August 31, 2008

Sarah Palin's church

While it's a bit too conspiratorial for my tastes, a Daily Kos diarist, dogemperor, investigates and writes about Sarah Palin's Assemblies of God congregations together with some pretty far-out Christian Dominionists.

Among the diarist's attempted premises is that the Juneau (AK) Christian Center's "School of Destiny" is somehow code for Joel's Army, a special brand of militaristic Christianity profiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center here.

To the extent that dogemperor, who is herself apparently a former member of a "coercive" Dominionist movement, is trying to establish a nexus between the cast of characters described by the SPLC and Sarah Palin, I'm skeptical, despite the diarist's informed assurances.

But given the incessant howling from the political right over Barack Obama's Chicago pastor Jeremiah Wright and his associates, these inquiries are fair game, unlike another recent Daily Kos diary, which seems to me little more than a load of speculative sleaze.

Nevertheless, there's a good bit of interesting — and occasionally disturbing — reading at the links above.

August 30, 2008

Obama's divine hurricane envy

A godfearing conservative blogger gesticulates, having satisfyingly derived the appropriate measure of self-righteous indignation at an off-color remark by filmmaker Michael Moore which quite obviously had far more to do with the 2008 Republican National Convention and the legend of "Heckuva Job Brownie" than anything else:
McCain displays great class by potentially postponing the convention. That's what leaders do. Obama would have pressed on despite the hurricane and exploited the plight of those hit. It would have been, pardon the pun, a Godsend for Obama to have a hurricane during his convention.
Uh huh. It ain't easy to make Michael Moore appear tasteful and demure by comparison. Behold one such rare success.

Gustav bears down on St. Paul, MN

Republican notables George W. Bush and the GOP's official demon exorcist Bobby Jindal are reportedly preparing to put their RNC performances on hold, as Hurricane Gustav heads north and gains strength across the bathwater-boiling expanse of the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane may also force the cancellation of the RNC's keynote musical address, featuring old timey country fiddler and post-9/11 First Amendment scholar Charlie Daniels, whose band is scheduled to run through its signature number, The Devil Went Down To Georgia, symbolically decked out in short-sleeved shirts purchased from Burlington Coat Factory's autumn "Back to Gulag" collection.

John McCain is to offer a medley of Beach Boys tunes while "moderate" law professor Ann Althouse is set to live-vlog her celebrated Carrie Underwood box-of-Shiraz solo drinking game.

Nobody has ever heard of any of the other musical acts appearing at the RNC, and it's unclear whether "Big and Rich" is one of them or the overarching theme for the event's supporters and beneficiaries.

Palin "extremely disappointed" with McCain judges

The Legal Times's U.S. Supreme Court correspondent Tony Mauro notes that Sarah Palin harshly criticized John McCain's favorite conservative judges after they "gutted" an Anchorage, Alaska jury's punitive damages award in June.

Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Justices Scalia and Thomas, joined the former Republican Attorney General from New Hampshire and George H.W. Bush appointee Justice David Souter in slashing the award against Exxon Shipping Co. by 90%.

In an unprecedented arrogation by black-robed judicial tyrants, the conservative favorites, who hail from such elitist East Coast establishments as Harvard and Yale, legislated directly from the bench by declaring new rules of maritime law in flagrant disregard for affirmative evidence that the people's elected representatives in Congress had deliberately chosen not to restrict similar jury awards.

Palin would have been better satisfied by the three dissenters, Justices Stevens, Breyer, and Ginsburg, who "tweaked" McCain's conservative favorites for failing to exercise "judicial restraint."

McCain, on the other hand, peevishly informed a New Age, Left Coast megapreacher recently that he never would have nominated any of the dissenting Justices to the Court in the first place, in spite of his Senate votes to confirm the appointments of the latter two.

(Justice Stevens was named to the Court by yet another Republican president in 1975, several years before John McCain had the opportunity to register his enthusiastic advice and consent.)

McCain's remaining favorite, Justice Samuel Alito, was forced to abstain from the decision because he owns too much stock in Exxon.

August 29, 2008

Campaign ponders candidate's mortality

"Most doctors think that he’ll be around at least [four years],” said Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain’s top advisers.
That's comforting. At least 50% plus one of them.

Or is it 270 Electoral College votes.

Teach both what?

Unless she's figured it out in the meantime, Sarah Palin doesn't know much about either science or the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment when it comes to public schools.

Responding to a question during a 2006 gubernatorial debate on the so-called "controversy" between evolution and creationism, Palin said, "Teach both. ... I am a proponent of teaching both."

How many times and by how many courts do these people need to be informed that creationism — including its most recent incarnation, "intelligent design" — is religion, and not biology.

The platform for the Republican Party of Alaska, of which that State's governor is a ranking member, contains this bit of gibberish:
We support giving Creation Science equal representation with other theories of the origin of life. If evolution is taught, it should be presented as only a theory.
"Creation science"? Are they kidding? Apparently not.

The former set of absurd GOP claims is unconstitutional on its face, and the risible pointlessness of the latter is easily demonstrated by substituting the word "gravity" for "evolution."

Yet within hours of claiming to be "a proponent of teaching both" evolution and creation, Palin is reported to have said that creationism "doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

Palin also admitted she hadn't thought about it much. That seems clear. What else hasn't she thought about much, I wonder.

Telling the truth?

Canadian welders thank Sarah Palin

On Wednesday, Alaska governor and McCain veep Sarah Palin awarded a potential $30 billion contract — including a 500 million dollar advance — for construction of a 1700-mile pipeline between Prudhoe Bay and Alberta to TransCanada Corp., based in Calgary.

Technically, it's not shipping jobs "overseas."

A Best of the Blogs nomination

A local blogger says of Barack Obama's speech to the DNC in Denver last night, "Leni Riefenstahl couldn't have done it better."

Leni Riefenstahl, of course, was a German filmmaker and notorious Nazi collaborator who became enamored with Adolf Hitler upon reading his Mein Kampf, an autobiography filled with vicious racism and containing the seeds of Hitler's plan to exterminate European Jews and other "non-Aryan" minorities, a project he set about accomplishing with Leni Riefenstahl's kind assistance.

But despite this, observes the blogger, it was Barack Obama's speech that is "vindictive" and "mean-spirited" because Obama dared to criticize the record of Republican candidate John McCain.

Charlie Parker, b. Aug. 29, 1920

Jaco Pastorius — Donna Lee

Charlie Parker — Koko

August 28, 2008

Scroll down, Prof. Esenberg

Rick Esenberg quaffs deeply from the GOP Kool-Aid by observing that Barack Obama's stage at Invesco Field resembles a "Greek temple." Perhaps he's never been to Washington, D.C., where neoclassical architecture has long been held to represent democratic ideals.

And there aren't any spires atop those buildings, either.

Presented with two photos of George W. Bush's own 2004 acceptance ceremony at Madison Square Garden, Esenberg tosses a cursory glance at the first and pronounces dismissively, "Two faux columns does not a temple make." (That probably should be "do not.")

Neither does one faux blog post, for that matter.

Yet the second photo reveals the coronated El Presidente, recently emerged from enshrinement within an edifice comprised of no fewer than six Greco-Roman columns and having strode a shining path of royal blue, poised regally on a gigantic podium assembled from a series of golden discs ringed by velvet ropes and sumptuous scarlet carpeting, and further surrounded by throngs of dutiful worshipers.

The sheer pomposity of the scene makes Obama's plywood construction look positively modest by comparison. Come to think of it, Senator Obama's Invesco installation reminds me of this:

(Note the pagan idol housed within.)

Recent estimates put the cost of producing each U.S. penny at approaching two cents. Obama's nod to the Lincoln Memorial is clearly a sly reference to eight long years of deficit spending and the squandering of a federal budget surplus inherited by the Bush administration. So be sure to treat yourselves to some more of McSame come November, teaches Prof. Esenberg.

Your gun lobby at work

While most people know that convicted felons may be prevented from owning firearms, there is a federal law that prohibits those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse from owning them as well.

And although it's a federal law, it applies to State misdemeanors — "convictions in any court" — because guns move about in interstate commerce, and Congress may regulate that.*

There is an exception to the federal law, however, in that those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse whose conviction has been "expunged or set aside" may once again own firearms.

For some reason, in 2004, the Wyoming legislature put in place a procedure by which the individuals in question could apply to have their convictions "expunged or set aside," but only for the narrow, specific purpose of "restoring any firearms rights lost."

In other words, a conviction still stood as a prior offense, for example, if the individual was again convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse, but not if they wanted to own a firearm. And, presumably, since an element of misdemeanor domestic abuse in Wyoming is "an attempted use of physical force," that subsequent offense might involve a newly restored firearm under Wyoming law.

Furthermore, the Wyoming statute would have had the effect of allowing convicted domestic abusers to secure a concealed carry permit and thus be exempt from federal background checks, which would otherwise uncover the still existing domestic abuse conviction.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives objected because, the Bureau argued, what Congress meant by "expunged or set aside" was completely expunged or set aside, not simply a State setting aside those particular effects of the conviction that prevented the individual from owning a firearm.

Wyoming challenged the Bureau's interpretation in federal district court, and its challenge was dismissed. The State then appealed and yesterday the 10th Circuit affirmed the district court, holding that while the terms "expunge" and "set aside" may have different meanings in Wyoming caselaw and indeed, meanings different from each other, what Congress meant by both is the same thing.

That is, the very fact and existence of the conviction itself needs to have been erased from the record in order to qualify for the federal exception, not just one of its effects, that of its prohibiting firearm ownership to convicted domestic abusers.

This seems to me a strange attempt by Wyoming lawmakers, and there is considerable irony in the argument of the State's Attorney General, Patrick J. Crank, that it was the ATF's interpretation of federal law which was "arbitrary and capricious."

Wyoming v. United States (.pdf, 25 pgs.)

* And yes, I'm aware that this is arguably a non sequitur, but the constitutionality of the federal law wasn't at issue here.

August 27, 2008

Gustav mauler

Looks like the RNC may be in for a little competition.

Not even Mitt Romney can blow 110 mph wind.

Man Ray

A more proficient make-up artist was Man Ray, the American photographer and bon vivant born this day at Philadelphia in 1890.

One of my favorite books is Man Ray's autobiography, Self Portrait, which apparently seems to be out-of-print at the moment.

Man Ray Trust.

Loyal Bushies lose another round in federal court

Yesterday a federal district court in D.C. handed the Bush administration yet another defeat in its ongoing efforts to delay the subpoenaed testimony of Bush lawyer and occasional U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers and others.

Last month the same court ordered Miers to comply with the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena to testify and produce documents in the matter of dismissed federal prosecutors. The administration requested that the July 31 order be stayed — delayed — so it could continue to prepare its arguments on appeal.

The administration continues to claim "absolute immunity" from testimony before Congress as its grounds for resisting the subpoena, because Miers was a member of the executive branch.

While the president enjoys that immunity, Bush's lawyers have been working at extending it all the way down to White House servants and dog walkers, except when Vice President Dick "Dick" Cheney is acting as president of the Senate. Under those circumstances, Cheney just tells you to "go f*ck yourself."

Bush's challenge to the July 31 order concerned the likelihood that an appeals court will rule in favor of its claims of absolute immunity for executive branch advisers such as Miers.

To prevail yesterday, the Bushies needed to demonstrate that 1) they were likely to win that appeal; 2) they would suffer irreparable harm by being denied additional delay; 3) further delay would cause no harm to the now-seated House Judiciary Committee; and 4) another delay would be in the public interest (as opposed to another DeLay).

According to the district court, Bush failed on 1), and failed hard. In their motion to the court, the loyal Bushies asserted only that the July 31 order was "susceptible to serious debate." But even if that were true, the court said, that isn't the point: the question is whether Bush can win the contemplated appeal, not whether he can continue to argue the July 31 order, which has nothing to do with the executive privilege issues the administration wishes to keep litigating.
Simply calling an issue important ... does not transform the Executive’s weak arguments into a likelihood of success or a substantial appellate issue.
An odd bit of procedural confusion on the Bushies' part, for sure.

Next, Bush failed on 2) because the only truly irreparable harm would be Harriet Miers's mere appearance in Congress, which isn't any harm at all, notwithstanding the disturbingly raccoon-like eyeliner.

Miers may continue to assert executive privilege before Congress, and she may announce that her appearance is made only under protest from the administration (and perhaps Maybelline), both devices which would allow Bush to preserve his concerns for appeal.

As for the documents, the court had not ordered the administration to produce any privileged information in the first place.

Neither could Bush prove that the House Judiciary Committee would suffer no harm, because the Bushies' contemplated schedule for their protracted litigation would have pushed beyond not only the dissolution of the current 110th Congress, but likely clear into the next presidential administration, and the district court rightly declined to speculate as to how a subsequent presidency — or the 111th Congress — would choose to handle the matter.

Finally, on the fourth element, the district court found at least some merit to the administration's claims, in that executive privilege and the separation of powers are important constitutional questions and therefore in the public interest, but that the public's interest in a speedier resolution to the irregular activities on the part of the Alberto Gonzales/Karl Rove Department of Justice outweighed the former concerns, particularly in view of the administration's failure to make its case on the first three elements of its burden.

Committee on the Judiciary v. Miers (.pdf, 15 pgs.)*

* Featuring an incorrect usage of the word "presently."

August 25, 2008

Send Don Wildmon a gay Hallmark card

Do it today.

Faux News covers the DNC

"Well, I guess they don't believe in freedom of speech," concludes intrepid Faux News teevee journalist Griff Jenkins after wading into and attempting to disrupt a "marching thing" in Denver.

"Come here! What's your name?" (YouTube, 3:11)

Sounds to me like they were speaking pretty freely.

August 23, 2008

Bestest of the Bestest Wisconsin Blogs

One thing I invariably look forward to on Saturday evenings is finding out what complete nonsense the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's editorial board, in its collective wisdom, has deemed fit to enshrine at the weekly "Best of the Wisconsin Blogs" featurette.

Tonight is certainly no disappointment, nor should it be for readers of tomorrow's hard copy edition, where this stuff actually appears.

This week's "Best of the Blogs" memorializes the mostly pointless meanderings of one Christian Schneider, who resides at a "free market think tank," the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, also storied home to such profoundly compelling cogitators as the local medium-wave radio "personality" Charlie Sykes.

Evidently Mr. Schneider was quite disturbed and alarmed by outgoing University of Wisconsin Chancellor John D. Wiley's deliciously trenchant kiss-off to the State's legislative and executive branches, and especially to Wiley's smacking around of the dishonest partisan apparatchiks dwelling at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Skipping beyond the more blathery portions of Schneider's screed, what seems to be some hard number crunching appears forthwith:
First, Wiley trots out the old canard that the UW System is underfunded:

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the total UW budget was $2.5 billion in 1996-97. By 2006-07, just 10 years later, the total system budget had ballooned to $4.3 billion, an average increase of 5.7% per year over a decade.
What the Journal-Sentinel doesn't tell you is that but a portion of those figures is derived from State government contributions, which only increased by less than 2.2% annually over that same decade. And during two of the most recent annual periods, State funding was slashed, in one of them, by 10%. And cut again the next.

System-wide enrollment alone, meanwhile, rose by nearly 9%, to say nothing of other many and varied rising costs.

So how did UW pick up the State funding shortfalls? For one thing, it had to increase tuition. Drastically. In 2003, for example, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee bumped tuition almost 19%. The next year, it raised undergraduate tuition another 16%.

Since I first attended UWM in 2000, tuition has nearly doubled. The increases at the main campus in Madison, where enrollment is around 40,000 souls — roughly twice that of Milwaukee — are almost identical. And that's just resident tuition. I'm afraid to look at the figures for out-of-State tuition, which I paid for three or four semesters. From my own free market pocket, incidentally.

Of course, not even the "think tank" denizen Christian Schneider mentions any of that, let alone the Journal-Sentinel. Because then he'd actually have to address Chancellor Wiley's central point, instead of barely nibbling flaccidly around its nether edges, which is all he's apparently capable of doing.

But here's what Chancellor Wiley was saying: The less funding the State provides, the more difficult it is for Wisconsin individuals and families to receive college educations. And the more difficult that becomes for Wisconsinites, the less competitive the State becomes, academically, at business, and at research.

It's as simple as that and not really all that tough to follow.

And, forgive me the appeal to authority, but I'm prepared to defer to the head of the university on these matters rather than to an ideological bosom buddy of Charlie Sykes. The fact of beatification as a Journal-Sentinel "Best of the Bloggers" notwithstanding.

Yet Schneider has the unmitigated gall to say of Chancellor Wiley's missive, "The entire vitriolic commentary smacks of typical academic elitism — if you disagree with him, you are either evil or stupid."

Evidently Schneider counts himself among those who disagree with Wiley, and the reader is left to decide and pronounce upon which disjunctive side of Schneider's puerile false dichotomy applies to he.

But by disagreeing with Wiley one is forced to perpetuate academic elitism itself. Obviously when tuition doubles every few years, then pretty damn soon only the elite can afford academics.

Rocket science or even Econ 101, it ain't.

Occasionally I have to wonder why the Journal-Sentinel reproduces babblings like Schneider's in the truncated manner that it does. It's hard to tell whether Schneider's piece is excerpted thus as a means of positive recognition, or to make him look at least doubly foolish.

Because what it reproduced of Schneider's blog post is about 90% abusive rant and 9% misleading figures (the remainder is ellipses inserted by the paper's editors, including one set substituted for a quotation from Chancellor Wiley's original article).

And even at that, that's about all Schneider has to say about the University of Wisconsin's budget in his own original blog post. The balance of his deep thoughts, and not just the substanceless blithering selected by the Journal-Sentinel's editorial board, is all devoted to weeping the blues for poor little put-upon Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. Cry us a river, won't you please.
Wiley goes on to blame WMC for the "toxic" political environment in Wisconsin, as if there has never been tension between those who want to raise taxes and lower them.
Ah, yes. Like complaining that the DVDs stocked by the Milwaukee Public Library aren't highbrow enough. Pretty tense stuff, that.

"Think tank." "Best of the Blogs." It is to laugh.

Go Biden, Number Two Messiah

Never forget, Senator Biden saved America from Robert Bork.
"I believe I have rights because I exist, in spite of my government, not because of my government. Judge Bork believes that rights flow from the majority, through the Constitution to individuals, a notion I reject."
Learned counsel Michael B. Plaisted says it all.

Right-wing busts open the latest conspiracy

Yesterday an anonymous commenter here left behind a strange deposit alleging that criticism of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is part of an "orchestrated campaign."

Just coincidentally, I'm sure, an earlier post at Milwaukee medium-wave harlequin Charlie Sykes's so-called blog claimed as Maestro of the said "orchestration" the governor of Wisconsin:
Sore Loser Lefty of the Day — John Wiley. First: none of these attacks on WMC is coincidence. This attack, Louis Butler's, and all the other "WMC is the problem" voices out there are being orchestrated by Jim Doyle, who is still wanting to make WMC pay for not supporting him last election.
Sykes actually considers this baseless conspiratorial observation a "savvy" one. Seriously.

And sure enough, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's dependable "right-wing guy" Patrick McIlheran is all over it:
Why would Wiley do this? Sykes' blog quotes a listener who contends by email that this is all orchestrated by Jim Doyle, ticked off at WMC.

Sounds plausible. The left-wing pressure group One Wisconsin Now has been trying to get its followers to flood WMC members' inboxes with emails saying they'd better stop being so Republican.
How's that for an intuitive handspring. So, what — Jim Doyle is running One Wisconsin Now, now? Sound plausible?

"The nerve of those tradesmen," McIlheran snorts. I don't know about McIlheran, but I detect the presence of no tradesmen among WMC's Board of Directors. I see corporate CEOs, managing partners at the State's biggest law firms, bankers, and financial consultants.

No manufacturers of tinfoil hats, however, which Sykes and McIlheran and their dedicated followers must be purchasing from out-of-State.

I doubt McIlheran would find any tradesmen among the partisan hacks who orchestrate WMC political campaigns either. Unless he has in mind steamfitters and plumbers in the Nixonian sense.

And non-union ones at that, naturally.

But he would definitely find lots of tradesmen on Epic Systems's construction site near Madison working for David Cullen, who withdrew from WMC in the wake of WMC's multi-million-dollar campaign of sleazy personal attacks against Justice Louis Butler.

As far as I can tell, everybody who opposes WMC's political techniques does so for their own individual reasons and indeed, one of WMC's most energetic critics, Paul Soglin, actually supports many of its goals. In most cases, it's the means and not the ends that are at issue in this ongoing debate.

If both Sykes and McIlheran seriously believe Governor Jim Doyle is acting as the puppetmaster to the WMC critics, you'd think they could come up with some better evidence than an unsigned e-mail from one of Sykes's own devoted and clownishly "savvy" acolytes.

Then again, probably not. Because the only conspiracy in evidence here is the one between fellow Journal Communications, Inc. employees Charlie Sykes and Patrick McIlheran. Forward, meme.

More from the cappermeister.

August 21, 2008

More patent dishonesty from WMC

So James A. Buchen, one of the handful of characters in charge of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce's political activities, claims that WMC "actively lobbied for final passage of the [University of Wisconsin] budget."

"But no such lobbying effort shows up in WMC's report to the state Government Accountability Board," according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Patrick Marley.

Instead, Buchen points to one sentence from its Legislative Agenda, buried in a .pdf file deep within WMC's website.

Buchen was responding to outgoing UW Chancellor John D. Wiley's plangent asskicking that appeared online this morning.

Even better, Chancellor Wiley also accused WMC of engaging in personal attacks against former State Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, which WMC unquestionably did.

Yet James Buchen flatly asserts, "WMC did not engage in personal attacks, and that is simply false."

Unfortunately for James A. Buchen, what's utterly false is his own statement. The truth is that in two of WMC's teevee ads, the business outfit did nothing except engage in personal attacks.

WMC's personal attacks are otherwise known as circumstantial ad hominem, a logical fallacy, in which WMC freely indulged.
A circumstantial ad hominem is one in which some irrelevant personal circumstance surrounding the opponent is offered as evidence against the opponent's position. This fallacy is often introduced by phrases such as: "Of course, that's what you'd expect him to say." The fallacy claims that the only reason why he argues as he does is because of personal circumstances, such as standing to gain from the argument's acceptance.
This is precisely what WMC did.

During this year's State election campaign, WMC produced and aired spots devoted to Justice Butler's lone dissenting opinion in a case called State v. Jensen. In that opinion, Butler enunciated an argument based on the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution and its history that was subsequently affirmed by the most conservative Justices of the United States Supreme Court in a similar case out of California.

However, rather than engaging Justice Butler's reasoning, WMC portrayed him as someone "delivering loopholes" and "siding with criminals who threaten our safety." In its other Jensen ad, WMC referred to the Sixth Amendment itself as a technicality, and suggested through its use of Butler's ancient nickname that Butler was actively seeking to find a "technicality" in the case.

Louis Butler, decades ago, worked for the Wisconsin State Public Defender. He earned the nickname, which WMC put to such shamelessly fallacious use, because he was good at that job. Even assuming that the task of criminal defense lawyers is "finding loopholes," it's completely irrelevant to the role of a Supreme Court Justice, who is an advocate for neither side in disputes.

Here are the texts of both WMC teevee spots:
We count on judges to use practical common sense to keep violent criminals behind bars. But faced with an unspeakable crime, Justice Louis Butler almost jeopardized the prosecution of a murderer because he saw a technicality. When prosecutors needed to show critical evidence, Butler dissented, going against six other Justices. Thankfully, he didn't get his way. Jurors said it was the most important piece of evidence they saw. Call Louis Butler. Tell him to stand up for victims, not technicalities.
We've heard it before. Judge cites loophole, sides with criminal who threatens our safety. Take Justice Louis Butler. His colleagues called him Loophole Louie. A woman beaten to death with a bat. Butler uses a loophole, suppressing critical evidence. A husband poisoned his wife. Butler cites a loophole, almost jeopardizing the prosecution. Butler doesn't mind being called Loophole Louie. He says it's affectionate. Call Justice Louis Butler. Ask him to deliver justice, not loopholes.
This is pure personal attack, nothing more. Neither ad says anything about the constitutional arguments Butler forwarded in his opinion in Jensen. Argumentation attacks arguments. Ad hominem attacks the person: personal attacks. That's what ad hominem means.

And you'll never hear a peep out of WMC that Justice Antonin Scalia arrived at the same conclusion as did Justice Butler based on the same constitutional principles and their historical antecedents.

Not loopholes, and not technicalities. The Sixth Amendment. And because the Sixth Amendment applies not only to the federal government but also to the States, Justice Scalia's opinion is now the law of the land. Justice Butler beat him to it, that's all.

UW Chancellor Wiley is entirely correct in characterizing James Buchen's attempt at defending WMC's personal attacks as "lame." In fact it's beyond lame. It's disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

But there's nothing surprising about that, as the entire campaign against Justice Butler — including that of his politically motivated challenger — was marked by patent dishonesty from start to finish. And, evidently, it continues still, thanks to those who speak on behalf of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

A better explanation for promiscuity: Satan

Prof. Amy Wax believes it's caused by the gay agenda.

And the gay agenda, says Father Jeremy Davies of Westminster, is driven by "a contagious demonic factor." Father Davies is also the town exorcist, looking to drum up new accounts, apparently.

Even regular old missionary position intercourse, if committed outside of marriage, is a "pathway for evil spirits," sez the exorcist, who took a four-month training program in Rome under the Catholic Church's top caster-outer-of-demons, Father Gabriele Amorth.

Satan doesn't mess with married people, or something.

Furthermore, Satan is working overtime to blind "secular humanists" to the "dehumanising effects of 'homosexual marriage.'" Dehumanizing humanists — clearly an insidious Satanic trick.

Satan also reportedly keeps in shape by performing "trendy exercise" such as yoga and even finds time to compose your daily horoscope.

So stay away from those, even "for fun," advises Father Davies.

Satan himself was unavailable for comment, despite Father Davies's claims that he's relatively easy to summon via séance, Ouija board, or the local atheist, who of course maintains close contact with most supernatural personages including Zeus, Thor, and the leprechauns.

August 20, 2008

Jeremiah Wright in a skirt

World Nut Daily, the online lair of fabulist smear merchant Jerome Corsi, today responds to a lengthy profile of Leah Daughtry, who is helping organize the Democratic National Convention, that appeared in the New York Times last month.

For some reason, World Nut quotes extensively from Judi McLeod, a Canadian and former columnist at the low-market tabloid Toronto Sun, which years ago perfected the practice of printing letters to the editor complete with bitingly sarcastic, italicized rebuttals.

Daughtry, a pentecostal preacher with a D.C. congregation of 20, seems to be coming under fire from just about every direction, for her "black liberation" opinions from the theologically pure World Nut crowd, from the Catholic League's Wild Bill Donohue for accrediting a gay blogger, and from so-called "secularists" for kicking off the Dem convention with some kind of mass prayer service.

The Democrats are seeking all those godly "values voters," apparently. Whatever it takes, I guess. This is America, after all, where politics and religion are practically inextricable.

That's why I find it odd that World Nut attributes so much alleged wisdom to somebody from Canada, where religion has had little to do with politics since Catholics and Protestants used to engage in murderous street fights in the 19th century each year on the anniversary of the 17th century Battle of the Boyne.

It goes to show what close attention Canadians pay to U.S. politics, whereas the converse is essentially non-existent. Even Barack Obama himself made reference to the "president of Canada."

One of the reasons for that is because election campaigns in Canada — even national ones — last for all of about two weeks, whereas here they are seemingly perpetual. Furthermore, American news media is all-pervasive throughout the Great White North, while the average Canuck expat can barely get to watch a hockey game in Shorewood.

But the best part is where erstwhile presidential candidate Howard Dean said the Book of Job was his favorite New Testament reading.

Hard to say which is sillier: that response, or the attenuated relevance of the question that elicited it in the first place.

Jeremiah Wright: Enough already
God damn European cantatas

August 19, 2008

Federalist Society same-sex marriage "debate"

Here is an amusing online debate among some law professors on the question of same-sex marriage, hosted by the Federalist Society. Two participants are arguing the pro position, while two argue the anti (although one of them only shows up at the end to say goodbye and thank his partner for doing all the "heavy lifting").

The other anti proponent is Prof. Amy Wax, whom the Federalist Society praises for her "uniquely insightful approach."

Prof. Wax's opening salvo begins with, "a big part of the gay agenda for decades has been to repudiate what are regarded as overly restrictive expectations of monogamy and sexual fidelity," and then claiming, "the rise of multi-partner relationships as a way of life has been a major force in the decline of marriage."

Not even the other debate participants know what she's on about: "I’m afraid I've lost the thread of what all this has to do with the same-sex marriage question," says Prof. Andrew Koppelman.

Prof. Koppelman nevertheless helpfully breaks Prof. Wax's "argument" into its constituent premises and conclusions, showing both that the premises are entirely dubious and that even if they were sound, her conclusions don't follow from them anyway.

Prof. Wax responds: "Too logical for me! I guess I just don't agree that gay men will keep their non-monogamy to themselves."

Funny stuff, and worth a (quick) read.

Another Canadian deemed too sexy

Welcome to the club, Avril Lavigne.

Why not just cancel her because she's too awful.

Fortunately, Milwaukee books the talented Canadians.

Donohue's homo bookmarking

Wild Bill Donohue, the irascible fruitcake head of something called the Catholic League, is upset that a website "with homosexual tendencies" has been awarded media credentials to report from next week's Democratic National Convention in Denver.

So he's demanding that Leah Daughtry, who's running the convention, dump the blogger.

Why? Because the site's proprietor wrote a blog post citing a report in the Manchester Guardian that Joseph Ratzinger is the first pope in 40 years to dress himself up in ermine-trimmed robes and hats, complete with what seems to me some entirely fair commentary comparing Ratzinger's fur bearing proclivities with several of his other infallible policy positions.

Also, because it "shows men in jockstraps and underwear" (although, mercifully, Joseph Ratzinger is not among those, ermine-trimmed or otherwise). But so do store catalogs, don't they?

What the heck is Wild Bill Donohue doing trolling around on gay websites, is what I'd like to know. Shopping for underwear?

Here it is.

August 18, 2008

Bush, not Obama, ordained by God

So conservatives are whooping it up over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's introduction of Barack Obama as "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time" during a fundraising event. Would that they were as distraught and inflamed by Republican god-bothering.

Scalia assists in lesbian impregnation

Via Prof. Friedman:
The California Supreme Court held unanimously that a medical clinic's physicians are prohibited from discriminating against patients on the basis of sexual orientation.

Two clinic physicians refused, on religious grounds, to perform intrauterine insemination for an unmarried lesbian patient. The court held that under the 1st Amendment, no religious exemption is mandated because the [California] Unruh Civil Rights Act is a neutral law of general application.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia formulated that rule.

Thanks for making his point

Via Pundit Nation:
Daniel Cody is wondering at the time Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is spending calling in to the Charlie Sykes show and preparing e-mail that Sykes can post at his blog. Isn't he supposed to be running county government?
Walker dutifully responded to Daniel Cody's inquiry — by e-mailing Charlie Sykes, who in turn dutifully reproduced Walker's e-mail.

And to top it all off, Sykes thinks the irony lies everywhere else.

Personhood also above Ratzinger's pay grade

The assumption of Obama's critics is that a president should always reduce complex issues to simple black and white truisms, unfounded in reality. That's why they supported Bush. And that's why they're supporting McCain.
Andrew Sullivan.

Recall that Rick Warren didn't ask Barack Obama 'When does life begin,' but rather, "At what point does a baby get human rights."

John McCain got, "At what point is a baby entitled to human rights." Those are two very different questions, in that one may not get what one is entitled to — and vice versa — and both are quite a bit different than 'When does life begin,' a separate inquiry to which McCain seems to have been responding.

Needless to say, the right-wingers are currently engrossed in a typical self-righteous snit, despite apparently not even having considered the meaning of the questions themselves. Much like John McCain.

John Sidnevich McSolzhenitsyn?

The Christian Prison Guards of Communist North Vietnam.

Evidently John McCain was in no "cone of silence" either, as Left Coast megapastor Rick Warren had claimed on Saturday evening.
Rick Warren completely contradicted himself on whether or not he knew McCain was in the building. Twice. First, he says they had a coin toss before the forum started to see who would go first. But if McCain was not there, how could they conduct the coin toss? And if Warren knew McCain wasn’t there to do the coin toss, why did he continue to state that McCain was in the building? The second contradiction was his remarks to CNN’s Rick Sanchez where he said that he did not know that McCain was out of the building ... but then felt compelled to ask Obama an extra question because McCain had not yet arrived at the building! Is he for real?
Funny business.

Regardless, Senator McCain lately seems to have become considerably less reluctant to discuss his experiences as a POW.
Last week, when the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, a close Bush ally, publicly questioned McCain’s character, the McCain campaign responded by highlighting McCain’s background as a prisoner of war. When Dems attacked McCain’s healthcare plan in May, McCain responded by noting his background as a prisoner of war. Asked by a local reporter about the first thing that comes to his mind when he thinks of Pittsburgh, McCain responded by talking about his background as a prisoner of war.
And, just yesterday, on the bogus "cone of silence" question, a McCain campaign spokeswoman replied:
The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous.
What's that got to do with it? There's no question McCain's experience as a POW was horrendous and dreadful, and it took great character and courage to refuse the North Vietnamese offer of release, but it doesn't otherwise indemnify him against scrutiny.

August 17, 2008

McCain's absolute faith based pandering

Last night during Left Coast megapastor Rick Warren's Q&A session with Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, Warren asked for both presidential candidates' view of the so-called faith based initiatives, whereby federal funds are diverted to religious groups for performing otherwise non-religious social services:
WARREN: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows religious organizations, not just churches, but faith based organizations, to keep and hire the people that they believe [they] share common beliefs with.

McCAIN: Yes.

WARREN: Would you insist that faith based organizations forfeit that right to access federal funds?

McCAIN: Absolutely not. And if you do, it would mean a severe crippling of faith based organizations and their abilities to do the things that they have done so well successfully.
Then, my friends, McCain rambled away into another tedious stump speech, which is pretty much all he did for an entire hour.

McCain doesn't have a clue, although his stream of absolutisms plays well with the evangelical crowd, who are absolutely enamored with the idea of absolutely absolute everything.

But federal funds are not available for programs whose implementation involves discrimination on the basis of religion.

Obama got it right:
I think generally speaking faith based organizations should not be advantaged or disadvantaged when it comes to getting federal funds by virtue of the fact that they are faith based organizations. They just want a level playing field.

But what we want to make sure of is that as a general principle we're not using federal funding to discriminate but that is only when it comes to the narrow program that is being funded by the federal government. That does not affect any of the other ministries that are taking place.
In other words, they're free to discriminate with their own money, and the government isn't going to stop them from discriminating.

McCain's "absolutely not" is as silly as his suggestion that the rights of fully grown, adult women must be abrogated in favor of the "human rights" of an undifferentiated zygote they may be hosting.

Interestingly, McCain also referred to the right to privacy as "one of the fundamental and basic rights we have," which, as everybody except John McCain seems to understand, is one of the core constitutional principles underlying Roe v. Wade.

The constitutional right to privacy was only recently "discovered," as many conservatives will tell you, in a 1965 case called Griswold v. Connecticut. It's nice to know, however, that McCain is apparently a big supporter of Griswold.

Indeed, that it's a "fundamental and basic right" is at the heart of Lawrence v. Texas, another U.S. Supreme Court case hated by conservatives, in which statutes banning sodomy were struck down.

McCain's all mixed up. No wonder conservatives don't trust him.

Incidentally, Senator McCain voted 'Yea' in favor of the nominations of three of the four sitting Supreme Court Justices he now claims he wouldn't have nominated. The fourth, Justice John Paul Stevens, was named to the Court before McCain arrived in the Senate.

And let's not forget Robert Novak's reporting that McCain had referred to Justice Samuel Alito as "too conservative" for McCain's liking. But suddenly Alito is one of McCain's "most recent favorites."

What, now Justice Alito is liberal enough for McCain?

August 16, 2008

Anonymous said ...

The values of this country are degenerating at a rapid pace and all we have to do is look in the mirror to see why.
I'll take her/him and his/her mirror at their respective words, and will also take care to avoid all those valueless churches.

Smite him with an instrument of iron

Khristian Oliver killed Joe Collins when Collins arrived home to discover Oliver in the midst of a burglary. After shooting Collins, Oliver whacked him on the head a few times with a rifle butt.

At Oliver's trial for capital murder, a medical examiner testified that although Collins was probably already dead from the shooting, the rifle butt attack was such that it alone could have caused Collins's demise.

A jury convicted Oliver and in separate deliberations, sentenced him to death. The latter procedure turned into a mini Bible study group, and Oliver filed a motion seeking a new trial because of that.

At a hearing on Oliver's motion, jurors said there were no fewer than four King James Bibles floating around the jury room and in particular several lines from the Book of Numbers were consulted in order to assist jurors in determining whether Oliver should face capital punishment based on a "What Would Yahweh Do" theory.

The central problem here concerned the claim that the verses consulted supposedly specifically described the facts directly germane to the circumstances of Oliver's criminal offense.

For example:
And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may die, and he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.
The trouble with that is, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the introduction of an "external influence" to jury deliberations is presumed to be a potential violation of a criminal defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

For another thing, "smiting" alone doesn't warrant the death penalty in Texas. It needs to be a smiting plus something else; in this instance the something else was during the course of a burglary.

The tricky part, of course, is that plenty of jurors are thinking Bible-thoughts during deliberations, but in this case the jurors specifically consulted hard copy Bibles with a view to assessing their application to the very facts and law presented at trial, and jurors are only to consider those facts and that law without the aid of the said external influences.

In other words, Bible law was not a factor during Oliver's trial and therefore may not be considered as part of the jury deliberations.

Having unsuccessfully exhausted his Texas State remedies, Oliver resorted to the federal system, and on Thursday the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower federal court that while what his jury did was impermissible according to federal law, Oliver failed to demonstrate the level of prejudice on the part of the jury required to overturn his penalty.

Apart from strongly deferring to the State courts' earlier determinations against Oliver, the Fifth Circuit noted that 1) it wasn't clear whether the jurors engaged in Bible study before or after reaching their decision 2) some of the twelve jurors said the Bible had nothing to do with their vote and 3) there was no evidence the Bibles were consulted with even the slightest whiff of permission from the trial court and indeed the court expressly instructed the jury to deliberate on nothing but the facts and law presented at trial.

That is, had the trial court even impliedly sanctioned the Bible consultations, it would have been a different story altogether.

What the Fifth Circuit did decide was that in this case, the Bible was an "external influence" as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court and in that sense the Fifth Circuit's decision is in accord with several other federal circuits in similar cases.

But since there is a two-part test, and Oliver was only able to satisfy the first part — that the jury's consultation of the Bible was impermissible under the circumstances — Oliver failed to prove the alleged prejudicial effects of that impermissibility were such that they rose to the level of a Sixth Amendment violation.

So, barring any intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court or the governor of Texas, Khristian Oliver will himself likely be smited, or smote, or however it is that they're doing it down there these days.

Oliver v. Quarterman (.pdf; 23 pgs.)

August 15, 2008

The diaries of Eric Arthur Blair

Better known as George Orwell, follow his daily entries from 1938 at this link. The project will continue for some time, apparently.
August 9: Caught a large snake.
h/t The History Blog.*

* Who informs me that the entries will continue through 2012.

August 14, 2008

Of Corsi cant

Via The Motley Cow:

Too crazy for even the deranged and the demented.

eta: Via gnarlytrombone:

9/11 "truther" nuttiness.

Jerome Corsi: The new right-wing hero.

21st century schizoid man

Did John "Walnuts" McCain really say that nations don't invade other nations anymore? With a straight face? Why yes, yes he did.

Early start for '08 War on Christmas

Headed to the United States Supreme Court (at least for a law clerk to spill coffee on) is the legal memorandum of one Joel Curry, a Michigan fifth-grader whose parents put him to use as an evangelical drug mule in December, 2005.

A school in Saginaw came up with an exercise called Classroom City, in which students were required to design products to market and sell for fake money in the gymnasium.

Joel Curry produced a candy cane fashioned from pipe cleaners and beads to which he attached the text of an ancient viral e-mail message declaring the alleged significance of candy canes to the central dogmas of Christianity.

Joel's mother dreamed up the candy cane idea, while his father thoughtfully offered to provide the attached cards, which were intended to explain "how the candy cane can be viewed a symbol of Christianity."

To wit:
The color Red: Is for God’s love that sent Jesus to give his life for us on the cross.

The Stripes: Remind us of Jesus’ suffering — his crown of thorns, the wounds in his hands and feet, and the cross on which he died.

White Candy: Stands for Jesus as the holy, sinless Son of God.
And so forth.

As required by his teacher, Joel submitted the candy canes for advance approval but, interestingly, without the attached cards. Joel was paired up with a young man by the name of Siddarth Reddy. The plan was that Joel would design and supply the product, and Siddarth would manage the marketing and sales.

But Siddarth Reddy was not impressed after the candy canes suddenly appeared with the proselytizing messages attached. In fact young Siddarth removed himself from the team and ended up both producing and marketing a different product of his own design without Joel's assistance.

Soon enough, it came to the attention of the school's administrators that Joel was announcing for Jesus down in the gym. Mindful of the legal quandary, the school officials advised Joel that while he was free to sell his parents' sectarian bric-a-brac outside in the parking lot, he could not do so inside as part of the school's own educational exercise, although he did end up getting an A for his efforts.

Joel's mother was active throughout these brief negotiations, and informed the school's principal that she'd discovered some Christian legal outfits on the internets who might sue the school for free. One of them was the Alliance Defense Fund, which did just that.

While a federal district court found that the school had violated some constitutional right of Joel Curry's, it dismissed the ADF's complaint on the grounds that the defendant, principal Irene Hensiner, in her official capacities, enjoyed a qualified immunity from the lawsuit.

The ADF kept going, and the case ended up before a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. While still finding in favor of the school, the Sixth Circuit determined last January that while Hensiner could not invoke qualified immunity, the school may nevertheless restrict whatever rights Joel Curry is claiming because 1) the viral e-mails may be perceived as bearing the imprimatur of the school and 2) local school officials are better situated to assess their own pedagogical concerns and goals than are federal courts.

The ADF took another shot at rehearing by more Sixth Circuit judges, but the court declined, thus ADF's application for SCOTUS review.

Joel Curry's parents' shenanigans are closely reminiscent of those of Erica Corder, the Colorado valedictorian who deceived school officials by submitting for review a speech entirely different from the sermon of New Testament praise she ultimately declaimed from a high school podium over a government public address system.

h/t Prof. Friedman, who links to all the relevant documents.

August 13, 2008

Preacher's wife was storming the cockpit

Testimony at the civil trial of unctuous megapreacher Joel Osteen's wife continued yesterday with revelations the plaintiff flight attendant considers Osteen's church a "cult" and its pastor a "devil."

The flight attendant, Sharon Brown, alleges a physical struggle ensued when Continental Airlines staff failed to immediately remove a stain from Mrs. Osteen's first class seat during a flight to Vail, CO.

Barbara Ehrenreich recalls a similar incident in which another promoter of the so-called "prosperity gospel," Robert Schuller, violently shook a flight steward when the latter refused to pick off a slice of cheese from the preacher's fruit salad plate.
On other occasions, God intervened to save Joel Osteen from a speeding ticket and to get him not only a good parking spot but "the premier spot in that parking lot." Why God did not swoop down with a sponge and clean up the offending stain on the armrest remains a mystery.
The circus resumes today.

August 12, 2008

Glenn Beck meets Joe Buck

Jon Voigt, who helped Hollywood make gay male hustlers respectable 40 years ago and has since done a star turn as Pope J2P2, seems to believe Barack Obama is a "Marxist" bent on destroying America. Indeed, destroying the very foundations this country is built upon.

He found an unsurprisingly sympathetic ear in the endlessly moronic CNN doofus Glenn Beck this evening. Evidently some of Voigt's erstwhile theatrical colleagues have objected to an op-ed piece Voigt managed to get published somewhere, and Beck characterized the reaction as "reverse-McCarthyism" perpetrated by all of Obama's fellow Marxists down in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.

For example, the late teevee mogul Aaron Spelling, who was so pleasingly entranced by Das Kapital Vols. I-III and the October Revolution that he built his own personal nine-bazillion-square-foot monument to the ideal propertyless society.

(The Spelling dacha is reportedly on the block for $150 million.)

Jon Voigt said American university professors are all disciples of Ho Chi Minh and Glenn Beck compared Voigt to Benjamin Franklin.

I'd like to think the latter reference had to do with Voigt being struck on the head by a bolt of lightning somewhere between gay male hustler and pontiff, but I'm afraid Glenn Beck was completely serious.

Beck's show is often better than Comedy Central.*

* Which isn't saying much if you've ever seen Carlos Mencia.

DoJ Bushies sentenced to "negative publicity"

Case closed, sez General Mukasey:
"That does not mean, as some people have suggested, that those officials who were found by the joint reports to have committed misconduct have suffered no consequences," Mr. Mukasey said. “Far from it. The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the Department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity.

"Their misconduct has now been laid bare by the Justice Department for all to see," he continued. "As a general matter in such cases, where disciplinary referrals are appropriate, they are made. To put it in concrete terms, I doubt that anyone in this room would want to trade places with any of those people."
Spare me.

Has Monica Goodling made partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher yet?

Because D. Kyle Sampson seems to be doing just fine.

Gotta love that socialist police state

Police in Winnipeg promised to arrest on sight members of the odious freak Fred Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church who announced they were planning on disrupting the funeral of Tim McLean, the young man who was beheaded on a Greyhound bus recently.

Of course, U.S. authorities could never get away with such a thing without finding themselves slapped with a federal (and/or State) lawsuit but because Canada doesn't have the per se equivalent of the First Amendment, they can do it up there, evidently.

It's even worse from a First Amendment perspective, because not only would the Winnipeg police have made arrests after the fact, but they were telegraphing what's known in America as "prior restraint" on speech, which is a giant no-no, constitutionally speaking.

(Notwithstanding former Bush administration press secretary and current Green Bay Packers PR flack Ari Fleischer's address to the nation that they had better watch what they say.)

And I doubt that there were any objections at all, if that's what it took to keep the Phelps crowd at bay. Don't ask me why they were wanting to protest at this particular funeral; I'm not a theologian.

As a matter of fact Canada, a parliamentary democracy, doesn't even have a written constitution, but rather a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to which freedom of speech is balanced against potential harms caused by the form that certain speech may take.

Which is pretty much how the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment has worked throughout its history anyway.

So there's not a real huge difference, at least in application.

August 11, 2008

Theology a "nonfiction" genre: Scalia

"I think legal writing belongs to that large, undifferentiated, unglamorous category of writing known as nonfiction prose. Someone who is a good legal writer would, but for the need to master a different substantive subject, be an equivalently good writer of history, economics or, indeed, theology."
And the analogous "substance" of theology is what, exactly?

Scalia conjures, hallucinates at Manhattan club.

Faith lost, hemorrhoids gained

A flight attendant testified she lost her faith and contracted hemorrhoids after the helpmeet of self-help guru and teevee megapreacher Joel Osteen assaulted her on an airplane.

The Osteens were on their way to a famous playground of the obscenely wealthy in Colorado when the megapreacher's wife detected a wet spot on her first class seat (so to speak).

That it wasn't removed immediately led to an altercation with the flight attendant, who was allegedly shoved against the restroom and elbowed in the left breast.

The attendant, Sharon Brown, is requesting damages that may reduce the Osteens to riding a camel through the eye of a needle in order to reach another favored, longer-term vacation area.

Meanwhile a vast, glistening reservoir of liquid hydrocarbons was discovered in the Reverend Joel Osteen's hairdo, prompting renewed cries of "Drill here, drill now!"

More J-S editorial fraud

Yesterday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel actually contained the following headline on one of its op-ed pages, in the laughably notorious "Best of the [Wisconsin] Blogs" feature:

More ACORN vote fraud

The alleged "best" blog entry was dreamed up in response to an item that appeared in the J-S itself on August 6. The item described a couple of hundred voter registration cards out of 35,000 collected by ACORN, a community organization that, among other activities, conducts voter registration drives.

The paper's own reporting is unmistakably clear, in that the deficient registration cards collected by ACORN workers were identified and flagged as such by ACORN itself and the whole lot turned in to the Milwaukee Election Commission, because that is precisely what is required by State law.

Furthermore, the J-S reported that the workers who submitted the bad registration cards were also identified — and fired — by ACORN, and in fact several of them were referred to the district attorney's office for potential charges.

Coincidentally (or not), the Journal-Sentinel's "right-wing guy," Patrick McIlheran, also quoted approvingly from the alleged "best blogger" on August 7, in the course of making the baseless and rather idiotic suggestion that the reason ACORN flagged the deficient registration cards was to immunize itself from further investigation.

Let that serve as some wise Fourth Amendment counsel to would-be drug deliverers: If you're transporting a bale of cannabis, in the event of a traffic stop, hand the police officers a joint, because then they'll be duly satisfied and sure not to make you pop the trunk.

Additionally on August 7, Jay Bullock pointed to no less than six other local conservative bloggers who had also completely misrepresented the J-S's original report.

Yet the Journal-Sentinel would apparently prefer to memorialize that individual, who McIlheran once hilariously compared to H.L. Mencken, and who turned the paper's own reporting on its head.

Because it's the "best" we have to offer.

eta: I see the Brawler noticed as well.

August 10, 2008

So help us God

It will take nothing short of divine intervention to make Kwame Kilpatrick — the embattled mayor of Detroit who was jailed last week for the crime of visiting Canada — empty his desk and go home:
"The mayor says that he serves God and he speaks to God and he's chosen by God, so hopefully those who also say that they have been chosen by God, if they speak to him ... then maybe God will speak to the mayor and he will step down," said a city council member.

Kilpatrick once said he considers his job an assignment from God.
New charges, public outrage.

August 8, 2008

Now McCain is "the" Antichrist

"What started us looking at this issue is the fact that Senator McCain has declared his intention to maintain US forces in Iraq for a hundred years," said David Jenkins, a leading Biblical scholar. "That means that McCain wants to control Babylon for at least a century." According to many scholars of the Book of Revelation, the Antichrist will try to rebuild the ancient city of Babylon in order to use it as a springboard for an international effort at world domination.
Election shocker!

Confusing, isn't it.

August 7, 2008

Dobson nutcake prays for Messiah rain-out

Seriously. Shouldn't he be praying over this instead?

Ten Commandments permanently enjoined

Please feel free to covet thy neighbor's ox.

Won't somebody please think of Chad Pennington

Thanks to Brett Favre, he's unemployed.

True threats, not hyperbole

A Wisconsin inmate who threatened a Waukesha County judge by writing on the grout between the cement blocks in his cell had his conviction upheld by an appeals court yesterday.

A State statute makes it a felony to "intentionally ... threaten to cause bodily harm to the person ... of any judge." Wisconsin case law further defines what constitutes a "true threat."

The First Amendment does not protect those sorts of things.

During a random search of the cell, an officer found "Joe Ridley will fuck and kill" the judge, who had sentenced Ridley to 60 days on an earlier offense. The slogan was written in pencil and signed and dated a week before its discovery.

Ridley was found guilty by a jury and convicted, and appealed the conviction by arguing that he had not made a "true threat," but merely a "hyperbolic emotional outburst," because hyperbole is one of the exemptions from the case law's definition of "true threat."

But the appeals court declined to revisit the legal question of whether Ridley's inscription was a true threat or hyperbole, and instead reviewed the factual question of whether the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding of guilt.

Ridley claimed that the evidence was insufficient to show that he intended to communicate the threat to the judge, but the appeals court concluded that Ridley should have known the inscription would be discovered during random cell searches, and that such revelations would eventually make their way to the judge.

That seems a little weak intent-wise to me, but at the same time probably not an unreasonable set of inferences for a jury to draw, as the court of appeals ultimately held. Besides, threatening a judge is a pretty serious business, especially given recent history.

Although Tom DeLay seems to have gotten away with it.

State v. Ridley (.pdf; 6 pgs.)

August 6, 2008

Mercenaries lose another court battle

They have nothing more to keep them in a battle other than a meager wage, which is just about enough to make them want to kill for you, but not enough to make them want to die for you. — John Cale, Mercenaries (Ready For War)
Yesterday the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia upheld a district court's dismissal of a defamation lawsuit against Randi Rhodes and her employer, the liberal radio outfit Air America.

Rhodes and the network were sued for defamation by CACI Premier Technology, one of the military contractors the Bush administration hired to "interrogate" prisoners at the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

During August 2005, Rhodes made a number of statements on her program derived almost entirely from reputable press sources and particularly reports issued by the U.S. government and other observations made by several of its elected representatives.

What's interesting is that Rhodes's statements (there are 13 separate statements at issue, reproduced on pages 10 through 17 of the opinion) are largely sympathetic to U.S. troops and their commanders stationed in Iraq, but rather harshly critical of the administration's policy of hiring contractors and especially the contractors themselves, who she refers to throughout as "mercenaries" and "hired killers."

Indeed, Rhodes's remarks read like a near-total exoneration of the U.S. military, laying the blame for the Abu Ghraib fiasco at the feet of civilian leadership and contracted mercenaries who, as she reminds us, will fight for whichever side is paying the highest dollar.

So much for the constant accusations from the political right that Randi Rhodes and other like-minded critics of the Bush administration's adventures in Iraq are not supporting the troops.

CACI Premier Technology v. Rhodes (.pdf; 38 pgs.)

August 5, 2008

O'Reilly's legal eagles lay another egg

Science reporting is bad enough (worse still the ill-informed bloggers who derive their fevered petroleum hallucinations from it).

Legal reporting is often equally inept. Abysmal legal reporting from actual lawyers is inexcusable, even when they're appearing on Bill O'Reilly's idiotic Fox News opéra bouffe.

O'Reilly occasionally features a segment in which he wheels out not one but two attorneys to blather about the day's hot topics in the law. One of them, Lis Wiehl, doesn't even know which court outranks which in New York State's appellate system.

The other, Megyn Kelly, champions dissenting opinions she hasn't even read, or at least doesn't understand.

This evening, O'Reilly and his panel of legal experts were discussing a Supreme Court of Texas case, Pleasant Glade Assembly of God v. Schubert, which I mentioned last week. Laura Schubert, the plaintiff, alleged a number of harms caused by a series of "exorcisms" that took place at a Pentecostal church.

Some of those harms were psychological and others physical. The latter included assault, battery, and false imprisonment.

Much of the opinion, which I didn't discuss in any great detail, had to do with distinguishing between the psychological and physical harms and attempting to extricate both — or either — from the constitutional protections extended to worshipers by the First Amendment's Free Exercise of Religion Clause.

There was also a procedural question as to whether the Pleasant Glade church was inappropriately playing both ends against the middle with respect to the psychological vs. physical distinctions.

The bottom line, however, is that the majority opinion dismissed all of the claims. Yet Megyn Kelly told Bill O'Reilly, purportedly by way of agreeing with the dissenting opinion, that the lower court of appeals' decision in favor of Laura Schubert awarding her judgment (money) for the physical harms was left intact. Totally incorrect.

In fact had O'Reilly's expert bothered to actually read the dissent, she would have had that explained to her in some detail, if she didn't pick it up from the majority opinion, which concludes: "We reverse the court of appeals' judgment and dismiss the case." Emphases added.

And the dissent, which Megyn Kelly claimed to agree with, is all about objecting to the dismissal of the judgment pertaining to the physical harms, having not so much of a quarrel with Free Exercise protections over those claiming psychological harms arising from religious dogma. No quarrel at all, as a matter of fact.

That the judgment on the physical harms was reversed is the whole reason why this case is noteworthy and presumably also why the O'Reilly gang of legal experts was discussing it in the first place!

You might as well read the Onion as rely on O'Reilly and his guests.

My blog has gone all conservative

Do these pants make my Assembly look big?

Oy vey.*

Tha Letter J. is a MySpace friend of Richard M. Badger, one of the Democratic candidates in Wisconsin's 16th Assembly District.

Bay View pundit Doug Hissom noticed that another of Richard M. Badger's MySpace friends is Supreme Solar Allah, but perhaps Badger's eyeball-burning graphics dissuaded Hissom from investigating further (see "all friends," page three of four).

Richard M. Badger is not one of "quirky" former State Senator Tom Reynolds's "fake Democrats." That would be a different 16th District hopeful, hip-hop preacher David D. King.

Andy Parker is the third of incumbent Leon Young's challengers.

* May be NSFW (depending where you work).

August 4, 2008

Aboot that beheading

It gets worse:
A police officer at the scene of a grisly beheading on a Canadian bus reported seeing the attacker hacking off pieces of the victim's body and eating them, according to a police tape leaked on the Internet Saturday.
The RCMP, in a truly unfortunate choice of words, described the recording as "not for public consumption."

More decapitation news.

August 3, 2008

Satan to blame for SiteMeter troubles

Prayer request.

Mat Staver: FAIL

Mat Staver is the dean of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University law school. He's turned up here before.

Counselor Staver got smacked around a little bit by a federal district court in Colorado last week. Uproarious legal commentator and Coloradan Subject to Complete Defeasance has the details.

Erica Corder is a former high school valedictorian who decided to become a teen preacher to her graduating class by personally and deceitfully appropriating government facilities and equipment.

She — with Staver's assistance — ended up suing the school for various alleged violations of her "rights," and the court last week granted the school's motion to dismiss every one of those claims.

One of the highlights of the district court's order (.pdf; 16 pgs.) has the judge reminding Staver that despite Staver's insistence that he was not asking for an injunction against the school, an injunction is specifically what he'd requested in his original complaint, which also contained baseless cries of Christian persecution.

The perfunctory dismissal of Staver's equal protection claim is likewise entertaining, in that there wasn't anybody in a similar situation to Ms. Corder to be equally protected against. Generally you need a party with whom to compare yourself when making an equal protection claim; that's what the "equal" part refers to.

Meanwhile on Dean Mat Staver's official Liberty University webpage, it's alleged that Staver provides a "legal education that distinguishes Liberty from any other law school."

Several clues as to what distinguishes this law school from all the others are contained in the Colorado district court's order, such as: When replying to your opponent's motion for dismissal of your complaint, it's always good practice to conveniently forget what it is exactly you were asking for in that complaint.

August 2, 2008

Gableman's new role

My new role as I perceive it is going to be to ... treat everyone I encounter with respect. — Michael Gableman
Michael Gableman, in his old role:
Louis Butler worked to put criminals on the street. Like Reuben Lee Mitchell, who raped an 11-year-old girl with learning disabilities. Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to molest another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Louis Butler on the Supreme Court?
Now that's some brazen dishonesty you can be proud of.

"Gableman said he hopes to meet with public defenders at their conference in October." Actually it's in September, but I wonder what he'll have to say about the role of the public defender then.

Maybe he would be wiser to attend it in October.

Law review hijacked by Bibliolaters

Here's an amusing item about the North Dakota Law Review's wholesale surrendering to anti-gay activists.
I flipped open to some random page not far from the middle of the latest NDLRev, to page 1307, and here's what I got:
"First, God ordained heterosexual marriage from the beginning of human history."
Interesting. No footnote for that sentence. "... from the beginning of human history." I have to wonder which "human history" the author is writing about. Is it the human history of the Native American oral tradition? Is it the human history of the Koran? No. It is, the writer tells us, the human history of the Bible. He cites as authority Genesis 2:24, I Kings 11:3 and, of course, Deuteronomy 24:1. I wish he could have cited something from Leviticus. I love Leviticus. You can never get enough Leviticus. For the evangelical Christian, the author also notes Matthew 19:3-18.
The author being a scholar at Pat Robertson's Regent University, the institution from whence sprang Monica Goodling.

Another author compares himself and his anti-gay crusade to somebody warning Jews in advance about the Holocaust.

What the heck is SiteMeter?

Sometimes it pays to be functionally computer-illiterate.

I do know that MS Internet Explorer sucks, however, and went the Firefox route a long time ago.

August 1, 2008

Science reporting is often bad

But it can also obtain hilarious results.

NASA confirmed this week that one of the moons of Saturn, Titan, features at least one lake containing liquid ethane.

Ethane is a simple molecule comprised of carbon and hydrogen and on Earth, it's a gas. But on Titan, it's a liquid, because the temperature there is -200º Celsius, which is just below ethane's boiling point.

It hasn't been that cold here lately, not even in Winnipeg.

Another naturally occurring compound, methane, is present in Titan's atmosphere and the methane reacts with the energy from the Sun to produce a system of evaporation similar to what occurs on Earth, except with different chemicals, in Titan's case.

That's where the liquid ethane on Titan's surface comes from.

Nevertheless, the Associated Press, among others, advises that
Liquid ethane is a component of crude oil.
Well no, it isn't, and poor reporting like this seems to have caused some minor havoc on the internets.

Mike Mathias noticed, and directs our attention to the absurdist ramblings of local blogger and radio personality James T. "Hip Musings" Harris, who claims oil was discovered on Titan.

And, he declares therefore, "OIL IS NOT A FOSSEL [sic] FUEL!" because he isn't aware of any dinosaurs on Titan. Seriously.

Methane is also a byproduct of utter bullshit.