In the News

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July 2003

Teacher Layoffs
The Seattle school district is laying off teachers. Typically, teachers are laid off not according to merit but according to seniority. When a business conducts lay-offs, it tries to keep the best employees and let the second-best go. But
public schools aren't rewarded for educating students well, so there's little for administrators to gain by fighting the teachers' union to retain the best teachers.

Airport Security
Lines at security checkpoints in SeaTac airport have become ridiculous. The huge expense of beefing up the nation's airport security is a charade. Despite the screeners, the long lines, the sensitive metal detectors, and the confiscated nail clippers, anyone can still basically walk onto an airplane with a big ceramic knife strapped to their leg.

Sodomy Laws
The Supreme Court finally put the kibosh on laws against gay sex. Justice Antonin Scalia, in the dissent, said "Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive." Notice how one could swap out "homosexual conduct" and swap in various other terms in this sentence, such as "interracial cohabitation" or "Jewish rites." That's because the argument that the law should protect the tender sentiments of bigots is the same no matter what sort of bigot you're talking about.
Thread: gays

Incarcerating Sex Predators
Michael Crane has raped again. This is the guy that Kansas tried to keep in prison indefinitely as a danger to the public. But the Supreme Court said that it's very sketchy to
keep someone in prison for what you think they might do rather than for what they've done. In fact, it was so sketchy that the state wound up being forced to release him early in 2002 after doctors concluded he was no longer a threat. In March of this year, he raped again. Chemical castration's looking better and better.

Race Preferences
In what year did the Supreme Court intervene in state affairs to say that racial preferences in school admissions should end real soon now?
     A. 1954.
     B. 2003.
     C. Both A and B.

Pot in Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien says that his government will propose a bill decriminalizing (but not legalizing) cultivation and possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Thread: pot

Lying Corporations
Despite support from
Bush (who thinks lying is just fine), Nike was turned away from the Supreme Court when it asked the justices to grant it the First Amendment right to lie to the public.
Thread: Bush

Gay Marriage in Canada
Canadians celebrated (or grumbled about) their first gay marriage after a judge ruled that the ban against gay marriage was unconstitutional. Hey, wait a minute, I thought
we were supposed the be the land of the free, sweet land of liberty. We're slipping.
Thread: gays

Student Protests in Iran
Iranian students are protesting again against the clergy who run their country, to the point of chanting out a call for the hanging of to Ayatollah. Maybe the Iranians will finally get the secular, independent government that we kept them from establishing in the 50s.
Thread: Iran

Catholic Goodfellas
Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, chairman of the Catholic Church's own panel on sex abuse by priests, resigned under pressure after likening some bishops to the Mafia. It was crazy for Keating suggest similarities between Catholic clergy and "La Cosa Nostra." After all, the Mafia is an international, Italian-based, male-only organization that operates by a code of secrecy and obedience to a patriarch. Oh, wait a minute.
Thread: bishops' coverup

Pot Sentence
The good news: Ed Rosenthal, the Californian convicted of growing
pot for sick people, was sentenced to one day in prison, credited with time served, and released. The bad news: the judge said that the only reason Rosenthal got a light sentence is that he thought he was acting within the law, but now that everyone knows that Ashcroft's going to trample states' rights to keep sick people from getting their medicine, that line of defense won't work again.
Thread: pot

Giving In to Terror
Israeli settlers and Zionists in general decried advances in the peace process, saying that the Palestinians shouldn't be rewarded for their campaign of terror. Meanwhile, Hamas stepped up their terrorist
attacks against Israeli civilians in an attempt to derail the peace process. Since the terrorists obviously oppose the peace process, the settlers have it backward. Canceling the peace process would amount to giving Hamas what it wants.
Thread: Israel-Palestine

Stupid Americans
A survey reports that a third of people in the US believe that we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and a fifth believe that Saddam used weapons of mass destruction against our troops in the "war." It's long been known that most folks in the US think that Iraqis were among the 9-11 hijackers. And here I thought that
misinformation was rife in the Muslim world.

AMA on Therapeutic Cloning
The American Medical Association has taken a stand in favor of cloning human embryos to harvest their stem cells. We got RU-486 through despite opposition from people who think that a
soul enters the zygote at conception. We can get therapeutic cloning through, too.


Lawsuit to End Pot Harrassment
Four Californians have filed suit in federal court to stop the federal government from arresting people for using medical marijuana, which is legal under state law. Fingers crossed that John Ashcroft will face a setback.
Threads: Ashcroftpot

False Drug Convictions
Judge Ron Chapman has ruled that the testimony of white undercover cop Tom Coleman was unreliable. It's his uncorroborated testimony that put 38 people from Tulia, Texas, in prison back in 1999. Most of those arrested and convicted were black. Maybe these people will finally be set free.

Abu Mazen's Security Minister
Abu Mazen, prime minister-designate of the larval Palestinian state, chose a critic of Arafat as the security minister. Abu Mazen calls for an end to terrorism against Israel because, among other reasons, it doesn't work.
Thread: Israel-Palestine

Bush Says It's OK For Corporations to Lie
Nike lied about using sweatshops, and Marc Kasky sued. A year ago, a court in California said he had the right to sue, and now the Supreme Court is hearing the case. Nike, backed up by Bush and big business, claims that corporations have a first amendment right to lie in their press releases, as if press releases weren't commercial speech. The whole move to grant a citizen's rights to corporation's is bogus, and this is a case in point.
Thread: Bush

Gays and the Undermining of Society
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) has gotten flack for saying that that the same arguments that support citizens'
right to have gay sex would support citizens' right to have sex with multiple spouses, non-spouses, and relatives. He's basically right. He further says that these rights would undermine society. He's basically wrong. It's government interference in personal freedoms that's undermining society.
Thread: gays

April 2003

Palestinian Prime Minister
The Palestinians now have a prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas (AKA Abu Mazen). On the plus side, he opposed the latest Palestinian uprising and tried to stop it. On the minus side, he's apparently a Holocaust denier. (Anti-Semitic misinformation is thick in the Muslim world.)
Thread: Israel-Palestine

Satan and Murder
Here in the Seattle area, a man has filed suit against the Christian minister who had talked his wife into thinking he was possessed by demons. The wife wound up hiring a hit man to kill the husband, and the hit man killed the wife instead. Once again, the idea of magical Satan has turned lethal.
Thread: Satan

Abortion and Breast Cancer
A comprehensive medical report says that, contrary to the fond hopes of right-to-lifers, having an abortion doesn't increase a woman's chance of getting breast cancer. Maybe the conservatives should get the federal government to declare by law that abortions cause breast cancer, just like it declares by law that marijuana has no medical value. Just like the bill to outlaw partial birth abortion, which gets around the pesky "health of the mother" angle by simply declaring that the procedure is never necessary to protect the mother's health.
Thread: abortion

Altered Pledge
The 9th Circuit Court refused to overturn the earlier ruling on the pledge's altered wording. As near as the court can tell, it's unconstitutional to have teachers leading public schoolkids in the pledge now that folks have inserted "under God" into it. The Supreme Court may at last have to weigh in on this topic. They have previously had the luxury of not ruling on religious language on our money, in our new national motto, and in the pledge because lower courts backed that usage. Now the only way the Supreme Court can save this language is to consider the case and overturn the 9th Circuit Court. Typically, courts have ruled that the religious language is merely "ceremonial," but given the hatred stirred up by the 9th Circuit Court, it's hard to believe that they'll be able to say that "under God" is ceremonial with a straight face. Here's a nice link on the topic.
Thread: pledge

March 2003

"Pedophilia" Among Priests
The media continue to report about "pedophilia" among Roman Catholic priests. But mostly it's not pedophilia (sex acts with a child) but ephebophilia (sex acts with an adolescent). Such a distinction, however, requires folks to think about adolescent sexuality more than most are comfortable with.
Thread: bishops' cover-up

Bush's Hydrogen Cells
In an amazing about face, President Bush revealed his vision for cars powered by hydrogen cells. What's the czar of fossil fuels doing touting hydrogen cells? Wait a minute, it's not so amazing after all. His plan is to use nuclear energy and fossil fuels to charge the cells. I guess when hybrid cars threaten to reduce fossil fuel consumption, it's time for the energy oligarchy to trot out an "alternative."

Democrats' Alternatives
Just when it looked as though the Democrats had grown comfortable with fecklessness, they propose a $300-per-head tax cut as an immediate, across-the-board alternative to Bush's long-term give-away to himself and people like him. Then they offer a bill that outlaws reproductive cloning while allowing cloning for research. Since the 20th century was the century of US liberals being right, you'd expect at least this much from the Democrats.

Abortion in Indiana
The US Supreme Court ruled that Indiana's restrictions on abortion do not amount to an "undue burden." Indiana law is set up to try to dissuade women from having abortions. While that might not be unconstitutional, it's no more proper than a law set up to try to persuade women to have abortions.

Affirmative Action
The US Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether universities that accept federal funds can take race into account as a factor in determining who gets in and who doesn't. It's creepy to have the government tracking citizens by race. Doing so takes a divisive social construct and codifies it into law.

Race and Medical Care
The Seattle Times reported that black women with breast cancer get worse treatment than white women and are more likely to die than white women. Buried halfway through the article was the analysis that the difference was caused by differences in wealth and privilege. In other words, a more straightforward and informative finding would have been that poor women with breast cancer get worse treatment than wealthy women. As with
school achievement, school discipline, and law enforcement, the issue of race obscures the problem of class.

Iranian Anti-Clerical Professor
The Iranian Supreme Court ruled 3-1 to revoke the death sentence against Professor Hashem Aghajari. Could it be that hard-liners are giving ground because they know that if push came to shove the Iranian people would overthrow the ayatollahs and establish a moderate government?
Thread: Iran

Medical Marijuana Conviction
Californian jurors were misled in federal court and unwittingly convicted someone who was growing pot for sick people. They weren't allowed to hear that Ed Rosenthal was growing pot as an agent of Oakland, and now he faces a minimum of 5 years in prison, a maximum of life. DEA spokesman Richard Meyer said, "There is no such thing as medical marijuana."
Thread: pot

January 2003

Iranian Clerics
A dissident Iranian cleric has been freed from house arrest. Another Iranian cleric ruled that punishments other than stoning to death are allowable for adultery. Maybe Iran will turn moderate and emerge from the current crisis as the leader of the Muslim world.
Thread: Iran

Drug Ad
The government showed a commercial during the Superbowl that demonstrated the harm caused to society by drug prohibition. It was about the people killed in the crossfire between rival drug dealers. Ironically, the government's nominal message was that drug users are to blame for these deaths. (The government should start a campaign to promote growing pot. The more people grow at home, the less dangerous drug-dealing there is.)
Thread: pot

Faith-Based Programs
Bush wants HUD to help congregations build churches provided the churches hold AA meetings or whatever. The conservatives trying to put tax dollars in church coffers say that "faith-based" programs just want to be on a "level playing field." Except that they want to be able to discriminate in hiring based on religion. They want to be a equal to secular organizations, maybe even a little more equal.

Anti-Gay Activist
Jerry Thacker, a Christian, anti-gay activist, was going to be on a presidential AIDS panel. This guy graduated from Bob Jones University. In short order, the body politic voiced its opposition, and the next thing you know Thacker was uninvited off the panel. Everyone from Bush on down denies knowing Thacker was going to be on the panel. The best thing about Bush is that he has no principles. Sometimes he'll back down if you make a fuss.
Thread: gays

Pro-Lifers in Bangkok
US representatives to a global conference were alone in opposing a draft resolution on women's health. They explained that condoms are bad, that contraception isn't so good, and that a fertilized egg is a person. Assistant Secretary of State Gene Dewey said, "The United States supports the sanctity of life from conception to natural death." One can only conclude from this phrase that these people do not recognize the sanctity of the lives of those whose life spans have been artificially prolonged.

December 2002

WTO and Cheap Drugs for the Poor
Only one hard-hearted nation in the WTO voted against a draft resolution to let poor countries buy generic versions of patented medicines. Yeah, it was us. We're worried that drug companies aren't making enough money. The drug companies, after all, deserve something back for their campaign contributions. (And, while wemight be capitalist pigs, even we OKd poor nations buying cheap generics for a short list of ailments, includings AIDS.) Remember when
liberal activists thought that the WTO was going to force us to be international bad guys? We make the WTO look like the Red Cross.

Anti-Sodomy Laws
The US Supreme Court is going to rule whether laws against gay sodomy (but not straight sodomy) are unconstitutional. Honestly, I don't know where the Constitution prohibits the government from outlawing gay sodomy. Still, gay sodomy (and straight sodomy) should be legal because this is America, the land of the free.

Saudis on Watch List
Saudi Arabia has been added to the list of countries whose men must get fingerprinted when they come to the US. I'm sure that the INS was shamed into making this decision by my cutting commentary.
Thread: Saudi Arabia

Trent Lott
Trent Lott got squeezed out of his position as Senate majority leader. Makes you wish more politicians would speak their minds.

Taxing the Poor
Bush is looking for ways to portray the wealthy as paying too much in taxes and the working poor as paying too little. If Bush goes where it looks like he's going, the working poor are going to have to start opening PO boxes in the Bahamas as tax shelters.

States in Search of Tax Revenue and Spending Cuts
State governments across the country are in the red as tax revenues decrease. It would be opportunistic to bring up the whole argument about taxing pot and prostitution instead of using tax dollars to put pot smokers and hookers in jail, wouldn't it?
Threads: PotProstitution

November 2002

Palestinian Doubts about Violence
Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Arafat's top deputy, has called the Palestinians' two-year campaign of bombings and attacks on Israelis a mistake, since it has delayed (rather than accelerated) the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Thread: Israel-Palestine

Fingerprinting the Wrong People
The INS is fingerprinting male visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. It's funny that Saudi Arabia isn't on that list, given that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as is Osama Bin Laden. In fact, the other four hijackers were from Egypt (also an ally of ours), the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon. None were from the five countries whose nationals we're now fingerprinting. Our close ties with Saudi Arabia are an insult to US ideals and a threat to our security.
Thread: Saudi Arabia

Student Protests in Iran
Students in Iran protested the death sentence of a professor who uttered "blasphemy." (In classic ecclesiastical fashion, the religious leaders of Iran consider it blasphemy for someone to question their authority.) In the late 70s, students and fundamentalists united against our pet dictator. Now the students are opposing fundamentalist oppression as they opposed monarchic oppression a generation ago. Look for a fundamentalist crack-down followed by a secular insurgency.
Thread: Iran

Nigerian Religious Violence
Nigerian Muslims rioted over the Miss World pageant that was to be held there, leaving over a hundred dead. Apparently God hates bikinis and high heels but is OK with mob violence.
     Nigeria's government (in the southern, Christian half of the country) has outlawed stoning adulterers to death, a practice recently taken up in the northern, Muslim half of the country. Nigeria is yet another country burdened with a border drawn by Europeans (like Iraq and Israel). Colonizers drew national borders to include rival groups so that the natives could never unite and oppose colonial rule. Now that colonialism is over, the borders remain, and the people can't unite to run a functional country.

GOP Congress
Republicans gained control of the Senate. It's typical for the party that comes in first in the presidential race (Democrats in this case) to lose seats in Congress two years later. What's atypical is for that party not to have a president in the White House.

October 2002

Free Speech and Medical Marijuana
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the feds can't revoke a doctor's license for suggesting that a patient use
marijuana as medicine. It ruled that such speech is protected by the Constitution. So there, Ashcroft.
     The 9th Circuit is the same court that pointed out how unconstitutional the new words added to the Pledge of Allegiance are. God bless ’em.
Threads: AshcroftPotPledge

Prosecutors in Utah are taking the unusual approach of charging a wife, Suzie Stubbs Holm, for helping to get her 16-year old sister to marry her own 36-year old husband, Rodney Holm. Also, they're charging the husband, a police officer, with child rape. The only reason that the husband's having sex with the 16-year old is considered rape is that the state does not recognize their marriage. Would it be so bad to let a woman decide for herself whether she wants to marry into a polygynous family? Isn't this the land of the free?

Saudi Arabia
Word is that Saudia Arabia isn't doing enough to cut off funding to Al Qaeda and other Muslim extremist groups.
Thread: Saudi Arabia

I was sure the sniper was going to turn out to be a white guy. The M.O. was classic white guy psychopath. But it turns out John Allen Muhammad is black. I guess that says a lot for racial equality here in the States.
     The media made a big deal out of the case, even though attention is what the guy was after, and big media coverage increases the likelihood of copy cats. (Remember the spate of school shootings after Columbine?) I guess playing up the sniper sold well, and encouraging a copy cat has the added benefit of possibly giving the media a second crisis to make money off of.
     People are pointing to the gun violence in movies and video games as contributing to cases such as the sniper attacks. But remember that it was our military that trained Muhammad to kill people (and a very good job they did). I don't hear many people saying we should reduce the number of people in the military in order to reduce the number of McVeighs and Muhammads we train.

Israeli Settlements
The Israeli army is in trouble with Israeli conservatives for hauling Jewish Zionists out of an unsanctioned settlement just after the Sabbath. It's nice to see that the army's willing to tussle with Israeli citizens who go over the line. Next, the Israeli government should stop paying its people to live in settlements. Then the settlements should be abandoned.
Thread: Israel-Palestine

September 2002

Creationism in Georgia
A county in Georgia has OKd the teaching of creationism in its public schools. On the one hand, I wouldn't mind if the southern states started teaching creationism in their schools again. It would give us northerners the edge in science, university admissions, etc. On the other hand, the south managed to drag the rest of us down with that slavery nonsense, so maybe their teaching creationism would be trouble for us, too.

Stupid Liberals
House Majority Leader Dick Armey told a Jewish audience that liberal Jews are
liberal because they're stupid. He soon claimed that he meant the comment to apply to liberals in general, not just liberal Jews. Are liberals stupid? Unfortunately so. Does that distinguish them from conservatives? Unfortunately not.
     Armey also said that smart, conservative Jews have "careers of the mind," such as in the hard sciences. Since atheism is dramatically more common among natural scientists than among the US populace at large, would Armey say that's because smart people are more likely to be atheists?

Prostitution Ring Busted
Feds and police arrested eight suspects on the west coast for running a prostitution ring. They were enslaving young Asian women who'd come to the US illegally thinking they'd get legitimate jobs.
     Meanwhile, also here in Washington, Robert J Yates Jr. was convicted of the aggravated murder of two prostitutes. He's already been convicted of murdering another 13 women, mostly hookers.
     The reason that it's so easy and profitable for pimps to abuse hookers and for serial killers to murder them is that prostitution's illegal. It should be legal.
Thread: prostitution

Pot North and South
A special committee of the Canadian Senate investigated marijuana and found that it's not a gateway drug nor is it as dangerous as alcohol. They concluded that criminalizing marijuana is "utterly irrational." Not that this is really news.
     Meanwhile, the US feds have stepped up legal action against people in California and Washington state who are supplying sick people with
medical marijuana. A spokesman for the DEA field division in Seattle said "As far as we're concerned, there's no such thing as 'medical' marijuana." Ashcroft's assault on medical marijuana, like his assault on Oregon's assisted dying law, demonstrates that the conservative support for states' rights is opportunistic rather than principled. (These conservatives think that states should have the right to be more conservative than the federal government but not more progressive.)
Thread: AshcroftPot

Palestinian Call for Civil Resistance
The Palestinians' top security official, Interior Minister Abdel Razzak Yahya, called on Palestinians to end all violence against Israelis and switch to civil resistance. If the Palestinians were to adopt nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation, crucial US support for Israel would drop off. (Rather, US abhorrence of the Palestinians' actions would subside, leaving empathy for the Palestinians' rightful grievances in its place.)
Thread: Israel-Palestine

Bush and Egyptian Democracy
Bowing to pressure from pro-democracy forces, Bush warned Egypt that its concocted conviction of a democracy advocate could endanger US aid that the country is otherwise due. It's at times like these that I'm grateful that our president operates according to political expediency rather than according to his own principles. He'd never be pressuring Egypt about democracy on his own.
Thread: Bush

August 2002

Bush and Saudi Arabia
Bush is assuring the Saudis that he still wants to be friends with them, despite the report to a Pentagon panel that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism and is our enemy, despite the trillion-dollar lawsuit by survivors of 9/11 victims against (among others) three members of the Saudi royal family. Maybe Bush feels he has something in common with the king of Saudi Arabia, also a
, unelected, figurehead ruler from an oil-producing state.
Threads: Saudi ArabiaBush

Guatemalen Conjoined Twins
Doctors performed a $1.5 million dollar operation to separate conjoined twins. If we can just keep spending $750,000 per Third World child, we ought to have this whole hunger/dirty water/no medicine issue licked in no time.

Bush wants to attack
Iraq because Saddam won't allow us to inspect possible weapon sites. So Saddam told Congress they could come and do inspections, and Congress told him to shut up and stop causing trouble. Meanwhile, the civilian death toll from the sanctions has reached about a million. I thought killing civilians to try to force political change was what makes Arafat a terrorist.

July 2002

The Pope on Clergy Sex Abuse
Speaking publicly on the topic for the first time, the Pope (true to form) referred to this issue as if the problem were sinful priests. He avoided the more serious issue of a criminal church hierarchy that protected sex predators and helped them prey on kids.
Thread: bishops' coverup

Muslims Boycott Coke
In an effort to hurt us where our heart is, Muslims in the Arab world have begun boycotting US products, such as Coke, McDonalds, and KFC. More power to them, I say. This move suggests that the Muslim world may be moving into the 20th century, politically speaking. They're using a popular boycott to pressure the establishment, as Gandhi did in India and King did in the US.

A Vote to Lift the Ban on Travel to Cuba
The US House of Representatives voted to lift the ban on travel to Cuba. Maybe the War on Terrorism will have the beneficial side effect of distracting the conservatives enough that we'll actuallly make progress on issues unrelated to jihad. Like Cuba.
Thread: Cuba

Iranian Women Can Now Divorce Drunks
The women of Iran have earned the right to divorce their husbands if the husbands are drug addicts (including alcoholics). Otherwise, a woman's divorce process is years long and uncertain. Iran's progress in getting out from under the fundamentalists that we inadvertently helped gain power continues—gradually.

Hashish Supports Terrorism
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say that hashish smugglers are supporting terrorists in and around Afghanistan. To stop our nation's hunger for THC from supporting international terrorism, we should treat growing pot as no more serious an infraction than possessing it. After all, the more we grow at home, the less we buy from terrorists and criminals.

Seattle-Area Cops Kill Another Man
Seattle area police shot and killed some guy in a shootout at a meth lab. Sounds like a white guy to me, but I'm not bothering to find out. Nothing significant has happened in the "white cops killing black men" issue since I first started following it, so I'm going to stop. (Until something new happens, anyway.)
Thread: white cop black man

International Criminal Court
The US has refused to go along with the ICC. There's no reason for us to go along with it. If we want someone for this or that crime, we can just go get them, as we did with Noriega. If we want to charge someone (or not) for something, we can hold them and treat them as we like, as with the Taliban detainees. We can do what we want without an international criminal court, so the only thing the court can do as far as we're concerned is help the little countries gang up against us. There's no reason for us to support the ICC.
     Other than the justice, that is.

June 2002

Black Man Murders White Cop
In an ironic turn of events, a black man killed a white King County Sheriff's deputy. Just how this murder is to be tabulated in the scorecard of Seattle-area cops killing black men remains to be seen. I suggest that it count as "negative one" black man killed by the police, as it represents a guy who should have been killed but wound up killing a police officer instead.
     It would have been better for the deputy to shoot and kill this man instead of futilely pepper spraying him. In that case, however, the local black leaders, who say that local police are too quick to shoot black men, would be calling for him to be fired and possibly charged with criminal conduct. As it is, they say that this murder is not a race issue. (Someone seems to have made them the arbiters of which killings are racial issues and which aren't.)
     We'll never know whether the threat of a backlash from the local black leadership motivated the deputy to draw his pepper spray when he should have drawn his sidearm.
Thread: white cop black man

Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled it unconstitutional for schools to have students say the pledge of allegiance, thanks to the words "under God" having been inserted into it. Critics say that by the same logic we'll have to remove "In God we trust" from our coins and "so help me God" from the oath that judges swear on taking office. Advocates of the ruling, however, say that by the same logic we'll have to remove "In God we trust" from our coins and "so help me God" from the oath that judges swear on taking office.
     I wrote my rant on this topic before the ruling, so help me God.

Ashcroft and the 2nd Amendment
Ashcroft says that the 2nd amendment's right to bear arms applies to individuals, not to state militias. Remember, the purpose of the amendment is not to insure the citizens can shoot burglars but to insure that they can fight back against a government turned tyrannical. Thus, if the 2nd amendment protects my right to have a handgun, it equally protects my right to have a bazooka.
Thread: Aschroft

Seattle School "Race Gap"
Seattle public school administrators have reaffirmed their impossible goal of eliminating the "race gap" by the year 2005. They acknowledge that they might not succeed.

Race Questionnaires for Seattle Cops
The Seattle City Council wants Seattle police officers (who are accused of being trigger happy around blacks) to fill out a questionnaire with every traffic stop they make, recording the race of the driver and whether the officer knew the race before making the stop. Their goal is see whether blacks are being pulled over disproportionatey (as if that would indicate racial profiling on the part of the police).
white cop black man

Roman Catholic Bishops Cover Their Asses
In an audacious display of self-serving spin, Roman Catholic bishops in the US have trotted out a "get tough" policy to handle sex abuse by priests. For decades, the Catholic hierarchy sacrificed lay Catholics in order to protect sex-predator clergy from scandal. Now that the scandal has finally broken loose, the bishops are sacrificing sex-predatory clergy as a distraction in order to protect themselves and folks like Cardinal Law from the backlash they so richly deserve.
Thread: bishops' coverup

More Saudi Arabian Evil
Saudia Arabia is on our list of countries that do nothing to halt trafficking in human beings. One more time, why are we friends with this repressive theocracy?
Thread: Saudi Arabia

May 2002

Bush Re-Affirms Cuba Embargo
It's not so much the hypocrisy of the embargo that I mind, or that it's such a clear case of niche politics. What bothers me about the embargo is the sheer peevishness of it. The Cuba embargo is one of the stunts that takes the luster off being an American.

April 2002

White Cop Kills Black Man
An off-duty, white King County sheriff's deputy shot and killed Robert Lee Thomas,a black man. So far, the complaints of trigger-happy, racist cops have been about the Seattle Police Department, not the King County Sheriff's Office. It was unclear at first, therefore, whether this shooting would be counted as part of the high incidence of Seattle cops shooting black men. Then people protesting the shooting blocked a freeway, and it became clear that this shooting did indeed count. Leaders of the black community are calling for there to be an investigation and for the shooter to be fired, not necessarily in that order.
The last time the leaders of the black community called for a cop's firing and an investigation at the same time was over a year ago when white SPD officers shot and killed another black man, Aaron Roberts. When the police officers weren't fired, a leader of the black community clobbered the mayor of Seattle with a bullhorn. This time, it's a county cop, not a city cop, so it'll have to be the King County Executive who gets a broken nose and eye socket. That's a little tricky, though, as the King County Executive is black.
Still no one has taken up the cause of men, who make up an unrelenting 100% of police shooting fatalities.
Thread: white cop black man

Ashcroft Told to Back Off
In a victory for states' rights and individual rights, Attorney General John Ashcroft got told he couldn't shut down Oregon's assisted suicide law. Republicans claim to be proponents of states' rights, but Ashcroft's attempt to override Oregon's law (as well as federal harassment of
people helping sick pot smokers in California) demonstrates that they're not. They're for states' rights when the states are more conservative than Washington, D.C. (see school desegregation), but they're against states' rights when the states are more liberal than Washington. The Republicans' inconsistent call for "states' rights" is refreshingly free of principle. (And remember, Ashcroft's the guy who promised that he'd be able to do his job fairly despite his religious predilections.)

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
There's guilt on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but here's why I've reluctantly decided to back Israel: Israel distinguishes between civilians and combatants in order to target combatants, while the PLO distinguishes between civilians and combatants in order to target civilians.

Seattle Cops Kill Asian Man
Now Seattle cops went and killed an Asian man, making their purported racism murkier. At first there was the possibility that this killing would be incorporated into the phenomenon of "Seattle cops killing minority men," but it wasn't. Still no one's taking up the cause of men, who represent 100% of fatal shootings by Seattle cops.
Thread: white cop black man

March 2002

Censoring Internet Access
As much as I don't like censorship, I have a hard time getting excited about making sure that minors at our libraries have unfiltered access to

Reparations for Slavery
Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, on behalf of the descendents of US slaves, has filed a suit against Aetna, CSX, and FleetBoston, seeking unspecified damages. Farmer-Paellmann claims that these corporations were unjustly enriched by slavery and that the descendents of slaves deserve reparations. If corporations are to be held accountable for having treated people according to current laws rather than according to laws that were then on the books, then they should also compensate the descendents of 19th-century and early 20th-century workers who didn't get a minimum wage, health coverage, safe working conditions, etc.

Catholic Coverup Continues
The Roman Catholic Pope, referring to the sex abuse scandal in the US, said that the issue was priests "succumbing even to the most grievous forms of the
mysterium iniquitatis [the mystery of sin]." Note how the Pontiff whips out the fancy Latin in order to obfuscate, portraying the scandal as a mysterious, spiritual phenomenon. Thus he avoids the real issue, which is the patently unmysterious way in which church clerics covered their own asses by covering up the abuse. The Pope said that "the human heart has always been attracted to evil," which is a way of distracting us from the methodical, heartless evil of Cardinal Law and those like him.
Thread: Bishops' coverup

Andrea Yates
The case of Andrea Yates is fascinating because her story pushes all the buttons. Her story involves fundamentalist Christianity, the status of women, home-schooling, crime and punishment, the death penalty, health care, and psychiatry and mental health. She's even from Texas, the most American of the United States.

Saudi Peace Plan
The Saudis are floating a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. It's a sham. The Israelis are supposed to back off to their 1967 borders and support a Palestinian state, and in return the Saudis and other Arab states will recognize Israel. If this were a sincere offer, the recognition would come first, because if it's supposed to come second it won't come at all. What the Palestinians need to win over the world to their side is a Gandhi, a King, or a Mandela of their own. Once the Palestinans have a leader organizing nonviolent resistance, the Israelis will have to make concessions. Until the Palestinians have such a leader, maybe they don't deserve a state.

February 2002

The Supreme Court is considering vouchers. Politicians can use voucher laws to increase parental choice, to siphon money and good students out of
public schools, or to win votes from the Catholics. Students can use federal loans to attend church colleges (as I did). I don't see anything constitutionally different about parents using state vouchers to send their kids to church schools. The trick is to implement the vouchers so that they help poor kids get better educations, not just favor and subsidize the wealthy.

Teen Condoms
Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family criticized Colin Powell for saying that sexually active teens should use condoms. "He clearly doesn't understand the science regarding condom efficacy," said Dobson. But it's dishonest for Dobson to cite science as his motive to opposing condom use. His real concern is that he believes that there's a supremely powerful, authoritative spirit that forbids fornication. It would be honest of Dobson just to give his true reasons for opposing condom use rather than pretending that practical issues are his concern.

White Cops Kill Another Black Man
Seattle Cops killed a man with a sword in the U District. Perhaps predictably, it was a black guy. Luckily, the cops killed a white guy recently, so
their ratio isn't that bad. It's not like Cincinnati, where they shoot unarmed black men in the back (and only shoot black men). The gender skew, however, is incredible. The Seattle cops only kill men, not women. It's so unfair.

Murdered Hookers
Police are searching a pig farm near Vancouver, BC, for the remains of murdered prostitutes. These women were vulnerable to a serial killer because prostitution is illegal. Hookers routinely get into the cars of creepy guys they don't know. If prostitution were legal, they wouldn't have to put themselves at such risk. Prostitutes would be safer, and it would be easier to catch men who preyed on them, like the Green River Killer and Robert Lee Yates. Anti-prostitution laws kill hookers, and they should be repealed.

They cloned a cat. I can't think of a good reason why cloning people should be illegal, other than that
it's abhorrent.

Cardinal Law
Cardinal Bernard Law of the Boston Archdiocese is an evil schmuck. Under his direction, the
Roman Catholic clergy sacrificed lay children to a . In his own defense, Law says that he only recognized the evil of protecting a predatory pedophile in hindsight. That's crap. Law should either say, "I apparently can't tell the difference between right and wrong, so I must resign." Or he should say, "I knew it was wrong to help a pedophile molest your children, but I did it anyway. I clearly care more about the status of the clergy and the esteem of the church hierarchy than about the well-being of lay people, so I hereby resign."

Some of the blame also lies with the Pope. He perpetuates a system in which priests are not allowed to marry, their careers are said to be sanctified by God Himself, and priests are attributed special supernatural powers. If the Pope admitted that these guys are just folks like the rest of us, it would be easier to believe it and admit it when they molest kids.

Rich people steal buttloads of money. This is news?

Taliban Detainees
The Taliban detainees are prisoners of war, and should not be interrogated. The Al Qaeda detainees are unlawful combatants and not subject to the Geneva Conventions. They infiltrate as civilians rather than fighting in uniform, which disqualifies them from the protections granted to legitimate soldiers. If you don't play by the rules, the rules don't apply to you.