A Plethora of Pinheads

4 05 2010

Let us examine the Great American Pinhead (craniorectal-inversionus northamericanus). This odious creature has the outward appearance of a stable, adult homo sapiens of either gender, and is found in dense herds wandering the countryside and (especially) on internet forums.

Case in point: A laughably poor attempt to firebomb Times Square in New York City fails due to industrial-strength ineptitude and a lack of understanding of basic chemistry. The would-be bomber is obviously a pinhead in his own right, but the weapons-grade pinheads emerged on internet forums and chat rooms over the next couple of days. Those on the Left were practically wetting themselves in public, crowing that the failed bomber had to be a teabagger. All manner of spurious justifications for this theory were advanced, but- in reality- the leftish pinheads were desperately praying that someone associated with the tea party movements was responsible. They were more interested in fixing blame on their political rivals than in discovering the truth. When that truth finally emerged, the leftish pinheads pouted and sulked and said, in so many words, how much they really wanted it to be a teabagger.

Those on the right weathered the storm of criticisms from their political rivals until the police caught the Failbomber- who turned out to be a Pakistani-born muslim who was a naturalized US citizen. The rightish pinheads immediately began their usual frothing at the mouth about Islam supposedly being the root of all evils (isn’t money supposed to be the root of all evil?), and getting further incensed at the fact that the arrested Failbomber was given the benefit of the rights and privileges afforded all Americans, including- gasp!– being read his rights. Republican politicians began shrieking about stripping the Failbomber of his citizenship (and by extension, his rights to due process), completely forgetting not only what little sense they had ever possessed, but also their tiny store of knowledge about Constitutional law. Allow me to remind you, dear reader, that most politicians are lawyers. One would think that a lawyer would have at least a tentative grasp of the fundamentals of US law.

Speaking of lawyers (those paragons of morality and good sense), remember that Pennsylvania school district that issued to laptops to all their students and then remotely activated the built-in webcams to spy on those students at home? Police investigators discovered somewhere on the close order of sixty thousand webcam photos on the school’s servers. Still desperately clinging to the ludicrous belief that they had done nothing wrong, the district hired a pack of lawyers to conduct an “independent investigation”. Oddly enough, this independent investigation was conducted by the legal defense team and firm hired by the school district. Those worthies even released a report whose title announced how independent it was. To everyone’s surprise, the school district’s lawyers discovered that the school district hadn’t done anything wrong. Everyone immediately heaved a great sigh of relief and went back to more important matters laughed themselves sick and continued with the local, state, and federal criminal investigations- not to mention the various lawsuits.

Speaking of things which will not end well, Arizona is only now starting to discover the price of their recent decision to demand proof of legal residence of anyone at any time (You vill show me der papers!). The legislature and the governor were greatly taken aback by the storm of protests from just about everywhere. The White House condemned them, and (predictably) so did the the government of Mexico. What really started getting the attention of the tax-fattened hyenas inhabiting the Arizona legislature were the economic effects as governments and businesses from inside the US announced boycotts against Arizona. Oopsie! Didn’t think your cunning plan all the way through, did you? These minor (but potentially significant) economic hazards are likely to be dwarfed by the legal effects once this travesty of justice goes into effect in July. There are swarms of attorneys feverishly drafting lawsuits and amicus briefs in anticipation of the judicial bloodbath that will surely ensue as soon as the first US citizen gets arrested under this law.

While I’m on the subject of unintended consequences, the Master Pinheads in the Logic-Free Zone grew mightily wroth after the passage of the recent health-care reform legislation when several major companies announced that they would be taking significant hits to their next quarter’s earnings. The companies made these announcements in compliance with a Federal law requiring them to do so. What got the congressional pinheads so worked up was the reason for the charges against earnings: to pay for the increased costs of operating under the health-care reform legislation. Congressional hearings were swiftly convened for the purpose of smacking the collective peepees of those evil corporations. How dare they demonstrate that the Law of Unintended Consequences always makes it through Congress?

A weird thing happened before those hearings were held. Somebody whose brain cells weren’t dying of loneliness managed to convey to our legislative pinheads some actual facts. Little tidbits like the Federal requirement to announce charges against earnings and (more likely) the notion that those corporations had all contributed heavily to the election campaigns of most of the congressional idiots. That last particular bit of belated knowledge un-dudgeoned the congresscritters with the quickness, and those hearings somehow fell off the radar. Odd, that.

Thus concludes our latest ventures among the various examples of the Great American Pinhead. I have no doubt there will be further episodes, because the species is widely distributed and is immune to normal human reactions like shame.

Current status: nauseated

Current music: All I Want by Toad the Wet Sprocket





Papers? We Ain’t Got No Papers!

21 04 2010

Let me start out by saying that illegal immigration is a significant problem for the United States. In my opinion, the biggest threat posed by illegal immigration is the fact that both major political parties in this country use the issue to goad their followers into a frenzy. People living along the US border with Mexico might not agree, which is their privilege. They’re closer to the problem, and deal with the short-term consequences of it every day. I, however, live in the Shallow South. We have a much smaller problem with illegal immigrants here, which allows some of us to look at the forest, while others are focused on the trees.

My personal opinion is to allow open immigration, with the stipulation that every would-be immigrant gets photographed, fingerprinted, and gives a DNA sample. Make the immigration process inexpensive and not particularly time-consuming, then open the flood gates and put ’em to work- at regular wages and paying taxes.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this country making money- and scoring political points- from illegal immigration. The money bit we can deal with by fining to smithereens any company employing illegal immigrants (and jailing the company executives). The political issue, however, is a tougher nut to crack. The folks on the right like using illegal immigration to stir up thinly-disguised racism among their followers. The folks on the left like using illegal immigration to push through ever-greater entitlement programs in their quest for cradle-to-grave government dependency for all. Both groups also enjoy getting campaign contributions and other baksheesh from grateful company executives who get to use illegal immigrants as not-quite slaves. I am admittedly painting with a wide brush, but the fact remains that many politicians have vested interests in illegal immigration.

In Arizona, for example, the state legislature has sent an illegal immigration bill to the Governor for signature. Among other things, this bill would require all legal immigrants to carry their residence status documents with them at all times. That, in itself, is only slightly fascistic. Another part of the bill allows law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship from anyone who- in the opinion of the law enforcement officer- might be an illegal immigrant.

For those of you with quizzical expressions on your faces, here is a capsule description: Any cop in Arizona can demand proof of legal residence from any brown person in the state- anywhere, anytime. For those who are still wondering why this is a problem, ask yourself what will happen to the throngs of American citizens (born and raised here in the US) of Latin American descent. Now ask yourself this: how would you provide proof of citizenship if required to do so? Don’t bother reaching for your wallet- your driver’s license alone won’t do. Passport, birth certificate, or other US Government documentation proving legal residence por favor.

I’m reasonably certain that the standard of “innocent until proven guilty” is still in effect in this country, but this Arizona bill threatens to turn that on its head. Any person who looks like they might be an illegal immigrant to any cop in Arizona will now be forced to prove his or her innocence at any moment. How anyone with a functioning brain (I include Arizona politicians as a courtesy) can believe this is a good idea is completely beyond me. It’s not just un-Constitutional, it is industrial-strength stupid and utterly un-American.

I’m told that there is a large community of expatriate Canadians living in Arizona, no doubt some of which have expired visas. Will the Arizona police agencies be conducting sweeps for people wearing touks? Will there be INS raids for people who can’t quite master the words about or house? I somehow doubt it. The cops in Arizona will most likely take the path of least resistance and just pull over every person with brown skin and toss ’em in jail if they cannot provide proof of citizenship or legal residence.

Here’s a better idea: Arizona cops should make a policy of pulling over every single member of the state legislature and demanding that they provide proof of legal residence. Make ’em squat on the side of the road while the cops check their ID, all the while speaking to them in broken Spanish. See how long this law stays on the books.

If the Arizona legislature wants to do something about illegal immigration, fine. Draft a law punishing employers who hire illegals. That will dramatically reduce the number of illegal immigrants. Passing laws which turn every law enforcement agent into stereotypical gestapo (papers, bitte!) is a colossal waste of time and money, and furthermore takes law enforcement personnel away from their primary tasks in favor of harassing brown people. Imagine the lawsuits under the 4th Amendment from legal residents and natural-born citizens who get victimized by this law. The money spent fighting these inevitable legal battles would be far better spent on dealing with more important issues, in my opinion. There is no excuse for violating the civil rights of any American in this manner.

For those of you living in Arizona, you might want to un-elect every incumbent next election. The ones you have are obviously morons.

Current status: Visibly peeved

Current music: No Rain by Blind Melon





Outrage

18 04 2010

If you were to read a news article about a government seizing a couple’s property against their wishes and in direct violation of valid powers-of-attorney and living wills, what country would first come to mind? Would it be the US?

Sonoma County, California did exactly this to an elderly gay couple when the older man, Harold Greene,  had to be taken to the hospital after a fall at home. The hospital and county case workers refused to allow his partner Clay in to see Harold. They absolutely refused to consider Clay as anything other than a room-mate, with no rights regarding Harold’s care. The county tried to get a court to rule that Harold had no family in order to gain access to Harold’s assets. When the judge denied their claim, the county went a step farther.

Without bothering to determine which man owned what or even the value of their combined assets, Sonoma County seized and auctioned off everything Harold and Clay owned. The county evicted Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will- choosing a different nursing home from Harold’s. The county terminated their lease on the house and returned it to their landlord.

Harold died alone in the nursing home a few months later, and his partner of twenty years was not permitted to visit him (family only, you know). All Clay has left is a scrapbook of pictures he and Harold had put together in the last year before he died.

I don’t care how you feel about homosexuals. Even the most rabid homophobe this side of Phredd Phelps should be up in arms over this case.  The fact that a government agency in this country can throw someone into a nursing home against their will, then auction off that person’s assets to pay for their care in direct violation of legal powers-of-attorney and valid living wills is such a gross travesty of justice that I find myself lacking the proper words to describe my outrage. Sonoma County appears to have willfully abrogated the rule of law in order to sentence two old men to spend their remaining lifetimes in nursing homes, then stole all of their belongings to pay for this act. It took legal action by his court-appointed attorneys to get Clay out of the nursing home. Despite his good health, he was now indigent, thanks to Sonoma County.

The laws in this country have been developed over centuries, stretching back beyond the founding of America to English Common Law. There is a mountain of case law throughout this period which holds that governments are bound by legal documents such as wills and powers-of-attorney. The fact that a local government can blithely set all that aside is monstrous. Revolutions have been started for acts such as this.

Clay has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against Sonoma County, showing that he’s a far better man than I. He is demonstrating far more maturity than I possess at this action by the county government, and I am not even directly victimized by this. I say, directly victimized, because the entire body politic of the United States has been victimized by these byzantine excesses of local authority against a citizen. The preamble to the Constitution starts with We, the People. There is no mention of exceptions for homosexuals, ethnic minorities, speakers of foreign languages, left-handed people, or followers of one religion or another. We, the People of the United States, have suffered an injustice in the form of atrocious bad actions on the part of a county government against an innocent citizen.

Make ’em pay.

Current status: Speechless with rage

Current music: Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs





Non-Momentary Lapse of Reason

12 04 2010

You have achieved discontinuity of meaning.”

I find myself shouting those words at my television a lot these days, along with a great deal of choice invective in a variety of languages. The sheer number of brain-dead, mouth-breathing wastes of genetic material who manage to get media coverage is literally staggering. Where do I begin?

How about the Hutaree- the apocalyptic fundamentalist christian doomsday cult militia who were so totally insane that other militias turned them in to the cops? It turns out that these stellar examples of the “master race” were collecting coffee cans to make explosively-formed projectiles. They discovered a hitch in their cunning plan when it turned out that the coffee cans in question did not- in fact- contain any metal. These people are stupid beyond belief- not merely because they are trained by their loathsome version of christianity to be credulous dolts and therefore have little idea of how science works, but because they believed that murdering a few dozen policemen and their mourning relatives would somehow bring about their apocalyptic war against the heathens.

Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.” – Thomas Paine

Next we have a “retired” politician telling her fellow low foreheads that America doesn’t need “this snake-oil science stuff“. I have not yet made up my mind about anthropogenic climate change- largely because no follower of Saint AlGore has yet been able to explain the Medieval Warm Period in the context of their religion. That said, the rabid anti-intellectualism implicit in her comments ought to strike a chill in the heart of all Americans. For those of you who slept through their high-school science classes, here’s a couple of clue chits for you: The only field of endeavor in which the US is dominant today is science and research. The US has dominated the sciences and medicine for decades, and this pre-eminence attracts the best and brightest from around the world to our universities and research centers. Science is practically the only thing we can reliably claim to be the best at, but this political hack and her fundamentalist cronies seem to want to turn back the clock on science because they don’t like the answers science gives them.

Geology shows that fossils are of different ages. Paleontology shows a fossil sequence, the list of species represented changes through time. Taxonomy shows biological relationships among species. Evolution is the explanation that threads it all together. Creationism is the practice of squeezing one’s eyes shut and wailing “Does not!” – Author Unknown

Speaking of the American Taliban, the former head of the Texas school textbook commission is famously quoted as saying, “Someone has to stand up to the experts!” Sorry, sparky. Your personal relationship with a dead jewish guy does not trump the evidence easily available to anyone with an open mind. It ought to be enough to see that the garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies in the bottom of it, too (to paraphrase Douglas Adams). Why is it easier for these loons to believe easily-debunked fables when the truth is much more interesting? There’s an entire universe out there for us to learn about and explore, but these religious fuckwits insist on fixing their heads firmly inside their collective rectums because they like the view so much better. Worse, they insist that everyone else has to be limited to the same field of view.

I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do. – D. Dale Gulledge

Lest I be accused of “bashing christianity”, let us examine another pack of rabidly batshit fundies. The Hasidic community in Brooklyn has their beards in a tangle over the fact that “scantily clad” females ride their bicycles down the public thoroughfares near their self-created ghetto.The Hasidim in question are the descendants of a large community which moved to Brooklyn in a body to get away from the persecution they experienced in Europe- just after the end of the second World War. The irony of the situation must be totally lost on these fundamentalist ass-hats: they came to Brooklyn because they wanted the freedom to practice their religion as they saw fit, but they now insist on denying those same freedoms to everyone around them. Unfortunately for the bearded ones, those public thoroughfares are public fucking thoroughfares. So long as the laws of the city, county, and state of New York are not broken, they’re just going to have to put up with it.

We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart. – H.L. Mencken

What do all of these episodes have in common? Fundamentalism. There is something terribly wrong in the way these people think and see the world. To the fundamentalists, perfection is just a round the last corner. They all want to live in a free society, but they only want those freedoms for themselves. Everyone else has to behave and believe exactly as they do, or else. Here is the core disconnect between the religious fundamentalist and any moron of average intelligence: Any mass-murderer can ask for forgiveness on his death bed and go to heaven, but Ghandi burns forever in hell because he was not christian. How about this- if God doesn’t like the way I live, let him tell me, not you.

Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense. – Chapman Cohen

These are not isolated incidents. They are all part of a growing trend toward fundamentalism here in this country that is by nature destructive to American ideals and individual liberties. The religious neo-barbarians are all intent on destroying the very core of our civilization. We, the People, need to exercise our own rights to free speech and free association to counter the religiously deluded at every turn. These creatures must be confronted with facts and logic whenever they spew their lies and innuendo in public. Their histrionics and stupidity must be countered with rational discourse and firm resolve. Those who refuse to submit to the religious thought police must stand united against the darkness those fanatics seek to draw across our country.

It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.  – Denis Diderot

I will not submit to the will of any god- or the followers of any god. I will make my own way … and leave a trail for others to follow if they wish. I will not force my ideas upon any other, nor demand they believe as I do. All I ask in return is the same privilege.

I do not support religion because it demands that we give up our most important human asset, the ability to question. It demands that we simply believe. Isn’t that true of any dictator, of any totalitarian society? Insofar as social development is concerned, nothing is of greater importance than the human function of questioning. Questioning led to the development of civilization. – Vladimir Pozner

Current status: Profoundly irked

Current music: Free Will by Rush





Idiot on Parade

9 02 2010

You have entered a world whose only boundary is the lack of imagination, a world where right and wrong have no objective meaning, where only dreams of mounting petty authority matter … there’s the signpost up ahead. Next stop: the school administrator zone.

(cue eerie music)

School officials just can’t seem to avoid going out of their way to shoot themselves in the foot. Let us take, for example, the case of a school principal from Charlotte, North Carolina. After being hired in 2008 with a mandate to increase the school’s test scores and other metrics, this alleged person decided to issue a personal fatwa that no one would be permitted to speak Spanish at the school. This news was probably unsettling to many people, including the school’s large minority (42%) of hispanic students, their parents, and the school’s bilingual secretary, who had been hired in 2006 because she spoke fluent Spanish.

Perhaps Principal Suzanne Gimenez was concerned about immersing all the students in English to improve their academic standing. After all, the school’s theme is “Academy of Cultural and Academic Diversity“. Her words did not seem to match this possibly-useful idea. She supposedly ordered at her first Staff meeting that no one would speak Spanish to any of the parents of the school’s students.

Speaking only English to the students is perhaps understandable. I fail to understand any rational reason to speak only English to the parents. Most of those parents are first-generation immigrants.

Immigrants to this country are generally assimilated in a pretty regular manner: the first generation moves into a local area filled with similar immigrants. These people work hard to immerse themselves in their local Chinatown or Little Italy where they are surrounded by familiar culture and language, and many of them never master English. They can get by with normal conversation, but complicated issues involving laws (for example) are very hard to get across without a good command of English.

The second generation usually grows up speaking their parents’ language at home, but English everywhere else. These second-generation immigrants almost always speak English fluently by the time they’re in their teens. These kids often marry outside their local culture and raise their children speaking mostly English- even at home.

So if, for example, a distraught Spanish-speaking mother comes to the school trying to figure out why her son had told her that someone had put a stick up his butt, it is less than helpful for the school despot … I mean, Principal … to insist that the victimized 6 year-old child do the translating. When the bilingual secretary tries to help, it is profoundly unhelpful for that same principal to scream at the secretary for speaking Spanish in front of the confused and fearful mother of a possibly-molested child. Worse still, it beggars belief that the principal would go out of her way to drive that secretary out of the office for trying to help parents by speaking Spanish. A lawsuit has been filed.

Attention, school administrators! Your sole reason for existence at work is to make sure the students get a good education. Anytime you let your narcissism and bloated sense of self worth get in the way of that primary function, you have utterly failed in your purpose in our society. Flexing your administrative powers for petty personal aggrandizement should not be on the agenda. If you get off on minor power trips, I suggest you take out those sadistic impulses by pulling the wings off flies.

Who am I to dictate to school administrators how they should act? I am the Public. School administrators are public servants.

The only reason these tin-plated tyrants with delusions of adequacy are allowed to get away with these sorts of stupidities is because they aren’t held accountable by their masters. For those of you playing at home, you can find a member of this master class by looking in a fucking mirror. We, the People, must hold these impediments to education accountable for their lack of visible signs of sentience. Go to school board meetings and raise Hell. If the members of the Board can’t get the problem resolved, get together with some of the other voters in your district and replace the Board with members who can. Run for office yourself. Those children being victimized by petty autocrats posing as school administrators are going to be the adults running the country when you’re trying to retire. Your future, our country’s future, is being forged by small-minded bureaucrats at local schools all over the US by turning our children into nominally-intelligent technopeasants.

Current status: Pissed off again

Current music: Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance





Corruption

1 02 2010

As an American, I find myself increasingly at odds- philosophically- with the warlord in charge of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). Although an elected official, Sheriff Arpaio seems to be going out of his way to emulate the tactics of some of the more villainous despots of the 20th Century. There are published reports that MCSO deputies have harassed and intimidated journalists who have reported less than flattering things about the Sheriff. He routinely brings unsubstantiated charges against elected officials and judges who displease him in any way. He reportedly threatened the mayor of Guadalupe after she complained about a raid on a Catholic church there. MCSO personnel repeatedly conduct operations within the jurisdiction of other cities. There have been reported beatings of prisoners in the jails under his control, and several prisoners have died in custody. Note that not everyone in jail has been convicted of any crime. The Maricopa County Jail is the holding area for many local jurisdictions, and many people are held there pending bail or arraignment.

His most recent brawl with local authorities happened when one of his deputies took some paperwork from the Defense Attorney’s desk … in the middle of court … on camera. The judge tried to let it slide if the deputy would apologize, but Sheriff Joe said, “No.” The judge ordered the deputy held for contempt, and MCSO staged a sick-out. That deputy was not punished, and still has not been submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.

For all his bluster about working for the people of Maricopa County, he’s costing them a ton of money. From Wikipedia:

From 2004 through November 2007, Arpaio was the target of 2,150 lawsuits in U.S. District Court and hundreds more in Maricopa County courts, with more than $50 million in claims being filed, 50 times as many prison-conditions lawsuits as the New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston jail systems combined.

That’s in addition to the security precautions he’s taken, including working out of an office building in lieu of the jail or courthouse- all at taxpayer expense.

While gathering information for this article, I found myself with a profoundly unpleasant feeling. I actually asked myself if publishing this commentary might cause problems to one of my relatives who lives and works within the MCSO sphere of influence. Having had this deeply un-American thought, I immediately shrugged it off and commenced to hunting and pecking away at the keyboard. It is shameful that any public official in this country can cause such questions to be asked, and is itself a denunciation of Sheriff Arpaio and his tactics.

How does this stereotypical TV villain get away with all of this? Part of it is the older voters in the county. He claims to be tough on crime, and a lot of older folks eat that up. He also has a lot of political pull with the state and local governments- probably because he has “dirt” on various politicos. Worse still, he’s been trying to brand himself as “America’s Sheriff”, and this has endeared him to a lot of right-wing fanatics with more partisan zeal than intellectual capacity. Any denunciation of Arpaio results in the loud-and-loonie wing of the conservative movement circling the wagons and doing everything possible to protect him. I have two words for those people:

NOT. HELPING.

You aren’t helping your own cause by getting mixed up with the manifold perfidies of Joe Arpaio and his sturmtruppen at the MCSO. The FBI is already investigating him for abuse of power and other sins, and the latest polls show his approval ratings have dropped to around 35%. Not exactly a rising star. In addition, Arpaio should be the antithesis of all the conservatives stand for. He aggressively intrudes his government power into private affairs and exemplifies the power of the State without a leash. Conservatives should be vilifying this man, not protecting him.

Alas, partisan politics seems to trump common sense and even self-interest. For those of you unsure what life would be like without the protection from the government guaranteed (NOT granted) by the Constitution, look no farther than Maricopa County, Arizona. Right here in the USA.

Perhaps someone should tell Sheriff Arpaio about the Battle of Athens. He’d probably be better off if the Feds got him.

Current status: Irked

Current music: Do It Again by Steely Dan





Scattershot

23 01 2010

Here are a few bits and pieces of interest to me.

Stupid Gets Smacked Down

And yet fails to learn its lesson. The Glenn County Board of Education has reversed Gary Tudesko’s expulsion for the horrific crime of having firearms in his truck … off campus. The board saw the firestorm of protest (mostly online) generated by the case and decided to trim the sails of the Willow High School administrators.

Those worthies are expressing outrage. The district superintendent was particularly insane in his complaint:

Steve Olmos’ response was one of confusion.The decision “has left me dumbfounded, almost speechless,” he said. The county board “is undermining our authority. They are definitely saying we don’t have jurisdiction off campus,” he complained.

Here’s a clue chit: You don’t have any authority off the fucking campus. If Gary Tudesko had brought those shotguns to school, he would have deserved expulsion- and probably some jail time. The fact that those shotguns were legally stored in a private motor vehicle off campus means he hadn’t broken any laws. He hadn’t broken any school regulations, either. The fact that he’s apparently a redneck of the first water is not an expulsion offense.

Score one for reason and rationality.

Hoist One for our Founders

I like the Brits. I like a lot of things about the UK. I am profoundly less enthusiastic about the UK’s libel laws and their State religion.

It turns out that a certain blogger has been pointing out the very stupid writings and sayings of a certain Anglican vicar, who complained to the police. The police sent an officer around to talk with the blogger, who thereafter agreed to move his blog from Blogspot to WordPress (he had apparently started the blog while in school, and the school wanted no part of the controversy). The police stressed that the blog’s author was not being “cautioned” or warned.

The vicar apparently decided that he now had all kinds of authority. Here is what he wrote to an Australian blogger who was also tormenting him with his own words and deeds:

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.

Vicious little bastard, isn’t he? The vicar, Stephen Sizer, is an anti-semitic loon of the first water and a Holocaust denier who is apparently a favorite read among the thugs ruling Iran.

One wonders why the police felt it necessary to confront a blogger over what is surely a matter for civil courts- even in the UK. Imagine that sort of crap taking place here in the US.

Pastor: I want to complain about this guy who’s been writing things about me. On the internet.

Police: You got the wrong number, buddy. That’s not a police problem.

Pastor: But … he’s making me look bad!

Police: Sue him. Not our problem.

Not that I have that much faith in most police agencies in this country, but they have more than enough on their plates without getting involved in purely civil matters.

Hardcore

Take a soldier out to your local watering hole, and buy that worthy a drink in honor of Major Richard (Dick) Winters (retired), formerly of Easy Company, 516th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. He turned 92 this week. For those who have not managed to catch Band of Brothers on TV, here’s a clip. Here is a clip showing Maj. Winters in person.

There are several worthwhile reads regarding Dick Winters and the men he served with. Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers. Winters’ war memoir is Beyond Band of Brothers. Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron wrote Brothers in Battle: Best of Friends. Buck Compton wrote Call of Duty.

These men were heroes all, and they would likely be the first to remind you that they weren’t alone in their heroism. Thousands of ordinary men were thrust into a world of savagery and fire and blood and fought their way through it, making the world a much better place by doing so. We owe these men, and their brothers in arms wearing the uniforms of Great Britain, France, Poland, Russia, and China. Those men and women who fought and bled and all too often died to rid the world of a monster. We were lucky to have them.

If there is a just god, then Dick Winters should be enjoying all the nonagenarian trim he could handle. People who have met him claim he is extremely modest and very private, so we can’t drag him down to a bar and pay for his drinks in perpetuity. Happy birthday, sir.

Currahee!

Current status: Tired

Current music: Skye Boat Song








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