26 June 2009

A good guy needs our help.

On Tuesday at 8 am, Lt. Daniel Choi will stand before a military tribunal facing charges of "personal and moral dereliction."
What was this crime?
He refused to lie to or willfully mislead his comrades and his superior officers.
Lt. Choi said, "I am gay." In that instant, the fact that he is an Iraq combat veteran, an infantry officer, a fluent Arabic speaker, and a West Point graduate became professionally immaterial for no other reason than he can now be identified as a gay person. It's unspeakably vile that any group — much less the US military — would take the position that honesty is a "moral dereliction" while lying is necessary for "good order and unit cohesion."
This is not a prosecution, this is a persecution, and this shit's gotta end.
Lt. Choi wants to bring evidence of YOUR support for his trial on Tuesday. It's a handy prefab form, but you can add an optional personal message.
This guy is the Rosa Parks of DADT. If you ever imagined standing up for a civil rights issue if you got a chance, here it is. Ms Parks didn't take that seat on the bus to precipitate a legal challenge unconstitutional discrimination. She did it because her feet hurt.
I'll let Lt. Choi tell you why he's challenging DADT:
National security means many things, but the thing that makes us secure in our nation and homes is love. What makes me a better soldier, leader, Christian and human being is love. And I'm not going to hide my love.
Love is worth it.
Thank you for your support.
Daniel W. Choi
1LT, IN
New York Army National Guard
Dammit, now I've got something in my eye...

24 June 2009

The Audacity of Nope, Part II.

President Obama has the power tell his secretary of defense to limit investigations of violations of the military's gay-ban — a "stop-loss order." This policy could bridge the gap for roughly the three years it takes to shepherd legislation through Congress.
This was more or less the point made by 77 Congressmembers* in a letter delivered to Obama on Monday.
Obama's response, in full:
President Obama remains committed to a legislative repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which he believes will provide a durable and lasting solution to this issue. He welcomes the commitment of these members to seeing Congress take action.
WTF — "If you do all the heavy lifting, I'll pick up a pen?"
At this point, Obama is going to have to cure goddam cancer to get me back on board.
(* Thanks to my Representative Cleaver, for being man enough to sign on.)

22 June 2009

They will know we are Christians by our love.

I'm a stealth subscriber to Rev. James Dobson's American Family Association's email list, because frankly, there's no more convenient way to learn what The Gay Agenda is.
This morning's AFA Action Alert: Coming soon for a vote: The "Hate Crimes" bill will take away our religious freedoms.
To prove his point, Dobson links to his buddy Rev. Donald Wildmon's book that the AFA been pimping. That book carries the pithy and elegant title Speechless: Silencing the Christians: How Liberals and Homosexual Activists are Outlawing Christianity (and Judaism) to Force Their Sexual Agenda on America.
Proof the proposed legislation is a "homosecularist" attempt destroy Christianity is found in Chapter 10: The Gospel of Hate.
Advocates of hate crimes legislation like to focus on dramatic cases of violent crime. That’s not surprising. As I say, if the point of hate crimes legislation really were to prevent murder and serious assault, I might be tempted to jump on the bandwagon.
No, dumbass. The point of hate crimes legislation is really to accommodate an enhanced penalty arising from the criminal's intent — intent being a relevant aspect of criminal sentencing since as recently as the invention of crime & punishment. Sentences don't prevent crimes, they punish criminals.
Wildmon won't "jump on the bandwagon" because even though he admits there are some headline-grabbing gay bashings,
a shocking number of those headline cases are actually frauds.
This shocking number? 7.
Of those 7 false reports, 5 were filed by students, and 1 was filed in Manchester England by a reverend, leaving 1 documented US case of a grownup falsely claiming to be a gay hate-crime victim. Putting statistics aside, the fact that thousands of students have pulled fire alarms on a dare is hardly proof that fire departments as a whole are unnecessary.
Christians do not seek official victim status. Acts of persecution against Christians can be remedied under existing laws.
Well, yeah, because under existing federal hate crimes law, crimes targeting victims based on their race, national origin, or religion are already covered. The proposed law simply expands those protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical disability.
Bill O'Reilly has championed the AFA's other argument that this law is amounts to The Pedophile Protection Act because, "you could make the argument that a pedophile has a disease...disability is included. They have a mental disability."
Oh Bill, don't you ever get tired of being wrong? Pedophilia is not a disability under federal law. In fact, the Americans With Disabilities Act specifically excludes pedophilia.
Wildmon writes:
Under hate crimes statutes, Bibles, scriptural quotations, even book covers, and T-shirts that express religious beliefs have been labeled “hate speech.” This means that an inspirational poster you have in your workspace or even a bumper sticker on your car can become a crime. Not only carrying a Bible into a public place but also printing and selling Bibles can be regarded as hate crimes.
As a crusty bastard, I could "label" those MEAN PEOPLE SUCK t-shirts "hate speech," but that doesn't mean the state is going to prosecute the wearer on behalf of my hurt feelings. Apparently, they're busy with other crimes where people were actually harmed and stuff. Can you believe it?
Hate crimes laws have very little to do with hate or with crime. The primary goal of these laws is to silence Christians who object morally to sodomy...
"Very little" except hate crimes laws requires that a defendant commit a crime against a victim or property, where the target was selected for association with a protected group.
So besides being entirely about both hate and crime, I can definitely understand why some imagine that these laws are primarily intended to be mean to Christians who are just trying to love Jesus and promote his message of loving one's neighbor as oneself except when one's neighbor is gay.
Regardless, far from wanting them to be silenced about their moral objection to sodomy, I want them to expand that message and spread it from the rooftops! Hey, sodomy is sodomy, except when it's called "deviant sexual conduct," but tomayto, tomahto. If it's not inserting tab P in slot V, it's sodomy.
Their fellow Christian heterosexuals deserve to know that if they enjoy a little beej, eating at the Y, or any kind of backdoor jollies they don't deserve to be married or have custody of their children. I want them to go ahead and spread the Good News that engaging in sodomy means their existing marriages should be invalidated, they should be discharged from the military and fired from their civilian jobs. Let those lost Christian souls know that their morally offensive sexual choices mean they don't deserve any protection under law at all. It's only fair.
I'd really like to see that because, like the Westboro Baptists, these assbags get a free pass as long as they're only picking on fags. Once they start picking on Decent Americans™ it's a whole new ballgame.
Anyway, blah, blah, blah, senators.

21 June 2009

This is really a no-brainer.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has on his desk a bill that would allow bikers who are insufficiently heavy to trigger a stoplight sensor to cautiously proceed through red lights without penalty.
Today, I was late for lunch with Dad because I couldn't trigger the goddam left-turn lane light. I waited through at least four cycles until I gave up and took a different tack, which I could do it because traffic was light. Getting stuck made me annoyed and sweaty, but it didn't ruin anyone's day.
I've been unable to trigger these sensors during rush hour when traffic was behind and beside me, so we're all stuck, and that's a whole 'nother deal. I'm left with no other reasonable option than to blow the red.
If Nixon signs this bill, bikers wouldn't risk a moving violation, fine, court costs, points, and an insurance hike for trying to de-constipate an intersection.
The bill is a sensible zero-cost solution to a real problem. If you've got a moment, clicky here to tell our uncommitted Guvnah something like that. Use "legislation" as your subject.
Otherwise, if you get stuck behind a bike, STFU.

McClatchy: Obama's more Bush than Bush.

Permit me to summarize this article:
Can we continue to deny access to White House visitor logs?
Can we continue to defend a discriminatory marriage policy?
Can we continue to insist that official emails are secret, and warrantless wiretaps are justified?
Can we continue to withhold evidence of torture and continue the policy of "extraordinary renditions"?

19 June 2009

Nice acrostic too.

Via the Consumerist.

17 June 2009

Please humbly accept this token.

Of course Obama can multitask. The ink is only drying on the spirited defense of The Defense of Marriage Act (gay marriage is no more worthy of official recognition than pedophile and incestuous marriages) while the administration is finalizing its plans for hosting the DNC's fabulous Stonewall 40th Anniversary A-list gay fundraiser.
Yeah, they did. The fact the GLBT community has come to view this particular cash grab rather dimly has come as quite a shock to the administration. As it turns out, them queers actually haven't gotten accustomed to being compared to pedophiles.
I know — I was shocked too!
Anyway, as John Aravosis notes, the DNC's Big Gay Fundraiser is collapsing like a wet taco and Obama's execrable DOMA defense may have finally, and rather poetically, triggered Stonewall 2.0
WAIT! The homos are turning off the money spigot? This sounds like a job for The Fierce Advocate!
Tonight, after the close of the news day, our hero will spring into action and quietly announce that he's found a way to give gay federal employees a few new employment benefits, to apply for as long as he shall serve.
The crustybastard managed to obtain the list of the new federal benefits. I'm actually impressed.
Gay federal employees will soon have (1) the right to retain any complimentary hotel soap or toiletries; (2) a one-time $5 Walmart gift card to cover their so-called "family's" healthcare; (3) a new Federal Second-Class Citizenship passport that will allow the foreign posted employee's so-called "family" to be emergency evacuated on a space-available basis; and (4) a banana sticker.
UPDATE: There are no new benefits. Any benefits included in this "memo" were already available to federal civil servants under existing law. This is merely a policy statement of the administration's willingness to allow gay employees to enjoy whatever extremely constrained benefits they already legally have access to.
He went on to say that DOMA is discriminatory and unfair, and reminded America that he doesn't support it. Except that he did actually support DOMA as a reasonable, measured, legitimate and valid exercise of federal power. In court. Last week.
Obama signed this POS in the middle of a circle jerk of gay Democrat collaborators who are hosting the Big Gay DNC Fundraiser.
Honestly. What an ass.

16 June 2009

Iranian crisis? Meh.

I concede that I've been interested in what's going on in Iran, but mostly due to the effect of new media. I just can't seem to muster up a whole lot of sympathy for the participants. I'm old enough to remember what happened in 1979, and frankly, I'm still pretty pissed.
Attacking an embassy and taking diplomatic staff hostage is an act of war by definition, and we pretty much blew that shit off because (a) President Carter was an incompetent pussy, and (b) he still felt terribly guilty about the US role in helping our British allies put Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq out of a job in 1953.
Mossadeq got in the British crosshairs by nationalizing the assets of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (the forerunner of British Petroleum), the company that discovered Iranian oil fields, built the refineries, and commercialized production. Nationalization — well, expropriation, really — is a very popular tool in the communist toolbox, and commies weren't particularly well-regarded by democracies in the early '50s. Mossadeq was basically his era's Hugo Chavez, popular among the working poor, and a folk hero for humiliating the vile imperialist running dogs who had the temerity to profit from the very industries they discovered, created, and built.
Q: Why accept a 50/50 profit split when you can steal the industry outright and take 100%?
A: Because the previous owners tend to take that personally.
That answer came as a huge surprise to Iranians. Look, I'm not saying the British company invariably comported itself fairly and honorably, but I am saying that if Iran's principal bitch is that they're not getting a fair deal compared to the one the US gave the Saudis, when they did finally get that offer, they shoulda taken it. You don't just steal shit and expect the everybody to be cool with that because your homies think you're the shizz.
Among the politically "edgy," it's considered prima facie evidence of American hypocrisy to point out that Mossadeq was elected democratically, as if his rise to power applies a permagloss of democracy to all his subsequent acts. They casually ignore the fact that once in power Mossadeq used his popularity to force the legislature to grant him dictatorial powers, which he then used to dissolve the legislature. [I'll resist the urge to self-Godwin here.]
So anyway, Iran still holds a grudge against the US over our role in assisting the British trashing of anti-Western Iranian folk-hero Mohammed Mossadeq going back to 1953, and we have since officially apologized for our part. Iran, however, never apologized for committing an act of war against the US in 1979, so...I guess I'm still holding a grudge.
The '79 Revolution was a revolt against the Shah, who the clergy regarded as progressive and pro-Western. They were right. The Shah, while hardly a leader beyond reproach, nonetheless modernized Iran through his "White Revolution" by promoting women's rights including the vote and allowing women and non-Moslems to hold office, reducing the political influence of the Islamic clergy and increased the secularization of the government, he de-feudalized agriculture with massive land reform, de-nationalized some industries and established worker's profit-sharing, was the first Moslem leader to recognize Israel, and he preferred the US over the Soviet Union during the Cold War. His policies dramatically improved the people's standard of living, healthcare, and education. This is all good, although naturally not all progress was without incident. However, as the Shah aged, he became more autocratic.
Still, he was nowhere near as autocratic as his replacement, Ayatollah Khomeini, who not coincidentally got his first taste of fame opposing the White Revolution reforms. In fact, I can't think of a more autocratic position than Khomeini's famous proclamations, "I appoint the government," which he called "God's own government" defiance being tantamount to "a revolt against God." He cautioned dissidents, "I repeat for the last time: abstain from holding meetings, from blathering, from holding protests — otherwise, I will break your teeth." Lovely. This asshole was regarded as the messiah — the promised Madhi, and he took the title Imam, placing himself among a tiny constellation of morally infallible Islamic legends.
Khomeini extended the principle of wilayah faqih (clergy's legal guardianship over the legally incompetent, such as orphaned children and the insane) to make every Iranian the legal ward of the clergy, [and here's the important part:] displacing the traditional role of secular leadership entirely.
That's totally weird and unprecedented in Persia's estimably lengthy history — but hey, Iranians officially replaced their progressive constitutional monarchy with Khomeini's retrograde brand of theocracy by a vote of 98% in favor.
Now they're having buyer's remorse? I don't think so.
Mousavi is neither a reformer nor an outsider. He stands for everything we hate. He speaks of the '79 hostage crisis with approval. He called Israel a "cancerous tumor" and refuses to recognize its right to exist. He endorses the Khomeini's fatwa against author Salman Rushdie and in his capacity as prime minister, Mousavi formally severed Iran's ties with the UK for their refusal to surrender Mr. Rushdie to Iranian prosecution and certain death. Also as prime minister, Mousavi was involved in the purchase of nuclear centrifuges from AQ Khan's Islamic Bomb Mart that enrich uranium for the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Mousavi has promised not to suspend uranium enrichment. He was appointed by Khomeini to the leadership council of Hizb'allah — probably the world's most dangerous terrorist group — at it's formation. He called for a return to "Khomeini's fundamental values" because he genuinely admires Khomeini, his political patron. Et cetera.
So I look at what's going on in Iran and I think...meh.
Given Iran's longstanding penchant for blaming my country, "the Great Satan," for every self-inflicted wound, they hardly deserve more. Anyway, whichever mullah-picked candidate wins the election, he won't alter Iranian foreign or domestic policy precisely because in Iran there is no actual role for secular leadership. Why get your head cracked in over a farce? When Iranians figure out that their problem isn't America, or Ahmadinejad, but is their fucked up theocracy, I'm sure I'll regard things differently. However, their current rallying chant of Allah O Akbar! is the slogan of the '79 Revolution, and green is the color of Islam.
That hardly indicates they've actually cracked that code.

15 June 2009

Bark twice for guilty.

If you read my blatherings with any regularity, you know how I feel about breathalyzer-type machines. (If you don't, punch this if you feel like catching up.) In short, my position is that the Constitution guarantees you the right to confront your accuser. If courts exclude polygraph evidence on the basis it's both unreliable and cannot be subjected to cross-examination, then they should be excluding all unreliable machine evidence.
Well here's a new twist from Floriduh's own Orlando Sentinal: How many more innocent people were wrongly jailed because of 'wonder dog'? In a nutshell, a dog named Harass II (ya rly) was claimed by his handler, John Preston, to possess an extraordinary ability to track scents, and the dog's responses were admitted as evidence in criminal cases. Eventually one Judge Gilbert Goshorn ordered Harass's vaunted skills tested in the midst of a trial where the dog was connecting the defendants to the crime via scents detected six months after the crime.
The tests exposed that the dog couldn't actually track anything, much less do the amazing feats claimed at that trial. They now know at least three innocent people went to prison for a combined total of over 50 years.
They have no idea how many more were sent up the river on the testimony of a dog.
A dog, ferchrissakes!

He was against discrimination before he was for it.

...As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage. Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system....
Excerpt from Senator Barack Obama's "open letter" issued 6 June 2008 [emphasis mine]

Yet more "fierce advocacy."

In February 2008, Candidate Obama issued the following open letter to the LGBT community:
I’m running for President to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all — a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters. It’s wrong to have millions of Americans living as second-class citizens in this nation. And I ask for your support in this election so that together we can bring about real change for all LGBT Americans. Equality is a moral imperative.
...as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage.
Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)...I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.
...having the right positions on the issues is only half the battle. The other half is to win broad support for those positions. And winning broad support will require stepping outside our comfort zone. If we want to repeal DOMA, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and implement fully inclusive laws outlawing hate crimes and discrimination in the workplace, we need to bring the message of LGBT equality to skeptical audiences as well as friendly ones...
...I will never compromise on my commitment to equal rights for all LGBTAmericans....I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country. To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike.
[emphasis added]
As luxurious, deep-pile, wall-to-wall bullshit goes, that was beautiful.
It's still bullshit, though. Here's the deal: there are two major upcoming statewide public votes that deal with substantive LGBT equality.
1. Referendum 71 in Washington state is a so-called "everything but marriage" law. It legislatively expands the rights of domestic partners to include unpaid sick leave for family crisis, family health insurance benefits, and allows partners to realize certain pension and death benefits. Pretty basic stuff.
Unsurprisingly, a group of religious zealots banded together to fight the expansion of DP benefits. They call themselves "Protect Marriage Washington," although this law has nothing at all to do with marriage, gay or otherwise. PMW has cannily and illegally concealed the identities of their donors, but even that can't mask the stench of the Catholic and Mormon churches. Here's the kind of paranoid whackadoo shit PMW proudly includes on their site: Val Stevens writes, "Are the homosexuals finally going to take control of our culture and push their depraved lifestyle on our children and families?" That's Washington State Senator Val Stevens, proving that no matter where or how high you go in America, you can still find some Alabama circa 1953.
2. In Maine, without being compelled to do so by a court, the legislature passed a law allowing marriage equality and the governor signed it in May.
The Roman Catholic church leaped into action to spearhead a religious coalition to repeal that law by referendum as Question 1. The marriage equality law already specifically states that no religion can be required or obligated to solemnize a same-sex marriage, but the religious jagovs argue that the law still somehow encroaches on their freedom to discriminate. Oh, and it's bad for the children. Seriously.
So what has President Bully Pulpit done as Fierce Advocate-in-Chief regarding these twin attacks on LGBT equality and separate-but-equality?
Well, after being badgered by Kerry Eleveld of the gay news outlet The Advocate, the White House finally released this written statement:
The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes "strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away." Also at the dinner, he said he supports, "ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country."
Yep. That's it: a list of passive verbs from Obama's recent speech to a gay PAC, reheated for the gay press. Now, I'm not saying I'm surprised that's all he could be bothered to do. During the Prop 8 fiasco, Obama's "fierce advocacy" was likewise limited to issuing a slightly different written list of passive verbs to a different gay group.
Mr. Obama, privately cheerleading friendly audiences is not helpful. As you said, having the right position is only half the battle, the other half being winning broad support by engaging skeptical audiences.
You also said "we." Get out of the wagon and pull.

Times, Change.

As an African-American man, a child of an interracial marriage, a committed scholar, attorney and activist who works to protect the Bill of Rights, I am sensitive to the struggle for civil rights. As a state Senator, I have taken on the issue of civil rights for the LGBT community as if they were my own struggle because I believe strongly that the infringement of rights for any one group eventually endangers the rights enjoyed under law by the entire population. Since 1996, I have been the sponsor or a chief co-sponsor of measures to expand civil liberties for the LGBT community including hate-crimes legislation, adoption rights and the extension of basic civil rights to protect LGBT persons from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, employment and credit.

Today, I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Unlike any of my opponents, I have a legislative track record. No one has to guess about what I will do in Washington. My record makes it very clear. I will be an unapologetic voice for civil rights in the U.S. Senate.

For the record, I opposed DOMA [ the Defense of Marriage Act ] in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying. This is an effort to demonize people for political advantage, and should be resisted.

* * *

When Members of Congress passed DOMA, they were not interested in strengthening family values or protecting civil liberties. They were only interested in perpetuating division and affirming a wedge issue.

* * *

Despite my own feelings about an abhorrent law, the realities of modern politics persist. While the repeal of DOMA is essential, the unfortunate truth is that it is unlikely with Mr. Bush in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress.

* * *

We must be careful to keep our eyes on the prize — equal rights for every American. We must continue to fight for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We must vigorously expand hate-crime legislation and be vigilant about how these laws are enforced. We must continue to expand adoption rights to make them consistent and seamless throughout all 50 states, and we must repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' military policy.

I know how important the issue of equal rights is to the LGBT community. I share your sense of urgency. If I am elected U.S. Senator, you can be confident that my colleagues in the Senate and the President will know my position.

Barack Obama

Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate

11 February 2004 Letter published in the Windy City Times

14 June 2009

Hours of fun.

Please to enjoy You Suck at Craigslist.

This week's sobriety checkpoint success.

Another weekend, another sobriety checkpoint, another stunning 2% success. This week it was only 7 people arrested over 4 hours, so less than 2/hr. For this we gutted the Fourth Amendment.

11 June 2009

Math is hard.

Via TKC: apparently Councilman Ed Ford had the presence of mind to ask someone to check the math — the Funkhouser recall petitions have the requisite number of signatures after all.
Well I'll be damned.

Another victory in the War on Drugs!

Pursuant to 1970's Controlled Substances Act, drugs (pharmaceutical or recreational) may be categorized by federal bureaucratic agencies somewhere on a continuum; Schedule I drugs being outright banned as diabolically dangerous.
To make Schedule I's Worst of the Worst List, the federal bureaucracies must determine it (1) has a high potential for abuse, (2) has no currently accepted therapeutic use, (3) cannot be used safely even under medical supervision. For example, cocaine and morphine meet criteria (1), but fail for (2) and (3). Neither is a Schedule I drug.
Marijuana is.
The bureaucratic agencies that determine drug scheduling are the DEA and the FDA. How a drug is scheduled also informs how aggressively law enforcement pursues, and how the justice system prosecutes and sentence those who sell or possess those drugs. Prosecutions are at the discretion of the Attorney General. Both agencies and the AG are within the Executive branch. In short, the president controls.
Initially, marijuana was placed on Schedule I, provisional to subsequent evaluation. Since then, a mountain of scientific evidence has been presented to demonstrate marijuana (1) isn't especially physically addictive or harmful, (2) has several beneficial therapeutic effects, and (3) no person has ever died from a marijuana overdose.
So far, the government has not found this evidence persuasive.
Many, many others have been highly persuaded. In 1996, California voters passed, through its initiative process, a law called The Compassionate Use Act which permits marijuana to be used only for specific medical purposes upon a physician's diagnosis and prescription. The law's stated intent was a guarantee that no party conforming to the limited legal medical purpose shall be criminally prosecuted or penalized. Since then, 12 additional states have legalized medical marijuana and more than 2,500 licensed physicians in the US prescribe therapeutic marijuana to tens of thousands of American patients. The American College of Physicians, the DEA's Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young, The National Institute of Mental Health, the prestigious Institute of Medicine, and hell, even Newt fucking Gingrich is likewise persuaded that marijuana has medical benefits and should be rescheduled.
Nonetheless, the federal government makes scant distinction between the work of a state-licensed dispensary that provides prescription marijuana to patients, and the work of a major heroin trafficker. Both are subject to prosecution, prison, fines, and forfeiture of assets.
Then suddenly in March the Obama administration, speaking through Attorney General Eric Holder, sprung into action! He announced they would stop raiding dispensaries and no longer prosecute those who comply with state laws. That's swell, but too little, too late. A month earlier, DEA agents raided four more dispensaries and seized a bunch more private property.
Today another law-abiding citizen was unjustly sentenced to federal prison.
Like other folks before him, Charlie Lynch was convicted in a Los Angeles federal court for doing things that are entirely legal in California. The US Department of Justice called that little wrinkle "irrelevant." As in other federal trials regarding medical marijuana, the trial is rigged because the accused is not allowed to present evidence and the jury is not permitted to hear the truth. Seriously, this is some outrageous third-world shit.
The government presented evidence to the jury that Mr. Lynch had sold over 1000 kg of marijuana as a common drug dealer. Lynch was not permitted to tell the jury that the marijuana was sold as a legal product for a legal purpose under state law, and despite the cop's best undercover sting efforts, they couldn't get Lynch or his employees to violate the law.
The government presented evidence to the jury that Lynch carried a backpack stuffed with cash. Lynch was not permitted to tell the jury; that the money represented the receipts from a state and locally licensed business called Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers; that local dignitaries attended his ribbon-cutting ceremony; or that he paid all his taxes and operated without incident until the feds kicked in his door and put a gun to his head.
The government presented evidence to the jury that Lynch was a dealer in dangerous drugs. Lynch was not permitted to present witnesses to testify on his behalf to the medical benefit derived from patronizing Lynch's business.
The government presented evidence to the jury that Mr. Lynch sold pot to a teenager. Lynch was not permitted to tell the jury that the teen cancer patient's parents approved of his treatment, or that the marijuana was prescribed to the boy by a Stanford-educated MD.
The jury heard only the government's case and were denied the opportunity to weigh any exculpatory evidence. They convicted Mr. Lynch on all counts. The DOJ asked for the mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.
In light of the Attorney General's announced change of policy, the judge sensibly requested clarification from the AG's office before sentencing Mr. Lynch. The AG's response, in pertinent part:
...the Office...has reviewed the facts of this case and determined that the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of defendant are entirely consistent with the policies of DOJ and with public statements made by the Attorney General with respect to marijuana prosecutions...
Fortunately, Barack "I inhaled frequently" Obama today stepped up to proclaim, "we have reached a point where doing nothing...is no longer an option."
Unfortunately, he was talking about something else, and he continued to do nothing about this. Until Obama gets his head and his ass wired together enough to actually do something about the things he can actually do something about, all his blathering about injustices elsewhere is just so much empty bullshit.

09 June 2009

Look what the TiVo dragged in.

I sent TiVo to collect Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. It's a really, really great travel show. Mr. Bourdain is quite the crusty bastard himself. Anyway, he did a show from Namibia, first broadcast in January 2007.
From the voiceover:
Long prized for its fat content, the anus of [the warthog] is just the kind of amuse bouche that you're not expecting. I know, by the way, at this moment, that I am doomed...This is one time where "well-done" is eminently desirable. But no, this hershey highway is served al dente. What am I doing with my life? Is this any way to make a living? Rectum! Barely cleaned, unwashed...the last footlong segment of lightly charred poopchute.
Poetry.

You can't make this stuff up.

"Welcome! Spirit One Christian Center is a friendly, friendly, friendly church!...We feel confident that you will find this Body of Believers to be one of the most loving churches in our community...We believe that it is not enough to simply learn Christian principles but to also apply them..."

08 June 2009

A fierce advocate does what?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear a challenge to the discriminatory government policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell."
In the original case, the government doesn't dispute that the policy is unfair. The government's argument is that it is free to promote an agenda that says, as a matter of course, the military simply prefers to offer homosexuals unequal protection under the law, and less due process than heterosexual servicemembers on the presumption that discrimination "promotes unit cohesion." 
The court doesn't require the government or military to present any evidence that the policy accomplishes that purpose, or any other useful purpose. The court simply assumes as factually true the government's position, and then explains that it's loathe to question any military policy. You lose again, faggots. Next.
President Obama directed his staff to ask SCOTUS not to review that case, and SCOTUS accommodated that request. 
Does this sound like the act of a self-described "fierce advocate" for gay rights, who as a candidate promised to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? 
Yeah, I didn't think so either.
By refusing to grant cert, SCOTUS effectively says the ruling below was proper, and 12 more honorable servicemembers have their careers pointlessly ruined. 
There have been 240 DADT discharges since Obama was sworn in, or about 1 every day.
We are a better country than this. That’s not the judgment we need.  That won’t keep America safe.  We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past. I say enough!
to the politics of the past. The greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. At defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington — change comes to Washington. 
Heh, that last paragraph was pretty damn good, wasn't it? 
I stole it from Obama's nomination acceptance speech.

It don't get better than this.

07 June 2009

KCTV WEATHER ADVISORY: Wind speeds approaching 20 mph somewhere far away!

I joined my friends tonight to watch the Tony Awards. I could give a shit about Broadway shows or the orgy of self-congratulation, but was an opportunity to enjoy drinks and dinner with teh gheys (who can really cook), and the prospect of an orgy of snark. Oh hells yes. 
However, there was weather somewhere in the state, and Chief Meteorologist Katie "Madame Apocalypse" Horner sprang into action. Nevermind 'tis a lovely summer evening in the Kansas City Metro — severe weather is happening waaaaay up north near Iowa and is tracking in a direction taking it farther and farther away from Kansas City! Thank god Horner is available to leap in front of the camera to cover this utterly irrelevant event with an economy of words that rivals a Fidel Castro speech.
I'm not even kidding about the title. She was actually cautioning about 20 mph winds. Oh the humanity, winds the speed of grandma
There is a very real possibility that unsecured cushions on patio furniture in areas near the Iowa border are in jeopardy of being blown onto nearby grass. If that's not a reason to hijack the a once-a-year live broadcast, I don't know what is.
FERCHRISSAKES — SCRAMBLE THE WEATHER CHOPPER!
Then I did a little online research, and it turns out that KCTV5 is not the only TV station in the state. Someone should tell them, because that probably absolves them of the responsibility to cover all the weather in the state. It turns out there are even local network affiliates waaaay up there in St. Joseph where that storm was. "Ah-ha!" you might say, "but they are not CBS affiliates — so what about that audience?" Well, I'd imagine they were vainly trying to watch the goddam Tonys too.
There is actually a website dedicated to firing Katie Horner, because she's pissed off that many people with her attention whoring. But here's the thing, she has never before inserted herself between teh gheys and their Broadway musical shows, which may be the second most dangerous place in the world. Horner's gonna end up all over the grille of an otherwise impeccable Audi tomorrow. Mark my words. Maybe a Prius.

i <3.

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg's
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r) 
5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl 
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf's m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob. 

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl. 

ttyl, JHWH. 

ps. wwjd?

06 June 2009

Yo Brian.

UPDATE: Please see comments section for Cliff1976's "Bon Mot of the Week." Holy hell, that was funny.

04 June 2009

Rock on, Newhamshah.

Mazel tov!

Girl, interrupted.

Pennsylvania's Safe School Act says that a school district shall expel for no less than one year a student in possession of a weapon.
"Weapon" shall include, but not be limited to, any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. 
The full story is here, but a nutshell, during a random, suspicionless search of a ninth-grader Taylor Ray Jetter's purse, some busybody school employee discovered an eyebrow shaver inside her makeup bag. School officials expelled Miss Jetter, she appealed the suspension to the Penn Hills School Board, and on Tuesday she lost again, 8-1.
Now, I hadn't the slightest idea what an eyebrow shaver is, although it's clear that Miss Jetter was neither brandishing the shaver nor threatening others with it. So I asks: O innertoobz, show unto me this this thing called an eyebrow shaver, for I am...Breshnevish.
The innertoobz explained that an eyebrow shaver is a razor mounted on a plastic handle. The business end of the razor blade itself is encased within a plastic comb. Like most modern bladed grooming gizmos, one can safely drag it over one' skin without risk of injury. 
Let me say that last part again: without risk of injury. 
Now, let's compare and contrast that with the Safe School Act's definition of a weapon, which is an instrument that can inflict serious bodily injury. This grooming device is not a weapon by their own definition. 
Know what is a weapon by their definition? A goddam pencil. 
Know what Miss Jetter's major concern is? That this blemish on her record will interfere with her ability to get into nursing school.
I don't know which one had the sense to vote properly, and which eight are the nimrods, but should you be inclined, here's the contact information for the members of the Penn Hill School Board:
Mr. Joseph E. Bailey, Sr., President — 412-793-7000, ext. 929 jbaile@phsd.k12.pa.us
Mr. Barry D. Patterson, Vice President — 412-793-7000, ext. 516 bpatte@phsd.k12.pa.us
Ms Carolyn L. Faggioli — 412-793-7000, ext. 532 cfaggi@phsd.k12.pa.us 
Mr. Robert S. Hudak — 412-793-7000, ext. 511 rhudak@phsd.k12.pa.us
Mrs. Margie L. Krogh — 412-793-7000, ext. 515 mkrogh@phsd.k12.pa.us
Mr. Donald L. Kuhn, Jr. — 412-793-7000, ext. 510 dkuhn@phsd.k12.pa.us
Mrs. Catherine M. Mowry — 412-793-7000, ext. 517 cmowry@phsd.k12.pa.us
Mrs. Erin L. Vecchio — 412-793-7000, ext. 514 evecch@phsd.k12.pa.us
Mr. John A. Zacchia — 412-793-7000, ext. 518 jzacch@phsd.k12.pa.us

03 June 2009

Whose Supreme Court is it anyway?

My brother and I have a longstanding disagreement over whether the Supreme Court is, or should be, a representative body.
His argument is that Article III doesn't require the court to be representative, and competent judges necessarily decide cases without respect to a particular identity. 
My argument is that Article III doesn't say that it can't or shouldn't be representative, and ours is a representative form of government, predicated on the principle that a diverse segment is better equipped to fully comprehend and conscientiously deliberate the issues that arise from a diverse whole.
His political, social, religious, and personal interests are extraordinarily well-represented by an overwhelming majority on the court. I suspect this underlies his belief the current court need not be any more representative than it already is.
On the other hand, my political, social, religious, and personal interests are represented at best through tokenism, but not really in any meaningful way at all. I willingly concede this is the primary reason why the representative issue is on my radar. Secondarily I support my argument with a massive and overwhelming historical record of how tribunals constituted from a dominant caste deal with the pleas and interests of outsiders. [Hint: not favorably.] 
Naturally, there are a few conspicuous exceptions to that rule, and such exceptions are promoted by the ruling caste as if they somehow do not prove the rule. For instance, an all-white SCOTUS decided in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation was illegal. Well done! See how equitable an all-white SCOTUS can be toward minority interests?  
Um, yeah. It only took the best legal minds of the day 86 fucking years to notice that unequal protection under the law violated a Constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law. Well done, indeed. 
That decision also just happened to coincide with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. Since a black justice has been on the court, governments no longer dare to make mean-spirited laws that disable people by race. Quite the contrary — laws passed to remedy the longstanding damage of racist legislation have been upheld, and even laws subsequently deemed unconstitutional have been officially removed from the books as a symbolic gesture of renunciation of their regrettably bigoted history. Seriously, even Alabama managed to remove its constitutional amendment banning mixed-race marriages by 59% of the popular vote only 153 years after the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. Yep, that was the end of the year 2000, by nearly 3 out of 5 voters. You stay classy, Alabama!
Similarly, in the '70s, during the height of the Women's Lib movement, an all-male SCOTUS radically changed course and suddenly realized that laws intended to disable women probably shouldn't be viewed as presumptively valid. Et voila! "intermediate scrutiny" was born. Nice work, fellas!
No, wait a second — intermediate scrutiny? Yep. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed Equal Protection, but it was also the first time the word "male" was inserted into the US Constitution. The nine men on the Supreme Court decided: sorry honey — the Equal Protection Clause means the government is more free to discriminate on the basis of a person's fleshy protrusions than it is to discriminate on the basis of a person's fleshy hue. 
Calling major bullshit on that one, women's equality allies redoubled their efforts to secure passage of the Equal Rights Amendment first proposed in 1923 and laughed off by male legislators since then. And the allies would have gotten it passed too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids. And by "meddling kids" I mean a confederation of Republicans, conservative religions (Mormons, Catholics, and evangelicals), and various "traditional family values" PACs.
Woah, deja vu.
Much like the civil rights situation, since a woman has been a member of SCOTUS, "intermediate scrutiny" got a functional upgrade, and notwithstanding abortion laws, I can't remember the last time any government made a law that discriminated against women.
It should be fairly clear by now why retard's, atheist's, and fag's equal protection claims don't even merit intermediate scrutiny. Discriminatory laws against these despised and unrepresented classes are constituional where SCOTUS can imagine the legislators had some...well, really any thought process behind a discriminatory law, however stupid or petty that reason might be. Upon "rational basis" review, the government basically cannot lose a challenge unless the law is written in a way that actually say something like, "we hate (this group) and intend to punish them by this law..."
So to review, since the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868, an overwhelmingly homogenous SCOTUS majority has occasionally been motivated by societal upheavals and token members, but still hasn't actually figured out as a body that "equal protection under the law" actually means protecting equally and equal laws. They invented and continue to ascribe to "judicial review standards" to determine how to hedge equal protection claims. This is accomplished by sorting plaintiffs into categories, then affording certain categories strong legal favoritism (strict scrutiny), others less favoritism (intermediate scrutiny), and others no favor at all (rational basis). 
In short, to decide whether a plaintiff's equal protection guarantee has been violated, the first thing the court does is discriminate against the plaintiff based upon their membership in a class
Class? Wait..what? Where the fuck did that come from? The Equal Protection clause reads,  "No state shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." 
This is where my head asplode.
Anyway, returning to the issue of whether SCOTUS should properly be a representative body, I got to thinking of this issue again when I happened across a New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin that made the surprising point that there is in fact a longstanding history and custom of regarding SCOTUS as a representative body.
In the early days of the republic, when regional disputes were the foremost conflict of the era, nominees were generally defined by their home turfs. So Presidents came to honor an informal tradition of preserving a New England seat, a Virginia seat, a Pennsylvania seat, and a New York seat on the Court. In the nineteenth century, as a torrent of European immigrants transformed American society, religious differences took on a new significance, and Presidents used Supreme Court appointments to recognize the new arrivals’ growing power. In 1836, Andrew Jackson made Roger B. Taney the first occupant of what became known as the Catholic seat on the Court, and that tradition carried forward...[with] Woodrow Wilson [nominating] Louis D. Brandeis, establishing the Jewish seat...
Well, I'll be damned. So diversity by regionalism is cool, and diversity by religion is cool, but all other identity is, like, untenable? 
That's not even slightly rational. Nonetheless, conservative commentators everywhere are making some version of that argument with regard to Obama's SCOTUS nominee. They suggest that if a straight white male conservative Christian judge ever rules in favor of a gay, black, woman, liberal, or atheist, that's somehow proof that identity plays no role in his decisions. However, if, say,  a black lesbian judge*  decides a case in a way that benefits a black, a homo, or a woman, that decision is proof of that judge's exercise of "identity politics."
You know what that is? That's some flawed logic and some bigoted bullshit. 
Call a mothafucka out. Send them right here. I'm itchin' for a fight.
(*Of the ± 1,233 existing federal judgeships, there is exactly 1 openly gay judge — a black woman. Minority Yatzee!)

01 June 2009

National cupcake month. Whoopie!

Obama issued a Gay Pride Month proclamation.
It's replete with observations that homos are just like real people, and have made contributions to the arts. Usual shit about AIDS, AIDS, AIDS. He takes great pride in noting that he actually appointed unnamed homos (to jobs not worth mentioning). He promises his "continued support" for a variety of equality issues, although his "continued support" has so far been his insistence that he's a "fierce advocate" for gay rights. 
This fierce advocacy has manifested itself not doing a goddam thing despite a majority in both houses. Fierce!
My favorite part was where he basically says separate-but-equal civil unions are enough equality for you people. 
Anyway, whoopdiefuckingdoo. It's a empty crapsack. There's absolutely nothing new here that Clinton didn't bring waaaaaaaaay back in 1991 before delivering his famous one-two shot (DADT & DOMA) squarely below gay America's belt. Nonetheless, I'm sure the credulous numbskulls and true-believers will behold this proclamation, genuflect, regard it with rapture, and imagine it represents something meaningful.  "We're on the cusp of a real breakthrough — send money."
Yeah, the fact you're getting pwnd by a black president doesn't necessarily indicate progress. Save your cash, Scooter. In fact, if history instructs, I recommend you buy a cup.

Judging Catholic judges.

Vatican City is a city-state, governed by an elected sovereign monarch, the pope. Suffrage is limited to appointed cardinals (exclusively male) under age 80. As a sovereign state, the Vatican issues ordinances, postage stamps, passports, has a flag, and is widely recognized as a state by other countries. The Vatican has a standing security force in the form of the Pontifical Swiss Guards, and an agreement with Italy to provide for its defense. However, the Vatican does not credential ambassadors or otherwise engage in diplomacy with other states. 
The Holy See is the government of the Roman Catholic Church, also governed by the pope as a theocracy with an appointed administrative apparatus. The Holy See credentials ambassadors and maintains diplomatic relations with other states. The Holy See has a secretariat of state, which because of its importance is the only secretariat located within Vatican City, lesser bureaucracies being located elsewhere in Rome. The Holy See is a member of international political organizations, for example, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the United Nations (nonvoting, by its choice). The Holy See's operating income derives primarily from extensive real estate holdings. In 2006, it had revenues of $310 million, $101 million derived from the international "Peter's Pence" levy, of which 28% comes from the United States.
In short, Vatican City is a territory created to serve a single religion and the Holy See is its governing theocracy. The United States recognizes Vatican City as a sovereign nation, and maintains diplomatic relations with the Holy See. This has not always been the case. Vatican City was established in 1929, and the US had no formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See from 1870 until 1984. The current US Ambassador's office is in Rome, while the current apostolic nuncio has an office in Washington D.C.
With this in mind, it is beyond dispute that Roman Catholic Church is not merely a religion with an interesting tourist destination — it is also a foreign government that advances a political agenda.
Among the political issues that the Roman Catholic Church advances are the impermissibility of abortion, and the legal subordination of sexual minorities. By its own moral reasoning and through its Canon Law, the RCC rejects abortion and gay rights. However, if it were purely religious interests served by those doctrines, the Church would make those arguments from the pulpit and bind only Catholics to them. That is not the case. The RCC reliably lobbies for legislation that supports their political agenda at a federal, state, and local level. The RCC also reliably files amicus curiae to insert its political opinion in court cases where the legal rights of sexual minorities are at stake.
One might ask, how does the issue of whether the federal government may fire a federal employee for being gay at home have anything to do with the deposit of faith or other workings of the Church? Obviously, it doesn't. It has everything to do with the Vatican's desire to impose its politics on other governments. They did it very effectively for centuries. It's clearly a hard habit to break.
Sure, they aren't the kingmakers they used to be, but still — it's unwise to underestimate the power of Vatican politics. Somewhere between 20% and 39% of Americans were baptized Catholic. (Naturally, that doesn't mean they're practicing Catholics, or even particularly devout Catholics, but Catholicism, like Judaism, is an identity even among the wayward.) Regardless, the current Supreme Court is 56% Catholic. If Sotomayor is confirmed, it will become 67% Catholic. That's an impressive accomplishment for any minority group. I suspect that it is their reliable anti-abortion stance that has historically assisted Catholics in filling so many federal bench appointments. Hell, the percentages wouldn't particularly bother me except that the Catholic justices have shown such enthusiasm for ruling in ways that are clearly informed by the teachings of their faith over the terms and principles of the Constitution, the law, or the interests of justice. 
Anyway, can we just quit pretending that one's identity and background don't inform one's decision-making, or if they do, that's always improper or off-limits? The fact that identity and background are relevant to deciding cases is precisely the reason why trial judges preside over hours and hours of voir dire where prospective jurors are questioned about their identities and backgrounds. The dirty little secret of voir dire? Jurors aren't questioned to exclude those who are biased — they're questioned to ensure that the panel is biased favorably.
So as to the SCOTUS nomination, I have no problem with interrogating a Catholic judicial nominee regarding his or her view of the RCC's penchant for church-state entanglements, his or her view of the Church's intervention in the American political process, and how he or she might address threats of excommunication based on a legal act or statement, etc. 
That's not a religious test, it's a reasonable and sensible inquiry into how the nominee regards the interference of a foreign government, or whether a Catholic nominee is even capable of viewing his or her Church that way.

Your papers, please.

This past weekend, after randomly seizing & searching the drivers of 478 vehicles over the course of 5 hours, the KCPD arrested 11 people on suspicion of DWI. One driver fled the checkpoint, crashed his pickup, ran away on foot, jumped off a bridge and fell onto I-70 nearly killing himself. 
For leaving the checkpoint, the law now presumes him guilty of the DWI offense and he must prove his innocence. Had he...oh, I dunno...gunned down a physician in a church in front of dozens of witnesses, threatened two intervenors with the weapon, then fled, the law would presume him innocent until the state proved him guilty in a court of law.
Our legislatures and courts have, in an overabundance of zeal and underabundance of reason, carved out absurd exceptions to state and federal constitutions to allow law enforcement to setup expensive sobriety enforcement roadblocks that encourage random, warrantless searches, and require the citizen's production of self-incriminatory evidence, all of which — in  this case — yielded about 2 arrests per hour, and attained its objective 2.3% of the time. What a triumph.
Can anyone maintain with a straight face that roving patrols pulling over drivers for probable cause couldn't accomplish at least this much?
At what point do we recognize these checkpoints are unconstitutional, wasteful, unproductive, and stupid? I'm guessing about the same time moralizers quit getting their jollies by ignoring constitutional guarantees to strong-arm everyone else. In other words, never.