Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Judges Shouldn’t Be “Lifers”

31.10.2006 (7:48 pm) – Filed under: Immigration,Politics,Society ::

Federal Judge James Munley has temporarily denied Hazelton, PA, the right to enforce a new local law that would:

  1. Fine landlords found to be renting space to illegal aliens
  2. Close down businesses that hire them
  3. Allow legal employees to sue the businesses for employment lost during such a shutdown

Sounds good to me. But says Munley:

“Defendant [ed: Hazelton, PA] offers only vague generalizations about the crime allegedly caused by illegal immigrants but has nothing concrete to back up these claims.”

What about the fact that they’re breaking federal immigration laws? I guess that law isn’t important to His Honor. Maybe it should be.

Jon Swift: Smarmy Enough to Make Me Ill

31.10.2006 (11:30 am) – Filed under: Politics,Society ::

Jon Swift’s return fire to Rush Limbaugh is brilliant.  And disgusting.  This is feel-good intellectual superiority at its worst.  Smarmy, it seems, is back in style thanks to W and Mark Foley.

This is a super piece – tight, well-written, with just the right amount of sarc to make an audience feel clever.

Too bad it’s malarkey. Rush is, in fact, quite right about the halo effect that “disadvantaged” people are granted when Congress, in its wisdom, dispenses the title on them.

Welfare recipients defrauding the system? Can’t confront them, they’re largely minorities.

Illegal aliens flaunting the law in every state in the Union? Can’t touch them either.

Consider the $$$ wasted on facilities for the disabled that consistently go unused. Just try to take that entitlement away sometime, though, and you’ll draw back a stump where your right hand used to be.

Peggy Noonan on the Election

29.10.2006 (11:00 am) – Filed under: Politics ::

Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal says, among other things:

Republicans, most of whom are conservative in at least general ways, and who endure the disadvantages of being conservative because they actually believe in ideas, in philosophy, in an understanding of the relation of man and the state, are still somewhat concussed.

The conservative tradition on foreign affairs is prudent realism; the conservative position on borders is that they must be governed; the conservative position on high spending is that it is obnoxious and generationally irresponsible. Etc.

This is not how Mr. Bush has governed.

Amen.  It’s these betrayals as much as his lies and bungling in Iraq that’s caused me to despise him.

Save Hubble!

27.10.2006 (7:57 pm) – Filed under: Science ::

I think that NASA ought to make time to save the Hubble telescope.  I’m disappointed in this country’s lack of vision as regards space exploration. Other than Bush’s vague gestures toward Mars, nothing of interest has been done or said in what seems like decades.  Where is the replacement for the space shuttle?  Where are our bases on the moon?

It’s a problem that a telescope is one of the most interesting projects in space science; it’s a travesty that it’s one that’s 15 years old.  Yet, the one thing that could make a bad situation worse is to abandon it over a repairable problem.

NASA chief Sean O’Keefe is a big part of the problem. Talking about repairing Hubble last month, O’Keefe said:

“Could we do this (with a shuttle crew) and take that risk? Sure. But someone else will have to make that decision. Not me, because I’m not going to.”

Now that’s inspiring leadership.  But I suppose we shouldn’t blame him.  After continually being under-funded and over-criticized by Congress, we’ve gotten a NASA designed by politicians instead of scientists.  Little wonder that it’s less than optimally effective.

Update at 10/31/2006 11:37:16 AM

NASA will try to fix Hubble after all.

Must be because of my enormous influence in the blog-o-sphere.  🙂

Today’s Criminal Injustices

26.10.2006 (6:59 pm) – Filed under: Crime,Society ::

First, in moment of a staggering genius, the technical wizards at the Texas DPS have decided to track deported sex offenders after all.  Andy Kahan, director of the crime victim’s office for Houston Mayor Bill White, had to ask the DPS to make the change after one such scumbag killed a Houston cop last month.

“Evidently, he came back and obviously didn’t register,” DPS spokeswoman Tela Mange said said of the aforementioned scumbag.

Really?  I never would have guessed that would happen!  After looking for and not finding the killer in the DPS database, Kahan said:  “What’s the harm with just listing them as deported? I was stunned.”

I’m a bit surprised myself but hardly stunned.  It’s been obvious for some time that we didn’t have a clue who illegals are or where they are.  Thanks to Kahan we’ve closed one hole.  Only 9,999 more to do.

I imagine I can hear the gnashing and grinding of teeth in the LULAC office all the way from Houston!  🙂

Second – and I love this, big-time! – three convicted murders on death row have gone on a hunger strike.  This is great news!!  If they starve themselves to death my taxes will go down!  Apparently it’s been really rough for Stephen Moody who, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons, “has lost five pounds during the hunger strike.”

Maybe I shouldn’t get too excited about that tax relief just yet.

Third, a woman who’d cared for her paralyzed mother for the last 15 months has been charged with murder for unplugging her respirator after her husband threatened to leave her because of his mother-in-law.

This is a tough one.  Obviously what she did was wrong, but people do have breaking points and it doesn’t seem as though this woman is in the same class as the starving brutes in the previous story.  For all we know, the mother summoned all of her physical strength and whispered, “I don’t want to live like this!” into her daughter’s ear.  I know I would, were I in her bed.

Fourth, a high school student and convicted sex offender tried to rape a teacher in her classroom after school earlier this week.  Charming.

I know that some misguided individuals will say that the little scumbag has the right to an education.  But seriously, do convicted felons belong in school?  I submit, and I think the teacher in question would agree, that they do not.  The fact of the matter is that when scumbags commit felonies consequences should and must automatically follow.

Despite the risk to my wallet, I hope the teacher sues the school district for all they’re worth.  Maybe then these idiots will get some sense scared into them.

But then again, maybe the perv was really just bad at tag as a boy and all of this is the fault of an education system that sanctioned this cruel “elimination” game.  Little wonder then that he tried to strike back at the system that stripped him of his dignity and inherent right to be called a winner or, at the very least, not a loser.

Lou Dobbs Thinks Illegal Immigration is Bad

25.10.2006 (1:36 pm) – Filed under: Immigration,Politics ::

Read all about it.  I like this snippet:

Illegal aliens are an important part of a one trillion-dollar underground economy in America, according to Barron’s. Illegal employers hire illegal aliens who pay little or no income taxes, and whose children are provided free schooling. Illegal aliens receive medical and social services, and over the past decade have displaced more than two million low-skilled American workers from their jobs.

But then I would, wouldn’t I, or I wouldn’t have written the same things here, here, here, here, here, and here.  If I had any links on the Net, I’d think Lou was stealing my ideas!  Since he’s not, I believe I’m on the right track.

This bit is good, too:

We do know that the government of Mexico encourages its poorest citizens to cross our border, to live and work in the United States. And we know that illegal aliens are sending back to Mexico more than $20 billion in remittances per year, according to the Bank of Mexico. Those remittances from Mexican citizens living in the United States are one of the largest sources of foreign income for the nation of Mexico, neck and neck with oil revenue.

This money going out could have been kept here, in the pockets of American workers or, at the very least, put into the hands of legal immigrants or known guest workers whose income is taxable.  One word describes the fact that this isn’t the way the system works:  failure.

This issue ought to be a no-brainer for Americans.  The only reason it isn’t is the 2-party system, the one we love to hate, makes sure that the 2 sides can never agree on anything.

No Tag? Schools Are Idiots…

25.10.2006 (10:23 am) – Filed under: Education,Society ::

I was going to let pass the latest bit of stupidity on the part of some of our nation’s so-called institutes of learning, but Frank Deford’s silver-tongued skewering of overly sensitive school administrators made me mad all over again.

This CNN article first caught my eye a week or so back.  Here’s another article from Time.

The Boston school “banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they’ll get hurt and hold the school liable.”

What a bunch of morons.  If the legal system allows schools to be punished financially for play-related injuries you don’t stop recess, you fix the broken legal system.

Children in this country are ridiculously fat, according to the American Obesity Association.  They eat poorly and exercise worse than that.  All of this is the fault of adults who fail to provide a proper environment for children.  Consider these numbers from the AOA (more here):

  • The majority of parents in the U.S. (78 percent) believe that physical education or recess should not be reduced or replaced with academic classes.
  • Almost 30 percent of parents said that they are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about their children’s weight.
  • 12 percent of parents considered their child overweight.

It’s the last one that’s the kicker.  12% isn’t bad, right?  Not if parents were objective.  But since Johnny can do no wrong these days, this number is sunshine and smiles.  Try 30% and you’re closer.

As Frank Deford asked in his NPR bit this AM, “Would you rather have your kid sitting on his fat butt playing video games?”

One supporter of the tag ban, Celeste D’Elia, said her son feels safer because of the rule. “I’ve witnessed enough near collisions,” she said.

Excuse me, her son feels safer?  That’s a mother putting words in her kid’s mouth, if the boy ever said them at all.

According to Time, “another factor [that led to the ban] was concern that such games could hurt self-esteem if, say, one kid were always ‘it.'”

But as Mr. Deford so eloquently put it, all of life is a pecking order.  It’s far better to know your place in the world than to go along thinking you’re all that and — WHAM!! — get the big wakeup call when reality finally sets in.

There are such states of existence that provide too much safety, too much comfort.  American schools, full of the delusional need to provide self-esteem, whether deserved or not, are contributing to the problem of children who grow up thinking they deserve the bounties of life without having to earn them.

The truth – cold and unpleasant as it may be –  is that every day is a competition and the weak get what’s left over after the winners have had their fill.  That may change some day in the far off future, but that’s reality in this time and place.  Lying to our children about the nature of the world doesn’t make them safer, it puts them at greater risk.

“Forewarned is forearmed” goes a familiar saying.  Games, sports, academics, and all forms of competition strengthen our young people and prepare them to face the world.  That children are being robbed of these critical tools is perhaps the ultimate injustice of the liberal education we’re giving them.  It’s past time to correct these mistakes.

Our Upcoming Election

24.10.2006 (10:26 am) – Filed under: Politics ::

Polimom writes about something that’s always gnawed at me.  The polarized 2-party system we have in this country doesn’t allow enough candidates whose views are actually in alignment with their constituents rather than the party bosses to make it through the process.

The surge in special interest money that drives this polarization hasn’t been effectively countered by campaign finance reform.  It seems to me that little to nothing has been done to mitigate the corrupting influence of money in the electoral process.

Consider the purpose of the election process.  Is it:

  1. To elect the person with the most personal wealth
  2. To elect the person who gathered the most “charitable” donations
  3. To elect the person whose views most closely represents the constituency
  4. To elect the person who can bring the most “bacon” back home

I submit to you that we’ve always had problems with #s 1 and 4 above, but only in the last couple of decades has #2 become a divisive factor.  Defenders of the PAC and other forms of so-called “soft money” like to shield this corruption behind individuals’ right to free speech, etc.

I’m not sure I agree.  Individuals do, still, have the right to speak freely and vote for the candidate of their choice.  However, what rights are granted to corporations and other affiliations under the Constitution?  I don’t believe that the right to shout with one voice and buy elections is among them, regardless of how you want to spin it.

I would argue that these groups and their enormous influence over the political process deprives me of my right to choose my representation.  How?  Consider the principle of “1 man, 1 vote” that is supposed to govern this country’s elections.

If powerbrokers Dewey, Cheatum & Howe whip up a 10,000 member all-Republican, all-the-time voting block and proceed to funnel these dollars through their organization to candidates of their choosing, DCH is amplifying their influence and diminishing that of the common man.  Money buys votes, make no mistake, and by directing it DCH is decreasing the effective value of my vote.

Note that this is particularly true in party primaries when INOs (party members “in name only”) are washed out of the system for failing to agree with DCH and their ilk.

This may be too vague for the court system to deal with, but I think it’s a real, legitimate concern that, if framed in the proper legal context, could be used to force the legislative branch into correcting flaws that perpetuate the defective status quo.

Iraqis To Stand On Their Own?

23.10.2006 (6:32 pm) – Filed under: Iraq ::

It’s time for Iraqis to “do more”, the White House says. But can the Iraqis maintain their own civilization? Not likely. Granted, I was 7 when the U.S. bailed out of Vietnam, but doesn’t this situation parallel that one very closely? There’s about as much chance of the Iraqi army restoring order on their own as there is of me winning the presidency in ’08.

In related news, the first wholly truthful statement to come out of the Bush government in months came from Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the state department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, who told Qatar-based al-Jazeera that the world was “witnessing failure in Iraq”.

“That’s not the failure of the United States alone, but it is a disaster for the region,” he said.

“I think there is great room for strong criticism, because without doubt, there was arrogance and stupidity by the United States in Iraq.”

Of course this ended up being spun around via an obligatory political apology.

But the “I misspoke” retraction doesn’t mean anything – Fernandez meant what he said and I think we all know that.

1/3 Say Torture OK

21.10.2006 (3:13 pm) – Filed under: Iraq,Society ::

The BBC says that 29% of 27,000 respondents from 25 countries think some amount of torture is OK when used to combat terrorism.

The percentage is 36% in the U.S., making us more amenable than average to inflicting pain on our enemies.  Is this wrong?  I say that it is not, given that the people we are fighting know no limits whatsoever.

Evidence of this fact can be seen every day in Iraq.  The people behind the atrocities there deserve no mercy.  In this regard, the permission grants to military questioners by President Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006 is justified in regards convicted terrorists.

The problem that I have with this new set of laws is not with the fact that we’re sanctioning torture of murders – that’s an eye for an eye, in my opinion – but with the diminishing standard of proof that the government is required to demonstrate.

According to CBS News:  “The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus — the ability of an imprisoned person to challenge his or her confinement in court — applies only to resident aliens within the United States as well as other foreign nationals captured here and abroad.”

Even so, codification into law of a lessened standard of proof for foreign nationals creates a danger to American citizens as well.  Civil liberties do not disappear overnight in this country.  They are taken away one at a time, often as part of massive sets of legislation, usually as part of a patriotic mission to increase national security.  The old adage, “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”, certainly seems to point to the slippery slope that we’re looking down.

In my opinion, dealing with terrorists requires a certain amount of hypocrisy.  The worst of them are no better than animals and should be treated as such on the field of battle and in the torture chamber.  But it’s better to keep these actions in a legal gray area than to compromise the integrity of the legal system as applies to civil society.

Update:  Olbermann: the beginning of the end of America.