July 31, 2008

Heckuva job Harriet

In the thirty-four years since United States v. Nixon was decided, the courts have routinely considered questions of executive privilege or immunity, and those issues are now "of a type that are traditionally justiciable" in federal courts, and certainly not unprecedented, as [Harriet Miers] contends.

Indeed, the aspect of this lawsuit that is unprecedented is the notion that Ms. Miers is absolutely immune from compelled congressional process. ... [Miers's] current claim of absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law.
House Judiciary Committee v. Miers (.pdf; 93 pgs.)

The court goes on to describe Miers's argument as a circa 1974 "fallacy." Which is funny, because Harriet Miers told Senator Patrick Leahy that one of her favorite Supreme Court Justices was Warren Burger, and Burger authored United States v. Nixon, the opinion the D.C. district court today said "presaged" Miers's fallacy by 34 years.

And of course if George W. Bush had had his way, Harriet Miers would be on the United States Supreme Court right now. Fortunately, Mr. Jay $ekulow and several others intervened and located a more suitable white man, just in case Harriet Miers found herself in the untenable position of being sympathetic to women's issues.

Miers must now refuse to answer questions in personNYT

Beheading "extremely rare," says cabinet minister

"His hand come out the door with the knife. He went back on the bus and then they brace the door and he come back standing in the doorway with the head, looked at them, dropped the head, went back and started cutting buddy* back up."

News from Canada.

Good grief.

* Canadian for "the guy."

Prohibiting the free exorcism thereof

Every once in awhile, you have to double check the calendar, to make sure it really is the 21st century ... A.D.*

Last month the Supreme Court of Texas overturned a series of lower decisions to hold that even physical injuries sustained during an "exorcism" are not actionable, because the First Amendment's Free Exercise of Religion Clause protects a church against the courts interfering in its affairs, no matter how bizarre and outrageous.

One Friday evening in 1996, Laura Schubert, 17, was preparing for a garage sale at her Pentecostal church with a group of teens when another teen announced he'd detected a demon lurking nearby. A "youth minister" appeared and, hearing the tale, decided there were indeed demons afoot, and the teens scrambled until dawn smearing petroleum (or possibly vegetable) products around the church.

Finally the youth minister announced that a cloud full of god had entered the church and the sleepless teens held their garage sale.

The next evening, Sunday, an exhausted, starving, and likely hypoglycemic Laura Schubert collapsed in church. Her fellow worshipers took this reaction to be a manifestation of demon possession and carried her to another room, where she was physically restrained and "pummeled" for two hours by seven individuals, despite her kicking, flailing, and screaming to be freed.

Following a 15-minute intermission, the youth minister again appeared with seven other individuals, and proceeded to subject Schubert to another hour of physical and psychological abuse.

During the following week, yet another church member grabbed Schubert and she was again attacked by eight more Pentecostals. Eventually she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered a series of psychological and personal setbacks in addition to the physical injuries she sustained during the "exorcisms."

She sued the church on a variety of claims and won a $300,000 judgment, which was affirmed on appeal. Last month the TX Supreme Court not only threw out the judgment but dismissed the case entirely, stating that the church and its members are immune from civil judgment thanks to the Free Exercise Clause.

The case is very likely to reach the United States Supreme Court, which several years ago — led by Antonin Scalia — decided that the Free Exercise Clause does not even protect an individual Native American's ceremonial smoking of a cactus plant.

The 6-3 decision, Pleasant Glade [sic] Assembly of God v. Schubert, is available here, along with the dissents in separate files.

* This is what we old timers used to use before a mischievous cabal of secularist devils replaced it with "C.E."

July 30, 2008

Some call it contempt of Congress

Others call it separation of powers.
DAVID ADDINGTON: I frankly don't know what you mean by unitary theory.
JOHN CONYERS: Have you ever heard of that theory before?
ADDINGTON: I see it in the newspapers all the time.
CONYERS: Do you support it?
ADDINGTON: I don't know what it is.
CONYERS: You're telling me you don't know what the unitary theory means?
ADDINGTON: I don't know what you mean by it.
CONYERS: Do you know what you mean by it?
ADDINGTON: I know exactly what I mean by it.
Karl Rove can barely aspire to such contemptuousness.

Dear Charlie Sykes

A little birdie told me that Charlie Sykes, Milwaukee's famed medium wave conservative talk show host, was planning on "discussing" my insignificant little blog this morning on his popular radio programme.

I'm honored and humbled, as they say, but at the same time I'm practically certain something will end up woefully garbled, I'll likely be made to say something I never said, or else he'll just miss the point entirely. Maybe even all three. It happens to the best of us.

Such is conservative talk radio, in my experience.

However, I will say this: Do keep reading, and please take care not to break the hit counter! And I'm happy to be of service to whatever point you're trying to make, whether it makes any sense or not.

"While stating that he was disappointed in [Michael] Savage, there would be no way he would ever condone censorship or limiting anyone's free speech ... as he was cutting off and hanging up on a liberal caller that was disproving his arguments."


Dolan misses, then makes, columnist's point

Timothy Dolan, who is the Archbishop of Milwaukee, in purporting to address a question posed by one of the Journal-Sentinel's community columnists, completely sidestepped it and answered a different one, a question that wasn't even asked.

The columnist wondered, where does religious fanaticism come from, and Dolan replied, religious belief does not equal fanaticism.

But the columnist, Thomas Zachek, never said that it did.

Interestingly, Dolan is sympathetic to most of Zachek's critical observations pertaining to all those other religions, until Zachek gets to Dolan's particular religion of choice, Roman Catholicism.

In the meantime, Zachek correctly observes that "most believers are pretty sensible and not given to [fanatical] extremes." Despite that clear enunciation, Archbishop Dolan inexplicably accuses Zachek of "reduc[ing] all religious belief to fanaticism."

Zachek invoked Joseph Ratzinger, a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI, and the latter's admonition that Roman Catholicism is the only one "true" religion, and that all the other religions are in some way defective.

But that's not the same as saying that Roman Catholicism is fanatical per se, only that bold claims to the one true religion are the seeds of fanaticism. Much unfortunate history supports this.

Thomas Zachek certainly wasn't the first person to point that out:
Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.
And those claims say nothing — which is to say, quite a lot indeed — about all the non-Christian religions, none of which, by definition, are "true" paths, according to Ratzinger.

Nor is Zachek the only one to have challenged Ratzinger's assertions:
The statement brought swift criticism from Protestant leaders. "It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity," said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries.
Dolan didn't rebut Zachek's point, he reinforced it.

July 29, 2008

It's all about the experience

Barack Obama (D-IL), U.S. Senator since 2005.
John McCain (R-AZ), U.S. Senator since 1987.
Ted Stevens* (R-AK), U.S. Senator since 1968.

* Denotes federal indictment.

I don't know if that's possible

Leslie Anderson's lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, appealed for leniency, saying that federal sentencing guidelines punished telemarketing too harshly.
Canadian gets 23 years in U.S. telemarketing scam

A telemarketer called me up last week and started reciting the details of my Sprint long distance bills, saying he could get me a better deal. I can't remember the name of his company, but he hung up on me pretty quick when I asked him where he was getting all those details.

Mostly the telemarketing calls I get are recordings. I don't understand the effectiveness of those. Who is going to sit there and listen to a recording? I guess people must.

This one time I got a telemarketing call at 2 a.m. I said, "Would you get off the line please? I'm watching Oral Roberts on TBN and trying to dial out so I can order a prayer cloth."

If a real human being telemarketer calls, I ask for their home number so I can call them back sometime while they're in the middle of eating dinner with their family. They usually hang up then also.

This is your brain on Sykes

He finds this amusing, apparently. Not that it matters, since it isn't directed at people like him anyway. Of course he can mock their alleged naïveté as much as he likes, because they're not even listening to him. They probably haven't even heard of him.

But they've heard of Dick Cheney, and that's the main thing.

On balance, I think I'll take MoveOn.org's hopeful, idealistic audience over one that contains a man with a head full of Sykes's medium wave colleagues and fellow travelers Michael Savage and Sean Hannity who thinks all liberals should be killed and fires a sawed-off shotgun into a children's performance of Annie at a Unitarian church.

To be sure, Jim Adkisson's demographic is far more likely to vote than the much younger one that recognizes "C-list celebrities," yet there's little question that Sykes is holding out some "hope" of his own: that the latter group doesn't vote at all this November.

Because if Obama's ability to turn out the younger demographic during the primaries is any indication of their intent to get it on November 4, then Sykes is hoping against hope, as they say, and may be even more naïve than those he mocks. It's almost sad, in a way.

Now Obama is "the" Antichrist

Only yesterday he was the Messiah.

Whether that's an upgrade or a downgrade, I can't say, but this Senator Obama character sure is one versatile fellow nevertheless:

Barack Obama the Antichrist

Incidentally, there is no one "Antichrist" in the Bible. There are a couple of mentions of "antichrists" (plural) among the three Epistles of John,* which refer to "many antichrists," and define an antichrist as "he [sic] that denieth that Jesus is the Christ," which would include Mahatma Gandhi, Golda Meir, and several other notables.

E.g., John McCain meets an antichrist.

* Including this bit of circular reasoning: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that an antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists, whereby we know that it is the last time."

Evidently it's been the "last time" for quite awhile now. Could be they were referring to the eventual heat death of the universe, or at least our Sun's becoming a red giant in another few billion years.

But I doubt Barack Obama can affect either of those circumstances much, in spite of his amazing and remarkable superpowers.

Gonzo DoJ a real class act

The report describes an alleged "sexual relationship" between a career prosecutor and a U.S. attorney, who were not named. Margaret M. Chiara, the former U.S. attorney in Grand Rapids, Mich., said in an interview with The [LA] Times that she now believed she was fired because of the erroneous belief that she was having a relationship with career prosecutor Leslie Hagen.

"I could not begin to understand how I found myself sharing the misfortune of my former colleagues," Chiara said of the eight other U.S. attorneys who were fired. "Now I understand."

Justice officials said after her firing that Chiara was let go because of mismanagement and because she had caused morale in her office to sink. Chiara said Monday she believed those concerns were raised by the same people who spread rumors about her and Hagen.

"I guess now I am persuaded with deep regret that this is what was the basis," she added. "There is nothing else."
What is it about J. Edgar Hoover that makes you want to serve him?

You are now entering the no spin zone:
Gonzales' lawyer, George J. Terwilliger III, said Monday that the report was a measure of vindication for the former attorney general.
Right! That Alberto Gonzales devolved the responsibility for hiring and firing U.S. attorneys to an inexperienced partisan hack/religious zealot called Monica Goodling is his vindication? Not quite.

Jim Adkisson's library

Investigator Steve Still, being duly sworn, deposes and says:

During the interview Adkisson stated that he had targeted the church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands on the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of major media outlets.
Sounds familiar. Gee, I wonder where he got those ideas.
Still seized three books from Adkisson's home, including "The O'Reilly Factor," by television commentator Bill O'Reilly; "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder," by radio personality Michael Savage; and "Let Freedom Ring," by political pundit Sean Hannity.
What a surprise. But liberalism is the mental disorder.

July 28, 2008

Leading WI blogger fails U.S. Constitution

Writes one of Wisconsin's leading conservative bloggers:
"Chicago’s gun ordinance was not invalidated by the [Heller] decision. Three prior Supreme Court decisions have found that the Second Amendment does not apply to states and municipalities," [Chicago City Corporation Counsel Mara] Georges said. "The decision did not change that case law."
Consider the utter absurdity of the statement that I bolded. Replace "Second Amendment" with any other amendment and the statement is lunacy.
There's nothing absurd about it; Counselor Georges is correct. The Second Amendment is not incorporated against the States. Neither is the Third, nor the civil jury trial provision of the Seventh.

However, if one did replace "Second Amendment" with "First Amendment," then Mara Georges's claim would be false, as each provision of the First Amendment has been incorporated, one by one, case by case ("selective" incorporation).

The adverse party in Heller was the District of Columbia, which is a federal entity, not a State.

Wisconsin's leading conservative blogger continues:
Can you imagine if the cops walked into my house without a warrant and without my permission and just said, "oh, the Fourth Amendment? It doesn’t apply to West Bend."
The Warrants provision of the Fourth Amendment has been incorporated, so yes, it does apply to Wisconsin and by extension, Wisconsin municipalities, including even West Bend.

It goes on:
Or if Wisconsin decided to forbid women from voting under the reasoning that the Nineteenth Amendment doesn’t apply here.
The Nineteenth Amendment has nothing to do with it, as it expressly applies to both federal and State governments. The Bill of Rights is incorporated through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The theory entails that that Due Process Clause mimics the effects of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

It's fairly clear to most observers that the Framers of the Constitution did not originally intend the Bill of Rights to apply to the several States. At least, it was pretty clear to Chief Justice John Marshall.

The "total" incorporation argument that the Fourteenth Amendment automatically incorporates all of the Bill of Rights provisions, energetically championed by Justice Hugo Black, never convinced a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.

And at least one sitting Justice, Clarence Thomas, may disfavor the whole idea of incorporation. In fact, he once wrote a lone concurring opinion* calling for the dis-incorporation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. (As for the incorporation of the Free Exercise Clause, Thomas has written that he "can accept" it.)

That opinion was a bit of "judicial activism," incidentally, because the Court hadn't even been asked to address that question. Indeed, the Court didn't even reach the question it had been asked to address, because the plaintiff was deemed to have lacked standing to simply ask that question in the first place.

Still more leading blogging:
It’s ridiculous, which is why Chicago is going to spend a lot of money of lawyers [sic] to lose their case.
For an added comedy bonus, the above indented commentary is labeled, "Chicago to Continue to Ignore the Constitution." And what's ridiculous is that this person is taken seriously by a lot of people.**

But, thankfully, not by this one.

* He's actually concurring with another concurring opinion, but only that part of the other concurring opinion which is dissenting.

** Okay, only by Charlie Sykes and a few others. But still.

Oh boy, here we go

Police say a man opened fire at a Knoxville, Tennessee Unitarian Universalist church* during a children's play yesterday because he couldn't find a job and "his stated hatred for the liberal movement."
Let the civil debate commence.

"Liberals in general, as well as gays."

* Jim Adkisson, 58, "apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal social policies." — AP

And for "founding of a chapter of the ACLU."

You think Wisconsin is bad

Have a look at West Virginia.

Earlier this month, former federal solicitor general and famed Cheney/Bush 2000 lawyer Theodore B. Olson filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to hear a case called Caperton v. Massey.

Olson wants the Court to revisit the circumstances of a decision of the Supreme Court of West Virginia that his clients contend represents a notably egregious conflict of interest, in that one of the WV justices refused to step away from the case despite having directly benefited from more than $3 million worth of campaign support from one of the parties, A.T. Massey.

The benefit was getting himself elected to the West Virginia Supreme Court and, petitioner Caperton contends, it was directly and brazenly reimbursed several-fold.

That justice, Brent Benjamin, found in favor of Massey to the tune of $50 million — now $76 million with interest — the value of a judgment against Massey in a lower court that Benjamin helped overturn. Benjamin wasn't on the WV Supreme Court at the time of the original judgment; in fact Massey devised its campaign to seat Benjamin in the immediate wake of losing the judgment.

According to the dissenting WV Supreme Court justices, Benjamin basically made up the law as he went along in order to reach the conclusion that best suited his generous benefactor, A.T. Massey.

Apart from that, the SCOTUS petition argues that Benjamin's conflict of interest was so facially blatant it violated the 14th Amendment's Due Process guarantees. Benjamin acted as Chief Justice in the case after the actual C.J. was observed frolicking with A.T. Massey's president and CEO, Don Blankenship, in Monte Carlo.

The case arises from a dispute between two WV coal companies, A.T. Massey and Harman Corp., many of the details of which are reported in the Charleston (WV) Gazette as well as in Olson's petition.

The $3 million-plus was spent waging a political campaign that should sound strikingly familiar to Wisconsinites, and possibly even instructive for future use, especially in view of what SCOTUS may decide to do with the petition (it needn't accept it, but if anybody's going to lend it persuasive heft, it's Theodore Olson).

Rather than extol the virtues of his favored candidate, Don Blankenship set up a § 527 organization called "And For The Sake Of The Kids" which aired teevee ads that attacked Benjamin's opponent, then-incumbent Justice Warren McGraw.

The ads stated, "Letting a child rapist go free? To work in our schools? That's radical Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw. Warren McGraw — too soft on crime. Too dangerous for our kids."

Blankenship also coordinated a letter writing campaign to the State's physicians, ostensibly appealing to their business concerns over medical malpractice insurance premiums, but actually asking them to help "get rid of a judge ... who let a rapist of children out of jail."

Makes you wonder where Mike Gableman and his various enablers and defenders came up with their own election strategery, don't it.

Olson's petition to SCOTUS is available here (.pdf; 38 pgs.).

July 27, 2008

How about an actual columnist

It will be a long, drifting four years thereafter in which we'll all wish for an actual president.
I wish these people would make up their minds. That was Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel "right-wing guy" columnist Patrick McIlheran, pondering the End Times following on January 20, 2009.

McIlheran, like a number of his fellow "right-wing guys," has taken to facetiously attributing to Barack Obama qualities and more recently narratives (the "best summary yet," according to McIlheran) from the Gospels otherwise reserved to Jesus Christ. Obama even merits the upper case pronoun "He."

It's confusing, because other "right-wing guys" (and gals) prefer a likening unto Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.

I asked Rick Esenberg, because he's often the most sensible of the lot, what's up with the Messianic analogies, and he attributed them to Obama's "over the top rhetoric" and "overbearing self importance."

Those explanations didn't strike me as particularly analogous to the Christ of the Gospels — at least not in a flattering sense — but in clarifying, Esenberg dismissed my inquiries because I "don't believe what Christians do," and put the Obama-as-Messiah meme down to his impression that Obama is "acting out of place," hence the facetious Saviour references.

What not believing what Christians do has to do with anything, I have no idea, especially when not all Christians believe the same things. But the upshot, apparently, is that Obama is nothing like a Messiah, and that's why he's being compared to one. Go figure.

Is Obama acting like a Messiah? I guess they think he is.

Over the top rhetoric and overbearing self importance might justify the Hitler and Stalin comparisons but of course they're different comparisons than the ones to Christ. At least, I hope they are.

Christ is introduced into the equation as an expression of sarcasm, Christ being one of the necessary components of the joke, evidently, whereas the conservatives who see parallels between Obama and totalitarian dictators notable for their brutality are actually serious.

But I think McIlheran's got it all figured out: Obama is just not going to be an "actual" president at all. If I didn't know better, I'd think these folks have already — to coin a phrase — given up the ghost, and are working at undermining Obama's legitimacy well in advance.

Bless their hearts.

July 26, 2008

Impossibly related post

Jason Haas informs us that the Bay View Compass, a community newspaper in Milwaukee, has just gone online. Good news.

Mr. Haas's blog is powered by WordPress, which automatically generates a number of "possibly related posts" from other blogs.

Curiously, one of the possibly related posts to this item is one entitled, "Prostitutes on Google Maps Street View?"

And that's immediately below one called "Jay Haas, in pictures," as a matter of fact, but it should be made perfectly clear that the pictures of the prostitutes aren't the same pictures that Jay Haas is in.

The link isn't working from Jason's blog, but you can find it here. I don't think that that street corner tableau is in Bay View, however.

You'd have to Google Merrill Park for something similar.

Man with German name fails Nazi history

James Rowen reports that a legislative assistant to State Senator Mary Lazich (R-Neue Berlin) failed both history and comparative politics when he likened the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to the Gestapo, Nazi Germany's secret police.

The aide, whose name is K. Fischer, alleged that the DNR is thwarting Big Cranberry with "Gestapo-like" regulatory tactics.

However, the proper Nazi political corollary to the Wisconsin DNR is not the Gestapo but the Reich Interior Ministry, which similarly shuffled its bureaucratic feet in 1942 when the German Council of Municipalities put in a request to lower the forced labor wages of female Jews under the age of 16 from RM 0.20 to RM 0.19 per hour.

Indeed, by the time the Reich Interior Ministry acquiesced to the local authorities, the uncooperative Gestapo had already deported most of the forced laborers in question by boxcar to retirement facilities in what is now Poland.

Ms. Lazich, a high school graduate, is a former member of the Neue Berlin Historical Society and a current member of the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Education, something with which Herr K. Fischer could probably stand to be inoculated immediately.

Related: Ben Stein compares Barack Obama to Der Führer.

GOP caucus growing in Minnesota

Huckabee "point person" nabbed in St. Paul hooker sting
Peter Hong, 41, has been in and out of the Republican side of Minnesota politics since the mid-1990s.
Bit of the old in-out in-out, as they say.

Note to RNC delegates: Bring your own hookers.

McCain, GOP expelled from visible universe

John McCain may not have achieved Barack Obama's widely touted "Messiah" status, but, like another Messiah, the Kingdom he seeks to rule is apparently not of this world. Cries the presumptive Republican nominee in his weekly radio lamentation to the outcast disciples:
With all the breathless coverage from abroad, and with Senator Obama now addressing his speeches to the people of the world, I'm starting to feel a little left out.

Maybe you are too.
McCain 18:36.
Tonight, we declare anew to our fellow citizens of the world: Freedom is not the sole prerogative of a chosen few; it is the universal right of all God's children.
Reagan 19:85.

Goodness, how could John McCain have occupied his Congressional pew for 20 years and missed that State of the Union Sermon.

Clean Spank Wisconsin

You read the Constitution, it says people have unalienable rights guaranteed to them by God.
No, it doesn't, but anyway:
I have a God-given right to raise my child as I see fit, without the government coming in, telling me what I can do.

And we actually use a little physical discipline on our children. My boy occasionally will get a spanking for willfully disobeying, you know, the rules that we have laid down.

He's not supposed to stick his finger up his, um, [gesturing] sister's butt [more gesturing]. He can stick his finger in there, he's not supposed to [laughter]. If he does that, if he does that, he will be penalized by getting a spanking.
Tom Reynolds on Fingers, Butts, and Spanking.

July 25, 2008

First down and ten Hitlers to go

Ben Stein, the professional jackanapes who starred in an entire "documentary" devoted to blaming Charles Darwin for the rise of Nazi Germany, is at it again, this time playing the Hitler card on Barack Obama because the candidate is planning on speaking at Denver's Invesco Field during the Democratic National Convention:
That is not the way we do things in political parties in the United States of America. We have a contained number of people in an arena. Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace, well, that's something the Fuehrer would have done. And I think whoever is advising Senator Obama to do this is bringing up all kinds of very unfortunate images from the past.
Yes, Ben Stein, it truly is unfortunate that Obama's advisers have brought up images of the Fuehrer. And likewise that noted Obama adviser Glenn Beck immediately brought up Mussolini in reply.

Invesco Field is also home to the Denver Brünshirts of the National Socialism Futböl League. And John Elway has been rumored to sell used Volkswagens at his Toyota dealership.

Follow this link from the National Post item for more Obama/Nazi derangement. At some point, do these people ever get embarrassed by this nonsense? Never mind, rhetorical question.

Desperate plus gullible plus feckless

Conservatives seem to be growing increasingly desperate to attack Barack Obama's appearance in Berlin yesterday. Something called Moonbattery.com thinks its discovered a Soviet-era government propaganda poster and wants its mouth-breathing acolytes to believe that an Obama flyer advertising his Berlin speech is modeled after it.

The Obama flyer shows the candidate in part-profile facing some angled text. The problem for the real moonbats (the conservative ones) is that whomever was desperate enough to attempt the comparison in the first place had to cut the original Russian poster in half to try and force it to even remotely resemble the Obama design:

Here's a larger version. Not even close.

And it's not exactly even "Soviet-era," either. A friend of mine with advanced degrees in Russian studies confirms that the poster dates from the late 1980s' days of Perestroika and is communicating state support for the INF Treaty. Here's a contemporary photo of conservative saint Ronald Reagan communicating support for it also:

Or do the moonbats at Moonbattery.com actually believe that the October 1917 Revolution was accomplished with neutron bombs?

Needless to say, a number of the local Wisconsin conservative moonbats have swallowed this pathetic fakery hook, lyin', and sickle.

This guy has a lot of Russian and other posters for sale at his website, some of which really are Soviet-era government propaganda. But apart from a couple of them employing angled text, none of them resemble the Obama Berlin flyer in the slightest.

If anything, and as others have already pointed out, Obama's team most likely produced a nod to Bauhaus, a design movement that originated in post-WWI Germany, which is where Berlin is.

"How eerie," says Moonbattery.com's source for the laughably inept hatchet job, "Is the Obama campaign so stupid it cannot see how bad all this has become?"

The proper question is, are Obama's detractors really this stupid.

Meanwhile, have a look at John McCain's "Peace is Born of Wisdom" campaign poster, which not only features the partial-profile graphic device, but McCain's giant head is actually floating toward Heaven amid an arrangement of cumulus clouds, as if by Rapture. Yet the McCainiacs insist on facetiously referring to Obama as the "Messiah."

Paging Dr. Krauthammer — there's derangement afoot.

July 24, 2008

Obama's "World Citizen" outrage

Faux News — "America's Election HQ" — inquires: "Obama Casts Self as World Citizen, But Will It Play in America?"
I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world. — Ronald Reagan, conservative saint, June 17, 1982.
Seems to have worked out okay for that guy.

Well played, Faux, well played.

And yet another horrified conservative.

Ich bin ein Pfannkuchen

Obama's latest sin, having a sharp looking poster.

Meanwhile, McCain tells Canadians, 'I am a Timbit.'

Joe Lieberman, friend to the crazed

It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, Connecticut Senator Joseph Isadore Lieberman was the Democratic candidate for vice-president. And, but for the arguably archaic provisions of the Electoral College, he would have been the vice-president in a Democratic administration.

Since then he quit the party and became an independent, is expected to address the Republican National Convention next month, and most recently has been praising a religious fanatic from Texas called John Hagee by comparing him to Moses.

Hagee's mission is to bring about an apocalyptic war in the Middle East to force the second coming of Jesus Christ, who is expected to deliver Hagee and his friends up to Heaven, leaving behind Lieberman and the rest of the non-Christians (as defined by Hagee) to burn and boil in a lake of fire. Another wacky Texan, Tom DeLay, hopes that that happens tomorrow.

It's the sort of fanciful tale you might expect to hear from somebody bouncing around a rubber room dressed in a straitjacket. But amazingly, it's what passes for mainstream American politics. Even more amazingly, Joe Lieberman willingly lends himself to furthering Hagee's agenda, just not to the point of converting to Hagee-style Christianity to ensure his flying up to Heaven with Jesus.

Many Christians and Jews believe that Moses was a real person who actually wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, which is especially remarkable considering their closing chapter, Deuteronomy 34, chronicles the death, burial, and obituary of ... Moses.

"Even Moses fell short of God's expectations," Lieberman regaled the Hagee acolytes on Tuesday, just as Hagee presumably had with his harebrained condemnations of rival Christians, and his claim that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for the organizers of a gay pride parade in New Orleans.

That was too much even for John McCain, who rejected Hagee's endorsement of his candidacy for president. But Lieberman soldiers ahead for the Hagee cause.

Israel, Lieberman tells us, was created not in 1948 but "four thousand years ago" when God reportedly promised another character from Old Testament folklore, Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you."

My copy of the Constitution, on the other hand, states that it was established to "secure the Blessings of Liberty," not those of YHWH or even the Elohim, a plural set of deities that occasionally make an appearance in those portions of the Book of Genesis that were apparently not authored by the monotheist Moses.

As another Congressman, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, informed the United States Senate in March, 2002:
I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel; that it has a right to the land. This is the most important reason: Because God said so. As I said a minute ago, look it up in the book of Genesis. It is right up there on the desk.

In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says:

The Lord said to Abram, "Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever. ... Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee."

That is God talking.
While there may be any number of strategic reasons why American foreign policy considerations should include for support of Israel as an ally, "Because God said so" doesn't strike me as an appropriate one, arising as it does solely from one individual sectarian interpretation of the Bible.

It should be no more compelling or convincing than John Hagee's borderline-insane beliefs in the formation and purpose of tropical weather disturbances. Which is to say, not at all.

July 23, 2008

McCain gets dumb and desperate

I have always heard from conservatives that they were unfailingly devoted to the plain meaning of the Constitution.

Yet a number of them seem to be disturbed that Barack Obama made a statement yesterday that didn't contain quite enough unquestioningly worshipful deference to the views of David Petraeus, the U.S. commander of multi-national forces in Iraq.

Maybe they need to be reminded of a couple of facts. For one thing, the Framers set up a regime of civilian control over the military. The president, for example, is the commander in chief. That means the president is General Petraeus's boss.

Petraeus is currently responsible for one specific military theater, whereas the president's responsibilities are considerably broader. Obama is running for president, in case they haven't noticed, and stands a good chance of becoming Petraeus's boss early next year.

For another, perhaps they've forgotten that the current commander in chief ignored the advice of several of his own generals, most conspicuously those who argued for greater numbers of troops deployed to Iraq in the first place.

A couple of them were even relieved of duty by the commander in chief. And, wouldn't you know it, one of the civilians who supported those generals' recommendations was none other than John McCain, who conservatives are now supporting in opposition to Obama.

Speaking of McCain, his desperation was on full display yesterday, when he practically accused Obama of treason, by suggesting the latter would prefer to "lose a war" in furtherance of his own political ambitions, followed immediately by one of his creepy little grins.

And, even more tellingly, McCain criticized Obama for not understanding the circumstances of the so-called "surge" but at the same time made a laughable misstatement of chronology, attributing a number of tribal accords as consequent effects of the surge, even though the accords had been reached several months prior to the surge's initial implementation.

The surge is supposedly one of McCain's signature campaign issues, but it's clear from both candidates' statements yesterday that Obama has a better handle on its circumstances, despite his having opposed it, and despite his refusal thus far to acknowledge its success in a manner suitable to conservatives, the poor dears.

Finally, McCain and his supporters are crying about the amount of press attention paid to Obama's Middle East tour, even though McCain is the one who relentlessly demanded the tour in the first place. What did he expect?

Maybe this is McCain's deliberate strategy: make scurrilous accusations of sedition, deliver a series of embarrassing misstatements of fact and non-existent geography, and thereby recover the media spotlight.

If so, it's a dumb strategy. Boneheaded statements coming in the wake of press criticism are guaranteed to rouse the press alright, but not with much positive effect for McCain.

July 22, 2008

All thugs are innocent until proven guilty

Behold, The Thug Report.
Q. Why do you only show black criminals? A. If you are asking this, you just picked the wrong day to visit.
Then today is most definitely the wrong day to visit.

Qu'est dans la boîte?

Milwaukee (AFP) — Le examinateur médical de Milwaukee a déterminé que l'objet dans la boîte a trouvé à l'école Française d'immersion n'est pas humain reste.

"Savons-nous ce que est il? Non, nous ne faisons pas. Il pourrait être quelque chose, mais il n'est pas humain," un investigateur a dit ce matin. Un ouvrier a trouvé la boîte hier.

July 21, 2008

Another of my favorite films indicted

Natural Born Killers, this time.

I should add that I don't enjoy just dark and disturbing movies, and that I also really liked Terms of Endearment. Although I didn't get into it quite as much as the woman in the theater who yelled "What an asshole!" at Jeff Daniels for sleeping while Debra Winger died.

Nobody stirs the fondue like Plaisted

"Thug" is the new N-Word.

You have to follow the links to determine the source of the controversy (James Rowen never called anybody a racist, incidentally, so why he's supposed to apologize for something he didn't say is anyone's guess) but the funniest bit so far* is critical-thinker-for-hire Brian Fraley howling about "intimidation" and vowing not to be "silenced" by phantasmagorial bugaboos.

It's a familiar refrain and a local conservative favorite.

* Next to the argumentum ad schickelgruber, of course.

Earlier: I prefer "ruffian."

A minor quibble

Further to Dave Tianen's review in the JSOnline today, Steve Earle didn't play Billy Austin last night, he played Ellis Unit One.

A hell of a show nevertheless, all three hours of it, from a real treasure of an American songwriter.

Also, China Gourmet on E. Wells St. serves the worst spring cardboard roll I have ever eaten in my life. Not recommended.

But otherwise unremarkable

Best line among several from a funny review of something called Crüe Fest, which took place at the Marcus Amphitheater over the weekend, being the sum total of its attention paid to one of the opening acts:
Trapt had a "t" in its name instead of a "ped."
The headliner, on the other hand, was apparently notable for its inappropriate leather pants, "confusingly juxtaposed pornography," and a guitarist whose pedestrian faux-metal clichés resembled "tabulating the week’s alcohol invoices."

July 19, 2008

Religion news

Saudi King Abdullah informs us that the "increase in terrorism" is "a consequence of people forgetting God."

He would know, because Saudi Arabia was home to 15 of the 19 militant atheists who hijacked airplanes on September 11, 2001.

In the meantime, "Muslims are going to kill us" if we don't convert, according to John McCain surrogate Bud "Swift Boat" Day.

Not all of them, mind you. Only the ones who've forgotten God.

July 18, 2008

Bob Barr, liberal moonbat

Former Georgia Congressman and current presidential candidate Bob Barr, writing on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal yesterday:
Yet even as Republicans [like John McCain] support and defend the Second Amendment, they ignore the Constitution when it says that only Congress can suspend habeas corpus, and then only in event of an invasion or rebellion.
The latter reference is to Boumediene v. Bush, which McCain called "one of the worst decisions in the history of the country." The former is to D.C. v. Heller, which McCain hailed. Bob Barr's point — and it's a fair one — is that lauding one and decrying the other is inconsistent with a more strictly textual reading of the Constitution.
And if a president says we are "at war," Republicans believe he can ignore laws passed by Congress.

Mr. McCain has endorsed, in action if not rhetoric, the theory of the "unitary executive," which leaves the president unconstrained by Congress or the courts. Republicans like Mr. McCain believe the president as commander in chief of the military can do almost anything, including deny Americans arrested in America protection of the Constitution and access to the courts.
If you didn't know that was a WSJ op-ed authored by Bob Barr, you'd almost swear it was an ACLU press release.

Mr. Kettle, meet Ms. Pot?

If the oft-cited "approval ratings" polls are any indication, then this pot is even blacker than that kettle.

"The answer is none. None more black." — Nigel Tufnel

Their Satanic Creationist's Request

J. Shallit: I've been contacted by some cretin named Bill Crofut, who proclaims himself "an unlettered Traditional Roman Catholic, militant young-Earth Biblical creationist and geocentrist." Crofut proffered a quote by Birch and Ehrlich from a 1967 Nature article as evidence against evolution. Only problem is, the quote was stripped of context and is a well-known quote mine. When confronted with the evidence of his misrepresentation, Crofut told me he was "a son of Satan."

E. Knight: ...Crofut told me he was "a son of Satan."
Clarification: He said he was, or you are, a son of Satan?

J. Shallit: No, he said he was.

h/t: Recursivity.

July 17, 2008

WIDOC shocker: London hotels expensive

Disgraced official unable to find Super 8 in Knightsbridge

This little tidbit sounds more interesting:
[WI Commerce Secretary Jack] Fischer gave a rambling speech at an embassy party that caused the event to break up early.
How about some additional details on that.

Court affirms right to annoy Catholics

Just don't inconvenience them.
[The court] also found the concept of annoyance had "no intelligible boundary."
It's unclear how the court's ruling squares with Joseph Ratzinger's personal, subjective experiences of absolute morality.

July 16, 2008

You talkin' to me?

concur, vb., to agree with a judgment but for different reasons or through a different line of reasoning.
Tim Cuprisin reports receiving e-mail from disgruntled teevee viewers, complaining that Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver was shown during family time, right after Gilligan's Island and Bewitched.

The film tells the story of Travis Bickle, a Vietnam vet who takes a job pushing hack in Manhattan and whose profound disgust with the city's venality leads him ultimately to shoot some pimps (followed by a tracking shot down a stairwell worthy of Alfred Hitchcock*).

It stars Robert De Niro, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks, Peter Boyle, Harvey Keitel, and Jodie Foster, whose performance as an underage prostitute inspired John Hinckley's 1981 assassination attempt against Ronald Reagan. Shepherd and Brooks play a political candidate's campaign workers, and Bickle's initial plan is to shoot the candidate, but he's thwarted at the last minute.

Apart from its theatrical conclusion, Taxi Driver is not particularly violent. It is, however, a pretty intense and even disturbing flick laden with coarse dialogue throughout and most definitely not suitable for children. So I agree with the judgment of Cuprisin's readers that 7 p.m. is not the best time to screen it.

I would go further and argue that there is never a good time to screen Taxi Driver in the edited versions that broadcast teevee use. What in the world is the point of watching an expurgated edition of any film, let alone a work of art like Taxi Driver, I have no idea.

Incidentally, Me-TV has scheduled Taxi Driver again at 7 p.m. for Monday, July 28, according to TVGuide.com. Hide the kids.

* Taxi Driver's soundtrack was composed by Bernard Herrmann, who scored a number of Hitchcock's most memorable films.

Prominent in the nudist community

I don't know much about nudist etiquette, but I would expect "prominence" on the part of a male nudist to be bad form.

July 15, 2008

The comedy stylings of John McAdams

Milwaukee's funniest blogger, John McAdams, is upset with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' style guide.

Conveniently ignoring the NAHJ's prefatory remarks, which correctly point out that "being an undocumented immigrant is not a crime," McAdams accuses the journalists of "trying to ban the word 'illegal,'" which, McAdams further claims, is "simply an insistence that honest language be avoided."

Unfortunately for McAdams, who is reportedly a professor at Marquette University, the journalists have it right and McAdams has it exactly backwards. It's accuracy that the NAHJ is seeking.

Needless to say, the NAHJ's discussion is considerably more nuanced and informed than McAdams's typically hamfisted denunciations.

For example, millions of immigrants entered the country with valid visas, but now those visas are expired. It is not a crime to be in the United States on an expired visa.

As a matter of fact one of the initial steps in a deportation proceeding is the issuance of a Notice to Appear at a hearing at which a non-citizen may present argument explaining her situation. They are not arrested, which is often what happens to people who have committed a crime.

Not even the legal immigrants who might be subject to deportation for having been convicted of a crime are arrested for being potentially subject to deportation. Rather, like it or not, they are protected by a considerable body of law.

To hell with all that, says McAdams, just be "honest" — like him — and call them "illegals" whether they've done something illegal or not.

Best of all, McAdams is actually more concerned about referring to immigrants as "aliens," a federal statutory term of art, because this one time he saw a scary looking extraterrestrial creature chase Sigourney Weaver around a spaceship. Not a Mexican.

Finally, for some obscure reason known only to the fevered consciousness of John McAdams, he appeals for more Christians and honest blacks to become reporters as opposed to dishonest blacks like the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Eugene Kane.

If the Riverside Theatre is looking for an opening act for Bill Maher next week, McAdams would be the perfect choice.

Déjà vu all over again

A potential juror was excused from hearing a criminal case today after she told the court God had given her a revelation about the defendant.

"It is like a movie in front of me of what has happened," Juror 28 told Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Donald.
I'd like to bring her with me to the Potawatomi roulette wheel.

Top Secret Casey Luskin Award

Looks like it's a big day for Casey Luskin. An award in his name was presented. But they won't tell you who won, only that it's "a graduate earning a degree in history." A high school graduate, presumably.

It's important to keep such bright young minds "out of the crosshairs," says the press release, which contains a suitably perfunctory proclamation that the award was bestowed for "great courage." Much like Casey Luskin himself, who has repeatedly demonstrated great courage in the face of public embarrassment by dint of his remarkably stoic imperviousness to the same.

So it's safe to say that the anonymous beneficiary didn't revolutionize science by discovering a Precambrian rabbit or anything like that. But she or he did win an autographed copy of Michael Behe's mostly contentless* book, The Edge of Evolution, and one Ben Franklin.

* I take that back; this one's got his autograph in it.

There at The New Yorker

"For reasons that nobody fully understands, a large proportion of our would-be artist-contributors are Canadians."

Brendan Gill, Here at The New Yorker, p. 213.
Everybody seems to be having a go at the July 21 issue of The New Yorker, so why not me.

Last night on returning home and switching on CNN, I was greeted with the unctuous countenance of Bill Bennett, the self-appointed conservative Republican moral arbiter and hypocrite, telling us what he does and doesn't find amusing, and therefore what we should and should not find amusing also.

Among the latter is The New Yorker's cover drawing of Barack and Michelle Obama dressed as an Imam and Angela Davis, respectively. They're shown mutually delivering what some fool on Fox News recently called a "terrorist fist jab."

Both the Obama and John McCain campaigns called the drawing "tasteless and offensive." Rest assured, McCain staffers most certainly do not find the drawing "tasteless and offensive." They are delighted. They are every bit as delighted as Michael Gableman and his supporters were in implying that a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice has dedicated his life to freeing murderers and rapists.

The cartoon does not serve Obama well, we are informed, because a certain percentage of Americans actually believe some or all of the portrayals depicted. They believe Michelle Obama really is a 21st century Angela Davis, even if they don't know who Angela Davis is. They believe Obama desecrates the American flag by not wearing a little pin. They believe Obama is a Muslim.

Even worse, they believe there's something fundamentally wrong with being a Muslim, per se, and even Obama supporters consider it an "accusation."

Well, guess what. Maybe there's no helping those Americans. Forty-five percent of the populace believes the universe is 6,000 years old and lots more believe a god/man lives in the sky who wins football games, directs Corey Pavin's long irons, and adjusts rates of precipitation to suit the requirements of Atlantans.*

Many of them even believe 9/11 was a series of controlled demolitions engineered by the Bush administration and its Zionist puppeteers. The New Yorker can't help them either.

Furthermore The New Yorker is not in the business of helping Obama in the first place. It may be doing that anyway, because much of its political and current affairs reporting is what conservatives like to call "leftist."

Hendrik Hertzberg, who writes frequently in the magazine's introductory "Talk of the Town" section, is no fan of Republican politics. And The New Yorker has been the venue for a great number of investigative pieces by Seymour Hersh on the subject of the Bush administration's military responses to 9/11.

Highly critical ones, as a matter of fact.

It's also what conservative Republicans delight in mocking as "elitist." I've been reading The New Yorker for as long as I can remember, and the poetry, ballet reviews, and John Updike novellas have always been sandwiched in between Cartier, Rolex, and Range Rover ads, precisely the sort of products conservatives defend our corporate mandarins' rights and privileges to buy more of.

It also happens to be one of the finest — if not the finest — magazines in the country and has for decades featured the work of some of the best writers America has produced. And it has a sensibility, whether one appreciates it, derides it, or what have you.

There's absolutely no reason why the magazine should adjust that sensibility simply because some people, or even a lot of people, don't get political satire, or especially because it somehow requires a presidential candidate to work a little harder at dispelling the very lies The New Yorker is so obviously lampooning.

And if it sells a few more magazines, then, good. Perhaps those people could do with something other than Us Weekly for a change.

* Atlanteans being another thing again.

Casey Luskin has one off the wrist

Creationists generally are an embarrassment but Casey Luskin is notably embarrassing because he's also a lawyer. Luskin works for the Discovery Institute, a "think tank" in Seattle devoted to propagating a species of creationism called "intelligent design." In fact the DI represents the best and brightest of "intelligent design theorists."

Several years ago, scientists discovered Tiktaalik roseae, a fossil fish whose physical characteristics are especially important to evolutionary biology because many of them are the same as tetrapods, or four-legged animals.

Tiktaalik is just the sort of so-called transitional creature that creationists are constantly demanding. Neil Shubin, one of the University of Chicago researchers who discovered the fossil in Canada, calls it a "fish with a wrist."

Behold Counselor Luskin, attempting to critique Prof. Shubin's description of some features of Tiktaalik's skeleton:
Shubin et al.: “The intermedium and ulnare of Tiktaalik have homologues to eponymous wrist bones of tetrapods with which they share similar positions and articular relations.” (Note: I have labeled the intermedium and ulnare of Tiktaalik in the diagram below.)

Translation: OK, then exactly which “wrist bones of tetrapods” are Tiktaalik’s bones homologous to? Shubin doesn’t say. This is a technical scientific paper, so a few corresponding “wrist bone”-names from tetrapods would seem appropriate. But Shubin never gives any.
Yes indeed, those wrist bone names would seem appropriate, wouldn't they, Counselor? To be technical and scientific.

Wild guess here but that's probably why Prof. Shubin used the word "eponymous," which means "having the same name as." So Shubin already told Casey Luskin the names of the tetrapod bones before Luskin even asked: the intermedium and the ulnare. And the eponymous Tiktaalik bones are ... the intermedium and the ulnare.

Welcome to the world of "intelligent design theory" scholarship.

No wonder they call them IDiots.

h/t Carl Zimmer.

July 14, 2008

My kind of church

Suffer the little children

An Oklahoma City church called off plans to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle* at a weekend gathering of teenagers, the church's pastor said.

"We have 21 hours of preaching and teaching throughout the week," Pastor Bob Ross told a local teevee station.
Most people understand that if you're planning on preaching at a teenager for even two hours, you don't give him a gun.

* Oklahoma groundhogs are notoriously aggressive.

h/t Keith Schmitz.

Man credited with killings

"Charged" is the more correct legal terminology, of course, but Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn does say that two of the victims were members of the "most vicious and most aggressive" criminal gang in the city, so it can't be all bad.

Utter disregard for human life is occasionally a two-way street.

July 13, 2008

Incredibly offensive New Yorker cover

Holy shit! I remember when it was 75 cents.

Man in private jet warns of climate change

Pedophilia also bad idea, adds Ratzinger.

Kentucky snakehandlin' news

Handling snakes is practiced in a handful of fundamentalist churches across Appalachia, based on the interpretation of Bible verses saying True Believers™ can take up serpents without being harmed. The practice is illegal in most states, including Kentucky.

Gregory James Coots, 36, is pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, where a Tennessee woman died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service in 1995. Her husband died three years later when he was bitten by a snake in northeastern Alabama.

Said zoo director Jim Harrison, "You don't play with a venomous snake. If you do, you're an idiot."
Snakehandlin' preacher pinched.

Strike Mark 16:9-20 from your Bibles, says other preacher.

July 12, 2008

Unprecedented GOP gay scandal

John McCain girds his loins.
"Alabama is a state where actions definitely speak louder than words. More than just talk, John McCain's strong record of support for state rights, and his devotion to the conservative principles of protecting life and the institution of marriage make him the right leader for Alabama." — AG Troy King
There it was, gone. Is there any truth to the rumors? Never mind. Under the bus with you, pretty boy.

Vote for Obama

Because then, Stephen Baldwin will flee the country.

But seriously, here is a highly entertaining set of observations from Chez Pazienza about the blog Gawker.com and its associated "personalities," including one Emily Gould, the object of a recent and cringeworthy confessional in The New York Times Magazine.
For a moment, I couldn't help but think that being told you're too much of a prick to work at Gawker is like being told you're too gay to audition for the lead in Torch Song Trilogy.
Best of all, however, is Jimmy Kimmel's deft (and perhaps too easy) evisceration of Emily Gould on Larry King Live, which is embedded at the conclusion of Chez Pazienza's tour de farce.
Jimmy Kimmel: So people are out and they have their cellphones, they can send a little message to you and say, 'I just saw Gwyneth Paltrow at the movies' and that way, when Gwyneth Paltrow comes out of the movies, there could be at least a dozen psychopaths waiting for her.
Here it is, direct from YouTube (5:29).

July 11, 2008

On Justice Ziegler's portrayal

Further to an earlier Capital Times editorial, I think it's long since about time that the "ethically-challenged" descriptor is dropped with respect to Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette K. Ziegler.

It's over, she readily and immediately acknowledged the oversights, she paid a price, and she took her lumps in public from her own colleagues, who are likely among the people she respects the most.

In fact a more compelling argument might be made that Justice Ziegler is most likely to exercise greater care and is therefore least likely to put herself in breach of ethics, having presumably learned a valuable lesson regardless of the severity of her actions as a circuit court judge. And let's face it, they were relatively innocuous.

Individuals may keep paying themselves, in one sense or another, for past transgressions, but at some point, on the terms of the community at large, debt and restitution is paid in full. And it seems to me that point was reached some time ago in Justice Ziegler's case.

IMHO, as they say.

Ultimately, it's all about the brats

This is one of the many reasons why I love the great State of Wisconsin.

As the Capital Times keeps up its editorializing on the Epic Systems/Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce kerfuffle, many of the attendant reader comments have to do with Johnsonville Sausage LLC, a popular Sheboygan Falls manufacturer of bratwurst and WMC member.

As far as I'm concerned, and since long before I ever heard of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the question has been from times immemorial a no brainer.

My only complaint is that my favorite Usinger's product, the big, fat pre-cooked brats that come vertically packed in sets of four, are kind of hard to find. For example, the Metrosexual Market* at Van Buren and Juneau never seems to have them.

Fortunately having had occasion to visit the Sendik's in Mequon a couple of weeks ago, I found a giant cache of them priced attractively at $1.99 per package, so I wisely stocked the hell up.

Here's my recipe:

1) Boil the brats until the casing just starts to separate at the ends.

2) Place brat in brat bun from the Metrosexual Market bakery.

3) Apply mustard, chopped raw onions, Polish sauerkraut (that's the kind with caraway seeds), and your choice of prizewinning Wisconsin cheese from Brennan's in Brookfield (I like a nice mozzarella).

4) Place entire assembly under broiler for about 30 seconds (may vary depending on proximity to broiler element).

5) Consume.

6) Repeat.

* I have no idea why they call it that, but a lot of people do.

July 10, 2008

Phil Gramm thrown under imaginary bus

Texas Senator unwelcome even in Minsk, says McCain.

At least Phil Gramm didn't have the recreational urologist Jesse Jackson coming at him with a pair of hedge clippers.

Bill Donohue's craziest conniption yet

Wild Bill Donohue of Catholic League fame is beside himself with Holy Rage after a Florida college student removed a biscuit from an Orlando church and "held it hostage" in a ziploc bag for a week.

A spokesperson for the local diocese compared Webster Cook's move to a "hate crime," but Wild Bill Donohue said it was "beyond hate speech" and indeed, he could barely imagine "anything more vile."

Apparently Wild Bill Donohue is serious. What's hard to imagine is anything more patently ridiculous than not being able to imagine anything more vile than removing a biscuit from a church.

Meanwhile, irreligious rabble rouser and blogger PZ Myers has requested of readers to "score [him] some consecrated communion wafers," which he promises to "treat with profound disrespect" and photograph the results for publication.

Myers is receiving death threats (again), and Wild Bill is trying to get him fired from the University of Minnesota. Over a biscuit.

I may send a little note to UM's president Robert Bruininks.

It's the yeast I could do.

Julaine Appling wants gays "charged" with fraud

Just the other day, Christian "Family" Crusader Julaine Appling wanted gays imprisoned. Now she wants them "charged with fraud" also, according to a Madison teevee station.

WKOW says a Verona, WI couple is planning on tying the knot in California next month. I guess the thing to do when you're a reporter covering a story like is this to solicit the comments of some nut:
"You purposely left the state for another state and you get married and you know it's not going to be legal where you reside and you have every intention of returning, that's defrauding the Government," Appling says.
Good grief, woman, get a grip.

I could just as easily make a physician's license out of some construction paper, crayons, and glue but nobody's going to "charge" me with fraud until I tried to cut somebody's appendix out.

WI Supreme Court quote of the day

[I]t is always suspicious to me when an opinion asserts that the meaning [of a statute] is plain and then proceeds to spend a multitude of pages explaining it.
State v. Grunke, 2008 WI 82, ¶45 (Bradley, J., dissenting).*

* .pdf; 34 pgs. Or, if you prefer, the .html version.

James Buchen can barely get a word in edgewise

Madison's left-leaning Capital Times certainly has a sense of humor.

Last week, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce's vice president of government relations, James A. Buchen, fired off a comically intemperate "news column" complaining that the free speech rights of Wisconsin businesses were "under assault."

This morning the Capital Times reproduced* Buchen's screed on its opinion pages for several hundred thousand more readers.

I think everybody with the means to do so should likewise reproduce, link to, or what have you in solidarity with Mr. Buchen in order to demonstrate the awful, tortious, oppressive, repressive suppression of speech that WMC must endure.

Good lord, what is this country coming to? It's getting so bad, WMC can hardly spend a few million bucks defaming anybody anymore.

* Scroll down to find a Buchenite calling Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "Stalinist" whilst simultaneously accusing "the left" of demonizing the opposition.

July 9, 2008

Couldn't have said it better myself

Although I'm sure that I did, many times over, in much greater detail.

Because this is not a conservative blog, I generally don't simply copy and paste giant swaths of text from other sources, but this merits an exception. From an editorial in today's Capital Times:
WMC's ugly meddling in last April's Supreme Court race between Michael Gableman and Louis Butler was simply a blunt and relatively immediate example of its slash-and-burn approach to both Wisconsin politics and Wisconsin's future.

Butler was, by every measure, the more qualified candidate. He was supported by Republicans and Democrats, prosecutors, sheriffs and local judges. He won the lion's share of newspaper endorsements. Why? Because Butler was a balanced and responsible jurist, like the majority of those who have been elected to the highest court by Wisconsin voters.

Butler was of, by and for the Wisconsin tradition of independent judges who serve the people rather than special-interest masters, and WMC attacked him for that.

WMC wanted — and needed — a justice who would act not as a free-thinking and responsible man of the law but as a rubber stamp for the self-serving agenda.

They found what they wanted in Michael Gableman. And they played their part in the foul campaign that narrowly elected one of the least-qualified and least-respected justices in state history.
The Epic officials added, "This is an ethical decision, not a political decision."

There is no reason to doubt the correctness of this statement, or its sincerity.
That's right, there isn't. But that won't deter any number of fabricators from imagining and opining otherwise.

Contradictory proverbs

Epic's target richly deserves such treatment; WMC's role in our recent judicial elections was deplorable.
So far, so good.
Epic's actions are aimed at silencing political expression and preventing political association.
Give me a break. Does anybody actually expect that WMC will be "silenced"? Judging from WMC's own reaction, its True Believers will be energized, if anything. We'll find out soon enough.

And if anybody's trying to "silence political expression," it's Prof. Howard Schweber, who continues to raise implications of illegality on the part of Epic Systems. Could a plaintiff be in the works?

Stay tuned, fans of recreational litigation.

Happy Birthday, Donald Rumsfeld!

Secretary Rumsfeld greets friends in happier, Reagan-era times.

The Gay Science

Speaking of links, an observation here pursuant to the local Christian "Family" Crusader Julaine Appling scored a couple, one from Rick Esenberg and the other via Emily Mills.

Interestingly, in their respective comments threads, Prof. Esenberg deleted one along the same lines as one that Ms. Mills let stand. The comments raise questions about Julaine Appling's own sexuality which, under any other circumstances, would be nobody's business except hers and not even remarkable.

But given her public notoriety as one of Wisconsin's highest-profile homo-obsessors, it's a matter of legitimate inquiry, at least. Esenberg wrote that the anonymous comment was "arguably defamatory." I don't know about defamatory, albeit the Shark is certainly entitled to administer his blog as he sees fit.

The comment at the Lost Albatross thread, on the other hand, leads here. Not quite anonymous, but not hard evidence either.

An outfit called the Maranatha Baptist Bible College has a "sermon" of Julaine Appling's archived at this link. But she objects to that description because, as she says, "I am not preaching, alright? I don't think that's an appropriate role for women."

If the rest of her remarks aren't preaching, then I don't know what preaching is. It's preaching related to the Wisconsin Marriage Amendment, in solicitation of support for which Appling claims "God in His Providence touched me very distinctly and said, 'This one's yours, Girl.' And He, by His Grace, has enabled me at this point to do what He has asked me to do."

Did you know that God doesn't write Bibles anymore, He writes State constitutional amendments, through His personal scribes.

Therewith begins a 20-odd minute ramble on the subject of Genesis Chapter Two, which Appling apparently takes literally, right down to the creation-by-rib and the divinely selected role of women as the "help meets" to men. If you're looking for scholarly Biblical exegesis, you won't find it there. What you will find is an entirely credulous, literal acceptance of allegorical Middle Eastern folklore.

I don't get the obsession with homosexuals, which seems to be a feature of both fundamentalist style Christianity and political conservatism. Personally I don't think about gay people too often. Christian conservatives will often tell you they aren't so much concerned with gay people per se, but rather their focus is on "homosexual acts."

Maybe that's why I'm not a conservative Christian because, trust me, homosexual acts are about the last things I care to focus on.* It makes little sense to me why self-proclaimed anti-homosexuals would want to focus on homosexual acts because the only people who should be focusing on homosexual acts are, well, homosexuals.

I don't recall having any opinion about homosexuals at all, aside from the usual high school tittering, until I read the late Graham Chapman's mostly hilarious autobiography many, many years ago.

I say mostly hilarious because it does contain at least one serious moment,** where Chapman discusses his own homosexuality. Why are two men in love the objects of so much opprobrium, Chapman wondered, when what's needed in the world is more love, not less. It made sense then, and it still makes sense now.

Wasn't the main Biblical character that Christians claim to follow all about the love, also? There's more than a little hypocrisy at work within these condemnations of homosexuality. And that hypocrisy just might be a manifestation of some deep closeting.

* The male configurations, at least.

** Apart from Keith Moon nearly falling off the side of a hotel attempting to retrieve a bottle of gin from the adjacent suite.

July 8, 2008

Gableman lovers remain in denial

Here's a disingenuously oddball employment of my reaction to Epic Systems's decision to avoid vendors associated with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

At something called Fox Politics, Lance Burri uses this item as a springboard to ramble about "sacrifice" and "courage" which, for one thing, aren't necessary components of heroism and for another, two things I didn't even mention, let alone attribute to Epic Systems.

It's always nice to get a link — even if it is for the benefit of readers of Fox Politics, whatever that is — but it would be even nicer if the linker actually read what it is they're linking to.

Hopefully the Fox Politics readership's respective comprehension is at least marginally more adept than Lance Burri's.

I did contemplate a hypothetical situation whereby an Epic purchasing agent ended up spending more than necessary because the low bidder was involved with WMC's scurrilous campaign of lies against Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler.

But I hardly consider that either courage or sacrifice. I was simply acknowledging one particular high profile Wisconsinite's recognition of a fact that many of us low profile Wisconsinites started noticing a long time ago. Call it vindication, if you wish.

For what it's worth, Burri's is an amusing ramble, I suppose, and he can "boycott" whomever he likes. Who cares? Fill your boots, Jack, it's a free country. Or so conservatives are fond of telling us. When it suits their purposes.

Besides, the said ramble impressed the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's "right-wing guy" Patrick McIlheran enough to cite it approvingly, so that's something. If McIlheran has his way, maybe it'll even make Best of the Wisconsin Blogs. It would be a perfect choice, unwitting incoherence generally being a prerequisite for selection.

For his part, McIlheran would do well to actually read Epic's initial press release, and the further clarifications reported by the Isthmus two days later, all of which are embedded in my modest little tribute to Epic's founder and CEO Judith Faulkner.

Yet McIlheran asserts that Epic's position is that Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce "is just too, well, political in a way that Epic Health Systems [sic] doesn't like."

(He'd also be well advised to report the company's correct name. Epic Healthcare Systems Corp. was administratively dissolved in 1996. I hear tell that the accurate rendering of proper names is a key to establishing a reporter's credibility, the inference being if a reporter can't even get a proper name right, what else did he get wrong.)

Burri and McIlheran are free to believe it's all about politics, of course. But it isn't. It's about dissembling and falsehoods.

In any event, none of this is surprising, since McIlheran himself played right along with those who were blatantly and shamelessly lying about Justice Butler's record throughout the election campaign.

So it's little wonder that he continues to insist on missing the point even at this stage of the game. Guilelessness, thy name is McIlheran.

A thug by any other name

One thing I have noticed cropping up from time to time in the Wisconsin blogosphere is some controversy over the word "thug" and its application.

For example, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Patrick McIlheran reminds us that a local police captain once produced an internal memo using the word several times and was subsequently disciplined.

The thug memo was deemed not to be promoting good relations between the police and the neighborhood in question. "Call them like they are," advises McIlheran, and I have to agree.

That's what words are for and if somebody is a violent malefactor, then they are a thug, by definition. And I think it's safe to say that shooting four people to death at a house party certainly qualifies and whoever did it is a thug. And much worse.

Of course when the police, or anyone else, refer to an entire Milwaukee neighborhood or aldermanic district as being inhabited by thugs, that's a different story. The offensive implication, I presume, being a racial one, because "thug" has been appropriated practically as a term of endearment by hip hop culture (I'd be more careful where I pointed that gun, young fella).

In that context, thug is constructively a compliment.

But even so, when Captain Glenn D. Frankovis was referring to the thugs of Metcalfe Park, he wasn't talking about the non-thugs of Metcalfe Park. Only the thugs. I don't think he meant that everybody in Metcalfe Park is a thug, simply that there are thugs in Metcalfe Park. Which is kind of a blinding glimpse of the obvious because there are thugs, and potential thugs, everywhere.

Another J-S columnist, Eugene Kane, is occasionally taken to task for describing criminal ne'er-do-wells as "knuckleheads." Evidently his detractors would prefer that he use stronger language, because knucklehead sounds like something out of The Three Stooges.

Maybe one man's thug is another man's knucklehead but somebody can be a knucklehead without being a thug. See, e.g., Ben Stein.

So in the spirit of compromise should the topic arise at this blog, the preferred usage shall be "ruffian." I'm slightly more partial to "blackguard," but given the apparent racial implications for some of "thug," that's likely not the best choice either.