Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

RNC Raids

30.08.2008 (8:50 pm) – Filed under: Free Speech,Politics ::

Glen Greenwald writes that Minneapolis police were out in force today, “dropping in on” some of the Twin Cities’ hippy crowd and making them feel right at home in Minnesota.  Looks like we’re gonna party like it’s 1968 again.

After that little brouhaha in Chicago, no one in authority wants to see riots in their city.  I certainly can’t blame them for that.  Still, it’s disturbing to see police seeking out and harassing people based on little more than their political contrariness.

Greenwald:

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script.

The attitude of the powers-that-wanna-be seems to be that they’re paying big bucks to put on a show – the political convention – and they’re not about to let a little thing like freedom of speech interfere.

A couple of people were booked for conspiracy to riot.  Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild calls the charge ridiculous:

It basically criminalizes  political advocacy.  I mean, the essence of conspiracy law is if a single individual takes an overt act towards accomplishing an illegal goal such as purchasing a brick, and the police then claim that someone else in his group has an intent to throw that brick, then everyone who advocates that you attend that demonstration…

Maybe.  The charge itself makes sense – if it’s supported by evidence gathered using a warrant justified by probably cause.  Nestor’s explanation seems overly paranoid.  Common sense dictates that a conspiracy must be planned.  In turn this means that multiple people must be aware and actively participating.  Certainly I’d expect to see this level of evidence if I was sitting in the jury box.

What’s unfortunate – and probably illegal – about these arrests is that there doesn’t seem to be any conspiracy or intent to do anything at all.  Evidence?  Police took some computers and journals, nothing more, something that begs the question:  What drew police down on these people?  Where is the probable cause, in other words?

This situation gives the feeling that the police are being instructed to trump up something, anything, to keep the locak wackos and their drop-in friends from doing any ad hoc protesting during the RNC.

Much as I despise leftist politics and thought I find this pre-emptive attack against dissenters unsavory, uncalled for, and un-American.

Georgian Provinces Defect to Russia

30.08.2008 (6:54 pm) – Filed under: Russia ::

Did anyone out there seriously doubt that the takeover of the disputed regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia would be the outcome of Russia’s little invasion into Georgia?

The Times of London:

Tarzan Kokoity, the province’s Deputy Speaker of parliament, announced that South Ossetia would be absorbed into Russia soon so that its people could live in “one united Russian state” with their ethnic kin in North Ossetia.

Shocker.  I’m guessing Vlad Putin’s just as surprised as the next fellow.  Not.

Dissecting Obama’s Acceptance Speech

30.08.2008 (12:43 am) – Filed under: Politics,Society ::

24 hours ago Democrats were salivating all over themselves after Barack Obama gave his speech accepting their nomination for president.  Since then I’ve been waiting to have a go at some of his statements.  It almost seems pointless now that John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate has blown Obama out of the water and, for the moment, off of the press’ radar.

But I’ll do the work anyway.  If nothing else this post should prove to be a useful primer in how not to be sucked into the vacuum of pretty, empty liberal promises. 

more »

Liberals on Palin

29.08.2008 (12:37 pm) – Filed under: Liberalism,Politics ::

Amanda Marcotte says that Sarah Palin is a clever choice for McCain to have made but immediately heads to the abortion issue to disqualify her, dissing Palin as:

a female anti-choicer, a straight-up sexist colluder. The base will be appeased that she shares their anti-woman sympathies, but the swing voter will simply see that she’s a woman and assume that she can’t be anti-woman.  Sadly, as we feminists know all too well dealing with those women who collude with sexism, it isn’t at all true or inevitable that a woman will be a feminist.

For Marcotte it issue is abortion and keeping the procedure freely available.  Same for Ann at Feministing, who tosses in a couple of other leftist "must-haves" among Palin’s sins:

She’s against marriage equality and supports a federal gay-marriage ban, but has made sure to note that she "has gay friends." Though she has signed on to same-sex partner benefits. She believes schools should teach creationism. She’s also pretty terrible on environmental issues, and is a huge advocate of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Republicans are more open to a certain type of woman — one who is strongly against things like equal pay, universal health care, and reproductive freedom. In other words, the party is pro-woman-candidates, as long as they enact anti-woman policies.

Is agitating for abortion the definition of feminism?  Plenty of women I know disagree profoundly with Roe v. Wade and its effects on women and a society marred by the absence of its children.  Narrowing the focus of what it means to be pro-woman as Amanda and Ann have done has lead the left to adopt rigid, artless patterns of thinking, the exact opposite of what liberalism is supposed to stand for.  We all have our gods and it’s apparent what many liberal bloggers worship.

Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, blunders his initial take on Palin even more badly

The first criterion for a veep – and I’m simply repeating a truism here – is that they are ready to take over at a moment’s notice. That’s especially true when you have a candidate as old as McCain. That’s more than especially true when we are at war, in an era of astonishingly difficult challenges, when the next president could be grappling with war in the Middle East or a catastrophic terror attack at home. Under those circumstances, we could have a former Miss Alaska with two terms years under her belt as governor. Now compare McCain’s pick with Obama’s: a man with solid foreign policy experience, six terms in Washington and real relationships with leaders across the globe.

While I agree with everything Andrew wrote, it’s obvious that whatever truisms apply to the vice-president apply 1000 times more to the actual president.

As president, Barack Obama’s qualifications barely surpass what Sarah Palin would bring as vice-president.  That’s the real issue as relates to experience and liberals would do well to remember it.

The Obama campaign and Taylor Marsh also fail to get the obvious:

"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same," said Bill Burton, Obama Campaign Spokesman.

McCain campaign spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker:

It is pretty audacious for the Obama campaign to say that Governor Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. She has a record of accomplishment that Senator Obama simply cannot match. Governor Palin has spent her time in office shaking up government in Alaska and actually achieving results — whether it’s taking on corruption, passing ethics reform or stopping wasteful spending and the ‘bridge to nowhere.’ Senator Obama has spent his time in office running for President.

That says it all.

McCain and Sarah Palin

29.08.2008 (10:30 am) – Filed under: Politics ::

John McCain has picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the bottom half of his ticket.  Having never heard of her before there’s little to be said at this point, although the lack of notoriety Palin brings to the party speaks for itself in some ways.

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CNN:

Palin, 44, who’s in her first term as governor, is a pioneering figure in Alaska, the first woman and the youngest person to hold the state’s top political job.

She catapulted to the post with a strong reputation as a political outsider, forged during her stint in local politics. She was mayor and a council member of the small town of Wasilla and was chairman of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska’s oil and gas resources, in 2003 and 2004.

The conservative Palin defeated two so-called political insiders to win the governor’s job — incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski in the GOP primary and former two-term Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in the 2006 general election.

All good, as far as it goes.  The million dollar question is this:  If John McCain’s health falters, is Sarah Palin the person Americans would most want in the White House?

The answer is, I think, quite clearly "No!", if based only on the fact that we have no idea who this person is.

Palin’s reputed independent streak is an asset, in my mind, as is the get-it-done attitude most Alaskans learn from the environment in which they live.  Her lack of experience in big-time national politics works against her, obviously, since it’s debatable whether she even matches Barack Obama’s virtually non-existent record.  Ted Stevens’ recent ethics indictment won’t help either.

In sum, a surprising choice that will either prove to be a major blunder or tremendous coup for McCain. 

Putin Blames U.S. for Georgia

28.08.2008 (5:44 pm) – Filed under: Russia,World ::

Vladimir Putin is a bad boy and, like all bad boys, has a propensity for telling lies whenever he thinks he can get away with it. 

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Today Vlad says that, in spite of the fact that it’s Russian troops in Georgia, the U.S. is behind the fighting in that country and that “American citizens” – dare we say spies? – were there too.

In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Matthew Chance in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Thursday, Putin said the U.S. had encouraged Georgia to attack the autonomous region of South Ossetia.

“U.S. citizens were indeed in the area in conflict,” Putin said. “They were acting in implementing those orders doing as they were ordered, and the only one who can give such orders is their leader.”

What a shock this must be to President Bush.  Not only is Vlad a bully with no soul, he’s also looked into W’s eyes and divined his plan to start a civil war within the borders of one of our better allies in the region.

This is most likely a classic case of the aggressor blaming the victims in order to justify his actions.  After all, you don’t think that Russia had anything to do with the troubles in the Georgian provinces, do you?  Surely they weren’t sending men into Georgia to incite rebellion.  Must have happened all by itself.  Right.

Personally I think that if the people of a region large enough to sustain itself as a national entity want to break away from the mother country that they ought to be allowed to go their own way.  Witness the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, as well as the Basques in Spain.  Why should an unwanted government be forced down people’s throats simply to preserve artificial national borders? 

Power and economics are the reasons, of course.  But the latter is more of a perceived issue than a real one.  Corporate entities break up and re-align on a regular basis in order to arrive at a more efficient set of operations.  Why can’t governments simply allow people to determine their own destinies?

I’m sure that’s a laughable view to a man like Vlad Putin, a dictator with a penchant for having his way and a big dream of re-uniting the Soviet Union.  He’d like nothing better than for bits of that failed nation to break away and make themselves easy pickings, just as in Georgia.

All Vlad needs is someone to blame for his actions.  Doesn’t have to be true, obviously.

Celebrity Limitations

28.08.2008 (12:10 pm) – Filed under: Celebrities,Politics ::

I like Kid Rock’s music but not his foul-mouthed lyrics, many of which are nearly blue as the writing on certain not-to-be-named liberal web sites.  But I have to give Kid this – he knows his limitations and professes to live within them, at least in regard to politics.

"I truly believe that people like myself, who are in a position of entertainers in the limelight, should keep their mouth shut on politics," the rap-rock musician, 37, tells CMT Insider.

"Because at the end of the day," he goes on to say, "I’m good at writing songs and singing. What I’m not educated in is the field of political science. And so for me to be sharing my views and influencing people of who I think they should be voting for … I think would be very irresponsible on my part."

Rock on, Kid.  But how ’bout turning the verbal fog down to something like a PG-13 for me?

Democratic Revolution?

26.08.2008 (10:56 am) – Filed under: Politics ::

Hillary Clinton says she’s moved on after losing a tightly contested race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  I hope that’s not true and that she uses her speech tonight to say the one true thing that’s in her heart:  "Vote for me!  I would make a better president than Barack Obama and here’s why…"

Obama has taken the minimum public steps necessary to accommodate the Clintons, including giving them prime-time speaking spots.

But he has taken few of the extra steps that Clinton allies say would have gone miles toward fostering goodwill.

He did not work hard to help her retire her $24 million campaign debt.

He did not make a high-profile statement repudiating any suggestion that Bill Clinton played “the race card” in the nomination contest — an allegation that the former president considers grossly unfair and that continues to infuriate him.

The race issue is one of the great ironies as it applies to the Clintons.  While there are many reasons to vote against Hillary Clinton, race is not one of them.  Contrarily, there is no other reason to vote for Barack Obama unless one is enamored with the idea of following a rookie leader into an unspecified season of change.

Just as significant, Obama has maintained a certain cool diffidence toward the former president. They spoke by phone last week. But for weeks before that, associates said, Clinton had heard nothing and did not even know when he would be speaking at the convention. The Obama campaign’s only communication was a  form letter sent to all delegates.

Clinton loves to offer advice to fellow Democrats. But even in their conversations, Clinton friends say, Obama shows little deference or signs that he thinks Clinton, the only Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win two terms, has any special wisdom to offer.

“There is a lot Obama could have done to unify the party, and basically he hasn’t lifted a finger,” said one Democratic operative who is close to the Clinton team.

Much as I can’t stand the thought of seeing Bill Clinton roaming the halls of the White House that he despoiled, his wife would in fact be a better president than Mr. Obama.  She would probably be better than John McCain too, if not for her unfortunate party affiliation.

So here’s hoping that Mrs. Clinton will, for once – and perhaps for all – tell the truth tonight.

Update

Bill Clinton ruminates:

"Suppose you’re a voter, and you’ve got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don’t think that candidate can deliver on anything at all. Candidate Y you agree with on about half the issues, but he can deliver. Which candidate are you going to vote for?"

Then, perhaps mindful of how his off-the-cuff remarks might be taken, Clinton added after a pause: "This has nothing to do with what’s going on now."

Conventions Shakes Nuts Loose

26.08.2008 (6:23 am) – Filed under: Free Speech,Politics ::

Judging from these two stories, the loony-toon tree is being shaken pretty hard out in Denver and the nuts are falling to Earth.

First, Alex Jones of InfoWars was caught on video stalking and harassing Michelle Malkin outside the Denver Mint.  Evidently that’s Alex’s idea of being clever and accomplishing something for his cause.  Wrong.  What a pompous fool.  Agree with Michelle or not, she deserves some respect for trying to do what she thinks is right and the freedom to do her job in peace.

Second, 4 presumed white supremacists were arrested on drug and weapons charges in what one of the men admitted was a plot to kill Barack Obama at the convention.

Sources told CBS4 police found two high-powered, scoped rifles in the car along with camouflage clothing, walkie-talkies, wigs, a bulletproof vest, a spotting scope, licenses in the names of other people and 44 grams of methamphetamine.

Nathan Johnson, 32, was also arrested. He told authorities that the two men “planned to kill Barack Obama at his acceptance speech.”

Sounds like the plot, and the Nazi wannabes, might have been half-baked.  Even so, Americans shouldn’t take Barack Obama’s safety for granted.  Pray for him, even if you’re a die-hard Republican.

Like Malkin, Obama has the right to do and say exactly what he wants without fear of bodily injury, without having to endure streams of verbal abuse.  The fact that I disagree with everything he stands for – and I do disagree, as you know – does not give me the right to harm him.

This fact is so elementary, so fundamental that it’s a slap in the face to be reminded that I live side-by-side with so many morons who clearly don’t understand the singular principle that underlies the American way of life.

Hallmark Store Demonstrates Decency

25.08.2008 (9:28 pm) – Filed under: Gay Rights,Law,Medicine,Political Correctness ::

This little ditty says that some Hallmark stores owned by a small-time franchisee are refusing to sell the company’s new greeting cards that celebrate homosexual themes.

Good for them.  Franchise owner or not, a business person should be able to determine what merchandise is on the shelves of his/her store.  Here’s hoping they have the courage to hold out against the backlash that is undoubtedly heading their way.

At least the force that will be applied against these store owners is primarily economic.  In California, doctors offering reproductive services face legal penalties if they dare to follow their consciences when deciding whether to perform in vitro fertilization for homosexual couples or not.

The LA Times:

…the justices were clear on one point: Doctors, in the course of operating a business, cannot refuse a patient because of his or her sexual orientation, just as they would not be allowed to reject patients based on their race.

Physicians can refuse to perform any procedure, such as abortion or in vitro fertilization, that they find morally objectionable. But if they do perform such procedures, they cannot provide them to some groups of patients and not to others. It is true that artificial insemination is an elective procedure, not a matter of saving life or limb, but that’s not the issue here.

No?  Pray tell then, what exactly is the issue?

The arrogance of the California Supreme Court is simply staggering.  How dare these so-called guardians of the law presume to compel doctors – the best and brightest among us, perhaps the only professionals whose services are utterly irreplaceable – to perform acts that they find morally reprehensible? 

By what right do the judges lay claim to this legal power?

A clothing store may choose not to sell polo shirts. But once it sells polo shirts, it cannot withhold them from customers based on their race, religion, sexual orientation and so forth.

It’s preposterous to equate a highly trained medical professional to a common retailer, just as it’s ridiculous to compare the ultimate in human responsibility – the creation and nurturing of life – to t-shirt sales.  It’s nonsensical, this new leftist logic. 

Bear in mind that we’re not talking about whether lesbians can have the in vitro procedure – they can.  The issue is whether a doctor can be compelled under force of law to perform that procedure.  The answer, at least in California, is a crystal-clear, “Yes!”

If this is what law is in the 21st century, perhaps it is time to do away with this century’s perverse legalism and begin again.  Using this twisted logic, how long before it’s outright illegal for the mom-and-pop-owned Hallmark store to decline to sell gay greeting cards? 

Another question comes to mind as well.  Given a medical system in which doctors can be forced to perform procedures that are anathema to their beliefs, how long until physicians begin to quit the field and the quality of care declines as the best potential medical students pursue other fields?