of an old Chevy Caprice. Muhammad cut a hole in the back of the car, and removed a wall between the trunk and the back seat, turning the car into a sniper's nest.
But several of the shots were fired outside the vehicle, including the shot that wounded 13-year-old student Iran Brown, the youngest of the victims, and bus driver Conrad Johnson, 35, the last victim.
The investigation was marked by a high-level of involvement from local, state and federal law enforcement. But it was also marked by missed opportunities.
An early focus on white box trucks -- one was seen speeding near the scene of one shooting -- meant reports of a Chevy Caprice were ignored or discounted.
Another missed opportunity came when investigators found a note in a baggie tacked to the tree of a shooting site. The note instructed police to answer a nearby phone at a certain time. But by the time police processed the baggie for fingerprints and DNA, the appointed time had passed.
In notes left at shooting scenes, the snipers demanded $10 million to stop the shootings.
The big break in the investigation came when an Army friend of Muhammad's called authorities to voice his suspicions.
Muhammad and Malvo were captured at a Maryland rest stop, but were transferred to Virginia because of the state's aggressive use of the death penalty.
Ultimately, Muhammad was convicted of capital murder and terrorism charges for killing Dean Harold Meyers, a Vietnam veteran cut down by a single bullet that hit him in the head October 9, 2002, as he filled his tank at a Manassas, Virginia, service station.
Muhammad also stood trial in Maryland, and was convicted of six murders there.
Malvo was tried in Virginia for the October 14, 2002 murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, outside a Home Depot in Fairfax County, Virginia. A jury sentenced Malvo to life in prison after defense attorneys said Malvo, who was 17 at the time of the murders, was brainwashed by Muhammad.
Malvo testified against Muhammad at Muhammad's Maryland trial, calling him a "coward."
"You took me in your house and you made me a monster," Malvo testified. Malvo, now 24, is serving time in a Virginia prison.
Malvo said the Washington killings were "phase one" of a three-phase plan. In subsequent phases, Malvo said, Muhammad planned to use $10 million to create a utopian community for homeless people in Canada, at which young people would be trained to go launch additional attacks in the United States.
But whether that was Muhammad's real intent is still a matter of conjecture.
Some acquaintances believe that after Muhammad recovered his children, he planned on killing the one witness who could provide the most threatening testimony against him -- Lee Boyd Malvo.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
On May 6th, 2009, Maine was the first state in the Union to Legalize same-sex marriage through legislation instead of judicially. The rest of New England followed suit soon thereafter.
But on November 3rd, 2009, it was repealed legislatially.
In 1780, the Massuchusetts Constitution outlawed slavery. The rest of New England followed suit soon thereafter.
The Southern States kept slavery legal until the 13th Amendment was passed, and many of them worked around it through Jim Crow Laws and then later, the "Separate but Equal" nonsense.
In 2009, many people who campaign against same-sex marriage salve their consciences by saying they are not depriving anyone of a civil right, but they are letting homosexuals have "civil ceremonies" which are "equal" but separate by their very nature.
In 1845, the Northern Religious Entities fought for freedom for the slaves, declaring it a sin to own slaves. The same year, the Southern Religious group denied slaves their freedom, using the Bible to justify their sin.
In 2009, conservative Christians use the Bible to deprive those of the constitutional and amended rights to equality for all citizens. Other groups use their religious background to fight for freedoms.
In 2009, we regard those who defended slavery at best silly, and at worst monstrous.
In the future, future generations will regard those who defended denying marriage rights to gays as silly at best, and at worst monstrous.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A Pure Minority Is Still A Minority
by Pat Edaburn
Ever since the election last fall we have seen an ongoing debate in the Republican party over which direction it should take in the future. Hard liners in the party have stated that they need to swing hard to the right to become as ideologically pure as possible. Web sites like Redstate.com and Polipundit.com regularly rail against so called RINO’s for being insufficiently pure.
In recent weeks however another voice has emerged as leading Republicans call for the party to be more of a big tent organization. Calls for the party to tone down social issues like gay marriage and abortion have been met with contempt by the web sites above.
Well I’ve got a message for those hard liners, being ideologically pure may be a nice idea but if you are in the minority it doesn’t do you very much good since you lose almost every vote. I certainly understand the desire to have people in office who you agree with on all of the issues, but the fact is that absent a situation where I become King of the World this isn’t going to happen very often.
If the GOP is going to succeed in the future they need to consider the impact of the hard line attitudes being pushed by the evangelical right.
Let us first consider the advantages of having a party that is ideologically pure, only allowing those who follow the party line 90-100% of the time to be members. On the bright side you are, as a hard liner, going to be happy with the way your party caucus votes most of the time. You can count on a 90-100% satisfaction rate.
But there is a problem when it comes to actually winning elections and getting policies implemented. I think it is fair to say that right now about 40% of voters will tend to support Republican/conservative views, about 40% will tend to support liberal/Democratic ones and about 20% will shift from one side to the other.
We can debate demographic trends but I’m not sure that it will change too much from this in the future. Even in our most one sided party periods there was a pretty solid middle set of voters that held the balance of power. I’m someome who likes to play with numbers so I ran up the following calculations.
So if you restrict your party to only the hard liners that are GOP/Conservative oriented voters, you’re gonna win about 40% of the votes, which means you are not going to control much more than 40% of the seats. This means you might be able to pull off wins about 10%-20% of the time at most.
So taking 90-100% satisfaction and factoring in 10-20% success on legislation and you end up with a ‘victory quotent’ of about 10%-20% of the time, and that isn’t very good.
On the other hand if you work to a broader coalition in your party, reaching out to those 20% of swing voters and maybe even some of those on the other side you will probably lower your satisfaction figures from 90-100% down to 70% or 80%. But you raise your success rate to 80-90% because you are winning elections.
This gives you a victory quotent which could approach 75% which is a whole lot better than the 15% or so that you had before. You might not get success on all of the social issues or the harder line domestic and foreign policy debates but you do win most of the time.
To put it another way, while I understand that subjects like abortion, gay rights, etc might be important to you and you might not like the inability to get your agenda passed. But the fact is you are not going to get that agenda passed no matter what.
Either you’re going to be in the minority and fail or you’re going to be in the majority and have to give ground.
When it comes to these kind of polarizing topics majority or minority status isn’t going to matter, whether you are on the right or on the left. But when it comes to the other 90% of the agenda, being in the majority is quite important.
In addition the future is only going to exacerbate these conditions.
Younger voters are far more libertarian in their attitudes towards social issues. This is unlikely to change as they get older. But when it comes to domestic and foreign policy issues there is much more room for movement, and in there the GOP has an opportunity.
I’m not saying you should give up your core beliefs. There is nothing wrong with the Republicans having a strong pro life element, but there is also nothing wrong with including voters who agree on most other issues, but happen to be pro choice. There is nothing wrong with having a strong evangelical contingent in the party but it should not be able to dominate.
During the 60’s and 70’s the Democratic party forgot the rule of broad inclusion and the result was a serious of major defeats. So far the Republicans have suffered two losses in a row and if they do not change things they are likely to see many more.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
STOCKTON — Calling for Mayor Dan Rydalch's resignation, dozens of residents crammed into the Stockton fire station Thursday night, cheering the town council's unanimous vote to reinstate police Cpl. Josh Rowell.
"We need a mayor that can work with the town board, that the town board can trust, that has open communication. We need a mayor that the public can support," said Councilman Kendall Thomas at the council-called town meeting.
Rydalch is running for a second term as mayor this election season against Councilman Mark Whitney.
Rowell was fired last Tuesday by Rydalch after Rowell pulled over Rydalch's son and issued him a citation for driving without a license. Rowell was later told that he was being suspended instead.
One of five officers in the small town of 600 south of Tooele, Rowell had stopped 29-year-old Jared Rydalch outside a DUI checkpoint. Jared Rydalch was allegedly avoiding the roadblock and drove away from it; Rowell had been assigned to chase such cars.
Rydalch met with the town council before the meeting to address the incident with the four-member board for the first time, but did not come to the town meeting. He refuses to speak to the media at the advice of his attorney.
In a statement read at the meeting, Rydalch said he received numerous notices from residents — his son included — that officers were stopping drivers outside the planned checkpoint. Rydalch himself was pulled overthat evening.
"I was angry that the officers were exceeding the scope of the traffic checkpoint," his statement read. "This incident is not about my son, this is about an officer exceeding the proper scope of traffic checkpoints, subjecting the town to complaints for unconstitutional stops, and refusing
to cooperate with his supervisor."
If there was a Rydalch supporter at Thursday night's meeting, they did not speak up.
Tyler Rydlach, another son of the mayor, did not defend his father at the meeting, but did ask people to stop calling and harassing his parents.
Rowell's firing has garnered national attention and generated a media firestorm.
Residents at the meeting described Mayor Rydalch as a bully, butting heads with staff and running employees out of town.
"He tries to keep everyone in the dark. He doesn't want people to know that he's trying to run it this way," said Nando Meli, chair of the planning commission. "The thing is, the mayor has fired other people for instances and he's tried to run them out of town."
Residents complained that the mayor was conducting his own private investigation into Rowell's suspension; Meli said the mayor should be investigated.
"This is the kind of attitude and the things the mayor is known for," said Mark Woolley, a former town councilman. "He reacts, he doesn't think and he's supposed to represent our town and our community. And it seems to me more often then not he is representing himself and his interests."
Former town and court clerk Ellen Montague told the Deseret News Wednesday that Rydalch took away her duties, put her on paid leave and eventually asked her to resign. She sued Rydalch in 2006 for violating her civil rights.
Stockton Police Chief Heinz Kopp said Rowell, who has been in his current post less than 10 months, has issued 122 citations in that time and never had a formal complaint.
"The way the mayor handled the situation was uncalled for and unprofessional," he said.
The council voted to put Rowell back in his position, pay him back wages and remove the incident from his personnel record.
Rowell, a Tooele native whose wife is pregnant with the couple's first child, said he was grateful to be back in uniform. He refused to comment on the mayor.
The council, wanting to make sure their action is entirely legal, have asked the town's attorney to determine whether a third-party investigation is needed.
The Council has reinstated the Officer, given him back wages, and is investigating the Mayor.
This is what I saying in the last post. Everyone but the Mayor himself thinks the Mayor overstepped immensely. The officer did what he was supposed to; look for people avoiding traffic stops. The Mayor got all bent out of shape that the ticketed individual happened to be his son, and fired the officer himself. A mayor should NEVER be able to fire a a police officer and bypass the chief, unless he intends on firing the chief. This would be like the President firing a random FBI agent. Doesn't, and shouldn't, happen.
And again, the fact that the mayor was conducting his own investigation said volumes. I agree with the City Council and the people of the town: This Mayor should be fired immediately.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
STOCKTON -- A traffic stop involving a young officer and the son of a small-town mayor has the whole town talking. The mayor of Stockton tried to fire the officer for issuing his son a ticket.
Cpl. Joshua Rowell told KSL News he was just doing his job. He said he acted professionally when he wrote the driver a ticket and was shocked when he was suddenly asked to hand over his badge.
Rowell is a new member of the five-man Stockton police force. So, last Tuesday he didn't think twice about pulling over a driver in a small white car for avoiding a DUI stop.
"He didn't have a driver's license, so I issued him a citation for that," Rowell explained.
He didn't think twice, that is, until he handed the ticket to the court clerk.
"She looked at it and said, ‘Hey, you know you just gave the mayor's son a ticket?' And I said, ‘Oh, crap,'" Rowell said.
He said he had never met the driver, 29-year-old Jared Rydalch, before. He said Rydalch told him he was out looking for his dog, and asked him to tell the other officers to not pull him over again.
"I told him, ‘No. If I see you driving around again, I'm going to pull you over again,'" Rowell said.
Rowell said he knew there was trouble when, about 20 minutes later, he found the chief of police in the mayor's truck in a heated discussion. Then he said the mayor, Dan Rydalch, rolled down the window and demanded he get in his truck. When he refused, Rydalch abruptly fired him on the spot.
"He told me, ‘All right, I want your badge in the morning,'" Rowell said. "I tried to defend myself and say, ‘First of all, look, he was breaking the law. Second of all, I didn't know he was your son.'"
Shortly after the incident, Rowell was told he was suspended without pay, indefinitely.
"The mayor, I think, was wrong," said Stockton City Council member David Durtschi.
According to Durtschi, not only was Mayor Rydalch out of line, the council stands behind Cpl. Rowell. In fact, the town is so upset about the mayor's actions, many of the citizens are trying to change their write-in ballots for the upcoming election.
"I think the mayor did make a mistake," one Stockton resident told KSL News.
Another said, "I was very shocked, very shocked, because I thought it was a little extreme."
As for Rowell, he just wants the job he loves back.
"There's no more respectable position than a police officer, in my mind," Rowell said.
We tried repeatedly to get ahold of the mayor.
Another Stockton city council member, Kendall Thomas, told KSL News the mayor is conducting the investigation into any wrongdoing in the incident and has not consulted any of the council members. A special council meeting is scheduled for Thursday night to discuss the incident.
This is ridiculous. This mayor needs to be fired immediately. Notice above where it says that "The mayor is conducting the investigation into any wrongdoing in the incident and has not consulted any of the council members..."
WTF?! The mayor is conducting it? Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?
The mayor should be fired for, and charged with, Official Misconduct. Ridiculous. I grew up in a small town, and I thought the politics there were bad. But seriously.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
[Barofsky] said the $700 billion bailout for the financial industry played a major role in rescuing the economy over the last year but also engendered anger and distrust among Americans because of secrecy and confusion about the way the program was handled...
"Despite the aspects of TARP that could reasonably be viewed as a substantial success," he wrote, "Treasury's actions in this regard have contributed to damage the credibility of the program and of the government itself, and the anger, cynicism and distrust created must be chalked up as one of the substantial, albeit unnecessary, costs of TARP."
Barofsky said public suspicion was fed by Treasury's decision not to require banks to report how they used their rescue money and its "less-than-accurate" statements describing the financial condition of nine large banks that benefited from large infusions of aid...
Overall, Barofsky said the cost of preventing a financial collapse fell into three categories:
•Taxpayers: The government has spent more than $454 billion through TARP programs. Forty-seven TARP recipients have paid back nearly $73 billion. That means more than $317 billion remains available. The program is set to end Dec. 31, but the administration could seek an extension until next October. Despite the repayments several of the program are not expected to yield returns to the taxpayer, including a $50 billion mortgage modification plan and some of the money injected into auto companies.
•The integrity of the industry: Many firms considered "too big to fail" last year, and thus in need of government assistance, are even bigger now. "Absent meaningful regulatory reform, TARP runs the risk of merely reanimating markets that had collapsed under the weight of reckless behavior," the report sates.
•The credibility of the government: Barofsky wrote that public antipathy for the bailout is fueled by "the lack of transparency in the program." Over the course of the year, Barofsky has called on the Treasury Department to seek more information from banks on how they use their taxpayer assistance.
Basically, the bailouts worked in the short term. But because of government ineptitude and all the secrecy, distrust has been seeded instead of consumer confidence, which is what was really needed for the market to correct itself. A full disclosure and better oversight in the bailouts would've helped, but both Bush and Obama almost gave the money away without really looking at the causes of the collapse; in essence both Presidents merely put a bandaid on an infected shotgun wound, when what we really needed was to fix the root of the problem and cover the wound. We should've given the bailouts and broken up the "too big to fail" companies to make sure it never happened again.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Mexico City Puts 1,300 Overweight Officers on Diet
MEXICO CITY --
Some Mexico City cops are taking a bite out of more than crime. The Mexican capital is putting its 1,300 of its heaviest police officers on a diet, concerned about rapidly expanding waistlines in the force.
At least 70 percent of the 70,000-member force is overweight, said Nora Frias, the city's Public Safety deputy secretary for citizen participation. The diet program will start with the officers with the most serious weight-related health problems.
"We can't tell them, 'Don't eat sandwiches and tacos,'" Frias said. "What we can tell them is if you eat one sandwich today, if you eat three tacos today, then balance it with some vegetables."
She said officers will be given blood and cholesterol tests to determine a personalized diet plan for each.
Mexico is quickly catching up with the United States as one of the world's fattest countries, according to the Mexican government. Nearly half of Mexico's 110 million people are overweight, and the number of fat children has climbed 8 percent a year over the last decade.
I just thought this was funny. That's all.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Obama's Gay Dodge
by Meghan McCain
...On Saturday night, President Obama addressed the largest gay-rights group and promised to end the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the military, emphasizing that his commitment to achieving equal rights was “unwavering.” The support he received from the crowd was overwhelming.
But my response to this speech and my message to the gay community is this: Stop rewarding the president’s speeches. Because for me, that’s all it is—pretty words delivered by a beautiful orator.
Obama offered no timeline for phasing out this policy and, as usual, no real specifics. But the president verbalized his commitment to ending it—which is not insignificant. Unfortunately, I am a bottom line type of girl and I see no bottom line here. During the election, Obama pledged that the very first thing he would do as president would be to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Although I thought it was an ambitious promise, I believed him. It's now almost a year into his presidency and other than making speeches, nothing has happened.
Let me tell you a little something about what I know about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: I have two brothers serving in the military and as far as I’m concerned, when an Arabic translator is kicked out of the military for being gay, it quite literally makes my brothers and our troops less safe. For me, Don't Ask, Don't Tell isn't just an equality issue. It is also a national-security issue...
Now, I cannot speak for my brothers, but I know many men and women who serve in the military. Let’s give them more credit. Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, I suspect it could be said that there is no homophobia in foxholes either. I find it hard to imagine that when a soldier is in a Humvee fighting terrorist insurgents, that the thing on his mind is who his fellow soldier chooses to sleep with when he’s off duty.
What’s more, the gay community can no longer place all the blame of marriage equality and Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Republicans. Yes, the Republican Party has a long way to go. But right now, we have a Democratic president and a Congress with a Democratic majority. The Republican Party can no longer be the only scapegoat for the arrested development of gay rights in this country. This is a president who made promises to the gay community—hold him responsible.
Of all the things I worry about in my life, my country's national security is by far at the forefront. I am a daughter of a famous military hero and the sister of two soldiers. Mr. President, Don't Ask, Don't Tell makes my family and this country less safe. Put a timeline on repealing it, stop making speeches, and show me the bottom line.
I think this says it all. Republicans are generally pretty tough on gays, but Democrats squarely shoulder the blame right now. And "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is ridiculous and does harm our national security.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. I mean, yeah, I'm proud that our President got it, that the USA got it, but seriously? Obama has done nothing to deserve it. In fact, he would have had to have been nominated by February 1st, 11 days into his presidency! (thanks Tao)
He was awarded the prize for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." Really. What efforts?
For ending the war in Iraq? Oh wait, we're still on Bush's timetable for withdrawal. For ending the war in Afganistan? No, we're putting more troops there. Oh, that's right. For beating the taliban out of Afganistan. Wait again, they control more now than before! And we're sending drones into Pakistan now to fight them! So yeah, Obama sure ended war, the antithesis of peace.
Maybe he got it for closing Guantanamo. Oh, nevermind. He hasn't done that, either. Maybe for ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Nope.
I've got it! His speeches have brokered peace in Israel between Israel and Palestine! Oops, they are still killing each other!
Damn. Obama sure hasn't done much of anything after all. He sure deserves the peace award.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Top House Democrats on Tuesday slammed insurers who claim that domestic violence is a pre-existing condition that can be used to deny coverage to battered women.
They pledged to incorporate a ban on the practice in the health care reform legislation currently winding its way through Congress.
Forty-two states have already passed such a prohibition, according to a recent report from the National Women’s Law Center. Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and the District of Columbia have not, however.
“Think of this,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “You’ve survived domestic violence, and now you are discriminated (against) in the insurance market because you have a pre-existing medical condition. Well, that will all be gone.”
A spokesman for an association representing health insurance companies backed the proposed change.
“No one should be denied coverage because they are a victim of domestic abuse,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
I for one am glad about this. This makes perfect sense. I've said it before, just a few posts down, that our current system is broken and needs to be fixed. We may have the best healthcare in the world, but our system for paying it is sub-standard, and as examples show above, sub-human. We need to fix our health insurance system with more regulations and enforcing the ones we have on the books. No denying coverage for that "pre-existing" nonsense. If you pay your health insurance, you are covered. End of story. That is healthcare reform I could vote for.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
If anyone feels like they should be added, let me know.
Friday, September 25, 2009
And happen it did, with the murder of Bill Sparkman, a Federal Census Bureau field worker, who was found strung up in a remote section of the National Forest in Kentucky, with the word "Fed" written on his chest.
Currently, people like Glen Beck are trying to fan the revolutionary flames, with his quoting of obscure provisions of the US Constitution, mis-interpreting what the founding fathers intended in States vs. Federal power, taking portions of our history and lamenting a golden age and laws that were in actuality not about States rights, but about continuing slavery indefinately. The founding fathers disagreed amongst themselves whether power should be centralized in the Federal Government or in the States, and they never specified which. We decided to mix them when we went to war with the South, prohibiting them from secession in order to keep the Union strong, which is why we won World Wars I and II, not to mention the Cold War. We wouldn't have been able to win any of them had we been a fractured nation of State-Countries with nothing more than a Federal Mail service for the president to preside over.
I only forsee more of this in the current political climate. While the anti-government sentiment is currently being sown by the Republican Right, it wasn't too long ago it was the Democratic Left when Bush was in office. Both sides are guilty, and both sides forget their own atrocities when the other is in office. The PATRIOT act, Gtmo, wiretapping, and extraordinary rendition are quickly forgotten by the right, while the left forgets it was Clinton who repealed Glass-Steagall, and it is them that currently is printing trillions of dollars to stop a recession and reinflate the bubble that burst last year.
This has got to stop. The Federal Government, for the most part, does what it is supposed to do. Looks out for the common good. It overreaches at times, and that's why we have checks and balances. But labelling someone as treasonous because they support one party or another is ridiculous, and it needs to stop. Otherwise, more people are going to get strung up on trees.