Articles from August 2010



A couple of people at Virginia Commonwealth University need to be fired.

Ah, the joys of incompetence at VCU.

Let’s say that someone, say a handsome young blogger, submits his Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on February 9, 2010.

How long does it take for this application to be processed by his public university? Over six months. And then only after two e-mails and a phone call.

He finally gets the financial aid request processed and is awarded a respectful amount of money for his schooling. However, a large portion of the financial aid awards are now not being credited to his outstanding account balance.

Then, on August 24th, he purchases a parking pass at the expense of $170 for VCU’s parking garage on W. Broad Street. On August 26th, the first day of classes, he drops by the Monroe Park Parking Office to pick up the permit.

What is he told? That they won’t have the parking permit available until 3:00 p.m.

Uh, what now? This is the parking office, where do you usually keep the parking permits? Are they kept in a secret depository at Mount Weather or something?

This university needs a massive purging of its incompetent employees.

The Virgil Goodification of the Republican Party?

How else can you describe what has happened to the Republican Party this year? The Republican Party had a simple route to a landslide election this year: Cut government. But, like the Republican Party so often does, they could not not screw it up.

Instead of focusing on actually cutting government, and coming for plans on how to do that, they have decided to focus on a community center containing a mosque being built on private property in New York City in an attempt to violate a particular religious group’s First Amendment rights. In doing so, they have turned into Virgil Goode:

And people wonder why I will not be voting for a Republican this year.

A Good Read: Russell Baker on George Orwell.

This is a portion of the preface that appears in my copy of Animal Farm (Signet Classic Printing, 50th Anniversary Edition, April 1996):

[…] Orwell, of course, was seldom happier than when he was attacking fraud and hypocrisy and hearing the squeals of the injured.

Despite his insistence on being “political” in his work, Orwell’s career suggests his politics were the sort that real politicians detest. Why, for example, was Orwell so determined to make the case against Soviet communism at precisely the moment all proper people preferred not to hear it? Devoted socialist he may have been, but he had none of the politician’s instinct for trimming sails to the wind when it is expedient to tell people what they want to hear. Worse, he insisted on telling people precisely what they did not want to hear.

He was that political figure all politicians fear: the moralist who cannot bear to let any wrong deed go undenounced. As a politician he had the fatal defect of the totally honest man: He insisted on the truth even when the truth was most inconvenient.

There is an aloneness about Orwell, an insistence on being his own man, on not playing along with the team as a loyal politician is so often expected to do, or else. This is brilliantly illustrated in his classic essay “Politics and the English Language,” showing how politicians twist the language to distort and deceive. This amounts to an act of treason within the political trade. The man is trying to make it harder for a politician to fool enough of the proper enough of the time to gain power.

Another interesting aspect is the following, after the Baker mentions how technology was often times portrayed as being the greatest tool of the tyrant in Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World:

What was unpredictable was the liberating effect of technology. The Soviet Union could surround itself with walls but could not block out revolutionary radio and electronic waves, which stirred up the supposedly whipped human herd with an irresistible appetite for rock ’n’ roll, blue jeans, and other such subverters of totalitarian rule.

[…]

None of this is to say that Orwell and his fellow pessimists of the 1940s ought not to be read with the greatest respect. They should be. They show us the edge of terror on which we lived fifty years ago and help us understand why that generation was willing to spend so much treasure and take such daring risks to keep totalitarianism at bay. And in Animal Farm Orwell left us a lesson about the human contribution to political terror that will always be as up-to-date as next year’s election.

Your Daily Legal Idiot: Sorry, Sarah Palin again.

When will this woman just shut up and raise the average IQ of politicians everywhere?

Adversaries who have been trying to silence Dr. Laura for years seized on her recent use of the n-word on her show as she subsequently suggested that rap “artists” and other creative types like those producing HBO shows who regularly use the n-word could be questioned for doing so. Her intention in discussing the issue with a caller seeking advice was not to be hateful or bigoted. Though she did not mean to insult the caller, she did, and she apologized for it. Still, those who oppose her seized upon her mistake in using the word (though she didn’t call anyone the derogatory term) to paint her as something that she’s not. I can understand how she could feel “shackled” by those who would parse a single word out of decades of on-air commentary. I understand what she meant when she declared that she was “taking back my First Amendment rights” by turning to a new venue that will not allow others the ability to silence her by going after her stations, sponsors, and supporters.

First, who “ha[s] been trying to silence Dr. Laura for years”? As I noticed on Twitter, I was not the only person that was amazed that she still had a radio show. And who exactly is the head of this massive conspiracy to silence the One True Voice of Freedom™ (Dr. Laura)?

And as I noted the two days ago, the First Amendment (of at least our Constitution) states the following:

Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press[.]

Again, is it Congress saying that Dr. Laura cannot be a contemptible fool that thinks it is okay to use the n-word eleven times in a matter of minutes?

And since when was it a violation of the First Amendment to threaten, or conduct, a boycott of someone or their advertisers or sponsors? Is Sarah Palin saying that conservatives violated the First Amendment rights of The Dixie Chicks? Is she saying that conservatives, especially social conservatives, violated the First Amendment rights of The Walt Disney Company? Is she saying that social conservatives, notably the American Family Association, violated the First Amendment rights of Ford Motor Company?

I just reread Animal Farm, and I am starting to think that I could draw a great comparison between what conservatives say is in the Constitution and “The Seven Commandments” and their revisions in the book. (And as a sidenote, my copy of the book has a great foreword about George Orwell that I have been meaning to post.)

Your Daily Legal Idiot: Has Sarah Palin ever actually read the United States Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights?

Background: On August 10th, Radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger went on a tirade on her radio program using the n-word 11 times. Tuesday, she announced that she would be ending her radio show to “regain [her] First Amendment rights.”

For some perverse reason the former Mayor of Wasilla and half-term Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, decided to jump in and defend someone who thinks it is okay to publicly throw around the n-word with such reasoned debate as this on Twitter:

Dr.Laura:don’t retreat…reload! (Steps aside bc her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence”isn’t American,not fair”)

[…]

Dr.Laura=even more powerful & effective w/out the shackles, so watch out Constitutional obstructionists. And b thankful 4 her voice,America!

So, let me get this straight, to criticize someone because you think they are an idiot is a violation of the First Amendment? What exactly does the First Amendment say? Oh, let me look that up:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (emphasis mine throughout)

Is Congress saying that Dr. Laura cannot be a contemptible dipstick? Has the FCC even threaten to fine her? No. These women, both of them, show a complete and utter lack of knowledge about the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

And why exactly is Sarah Palin using her time to defend someone who thinks it is appropriate to throw around the n-word like it is going out of style?

But, honesty, what should I expect from someone like Palin who thinks it is a violation of the First Amendment for the press to act in a manner that she does not approve of?

Are these bloggers nuts?

Jim Geraghty at National Review Online’s “Campaign Spot” blog has a post about the top 25 “worst figures in American history” as determined by 43 right-wing bloggers. Let’s just say that hyperpartisanship is effecting everyone this year:

  • 23) Saul Alinsky
  • 23) Bill Clinton
  • 23) Hillary Clinton
  • 19) Michael Moore
  • 19) George Soros (8)
  • 19) Alger Hiss (8)
  • 19) Al Sharpton (8)
  • 13) Al Gore (9)
  • 13) Noam Chomsky (9)
  • 13) Richard Nixon (9)
  • 13) Jane Fonda (9)
  • 13) Harry Reid (9)
  • 13) Nancy Pelosi (9)
  • 11) John Wilkes Booth (10)
  • 11) Margaret Sanger (10)
  • 9) Aldrich Ames (11)
  • 9) Timothy McVeigh (11)
  • 7) Ted Kennedy (14)
  • 7) Lyndon Johnson (14)
  • 5) Benedict Arnold (17)
  • 5) Woodrow Wilson (17)
  • 4) The Rosenbergs (19)
  • 3) Franklin Delano Roosevelt (21)
  • 2) Barack Obama (23)
  • 1) Jimmy Carter (25)

Saul Alinsky? Michael Moore? Sharpton? Soros? Noam Chomsky? Did someone confuse “most annoying liberal” with “worst figure in American history”? Geez, what have those five doofuses ever actually done?

Why is Jane Fonda even on there? Sure, she served as a propaganda shill for the North Vietnamese, but how does she get on the list while Robert McNamara does not? He is the one that handicapped American troops which resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of our troops.

For the same reason as McNamara is the list, Lyndon Johnson should be too. Throw in his massive expansion of the government, but that’s just another point when compared to his actions during the Vietnam War.

I would throw in Janet Reno and John Ashcroft for their accusations, respectively, against Richard Jewel and Steven Hatfill. There are few things that I find more disgusting than a government official using his public office to slander an innocent person.

Sidebar: Should Mike Nifong (Duke lacrosse case) be included? Accusing three innocent people of one the most hideous crimes someone can be accused of for the sole purpose of gaining publicity and ensuing you are reelected to a political office?

Reno also gets included for her treatment as the head of the campaign to deport Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez.

At least one of the participants that were polled included Nathan Bedford Forest — founder of the Ku Klux Klan — on their list, however, he didn’t make the top 25. Alinsky et al. make the list but the founder of a society that terrorized blacks for over a century does not?

I would throw in Andrew Jackson simply as the personification of everything that was wrong in the American treatment of the natives on the continent.

You can debate whether Jimmy Carter should be the list. The debates online that I have seen seem to argue over whether someone should warrant inclusion if their actions were based on either stupidity or incompetence, versus actual malice.

But Barack Obama? Seriously, come on.

If you think I missed someone, leave a comment and I may update my post.

More reading:

Doug Mataconis: The Worst Figures In American History.

Michael Powell: Worst Figures in American History.

Jazz Shaw: How Does One Become a “Worst American?”

Mosque in Texas vandalized causing $20,000 in damage.

Yeah, burning that playground equipment is really going stop Islamic terrorism and Shariah Law.

How much responsibility do people like Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich bear for this wider wave of Islamophobia that has struck the nation?

H/t: Doug Mataconis and Michael Powell on Twitter.

Why I am sick of the right, and why I probably will not be voting this year

Why? Because I am sick of the right and all the noise and bluster coming out of the right this year. It is not that I agree at all with President Obama’s policies, but I am so sick of the now that I see no reason I should bother to support — or even give the illusion of support — by voting for a Republican.

Why am I sick of the right? Well, consider the following:

The three antis

The following three items have essentially come to make up 95% of the noise coming out of the right this year, with all the noise being demagogic and disgusting:

Anti-immigration

Illustrated perfectly by the recent law enacted by the state of Arizona and the lies propagated by its supporters:

Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona has stated their police have found many decapitated bodies in the Arizona desert, with the implication that it is a result of illegal immigrants.
Fact: Multiple medical examiners in Arizona have stated there have been no reports of immigration-related decapitated bodies.

Crime is at record levels on the U.S. side of the United States-Mexican border.
Fact: Crime in most places on the border is at a four-year low.

Citizens on the border don’t feel safe.
Fact: According to a recent poll, 87% of border residents said that they felt safe.

And then add in stuff like claims that  so-called “anchor babies” are part of some massive Islamic terrorist plot, politicians calling for illegal immigrant interment camps, and a proposal by a Florida GOP gubernatorial hopeful that any non-citizen carry papers or be thrown in jail.

It’s nice to see that the party that calls Obama a “communist”, a “socialist”, and a “Marxist”, is trying to turn the United States into the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.

Anti-Muslim bigotry

While the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” has been in the news a lot, there is a much larger problem.

On the “Ground Zero mosque”, which is two blocks away from Ground Zero, Republicans have yet again shown themselves to be this country’s biggest enemy of private-property rights (something that I have known to be true locally for years). Republicans railed against the Kelo decision, but now you have a GOP gubernatorial candidate in New York promising to use eminent domain to seize the property that the proposed mosque is to be built on.

But anti-Muslim protests have expanded into Connecticut, Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin. And now we have the head of the American Family Association saying that no mosques should be allowed to be built anywhere in the country and the GOP Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee referring to Islam as a “cult”.

The Republican Party, including its leaders like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, want to shred the Constitution, along with its protections of freedom of religion and private property.

Anti-gay bigotry

If you have followed the response to the Prop. 8, you know what I’m talking about: Prop. 8 proponents talking about how gay marriage is going to destroy the country (people have seriously said that).

So, let me get this straight: This country has survived for over 200 years, through its revolutionary war, a civil war, two World Wars, a 40+ year Cold War, miscellaneous wars, conflicts, and interventions, and letting a couple thousand gay couples marry is going to the destroy the country? Uh, yeah, right. Anyone else not buying that?

In addition, you have the proponents of Prop. 8, and opponents of the federal court ruling, that are intentionally misrepresenting the case. They keep claiming that the court ruling will compel churches to do ceremonies for gay couples. And I, for one, do not believe that these people are so stupid they cannot understand the difference between a court ruling saying a state government cannot discriminate against someone versus the a ruling saying a church cannot. They are categorically misrepresenting the decision by Judge Walker in California to fearmonger and demagogue. Or, you can draw the conclusion that they think the church is the state and vice versa. Pick your poison.

And these are the same people that want to recriminalize sodomy, think that “Hitler used gay soldiers because they ‘basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after'”, and God only knows what else.

But these folks actually believe it. How scary is that? And Republicans constantly claim to be the party of limited government (ad nauseam), but they think they should have the power to throw gays — or any other group that has the slightest difference in their ‘moral’ outlook — in jail. You are either for limited government or not, you cannot call yourself an advocate for limited government on the fiscal side, and then propose using the government to persecute people who do not follow your exact opinion on ‘social’ issues, but have committed no crime.

The rhetoric

In part, this is an extension of some of the stuff mentioned before. You cannot go five minutes without someone calling Obama a “Marxist”, “socialist”, “Nazi”, etc. Throw in the rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims, and gays, and you have a trifecta of demagoguery that makes me want to vomit when I hear it. And why should I support people who engage in and use this rhetoric and act as though they are speaking for me?

The anti-intellectualism

How else do I describe people who believe anything that gets posted on the internet or forwarded to them an e-mail? These people believe that the federal court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law was unconstitutional because some idiot on the internet doesn’t know the difference between a court having original jurisdiction and exclusive jurisdiction.

And then there’s the tea-party websites that are believe anything e-mail to them and too lazy to do a Google Search to see if something is true or could be easily refuted with five minutes of looking.

The crazies

And then there’s the crazies out there that have become one with the Republican Party. This past Tuesday illustrated this perfectly: Nathan Deal, a Birther who has made comments about “ghetto grandmothers”, was nominated as the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Georgia. In Colorado, Dan Maes, who thinks that bicycling is a United Nations plot to take over local governments in the United States, was nominated as the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

And then there is Sharron Angle (Republican nominee for Senate in Nevada), who by all indications, may be a Christian Fundamentalist.

And you can throw in the other hard-right social-cons into this group too. And I’m talking about the people who literally believe that the United Nations is coming to take their kids, who will give them to gay couples that will molest them. And that’s not an exaggeration, there are people in the Republican Party that believe that.

Locally

And then we turn to the local candidate for me, Congressman Rob Wittman. I supported Wittman during the primary, in part because he was running against that nut Catherine Crabill.

But, now, I see no reason to bother to vote for him this November. Wittman talked constantly during the primary season about how he was all for cutting the size of government and reducing government inefficiency.

But, like every other “fiscal” conservative or Republican out there, while they talk about reducing the size of government, when it comes to cutting something that is inside their district, or may affect their district, all their talk goes out the window. I’m speaking of Wittman’s various and repeated comments about SecDef Robert Gates’s plans to disband the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.

Supposedly, Wittman’s a huge fan of reducing the size, scope, and extraneous redundancy in government, right? But, like every other politician out there, he doesn’t have the fortitude to actually follow through and do it.

Why the tea-party “movement” is a joke, part the first in an occasional series.

What is an organization or movement other than a sum of its parts, in this case, its members?

Herman Cain, a business leader and radio host; and Tea Party Patriot co-founder Jenny Beth Martin have joined the roster of speakers for the Virginia Tea Party Convention.

Organizers have invited about two dozen speakers, mostly prominent conservatives, to address the convention Oct. 8-9 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

[…]

Martin, who lives in suburban Atlanta, helped launch the Tea Party Patriots organization in early 2009. This year Time Magazine named her to the “Time 100” list of “people who most affect our world.”

Other keynote speakers who have confirmed so far are former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs; Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., founder of Exodus Faith Ministries International and president of a group that promotes Judeo-Christian values; political strategist Dick Morris, and John Fund, a conservative author and columnist for The Wall Street Journal.

Jenny Beth Martin? A woman, who along with her husband, declared bankruptcy with over $680,000 in tax debts alone.

Yet SecTreas Timothy Geithner is the devil incarnate to the tea-party folks because he owned the federal government a mere $35,000 by comparison.

Lou Dobbs? Birther.

Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr.? A person that espouses a Christian Theological view that this country was founded on Christian values (apparently he never heard of The Enlightenment), rants about the “homosexual political lobby”, supports a total ban on gays serving in the military, and supports a federal marriage amendment to the United States Constitution.

Wait, I thought this whole tea-party think was about fiscal conservatism and limited government? I guess that’s the case until the Christian Fundamentalists on the far-right, who have become part and parcel with the tea-party “movement”, want to impose their beliefs on the whole nation, the Constitution be damned.

Dick Morris? A former Clintonista (you know, the original President that proposed “socialized” health care) who got fired because he was messing around with a prostitute.

A post in which I try to start a blog-war with some idiot at Bearing Drift over the gay marriage ruling.

Over at Bearing Drift, a Steven Osborne has a post about what — in his deluded mind — the gay marriage ruling (by Judge Vaughn R. Walker in Perry v. Schwarzenegger) means.

Frankly, I’m not sure why I’m bothering to post about a blog post that is just awful. I guess it’s partly because it’s so full of it, it’s amazing. Here’s the one of the most outlandish things stated in the post:

The Walker decision has, for the first time in American history, established that marriage is a fundamental right rather than an institution.

Oh really, the first time ever you say? I’m curious did you even bother to read the opinion, Mr. Osborne? Apparently not, quoting from page 110 (PDF page 112) of the opinion:

The freedom to marry is recognized as a fundamental right protected by the Due Process Clause. See, for example, Turner v Safely, 482 US 78, 95 (1987) (“[T]he decision to marry is a fundamental right” and marriage is an “expression[ ] of emotional support and public commitment.”); Zablocki, 434 US at 384 (1978) (“The right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals.”); Cleveland Board of Education v LaFleur, 414 US 632, 639-40 (1974) (“This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”); Loving v Virginia, 388 US 1, 12 (1967) (The “freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”); Griswold v Connecticut, 381 US 479, 486 (1965) (“Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.”).

Now, for those not versed in legalese, the underlined words that have “v”s in them are the case names. You see? Very good. The things after are volume, reporter, and page citations. For example, 482 U.S. 78, 95, means that the beginning of case Turner v. Safely begins on page 78 of volume 482 of the United States Reports, and the quote is from page 95 of the same volume. (The numbers in the parentheses are the year the case was decided.)

Now, you may be asking, “What’s the United States Reports, Mr. Genius Blogger?” Why, kids, that would be the official reporter of the Supreme Court of the United States, meaning that every case cited in that paragraph is from the Supreme Court of the United States.

So, how exactly, is this case the first time that marriage has been “established” as “a fundamental right rather than an institution” when you have five SCOTUS decisions that state the exact opposite?

Geez, I have no idea who this idiot blogger is — other than he’s a student at Liberty University — but I hope to God he isn’t a pre-law student. *Shudder*.

Oh, and Chris Frashure reams him out in the comments section too. Give that a read, that first paragraph makes it one of the best comments I’ve read in a long time.


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