Tuesday, March 30, 2004

NRA Priorities

I'm a member of the NRA. My principle reason for joining them is my belief that the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution is under some pretty hefty attack these days and I want to see it protected. Recently they have also managed to get involved in the fight for the 1st Amendment and that is something else I'm glad to be a member for. (More on that in a later post.) The most recent actions in Congress dealing with 2nd Amendment issues were on the Senate floor where S.1805, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, came to a vote. The Act sought to clarify once and for all that a manufacturer of firearms was not liable for unlawful acts committed by a third party using their product. In layman's terms, Smith & Wesson couldn't be sued because some mugger shot a guy with a gun they had made but did not sell to him.

Sounds pretty reasonable. After all, you don't see Ford and Toyota being sued when a drunk driver kills a family crossing the street and you don't have lawsuits filed against Wustof when a woman stabs her boyfriend 87 times. Lawsuits like these against the firearms industry are frivolous. They are not intended, really, to protect against the events they decry. They are merely a way around being unable to get laws passed to ban firearms in increasing measures. And lest you think that's alarmist, rest assured that there are plenty of people who think no one but a soldier or a policeman should own a gun. I give you former President Bill Clinton upon signing the Brady Bill in 1993:

Space HereThere is no reason for anyone in this country- anyone except a police officer or military person- to buy, to own, to have, to use a handgun. The only way to control handgun use in this country is to prohibit the guns.Space Here

You can find lots more quotes out there and I leave it to you to do so, if you're so inclined. The point is, the folks who want to get that accomplished aren't faring so well in the legislative arena, so they're using the courts as a cudgel to simply beat the makers of firearms into bankruptcy. I disapprove on a general point in that I don't think the courts should be allowed to be used as a weapon and on a specific point that I think the firearms industry should be protected in particular. The NRA also approves and you could tell in how they were pressing members such as myself to contact our elected reps and urge them to support the bill.

Imagine my surprise when the NRA withdrew their support and urged those same elected reps to vote S.1805 down.

The media didn't trumpet the fact too hard but the reason the NRA withdrew support was reported to be that 2 amendments were added to S.1805 that 1) extended the so-called "Clinton Assault Weapons Ban", and 2) alleged to close a "loophole" in criminal background checks for guns purchased at gun shows. These amendments were added on March 2, 2004 on the day the Senate was to vote on S.1805. Their addition was widely seen as a "poison pill" move done solely to kill the primary bill. It worked wonders.

When I read the NRA had withdrawn support from the bill, I was - to put it mildly - angered. In my view, the NRA had just sacrificed a bill to protect the firearms industry from being sued to death in order to permit someone to buy an "assault weapon" at a gunshow and not have to have the FBI brought in on it. Can we say "priorities"? I considered the NRA's priority screwed up. In fact, as I started to write this entry in the blog, it was my intent to state that thought in big, bold letters and cast my demand for an explanation onto the cyber-winds. In gathering citable sources, however, I got an education in research and a new view into media bias and the congressional method.

First, let's begin with the actual bill as it was intended. The actual text of the bill is up on the Thomas locator at congress.gov and can be read in its entirety there. I'll be quoting parts of it, but you can read the whole thing over there. The bill's intent was to "To prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others." Succinct, to the point, very targetted. Specifically, the bill directs 2 things:

Space HereSEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON BRINGING OF QUALIFIED CIVIL LIABILITY ACTIONS IN FEDERAL OR STATE COURT.

(a) IN GENERAL- A qualified civil liability action may not be brought in any Federal or State court.

(b) DISMISSAL OF PENDING ACTIONS- A qualified civil liability action that is pending on the date of enactment of this Act shall be immediately dismissed by the court in which the action was brought.
Space Here

In other words, you can't bring a "qualified civil liability action" against a firearms manufacturer, dealer, or importer in State or Federal court. And if you already have such an action pending, it's hereby dismissed. The obvious follow-up question here is "what's a 'qualified' civil liability action?" Glad you asked:

Space Here (5) QUALIFIED CIVIL LIABILITY ACTION-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `qualified civil liability action' means a civil action brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, or a trade association, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party, but shall not include--

(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;

(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought, including--

(I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law;

(II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or

(III) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code;

(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product; or

(v) an action for physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a manner that is reasonably foreseeable.

Space Here

So, basically, you can still bring action against these folks if they sold to someone they knew or should have known was prohibited from owning a gun, if the seller went out of his way to avoid filing the right kinds of regulatory paperwork, if the seller is in breach of contract or warranty, or if you were injured as a result of a design or manufacture defect. If, on the other hand, you're suing them because some evil jerk mowed down 10 people in a coffee shop with a heavily modified hangun, that's not going to fly.

So now we know what the bill was intended to be. What did it become? This post is getting long enough, so I'll continue that in the next one. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 26, 2004

Right to Choose now in the crosshairs.

In what was touted as a way to increase protection for pregnant women, the Senate approved the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA), sending the bill to the President. The bill, in a nutshell, allows prosecutors to add a second count to charges against an assailant who attacks a pregnant woman - 1 for the woman and 1 for the unborn fetus. While that sounds all well and good, the issue is in granting a legal - and separate - status to the unborn fetus, defined in the bill as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

While the bill's sponsors say this bill has nothing to do with abortions, their actions say otherwise. An alternative bill which would have provided exactly the same penalties without granted the legal status to the fetus was defeated. Now if the assailant would have been held to the same penalties for the same act, then the only difference would be the legal status. Clearly, the legal status issue was the central component of the bill to those who voted for it and if it was the central focus, then the protection of pregnant women was not and is not the primary goal. The goal was to create a separate status for the unborn fetus. Now what would that have gained?

That's easy. If the unborn fetus has a separate legal status from the woman carrying it, it's not too far a jump to see that the woman's right to choose to abort the pregnancy is going to be called into question. Assertions to the contrary by the bill's sponsors are not supported by their actions during the vote. They were looking to create a hole in the Roe v. Wade decision that they could sue their way into and up into the Supreme Court. Sadly, this battle is all but over since the President is almost sure to sign the bill into law. I'm writing him to urge him to do otherwise, but I have no illusions about my chances of success there.

I wonder if those converted hospital ships that park off in international waters to allow women denied this basic choice to proceed as they feel they must will be making visits off American shores soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Off in the wilds, again...

I've been out in the broadband wastelands of northern Ohio again and that's put a crimp on my blogging. I'll be back up to speed here in a couple of days. (Man, this dial-up stuff SUX!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

So just who are you working for, Mr. Kerry?

For those of you who haven't heard, Mr. Kerry claims that several unnamed leaders of foreign countries have expressed their private support. From CNN:

Space HereThe brouhaha stemmed from a comment Kerry made to supporters March 8 at a fund-raiser in Florida: "I've met more leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy, they look at you and say, 'You got to win this. You got to beat this guy.' "Space Here

In the past couple of days, both Secretary of State Colin Powell and the White House have suggested that Mr. Kerry either name names or "find something else to talk about." Mr. Kerry's campaign says that such comments are merely a Republican effort to distract attention from the "real issues." But what does Mr. Kerry say to regular citizens? Seems John Kerry gets a mite testy when asked.

Space HereThe theme was raised by Cedric Brown, a participant in a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania. He wondered whether Kerry was meeting with international leaders "to help you overthrow the Bush presidency."

Pressed repeatedly by Brown, Kerry finally declared: "That's none of your business."
Space Here

Wrong, Senator. When I'm being told by a man who wants the top executive job in this country's government that leaders of foreign countries want him to be the next president, it's absolutely my business to know which ones. Mr. Blair from England? Chancellor Schroeder of Germany? Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan? Or are we talking Khomeni of Iran? Kim Jong-Il of North Korea? Bashar Al-Assad of Syria? It makes a huge difference to me which ones of the world's leaders want to see him in the White House and it's not an irrational question to ask of the only man who claims to have the answers.

Unless, of course, that was a lie. Knowing that no such endorsements were made is also my business, since Mr. Kerry's campaign and the opposition to the current administration has placed such a high premium on the absolute truth being told by the President. The same standards should certainly apply to anyone who wants the title. My problem already is that Mr. Kerry is showing he has no difficulty in misrepresenting his own record. During an interview in Miami, he was asked what he would do about Cuba. He replied:

Space Here'I'm pretty tough on Castro, because I think he's running one of the last vestiges of a Stalinist secret police government in the world,' Kerry told WPLG-ABC 10 reporter Michael Putney.
...
'And I voted for the Helms-Burton legislation to be tough on companies that deal with him.'
Space Here

But Senator Kerry did not vote for the legislation. The record clearly shows he voted against it. Now how much weight can I give his comments about foreign leaders when he's willing to change his story on issues where records already exist? It is completely beside the point what anyone else says or does - this man is showing he cannot be trusted on even the most basic issues and I cannot support him.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Spanish PM-elect to pull troops from Iraq

I can't say I'm surprised but I am disappointed in the decision by Spanish PM-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to pull troops from Iraq following on the heels of the bombings in Madrid. Regardless of what reasons he had or didn't have, it certainly looks like they got hit by Al Qaeda and they're caving in to Al Qaeda's wishes. Sure, it's probably not that simple, but it sure looks that way.

This will have a variety of repercussions, some that will affect us and others that won't. Assuming the Spanish don't get medieval on the ETA and dedicate their entire law enforcement and national security apparatus to squashing them like bugs, the Basque separatists will have to look at this situation and take heart. Seeing that a sufficient level of violence has had the effect desired by those that inflicted that violence, they will conclude that they simply haven't been brutal enough to date. Their actions - meaning bombing - will be assessed as having been on the right track, just that they lacked the proper amount of force. Or that they should have been targeting civilian centers in the first place, rather than police stations and political offices. The choice is a clear one for them: continue as they have been doing and expect little-to-no results or adopt this large-scale, kill-as-many-as-you-can approach. If they want the results, they're going to give the latter a serious look.

Along the same lines is the concept that we now have proof that Spain can be forced to take a given action desired by a terrorist group using terror techniques. We have spoken in terms of Al Qaeda or the ETA up to now, but who else might have an axe to grind? I fear that Spain has created an opening it will regret.

I'm sure our other allies are a bit more nervous today, too. Given the success in changing Spanish policy, Al Qaeda will no doubt try the same tactics on other members of the Coalition, too. Spain's decision has made them more of a target today than they were a week ago. That's bad enough, but it also makes it even more necessary that we do not allow ourselves, ever, to be put in a position where our actions in defense of our national security can be vetoed by a foreign power. Even an ally. If we tied our ability to act to the approval of a group of nations, then all a terrorist group would need to do is hit the weakest member of the group hard enough to force America to change its course. Unacceptable.

I wish Spain well in their endeavors and I do hope this doesn't cause additional problems for them.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Spain mourns, 5 arrested

The news up tonight says Spanish authorities have arrested 5 people in connection with the bombings in Madrid. It remains to be seen if these people really had something to do with it and, if so, how high up the food chain they are. We here in the US have had plenty of experience in false leads in this kind of matter, so I remain patient until the investigation is more solid. A person claiming to speak for Al Qaeda has also claimed responsibility for the bombings (read that in the same story) and I await investigation on that, too.

I have been trying to think what to say about this... act of war. I almost said "tragedy" but that's not right. 1200 people dying in an earthquake or a tornado or monsoon is a tragedy. I almost said "crime" but that's not it either. 1200 people dying when a building collapses due to rushed, flawed design or purposely deficient building techniques is a crime. This event was neither of those - it was a deliberate attack designed to do no more than kill as many people as possible in as horrific a manner as could be inflicted by people whose aim is hateful spite dolled up to look like righteous politics. I am angered in exactly the same way as I was that day in September 2 years ago. I am saddened to see the anguish on the faces, so similar to that I witnessed when the WTC and Pentagon were hit. I sent condolences and a promise that I would not forget them, either, as I have vowed never to forget our own. I know from personal experience that the sentiment will be appreciated - and will do nothing whatsoever to ease the pain and anger.

It was not the fault of those people on the trains that life hasn't turned out to be all rosy and wonderful for some muslim zealot who'd love to see everyone not of Arab blood die, dry up, and blow away. Of course these gutless cowards don't really care about Arab blood, either, since they clearly have no trouble spilling that in their efforts to give some meaning to their existance. It's not our fault, either, and I won't insult the memory of those that died by having the arrogance to assume that it was. I can only try to keep it from happening and urge America to do what we can, collectively. I can only wish that we'd been faster and more effective in finding them all. That our attacks had been just a wee bit more brutally powerful in our efforts to see these vermin exterminated. They don't want to talk. They don't want to live in peace. They don't have any concept of compromise and yes, I believe they hate the lifestyle we and most of our allies pursue. They hate the freedom to be individual and the protections we give people in allowing them that freedom. They want to wipe that off the face of the planet and they don't appear to give a shit who dies in their pursuit. Fair enough.

I call for taking the gloves off completely. Send out the warnings to wherever we have to that we're coming in there after these slime and if you don't want to wake up on the wrong side of a Rockeye then I suggest you either 1) bug the hell out of there or 2) point these murderous bastards out to the right authorities and deny those terrorists any assistance whatsoever.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

More of the media's leftward bias - Updated

I've tried to avoid the topic for a while now but this is just getting too blatant to ignore. As I previously noted, the media is reporting some kind of mass fury going on about the use of images from 9/11 in President Bush's campaign ads. I spoke my mind about it and did not post a follow-up story about the media's choices in quoting people about the issue. Well, I'm mentioning it today.

The people quoted at length in the story claiming to be "offended" by the use of those images were, almost to a man, participants in activist/advocacy groups who have been vocal in their opposition to President Bush. Does that mean they aren't really offended? Of course not. In fact, I believe they are quite offended, but I have a reasonable doubt that they'd be so offended if it were a candidate they supported that used the images. Besides, it's not these people who are doing anything wrong whatsoever and their feelings on the matter aren't the target of my offense today. The media fell all over themselves to report this event and to make sure to play it up as wide as they could so as to create the sense that all of the so-called "Families of 9/11" were crying foul. They also failed miserably to advise the public they supposedly want to inform as to the activism of the people they were quoting. In that story - repeated often in almost every medium available - there wasn't 1 mention of any of the aforementioned families being OK or supportive of the use of those images. It wasn't until 2 days later, and after the dawning realization that all the previously quoted families apparently have axes to grind, that the AP decided to post a story about other families who have no issues with the ads. The media could certainly have found these people to include in the initial story if they'd had a mind to do so. After all, how did they find the families they quoted? Or did those families use their various groups to send the story in to the AP so it could conveniently make use of them?

The media continues to follow this same pattern even now, after all this has come to light. A story about President Bush visiting the site of the 9/11 Memorial references yet again one of the people quoted in the initial story making the same "I'm offended" comment and makes no attempt whatsoever to get a quote from someone who supports the use of the images in question. We already know for 100% fact that the man quoted in the article is part of an activist group directly opposing the President's re-election and still they quote him as if he speaks for all the families of 9/11. They even know who they need to see and where those people are to get the other side to balance the story! They refused to make the effort. The bias in these stories is clear. The media obviously has their story they want to tell and they take pains to not include anything that might show a balanced picture. This is bias and it's against the President and the Republican party as a whole. That's not what the vaunted media supposedly stands for and the fact that they are engaging in this kind of blatant bias is far, far more damaging to the public than anything President Bush has done in the last 3 years.

Update - I knew I'd seen this around but it took a while to locate again. Lest we believe that this repeated case of the media not mentioning a quotee's background is merely sloppiness applied evenly to both left and right, have a look at this story. This was published in February regarding a man who served with President Bush at the Alabama Air Guard base. Read the whole thing, sure, but note the very last line of the story:

Space HereCalhoun has not made any donations to Bush this election season or during the 2000 season, according to campaign finance records.Space Here

So the media thought it proper to check out whether this guy had donated to the Bush campaign and report their findings, but they see no need when it comes to people opposed to the President's re-election. Yeah, that's not biased at all.

Other DC Sniper Malvo gets life

The other convicted DC sniper, Lee Malvo, was sentenced to life without parole yesterday, again in accordance with the jury recommendation. Personally, I think he deserved to get the same treatment his mentor and partner in crime got. Unfortunately, while the judge had the ability to tone down the sentence recommended, she couldn't raise it. Too bad.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Say, you got change for a million? Updated

There are stories that you read once and then read again because you're sure you missed the part where this was a joke. OK, go along with me on this one: you're a cashier at a store. Never mind which one, take your pick. Customers come up, drop their selections onto the conveyor belt that wisks them up to you, you scan it across the barcode reader (beep!), total it up, take their money, hand them their change and say "Hi" to the next one in line. Rinse. Repeat. Pretty much how your shift goes; all in a day's work.

Now imagine someone comes up, you tally up a fairly hefty total for them, and they hand you - watch closely, now - a one-million dollar bill. Yep, that's right, a $1,000,000 bill, complete with the mug of the Statue of Liberty smack in the center where George Washington hangs out on the lowly $1 bill. Quick - what do you do?

I wish I could say this is a purely hypothetical, and dumb, example but it's not. In Georgia, a 35-year-old woman heaped just over $1600 in merchandise up on the belt at her local Wal-Mart and then handed the cashier the aforementioned $1 Million bill. Presumably with a straight face. The store clerk thankfully recognized that this wasn't your common legal tender and refused it. The woman tried to then use 2 gift cards to pay for the stuff, but the cards, unfortunately, contained a total of $2.32 in credit. Faced with that, the wily woman tried to pass the same $1 Million bill to the clerk again. The store's management elected to call the police at that point. The woman has been arrested and charged with forgery.

I can't wait to hear her lawyer's argument. I'm betting that very same $1 Million bill (or a reasonable facsimile) that he'll argue that she can't possibly be guilty of forgery since there's no such bill in the Treasury Department's inventory and has therefore not copied an existing piece of currency. I can just hear it now. Somebody got an aspirin?

Update 3/11/2004 - Holding true to form, the woman who tried to pass off the $1 Million bill is now saying she thought the bill was real. Her claim appears to be that the US Treasury department is changing the money so fast that people simply can't keep up.

Yeah. Right. I'm amending my predictions for her lawyer's defense strategy. I'm guessing "diminished capacity" is going to get thrown in there as well.

Justice

Convicted DC sniper John Muhammad was sentenced to death today by the Virginia Judge who heard the case. Thankfully, he saw through the blown smoke of Muhammad's defense weasels lawyers and handed down the sentence this slime deserved. Of course, there's going to be appeals, but that's going to be quite the trick. They have to prove some sort of judicial neglect or prosecutorial mistake and that's not likely in this case. The judge set October 14 as the execution date (which will likely be extended due to appeals) and my hope in this matter is that the execution take place as close to that date as possible.

California Senator wants to lower the voting age to 14

Yep, you read that right: California Senator John Vasconcellos and 4 others are proposing a state constitutional amendment to allow teens as young as 14 to vote. While the story I've linked doesn't go into the details, a radio report I heard this morning says the plan would be to have kids 14 and 15 years old count as a quarter-vote. That goes up to a half-vote at 16 with full voting still at 18.

I cannot imagine what is going through the heads of the Senators making this proposal. It's absurdly obvious that a significant portion of the current - adult - voting populace isn't keeping themselves politically aware enough to be making rational decisions. How many of us when we were 14 had a grasp of our social/political/economic surroundings to make well-informed and rational decisions regarding the course our society should take? Even at 16? With all the pressures on teens, both those that have always been present and those that our more modern lifestyles create, is it reasonable to assume that they can stay informed and aware enough to participate in deciding issues that are causing we adults such conflicts? The answers, in order, are "damn few", "still damn few", and "no."

Part of what makes me amazed about this proposal is the fact that the people proposing it were teens themselves, once. They should be able to remember that they were very, very focused and worried about things which they would have to agree today are of no consequence. I recall myself at that age and I was quite consumed with issues and things that have no value to me at all as an adult. In fact, some of the positions I took would have made for disastrous public policy. My awareness of what my actions and suggestions would affect just wasn't wide enough in my mid-teens. (To be frank, it wasn't wide enough in my late teens, either, but certainly not to such a degree.) In public discourse and group decision-making, it's important that all the participants be at least willing, and hopefully able, to reasonably extrapolate what effects their decisions will create, if enacted. 14, 15, and 16-year old kids do not have this faculty.It'd be nice if they all did, but they don't, by and large, and that's the truth.

I'm also finding it once again ironic that some lawmakers seem to think that kids this young are old enough to be involved in deciding the course of their state's future, but cannot be trusted to have a glass of wine at dinner. Come to think of it, any bets about what issue the kids would like to bring to a vote first? Don't go there, folks.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Offended at any Price...

You'd think there was enough offensive behavior going on in the world performed by people who are honestly careless, crass, or hateful that people wouldn't feel the need to go and manufacture an offense. There's plenty of real, live racism out there. There's no need to go cooking some up from nothing, unless (of course) you're trying to get yourself into a newspaper or an elected office. Of all the places I remain competely confident that lack a racist overtone, a chessboard nears the top of the list. That's right, a chessboard. You know the game, square board, 64 equal-sized squares alternating a light and a dark color, with game pieces of 6 types in 2 teams again in a light and a dark color. In the flat color palette available in the 15th century, the lightest color available was white. The darkest was black. Both colors occurred naturally in the world so they were obvious choices for the game. That's it - no politics, no race issues, no grand socio-economic themes. Just 2 colors commonly available and easily produced.

Until, that is, some idiot with too much time on his hands and an over-inflated sense of self-importance got an idea to make himself a story. To him, chess is an inherently racist game, portraying white as superior because in the rules of the game, white moves first. What an arrogant asshat. People who know what the hell they're talking about know that chess is reputed to have originated around 600 AD. The writings we have from that time refer to the game although some research indicates it might have existed as early as 100 AD. It came from there, in the area now the northern part of India, across Persia to the commercial centers in Italy and Spain. The version we know today was basically codified around 1400 AD.

That's a helluva lot longer ago than the slave trade started up to the Caribbean and American shores, bud. You want to find racism, how about looking at the arguments of people who see it any time they look at something white? Until then, leave the honorable game of logic alone.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Leniency, Indeed...

Lawyers for convicted DC sniper John Muhammad have filed papers seeking the court's leniency when he is sentenced. Ironic. Where was the leniency for the innocent people he stalked and killed for no justifiable reason? When were they offered the chance to appeal to someone else's mercy, someone whose behavior is required by law to be impartial? His lawyers prove to be exactly the kind of bottom-feeding slime their profession is generally viewed as:

Space Here The jury recommended a death sentence, but Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette Jr. has the option to reduce the punishment to life in prison when Muhammad is formally sentenced on Tuesday. Judges in Virginia rarely reject a jury's recommendation in death-penalty cases.

Muhammad's lawyers urged Millette to do just that, citing the impact of Muhammad's execution on his children, Muhammad's lack of a previous criminal record, and the sanctity of human life.
Space Here

The impact on his children? And the impact on the children of those people this killer murdered is inconsequential? Sanctity of human life? Their client showed the world his viewpoint on the sanctity of human life. He deserves, richly, to be held to the same standard. Already I feel he is getting away too leniently, given Virginia's method of execution. It is my fervent hope that the Judge sees through these legalistic smoke bombs and hands Mr. Muhammad the sentence of death that he has earned so well.

Is The Record Appropriate Imagery? - Updated

The President's re-election campaign has raised controversy on the very first step of the journey in airing ads that show images from 9/11. The question, of course, is "is this appropriate", meaning basically is he exploiting a tragedy or highlighting a major event in his record? I have seen all 3 of the ads currently being run. I cannot understand the viewpoint that the President's campaign is being exploitive given the content of the message.

In 2 of the ads, there's a shot of an American Flag against the wreckage of the WTC. No people are shown in that particular shot and the entire scene is on the screen for less than 3 seconds. In the 1 ad (title "Safer, Stronger"), there's also a shot of firefighters carrying out a flag-draped coffin. This image, too, is on the screen for less than 3 seconds.

These events happened, there is no contention on that point. They occurred during this President's 1st term. On this, too, there is no argument. The images do not show the actual attack, they make no reference to who did the attacking or why, merely that the attack occurred and that it represented a change in our Country's priorities. This is part of the record and, as such, is completely appropriate to discuss when considering the leadership of the man in the White House at the time of the attack. It is not a "reminder" that the attack occurred. I honestly don't think any of us really need a reminder of the event, but to yell about exploitation when the 2 images representing that whole day are both short in duration and entirely within the scope of the discussion of re-election is disingenuous. I get the feeling that the critics complaining about the ad would prefer that the President simply make no mention of 9/11 at all. They appear to want to cover over that event in history entirely - until, of course, they want to complain that President Bush's response to the matter was horrid and deserving of condemnation. Then, they have no problem talking about it at all.

I am deeply sorry for the loss suffered by the families of those killed on 9/11. The event was not a private one, however, and it's not something to be held off-limits and unspoken in the public discourse. The ads shown are tasteful and reverent of the situation. They are certainly germane to the topic of re-electing a President and are, in my opinion, appropriate.

Update - The New York Post has run a story showing some of the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 agree that the images were just fine and that the topic is appropriate for discussion.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

"Furor" over same-sex marriages?

That's what the title of the article says - "furor". Evokes quite the image of nasty bar brawls and massive protests in the streets, doesn't it? "Furor", defined is:

Space Here 1. [n] a sudden outburst (as of protest)
2. [n] an interest followed with exaggerated zeal; "he always follows the latest fads"; "it was all the rage that season"
Space Here

Have you seen these sudden outbursts? Beyond Congress and the spit-spraying commentary of ultra-right-wingers howling about the destruction of traditional marriage, what has there been? Long lines at courthouses by gay couples signing marriage licenses is about all. I've said it before: not one of those couples nor all of them combined changes 1 iota of my marriage. The fact that it's legal for Ken and Ron or Courtney and Kimmy to get married doesn't make my marriage anything less than it is, so what's the big deal? Certainly no furor at this house. Or street. Or town. (Do I sense a pattern?)

I don't approve of a Constitutional amendment on the issue and I'm confident it will die a slow, painful death.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Bernie Ebbers: Fraud, Cheat, Crook - Updated

The DoJ is expected to announce filing charges of security fraud and conspiracy against former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers. It's about time. This little weasel managed to take a huge, multi-national communications firm and send it soaring $11 Billion in the hole. The reason the company did this poorly is the direct mismanagement and misleading by Ebbers and his crew. Anyone who's been remotely connected with WorldCom knows that Ebbers was lying through his teeth when telling investors and employees alike about the status of the company. He, of course, got away wonderfully banking millions in stock sales that employees were not allowed to take advantage of. He deserves to be jailed and have every dime taken from his entire estate.

Update - Well, that didn't take long.

Space HereWASHINGTON — Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers (search) has been indicted on federal charges stemming from the multi-billion dollar accounting fraud at the telecommunications giant, a government official said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the charges include securities fraud.

Attorney General John Ashcroft (search) planned a 1 p.m. news conference in New York to announce the charges, which first were reported late Monday by WNBC-TV.
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Go get him, guys.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Trouble in Paradise

In an interesting but completely confusing story, a man drove his SUV into the Kahalui Airport on Maui, Hawaii, parked it in the ticket terminal and then set it on fire:

Space HereHONOLULU, Hawaii (Reuters) -- Thousands of departing passengers were stranded on the island of Maui for 10 hours Sunday after a man drove his Sports Utility Vehicle into the open-air ticket lobby and set the vehicle on fire, authorities said.

Maui County police and the FBI said it was not an act of terrorism. No one was injured.

The 52-year-old suspect, whose name was not released, was arrested and remains in custody, police said.

The incident occurred early Sunday morning. The man drove his Dodge Durango up a handicap access ramp and into the lobby near the United Airlines ticket counter and then ignited a flammable liquid in the back seat, said Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the Hawaii State Department of Transportation.
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OK, I have 1 immediate issue: anyone who's ever been to Maui will tell you that no one can ever claim to be "stranded" there. These people weren't stranded. They were rescued. Nuff said.

The thing completely missing from the story, of course, is the answer to the question of why this clown did this? He wasn't a terrorist and I don't think this is a Hawaiian ritual for saying goodbye to someone. Should be interesting to see what the guy's excuse is.