Thursday, April 27, 2006

Does This Qualify as a Self-Fisking?

tee bee

John O'Sullivan at NRO points to an ABC interview with Robert Fisk (via Tim Blair).

Fisk's starting point is to note that the person in the videotape looks like Zarqawi, which is a blow to the US, but otherwise, isn't so important:
I think it is part of the bestialisation, if you like, of those people we want to hate, in the sense that I think individuals like Zarqawi or bin Laden don't actually matter. It's a bit like, you know, after you make a nuclear bomb, you go around arresting all the nuclear scientists and putting them in prison. It doesn't do any good. The nuclear bomb exists. Al-Qaeda exists.

To quote Jessica Rabbit, Zarqawi's not bad. He's just been drawn that way.

O'Sullivan concludes, "I would guess this would finish him except that nothing ever does. He is kept afloat by the self-deception of his readership."


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Now You Know

Secret prisons you say? How?

So that is how we did it!

More Domestic Wimpyness From President

How can a President so resolute in the War on Terror and the interrelated War in Iraq be so lame on domestic issues? I wish I knew.

If forced to choose in the post-9/11 world, as we were in 2004, I want a President to lead on the international issues. That is his one nearly unopposed stage. At least his power is limited on the domestic front. He must deal with Congress.

President Bush, depsite showing guts and leadership (even if you disagree with him) in our WOT simply cannot find that same skill (leadership? political courage?) at home. Whether it is capitulating to the pharmacies in a future trillion dollar drug benefit plan (he didn't even insist on bulk buying discounts), reversing the conservative trend of making Federal education policy less intrusive, or bailing on us all by giving up any plan for Social Security reform, Bush cannot find the will to take on a domestic public outcry based on ignorance.

So now, in a speech yesterday (in which he did a good job discussing the positive news about our economy), he has ordered a price fixing investigation on "Big Oil." Give me a break.

Neal Boortz noted as follows this morning:

[Bush's speech was p]andering to the ignorance of the American people. Not one sign of leadership. Just a whimpering submission to the softness that is decaying the American spirit. There's George Bush yesterday sounding more like Jimmy Carter than like a president who is leading his country in a war on terror.

Why these harsh words? Because Bush took the easy way out yesterday. He bowed to the demagoguery of the Democrats and some Republicans. He ordered price-fixing investigations of the oil companies in spite of the fact that there is not one single shred of evidence that any collusion or price fixing is taking place. Over the years there have been many of these investigations. Not once -- not one single time has one of these investigations uncovered any evidence of price fixing by the oil companies.

This was a time for Bush to lead. This was a time for him to step in front of the American people and tell the truth. Educate them! Instead of trying to address the ignorance of the American people on the issue of gas prices, he pandered to that ignorance.

Tony Bleckley has also commented.

One of the things that always made me feel good in the morning was waking up and realizing I did not belong to the same political party as Chuck Schumer. It made me feel clean -- even before I took a shower. But now, with my Republican president pulling a "full Schumer," even a series of showers will not help.

It is ugly to see politicians trying to exploit for political gain the economic ignorance, paranoia of large corporations and petty envy that burden elements of the public mind.

But at least for the Schumers of this political world, they can claim in defense that they have become habituated to such demagogic practices through long usage. They can no longer help themselves. They wouldn't know how to function without constantly reciting gibberish to their gullible base voters.

President Bush is a lame duck. He has crappy poll numbers. He would presumably have the freedom to insist on doing the right thing, insist on educating a dumb public (at least trying) on such issues. He keeps educating us about the WOT. But he gives in constantly on the domestic front. I don't mean compromising on points here and there. I mean giving in.

I know President Bush ran on some of his liberal ideas like his drug benefit plan. We were forced to hold our nost and vote for him anyway because we didn't want Sen. Kerry running this war. But President Bush aslo ran on some conservative issues (like private Soc. Sec. acounts) and promised to be, generally, a conservative.

Pres. Bush wants conservative justices like Scalia and Thomas after all. And now we know why. We need them to vote to overturn the bills President Bush has signed into law and to prevent the intrusion on Federalism that his Attorney Generals makes a weekly practice of doing.

And now we need him to quit acting like a liberal New York Senator.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Duke Rape? They are Devils.

I don't know if the Duke Lacrosse players accused of rape did it, but I certainly find reasons to question the allegation. And I admit, though normally my radar is up on false allegations, when I first heard about this on the news, I didn't think skeptically about it. Now, I suspect that a conviction is all but impossible, and perhaps because the charges are false. But I don't know. I'm not saying they are.

VC examines the issue of race and crime in depth today. It is a very good read deserving of a feature article in a national publication.

To make the subject more interesting, when I was in my last year of law school, I read a report about false rape accusations at a city in the midwest which housed a large university. With a sample size of 109 rape allegations over a 9 year perior, 41% of them were "false." By false, this meant that the accuser admitted to making up the charges, and the recant was deemed credible. No disputed cases, however unlikely, were included in the 'false' category, so the actual number of false charges obviously could be larger. Links to the abstract of the study I found in a few seconds this morning are here and here and here.

This isn't on point to Cassandra's post, but it is related. The motives of admitted fake accusers were usually (1) alibi (2) revenge or (3) sypathy/attention.

I also found Ann Coulter unusually subdued but very insightful on this subject. Her column focused on what each side has to learn.

However the Duke lacrosse rape case turns out, one lesson that absolutely will not be learned is this: You can severely reduce your chances of having a false accusation of rape leveled against you if you don't hire strange women to come to your house and take their clothes off for money. Also, you can severely reduce your chances of being raped if you do not go to strange men's houses and take your clothes off for money. (Does anyone else detect a common thread here?)

Whenever a gun is used in a crime, there are never-ending news stories about how dangerous guns are. But these girls go out alone, late at night, drunk off their butts, and there's nary a peep about the dangers of drunk women on their own in public. It's their "right."
Yes, of course no one "deserves" to die for a mistake. Or to be raped or falsely accused of rape for a mistake. I have always been unabashedly anti-murder, anti-rape and anti-false accusation -- and I don't care who knows about it!

But these statements would roll off the tongue more easily in a world that so much as tacitly acknowledged that all these messy turns of fate followed behavior that your mother could have told you was tacky.

Frankly, I'm all in favor of trying this case in the media, but we can't because the accuser is protected by the media's voluntary compliance with "rape shield" laws about identifying rape victims/accusers. Thus, we get "indefinite" details about the accuser, but we don't get to probe the accuser like we do the accused.

The DA seems to want it tried in the media b/c I fear he doesn't think he has a chance at a conviction, but he does have a chance at re-election.

Since we know an awful lot about this case, unlike other cases (see, e.g., Kobe), we might as well try it now. The evidence is mixed. It should make for an intersting drama. Sadly, the people involved are all too real.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Taking A Break

Image hosting by PhotobucketHedley Lamarr: My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

Taggart: God darnit Mr. Lamarr, you use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore.

I have been really busy lately with work and home, but I must admit that my week long silence is not due solely to that. It would be good if I felt like using my typing skills to write as purty as Hedley Lamarr speaks, but I just don't.

I'm not retiring, or quiting, or any of that. I'm just going to go at it a little light right now. I'm not motivated to write. The weather is beautiful, the demands of home, work and other are calling.

In the meantime: watch some Blazing Saddles.

On the subject of Kelo:

Hedley Lamarr: Unfortunately there is one thing standing between me and that property - the rightful owners.

On gun control and substance abuse:

Jim: Then one day I hear "Reach for it, mister." I spun around, and there I was standing face to face with a six year old kid. Well, I just laid down my guns and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass. So I limped to the nearest saloon, crawled inside a whiskey bottle, and I've been there ever since.

On race relations:

Lili Von Shtupp: Is it true how zey say zat you people are... gifted?
[Lights go out, sound of zipper opening]
Lili Von Shtupp: Oh. It's twue. It's twue. It's twue, it's twue!

On terrorism:

Taggart: I got it.
Hedley Lamarr: What?
Taggart: Let's kill every first born male child in Rock Ridge.
Hedley Lamarr: Nah, too Jewish.

Image hosting by PhotobucketJohn Kerry's position on the war on terror:

Reverend Johnson: Now I don't have to tell you good folks what's been happening in our beloved little town. Sheriff murdered, crops burned, stores looted, people stampeded, and cattle raped. The time has come to act, and act fast. I'm leaving.

On men and women:

Lili Von Shtupp: [singing] Here I stand, the goddess of desire / Set men on fire / I have this power. / Morning, noon, and night, it's dwink and dancing / Some quick womancing / And then a shower. / Stage door Johnnies constantly suwwound me / They always hound me, with one wequest. / Who can satisfy their lustful habits? / I'm not a wabbit. / I need some west.

A Little Hymn on the state of middle America:

Church Congregation: [singing] Now is a time of great decision / Are we to stay or up and quit? / There's no avoiding this conclusion: / Our town is turning into shit. Amen.

On Global Warming:

Lyle: Come on, boys! The way you're lollygaggin' around here with them picks and them shovels, you'd think it was a hundert an' twenty degree. Can't be more than a hundert an' fourteen.

On Economics:

[Taggart spots two workers on a hand-cart sinking into quicksand]
Taggart: Oh shit. Quick.
[Lassos the hand-cart and drags it (but not the men) out of the quicksand]
Taggart: Dang that was lucky. Doggone near lost a four hundred dollar handcart.

See you soon.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blogrant, The Ties That Bind

tee bee

You didn't think Easter Weekend meant you were relieved of blogging, did you? This is a bonus piece, since it's all about blogging and bloggers, and everyone's blogging it.

This is what the Washington Post finds to write about bloggers today:

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. -- In the angry life of Maryscott O'Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O'Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O'Connor's reputation is as one of the angriest of all. "One long, sustained scream" is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?

Darfur, she finally decides. She will write about Darfur. The shame of it. The
culpability of all Americans, including herself, for doing nothing. She will write something so filled with outrage that it will accomplish the one thing above all she wants from her anger: to have an effect.

Read the whole thing, or just check out the fun photo of Ms. O'Connor.

The lady serves as Hugh Hewitt's textbook example of the Democratic left. Pare that down to certain factions that identify with certain goals of the Dem left, and he has a point.

Maha, a member of the Big Brass Alliance, has an interesting, funny and pointed defense of O'Connor: Damn right, she's angry.

But anger isn't bad, maha says. Not if you "sort out the righteous from the unrighteous" and allow "the mud to settle," maha quotes from Sam Keen's The Passionate Life: Stages of Loving*.

What can you say to that? If O'Connor wants to scream online, where only those who crave to (or stray to your site by accident) can hear you scream, I'm for that. Much better than having her prowl the freeways of Sherman Oaks, gunning for all those Rovian sociopaths she comes across. Just funnin' with ya, maha. But you get my point.

An interesting side note is Maryscott's claim that the author of the piece, Finkle, claims to have never read a blog before being pointed to hers by an e-mail (which I find a stretch). Maryscott and her readers are happy with the article, but not the pic.

The moral of the story is - as a conservative, I must have a moral - thanks to the myopic appeal of "the profile," this is what outsiders will continue to think of the blogosphere (A friend of mine actually gasped when she was told I was a blogger, and added, "You're not one of them?").

But sustained ignorance is a choice. We may not agree with it, and we may be, in maha's borrowing of Keen's words, outlaws; we may continue in our own ways to try to pierce that warm blanket of blissful ignorance, but we have to respect it.

As much as some might want to discount the hyperbolic rantings of Maryscott O'Connor and the WaPo's front page reinforcement of the culture's view of bloggers, it's disingenuous not to honor the ties that bind us to Maryscott.

Enjoy William Brennan's wonderful post on the article. And not just because he uses the penultimately excellent word "bower." Brennan's "divorced from the right" but as an independent finds his "new love [lefties who share moderate stances, I'm guessing] is even more outrageous than the kooks I’ve been railing against."

Whatever else this produced outside the blogosphere, Maryscott has provided some pretty rich fuel for our keyboards.

*Bless his heart, maha found an online source for the Keen material.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Have a Great Redneck Weekend

I have finally finished my morning deposition.

I've checked the weather.

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Sunny and warm.

Looking at my PDA . . .

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I see I need to pick up some beverages.

Then, maybe a day at the races . . .

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rooting for Dale Junior.

Have a great weekend.

Tax Day Cometh

It is Tax Time.

Go up to your co-worker and ask him or her how money they paid in Federal income tax this year. Chances are he or she will tell you, nothing, I'm getting a refund, or some other stupid response. Ahhh, the benefits of tax withholding. Numb us to death with taxes we never bother seeing. Well, after getting hit hard last year with the alternative minimum tax, Mrs. KJ and I increased our withholdings. The check we are writing this year is much smaller, and I am happy about that. Still, it bothers me to think that my household is paying more than my first salary in income tax.

The answer? I think you can find it here and here. A debate between Neal Boortz and his "Fair Tax" plan and Yale Law Professor Michael Graetz on his tax reform plan can be seen at C-Span on line or on the TV as follows:

Saturday evening, April 15th, at 7:00
Sunday , April 16th, at 2:30 and again at 10:30 a.m.

Of course, a major problem with taxes is that it is so politically driven and designed to serve special interests. If bald people made tax policy, haircuts would have the highest taxes.

On a less serious note, here is an e-mail I am sure everyone has received, but today it is timely.

How Taxes Work . . .

This is a VERY simple way to understand the tax laws. Read on -- it does make you think!!

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men — the poorest — would pay nothing;
the fifth would pay $1,
the sixth would pay $3,
the seventh $7,
the eighth $12,
the ninth $18,
and the tenth man — the richest — would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement — until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut). "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."

So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six — the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man who pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too . . . It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!".

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man, "why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that!

[Ed. Note: A little Atlas Shrugged is thrown in here at the end of this story.] And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


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Gay* Thursday and all, and here I sit trying to figure out what the hell international abstention is all about. I may just have to call spd rdr.

See y'all soon! Maybe.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Word From the No Government Cheese Censors

Yes, it's true. In the interest of our readership, No Government Cheese has censors.

But, since this is a blog, they don't actually remove any, um, offensive content. One of the first rules of blogging is Never Take Down A Post. We take this very seriously here at the Cheese.

Nonetheless, certain things might have offensive content, which requires the studied intervention of the No Government Cheese Censors.

For those sensitive souls and valued readers who might have been upset by certain graphics in a certian post that we shall avoid pointing to here, we offer the following soothing distraction:

Pile's Picture Parade

We also recommend a little time spent learning all the words to this important song - be sure to click on the RealPlayer link to hear it, over and over and over and over and over again.

And be glad you came to No Government Cheese! For pictures of kissing that everyone can enjoy!

Just One Of The Hypocritical Sides Of This Debate

Our political leaders are annoying, but since it was the illegal immigrant parade that interferred with my route to work this morning, they will get my wrath. So I stopped to let Keyser interview one fellow:

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Why are you protesting?

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Because America is made great by immigrants.

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Why do you carry a Mexican flag (not pictured)?

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Because I am Mexican.

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You love your country?

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You are proud of your heritage?

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How did you get here?

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I camped outside a border crossing for 10 days. Then, I crossed the border late at night. I was caught, and returned. I tried six more nights before I made it. Then, after nearly dying in the dessert, I paid a man to smuggle me to Atlanta. Since here I have made more money than I did my entire life, and I send a lot of it home to my family who will hopefull have enough soon to pay a smuggler several thousand dollars to drive them through the dessert in an un-air-conditioned box truck.

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Who am I kidding. Because Mexico sucks, man.

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Do you think you will be participating in any other protest marches?

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Probably. Have you met my partner?

Immigration, Legalities and 'weaselly platitudes'

tee bee

Mark Steyn ponders immigration, pushed to the forefront today by certain activistas, in "No Easy Answers on Immigration Conundrum":

All developed countries have immigration issues, but few conduct the entire debate as disingenuously as America does: The president himself has contributed a whole barrelful of weaselly platitudes, beginning with his line that "family values don't stop at the Rio Grande." True. They don't stop at the 49th parallel either. Or the Atlantic shore. Or the Pacific. So where do family values stop? At the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you're an American and you marry a Canadian or Belgian or Fijian, the U.S. government can take years to process what's supposed to be a non-discretionary immigration application, in the course of which your spouse will be dependent on various transitional-status forms like "advance parole" that leave her vulnerable to the whims of the many eccentric interpreters of U.S. immigration law at the nation's airports and land borders.

Here's another place where family values stops: The rubble of the World Trade Center. Deena Gilbey is a British subject whose late husband worked on the 84th floor: On the morning of Sept. 11, instead of fleeing, he returned to the building to help evacuate his co-workers. A few days later, Mrs. Gilbey receives a letter from the INS noting that as she's now widowed her immigration status has changed and she's obliged to leave the country along with her two children (both U.S. citizens). Think about that: Having legally admitted to the country the terrorists who killed her husband, the U.S. government's first act on having facilitated his murder is to add insult to grievous injury by serving his widow with a deportation order. Why should illegal Mexicans be the unique beneficiaries of a sentimental blather about "family values" to which U.S. immigration is otherwise notoriously antipathetic?

Read the rest.

Immigration certainly needs an overhaul. But it should be done in a way that creates a level playing field at worst, and at best privileges certain people such as someone marrying a citizen or coming to accept a job.

Perhaps that's one way to clear up the "jobs filled by illegals" canard - start there with streamlining that includes registering people who want to immigrate, pairing them with employers, and tracking/interviewing people to see how the transition is working.

It would be a step acceptable by almost everyone.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ask Sausage About The Law Day

Knowing that many of you very likely woke up this morning wondering what Cass's dog thinks about important legal matters of the day, she asked me to whip up a little post for your general erudition in between the exhausting business of decapitating rawhide bones atop the down cushion of her Chippendale sofa.

You may think, "What does a Weiner Beast know about the Law?" Surprisingly, the answer is, "More than some people who go on and on about it". Two interesting issues in the news have centered around couples.

In the "How was your day, honey?" Department, this one has got to take the cake:

It was Zena the dog's day in Circuit Court Tuesday, although the key witness was not present.

The standard poodle's owners, Lisa and John Roberts, have been unable to agree on who should get custody as the terms of their divorce are finalized.

Two days of mediation didn't help, so an hourlong hearing before Judge Robert Childers decided the issue.

"I had one lawyer call me and say 'Did you really try a case today about a dog?' " said attorney Dorothy Pounders, who represents the wife. "I said 'Yes, I did. It's the truth.' There's a first time for everything. But it was very serious and very emotional."

Because animals are considered property under Tennessee law, it wasn't technically a custody hearing, so there were no issues of visitation or who should have primary residential parent status.

(There were no shared children in the marriage.)

Instead, Childers decided that the husband should have 5-year-old Zena during the week since he has an outdoor job and can take her to work with him.

The wife gets Zena from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday.

"It's like what a Solomon decision might do," said attorney Joe Duncan, who represents the husband. "The parties just felt so strongly about this issue that it was very difficult for them to give in, and that's what judges are for."

It's not the first time such an issue has gone to court. In another divorce case here five years ago, a Circuit Court judge had to decide who got custody of two golden retrievers (another split decision).

Ooooooo-kay. I can see why this couple split up. In other news:

A Jackson, Tenn., case involving the children's pet pig was resolved out of courtroom. "They worked it out through mediation," said Pounders. "They didn't have to litigate the pig."

I think we can all be thankful to have been spared the horror of unmitigated pigs.

But the Oink Cadre may have far worse things to worry about

The Violence Against Women Act, funded by federal taxpayers to the tune of nearly $1 billion dollars a year, holds training sessions for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges to teach them anti-male and anti-marriage notions, and how to bypass men's constitutional rights. Radical feminists have lobbied state legislators to pass laws that require a policeman to arrest someone any time they are called to investigate an alleged domestic-violence incident.

States have also passed laws that require prosecution even if the woman does not want to prosecute or testify. Unwanted and unnecessary arrests and prosecutions obviously prevent reconciliation and private resolution of family disputes.

What is wrong with this, you may ask? Don't we want to put violent abusers behind bars? Well, for one thing there is a little thing called the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides an accused with the right to confront his accuser:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense

But in two recent cases, defendants were convicted in trials where the accuser never showed up to testify and defendant's counsel never got a chance to cross-examine her or call her testimony into question. In the first case, Hammon v. Indiana:

Officers from the Peru, Ind., police department had made an unsolicited visit to the Hammon couple (presumably after a call from a neighbor). Finding that the Hammons' argument had ended, but broken glass and a broken gas heater in the house, the policeman asked both husband and wife what happened. Each said the argument was over and everything was fine.

Unwilling to accept the couple's own resolution of the dispute, a policeman interrogated the Amy Hammon separately to get her side of the argument. This time, she informed the officer that she and her husband had indeed had an argument. Unlike her husband, Amy Hammon claimed it was violent - culminating with Hershel Hammon shoving her head into a gas heater, breaking its glass, and punching her in the chest. At the officer's request, the wife completed a battery affidavit conveying these allegations.

The wife did not press charges and never showed up in court. Undeterred, without ever putting the wife on the witness stand, the prosecutor obtained a battery conviction of the husband based on the signed legal paper.

Hershel Hammon received a one-year prison sentence, for which he spent 20 days in jail. His home was ruined and, with this serious conviction on his record, his ability to support his family was substantially diminished.

This amounts to the police soliciting and then prosecuting charges on their own without giving defendants access to the accused, in defiance of the Sixth Amendment. In a second case, incredibly, a 911 tape was used to convict a second defendant whose accuser also did not press charges or show up in court:

A 911 operator had called back to a household and elicited allegations about domestic violence. The jurors heard only a tape-recording of a 911 operator prodding Davis' former girlfriend, Michelle McCottry, to give her side of the story without the boyfriend telling his side on the tape.

In my humble opinion, these judges are barking up the wrong tree.

This is just another example of how the feminist agenda results in preferential status for women at the expense of men's basic rights. Women are presumed to be adults. As such, like men they are accountable for their choices: the good as well as the bad. No one forces them to live with violent partners. If they choose poorly, they must find the courage to report them or leave them, as difficult as that may be. Feminists cannot continue to claim women are perfectly equal to men when it comes to jobs like the combat arms, while claiming they need protection from the harsh realities of life on the homefront. It's time to choose ladies: which is it? Are you just miniature men? If so, you don't need any special privileges.

Or are there, perhaps, some very real differences between men and women, in which case perhaps you may have to face the disturbing possibility that there are very real reasons (other than prejudice) for some of the inequities you ascribe to gender discrimination.

Just one dog's opinion. Now if you don't mind, I've got business to attend to.

Ma! He's Slacking Again!

Sadly, KJ is off doing whatever it is that he does, leaving people who have real lives to deal with the wreckage that happens when little "l" Libertarians skip off, leaving conservatives to confront the consequences their so-called "lifestyle choices" inflict on others.


I'll be posting something as soon as I finish this bone.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Gators Win

In case you missed it, last night the Florida Gators beat those left coast hippies from UCLA like an ugly step child with a lisp.

Congratulations to former UK assistant coach Billy Donovan.

Tonight, Duke takes on Maryland in the women's championship game, the first All-ACC championship game. Of course, the SEC has had both teams in the championship game twice.

No word yet on the investigation of the allegations not made against the Duke women's basketball team.

Monday, April 03, 2006

HBO Takes Us To New Depths

Thanks to a new HBO program called Big Love, which takes on the subject of polygamy without judgment, a new marriage debate is underway. We haven't even finished the gay marriage debate yet, people.

Some conservatives have unfairly linked the gay marriage/civil union debate to things such as beastiality. The opponents also mention polygamy. While the former does not follow, the latter certainly does, in my opinion, logically follow.

Many people like Andrew Sullivan think it unfair to link the two debates.

I believe that someone's sexual orientation is a deeper issue than the number of people they want to express that orientation with. Polygamy is a choice, in other words; homosexuality isn't. The proof of this can be seen in the fact that straight people and gay people can equally choose polyandry or polygamy or polyamory, or whatever you want to call it. But no polygamist or heterosexual can choose to be gay. If you're not, you're not.

This post by Sullivan was a response to recent op-ed by Charle Krauthhammer which argued what I believe to be the future of this debate:

In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one's autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement -- the number restriction (two and only two) -- is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice.

I happen to agree with Chuck's logic here. That would not mean that one cannot chose one over the other. But one must accept as true the logical foundations of this argument. Once you knock down the definition of marriage be redefining one element of the relationship, you open the door to challenge other elements of the relationship. Krauthammer continues:

This line of argument makes gay activists furious. I can understand why they do not want to be in the same room as polygamists. But I'm not the one who put them there. Their argument does. Blogger and author Andrew Sullivan, who had the courage to advocate gay marriage at a time when it was considered pretty crazy, has called this the "polygamy diversion," arguing that homosexuality and polygamy are categorically different because polygamy is a mere "activity" while homosexuality is an intrinsic state that "occupies a deeper level of human consciousness."

Many libertarians whome I respect are easy prey for the polygamist argument. After all, in their mind marriage is really nothing special. It is merely a state intrusion into what should be a private contract. As Doug at the Liberty Papers argues:

One of the strongest arguments in favor of gay marriage that I’ve encountered is the one that says that the government has no right to intrude into the personal relationships of consenting adults and forbid them from entering into a legal status, in this case marriage, that they wish to enter into freely. This doesn’t mean that government is endorsing the relationship, any more than it endorses a producer of pornographic films who forms a corporation to run his busines. It merely means that the government is allowing people to engage in consenual activities that affect nobody but themselves. The logic, if you accept it, seems to me to be unassailable and its hard for me to find an argument that says that polygamy is per se different.

The libertarian argument proposed by Doug and some of the comments seems to refuse to recognize the reality that the State is involved and simply will not and cannot, dare I say, divorce itself from the regulation of marriage. That approach is the one welcomed by many libertarians, though not me. Doug's conclusion:

Kersten is obviously opposed to gay marriage and is using the polygamy argument as an argument against gay marriage itself, but her doomsday prediction of what marriage might turn into if society keeps going in the direction it has been doesn’t really sound that bad:
What’s the likely endpoint? Marriage may be redefined out of existence, and replaced by a flexible, contract-based system of government-registered relationships.
In other words, people would live their private lives in the way that they wanted. What’s so wrong with that?

Well, for one it is not a realistic political goal. For two, it not desireable.

Krauthammer concludes his essay, focused on the nature of the debate, nicely.

What is historically odd is that as gay marriage is gaining acceptance, the resistance to polygamy is much more powerful. Yet until this generation, gay marriage had been sanctioned by no society that we know of, anywhere at any time in history. On the other hand, polygamy was sanctioned, indeed common, in large parts of the world through large swaths of history, most notably the biblical Middle East and through much of the Islamic world.

I'm not one of those who see gay marriage or polygamy as a threat to, or assault on, traditional marriage. The assault came from within. Marriage has needed no help in managing its own long, slow suicide, thank you. Astronomical rates of divorce and of single parenthood (the deliberate creation of fatherless families) existed before there was a single gay marriage or any talk of sanctioning polygamy. The minting of these new forms of marriage is a symptom of our culture's contemporary radical individualism -- as is the decline of traditional marriage -- and not its cause.

As for gay marriage, I've come to a studied ambivalence. I think it is a mistake for society to make this ultimate declaration of indifference between gay and straight life, if only for reasons of pedagogy. On the other hand, I have gay friends and feel the pain of their inability to have the same level of social approbation and confirmation of their relationship with a loved one that I'm not about to go to anyone's barricade to deny them that. It is critical, however, that any such fundamental change in the very definition of marriage be enacted democratically and not (as in the disastrous case of abortion) by judicial fiat.

Call me agnostic. But don't tell me that we can make one radical change in the one-man, one-woman rule and not be open to the claim of others that their reformation be given equal respect.

I find nothing to dispute in Krauthammer's words. But what about the outcome of the debate? What is the public policy position one should take on polygamy? I do not think it the answer of the Liberty Papers, which says lets all just contract our family ways and ignore thousands of years of family experience.

Reason (a hard core libertarian magazine at times which has me as a subscriber) writer Jonathan Rauch jumps into the debate and goes in depth where Krauthammer and Sullivan and Doug do not: on the merits. The merits of the debate, as he sees it, has not been addressed.

A federal lawsuit (now on appeal), the American Civil Liberties Union's stand for polygamy rights, and the rising voices of pro-polygamy groups such as (an evangelical Christian group) and Principle Voices (which Newsweek describes as "a Utah-based group run by wives from polygamous marriages") were already making the subject hard to duck. So far, libertarians and lifestyle liberals approach polygamy as an individual-choice issue, while cultural conservatives use it as a bloody shirt to wave in the gay-marriage debate. The broad public opposes polygamy but is unsure why. What hardly anyone is doing is thinking about polygamy as social policy.

Having noted the dearth of opinion that tackles the public policy issues, he does, and not in the traditional libertarian freedom of contract way.

For reasons that have everything to do with its own social dynamics and nothing to do with gay marriage, polygamy is a profoundly hazardous policy. To understand why, begin with two crucial words. The first is "marriage." Group love (sometimes called polyamory) is already legal, and some people freely practice it. Polygamy asserts not a right to love several others but a right to marry them all. Because a marriage license is a state grant, polygamy is a matter of public policy, not just of personal preference.

He next argues that the many wives model rather than the many husbands model would be the expected norm if polygamy were legalized. From this assumption, comes the public policy concerns.

As far as I've been able to determine, no polygamous society has ever been a true liberal democracy, in anything like the modern sense. As societies move away from hierarchy and toward equal opportunity, they leave polygamy behind. They monogamize as they modernize. That may be a coincidence, but it seems more likely to be a logical outgrowth of the arithmetic of polygamy.Other things being equal (and, to a good first approximation, they are), when one man marries two women, some other man marries no woman. When one man marries three women, two other men don't marry. When one man marries four women, three other men don't marry. Monogamy gives everyone a shot at marriage. Polygyny, by contrast, is a zero-sum game that skews the marriage market so that some men marry at the expense of others.

So what, the libertarian says. Equality is opportunity, not outcomes. But why do we bring this result on us in this case? What is the outcome?

Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer, ponder those consequences in their 2004 book Bare Branches: Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population. Summarizing their findings in a Washington Post article, they write: "Scarcity of women leads to a situation in which men with advantages — money, skills, education — will marry, but men without such advantages — poor, unskilled, illiterate — will not. A permanent subclass of bare branches [unmarriageable men] from the lowest socioeconomic classes is created. In China and India, for example, by the year 2020 bare branches will make up 12 to 15 percent of the young adult male population."

Summarizing his article, the outcome is that bare branch young men are going to be the criminal gangs and societal subclass warriors of the future. Does this help solve any of societies' problems? Hardly.

In particular communities — inner cities, for example — polygamy could take a toll much more quickly. Even a handful of "Solomons" (high-status men taking multiple wives) could create brigades of new recruits for street gangs and drug lords, the last thing those communities need.

Why do we know this? History for one. And, something similar is happening today in the United States.

Such problems are not merely theoretical. In northern Arizona, a polygamous Mormon sect has managed its surplus males by dumping them on the street --literally. The sect, reports The Arizona Republic, "has orphaned more than 400 teenagers ... in order to leave young women for marriage to the older men." The paper goes on to say that the boys "are dropped off in neighboring towns, facing hunger, homelessness, and homesickness, and most cripplingly, a belief in a future of suffering and darkness."

Some libertarians are missing out on the historic evidence of some institutions. Marriage seems to be one of them. Ironically or coincidentally, depending on your point of view, the Liberty Papers quoted this from Jonah Goldberg recently:

A bunch of readers wanted to know what I meant when I said that my views on “libertarianism” have “evolved” since my earlier, full-throated, attacks. Well, for starters, I no longer make jokes like: “Q: What’s the hardest part about being a libertarian? A: Telling your parents you’re gay.”

Again, more seriously, as I’ve watched compassionate conservatism, Buchananism, Crunchy Conservatism, and similar movements bubble-up since the end of the Cold War, I think it’s better for everybody concerned if we start from a foundation of libertarianism and build up from it. In public policy — as opposed to cultural politics — I think the default position should be libertarian and then arguments should be made for why we should deviate from libertarian dogma. I’m more sympathetic to arguments based on tradition and custom than your average libertarian.

It may be that tradition and custom have a solid basis. Or it may be that tradition and custom is a poisonous excuse for some other goal, such as Jim Crow was up until the 1960s. I think marriage is the former.

This public policy debate is better researched than my own, but I will reprint my comment at the Liberty Papers here:

You are all arguing in a dream land. No argument makes sense without first looking at your basic facts. Marx was wrong for this reason. People aren’t taught greed and self-interest. They are born that way.

The state does, will, and always has regardless of the culture recognized and legalized the issue of marriage. The fact that this country recognizes the church marriage is simply setting aside a formality. The only issue this debate is about is benefits.

The argument that the state should “get out of the marriage business” is both absurd and unreal. It won’t, and it can’t. How do you divide up property when the contract is broken? How do you divide up kids? How do you determine child support? The answer is: by agreement with court oversight, or by court rulings. Either way, the state is involved, and always will be. There are real concerns about force and fraud in the break up of a marriage. It is not unreasonable for the state to have a system in place to make sure that a spouse who helped build a strong home by staying home rather than working is protected when the other spouse decides that it is time to buy a convertible and date his college aged kid’s roommate.

Believe it or not, even a libertarian can see that having a stable home is good for society. Messing with a system that has worked for thousands of years is not to be done lightly, and frankly I think most of you have looked at your libertarian dogma book and said, hey, this is just like a business partnership. Let everyone join in. It isn’t a business partnership, except if your name is Clinton.

Next, we have a system of benefits in this country that recognizes marriage. The State has a system, and private business has a system. The State has every right to determine that it will recognize only traditional recognized married families. No one is denied equal access under this system. Everyone has the exact same right to marry one person of an opposite gender. Of course, the govt also has the right to expand its benefits as it sees fit (barring certain constitutional issues such as race discrimination). And it does. NYC e.g. allows (or used to) “domestic partners” to get benefits from its city employees.

Of course, private benefits can redefine this system as it sees fit. And it has. Lots of companies offer benefits to domestic partners or civil union relationships. Bully for them.

Dealing with the added strain on the court system and benefits issues is a reasonable justification to limit marriage to its “forever in the history of mankind” definition, recognizing of course that polygamy has been allowed in some cultures over time — cultures where men were always dying fighting wars and new warriors needed to be made.

Finally, everyone seems to ignore the obvious — you can live "like" a homosexual married couple or polygomous couple if you want, you just don’t have the recognition of the state or certain state offered benefits. You can live together, sleep together, leave property to each other in your wills, share benefits if your employer allows it (some employers don’t insure married couples’ spouses, so that is not certain anyway), write a living will for your partner, own property jointly and even have a “marriage” ceremony if your heathen preacher will give you one (I use the term heathen only because none of the texts of the major religions can remotely be read to approve of same sex marriage, and it is a stretch to argue for polygamy in them).

Peronally, I could live with “civil union” type laws. I have no problem with employers chosing to give benefits to whomever they see fit. That said, I actually think civil unions are very suseptible to abuse and may be more trouble than they are worth for this so called “fairness” issue. As Canada’s law has proven, people just start looking for “benefits” partners, not life partners. Brothers and sisters and bowling buddies form civil unions to get one on the insurance of the other. Then they looke for another “civil union” for pay or out of friendship.

This whole issue is a pandora’s box, and it isn’t just to be dismissed as religous fundamentalists run amock.

Also, you can’t realistically talk about public policy as if the onion were peeled back to its core. The onion has layers that you must work with. We have state sanctioned marriage — always have and likely always will in the US until we are destroyed like Rome. We have lots of govt. benefits that depend in some way on the marriage recognition. They aren’t going away so we can make polygamy OK just b/c libertarians don’t like those programs.

Finally, we have a population that recognizes the historical significance of marriage as it has been understood in Western countries for hundreds of years. It has worked. It isn’t some social experiment anymore. It deserves more than a Scalia like flip of the chin.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I"m Glad George Mason Lost

Post supplemented. New material in red.

The feel good story of the NCAA Tournament came to an end yesterday as Florida beat George Mason, especially in the second half, like a rented mule. Good. I couldn't be happier.

My happiness has nothing to do with my affection for Florida. I admittedly have three reasons to root for Florida, but they are related only to the team I root for, Kentucky. Florida is in the SEC, and absent UK in the Final Four, I prefer to see SEC teams do well. Florida is coached by a former assistant coach at UK. Third, as UK is second in all time national titles to UCLA (11 to 7), I do not want to see UCLA win another one, and Florida has the best chance of stopping UCLA. So I will root for the Gators tomorrow night in the finals, their French center Noah notwithstanding.

My glee over George Mason losing has more to do with my discomfort with the whole "underdog" love fest in this country. Underdogs usually reach that status because they have failed to prove they can achieve compared to the opposition. In other words, we often root for the prior failure over the proven success. I often wonder if we are rooting "for" underdogs or "against" the successful opponent. In other words, this whole "root for the underdog" strikes me as little more than class envy.

My post is expectedly not winning me any praise this morning, so let me put it this way. Why do we have favorites and underdogs? For the most part, it is because the favorite has a track record of success or excellence. Isn't that a virtue? When you hire a lawyer, or a computer consultant or a secretary, don't you want to see a track record of excellence in her history (or his herstory)? Do you want the person with a spotty, inconsistent history to watch your back? Of course not.

But in sports, that is the accepted instinct. Why do we root against that high expectation of excellence? Is it the same thing that makes us want to tear down our political leaders?

I recognize that programs typically rise and fall over time. Sometimes an underdog makes a splash at the beginning of its rise to "favorite." Gonzaga a few years ago fit that bill. They made the Sweet Sixteen several times as "Cinderella" until people finally figured out that they were just that good playing in a smaller conference. Now they are ranked in the top ten all year and should have been in the Final Four. Most "Cinderellas," however, disappear at midnight and do not return. If George Mason makes a few return trips to win a few more tourney games, then they too can earn the right to be a favorite. That is the goal, after all, isn't it?

Most people often refer to the underdog as David in the David v. Goliath battle. That is a misnomer. First, David was not an underdog, though only he seemed to know it. He had God on his side and was told by God to engage in the battle. I don't care what or who you are playing, if God is on your side, you are not the underdog. The fact that the bookies in Judah did not know God was David's side is of little relevance.

I have it on good authority that God does not root for any teams in the NCAA tournament, though he does root against the Duke Blue Devils.

George Mason was the beneficiary of generosity to begin with. The NCAAA tourney has 65 teams now because of the social welfare mentality of giving every Division I conference a team in the tourney. They then add about 35 other teams from those that did not win their conference tournament and make millions playing the games. George Mason was the last team in the tournament this year. All other lower seeds were little conference touney winners. In other words, if the tornament had had fewer teams as it did for many years, they were out. But they made it and made the most of the opportunity. For that they are to be congratulated. For being underdogs, well, that just isn't a virture in my book.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy some of the early upsets every year as much as anyone. I love the game of college basketball and its tournament. With NBA defections and growing popularity, it is a sport with a lot of parity. It is getting more and more difficult to predict who will win in any given year. Parity makes for excitement. Still, the teams we think are going to win still win more often than not. There is a reason. They earned that prediction by being better than their opponent more consistently in the past.

I am also not saying that I always root for the favorite. I have teams and people I like and dislike for various reasons, which colors who I root for. But I seldom just root for the significant "underdog" if I have no reason to root against the favorite. It doesn't seem right. What did the favorite do other than lead others to believe it is the more successful team?

Underdogs are usually underdogs for a reason. One may be that they haven't had a chance to prove themselves or their gifts are unknown (see, David above). In that case, they aren't really underdogs, and they prove themselves once given the chance. I don't dislike these underdogs. This does not describe George Mason though.

No, the underdogs I don't like are the George Masons. They were barely invited to a ridiculously large tournament and got hot for two weeks. They were clearly a decent team and shared the regular season title in the 10th hardest conference in the country. They showed only a few signs of what they did this March. It is easily established that they didn't even belong in the dance. In other words, they earned their underdog status. Then they made the final four with a little help from a choking UConn.

Great teams in history are made over a season and the torney, not just a bi-monthly period. I congratulate George Mason's team on its success, but I would have rather seen Florida play a number of better teams that lost in the one and gone tournament format.

Now, to the teams that deserved to be in the final four due to an entire season of consistent excellence, I look forward to the Florida v. UCLA final.

Note: This post is not whining about the one and done tournament format. Many great teams have been beaten over the years before winning the national championship that was theirs to lose. GMason won its way to the final four fair and square. I am just glad I won't have to hear about them any longer. FWIW, I didn't like the NC State championship team either, but I liked Villanova's surpise championship because I hated Georgetown.