Friday, November 16, 2007

Apparently I Missed A Meeting

So no one told me that there was a "we hate hate-crimes" march at the Justice Department today. Rev. Al isn't getting a Christmas gift from me this year.

Anywho, this is what some of the marchers were saying:

"I feel that [the DOJ is] ignoring African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities, and treating us as if we're insignificant and don't need anything," said Sheila Barnett, who came to Washington with a group from Cleveland.
Treating people as if they are responsible adults? How dare they!

My favorite quote of the day:

Others, however, said people of all ethnicities were hurting. "A lot of injustice is being done to the black race, white race, green race, whatever. We need to pull together," said Ruth Blackwell-Rufus, a 52-year-old nurse from Temple Hills. "I think that the Justice Department has fallen down. I think that they're closing their eyes and they're forgetting about the poor people."
It's bad enough that "pulling together" means absolutely nothing, but the "green race?"

While I fundamentally disagree with the concept, it is baffling to me that very few black "leaders" can be found to intelligently promote federalization of hate crimes (Prof. Charles Ogletree standing alone in this capacity, as far as I can tell). The staggering inanity of these statements, coupled with nonsensical congressional tirades from Sheila Jackson Lee and Rev. Sharpton himself only exacerbate the perception that blacks are ignorant fools not only requiring -- but demanding -- paternalistic protection from the government.

This is not progress.

Bonds Gets Hit With Indictment

All-time MLB home run leader Barry Bonds was indicted yesterday for federal perjury and obstruction charges. The criminal investigation was led by the IRS-CID:

A federal criminal investigation ("the criminal investigation"), led by the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division ("IRS-CID), commenced in the Northern District of California concerning Balco's distribution of anabolic steroids and other illegal performance-enhancing drugs and the related money laundering of proceeds from the drug distributions. The criminal investigation initially resulted in an indictment and the convictions of four defendants on federal charges, including illegal drug distribution and money laundering offenses.
Which basically means that the government started all this because they weren't getting their cut. When you hear "money laundering," think "creative tax evasion." Seriously, why else launder money?

I'm no fan of Bonds, but its hard to believe this wasn't a witch hunt. I'm not saying they went after him because he's black -- while possible, it's more likely because he's a jerk -- but people were out to get Bonds.

To think otherwise is to believe that there was absolutely no complicity the Commissioner's Office when steroids helped bring baseball back. That no managers that deal with the players everyday knew anything. That no general managers whose jobs depend on the fitness of players they negotiate with had any knowledge about such a prevalent problem. And of course, that owners who have millions of their own dollars invested in these athletes would not make it their business to know anything and everything they could about the lives of their investments.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Immunized or Incarcerated

Out of Prince George's County, Maryland:

The parents of more than 2,300 Prince George's County students who failed to get needed vaccinations could face fines of $50 a day and up to 10 days in jail if their children do not meet the state's immunization requirements, county officials said yesterday.
While I believe that children should be immunized against communicable diseases, this is a gross violation of parental rights and, potentially, the 1st Amendment. If any of the students are Christian Scientists --who believe that prayer is the only legitimate remedy to disease -- then forced medical care will be in blatant violation of the Free Exercise clause. The First Amendment does not just protect behaviors that we don't find absurd and dangerous.

There is an argument that this is a "public health issue" but -- as is most often the case -- this is a private health issue. Most kids will be immunized, and thus unaffected by the choices of others.

The best argument for forcing this is the child's rights (viz. health) versus the parent's rights (autonomous decisions relating to their own children). Unless the child expresses desire -- against the will of the parents -- for immunization, the parents have the right to medically treat their child how they see fit.

If this were a case of neglect, that would be one issue, but "improper" lack of precaution does not qualify as neglect. Such interpretation would open up a Pandora's Box of "unreasonable" parenting decisions that may run counter to conventional wisdom.

Leave the parents alone.

UPDATE: (2013) I've noticed this post has, for some reason, gotten a few views recently. I stand by the First Amendment problems and that incarceration is an inappropriate punishment, but I've realized since I wrote this regarding the whole "private" versus "public" issue, that people who have weakened immune systems--whether via HIV, Lupus, old age, or whatever--can be dramatically, even fatally, affected by these decisions. It's not in my bailiwick to say what should be done, but I don't believe incarceration is really the best answer.

Generally speaking, the threshold for which we put our fellow human beings in cages should be much higher than it is today. -jpb

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St. Reagan, Race, and the Right

A very good piece by Publius, over at Obsidian Wings:

Others just flat-out ignore race and pretend that things like grinding poverty rooted in historical discrimination doesn’t exist. They squeeze the contradiction out from the ideal. Every now and then, though, the contradiction comes bubbling up to our gated-community eyes, Masque of the Red Death-style – just like it did in New Orleans. But that's the exception - many of us can go about our daily lives, blissfully ignorant.
The piece concentrates on David Brooks and many others in the Right who beatify our 40th President and dismiss the more seedy methods of courting the Southern electorate. Publius insists that the Right just needs to own up to the racist past and demonstrate that its current messages are not double-speak for more racist policies.

My problem is this -- while probably outside of the scope of the piece, Publius infers that it is primarily the Right that needs to come to terms with the past. Yet, the last time I checked, racism does not respect party lines or political ideologies.

LBJ, for example, was a racist and ardent segregationist who pushed Civil Rights for political reasons -- and his 'War on Poverty' left more black families destitute, living in urban squalor, and welfare dependent than any other program in U.S. history. So, I think there is plenty of reckoning to go around than to just place it on Reaganites.

Let us not forget FDR's internment of Japanese during WWII, JFK's wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a subversive, and Sen. Robert Byrd's high position in the Ku Klux Klan -- hollow, after-the-fact apologies notwithstanding.

Racism is an American problem, not just a Republican one.

On Nation-Building...

Max Boot makes a strange comment in an op-ed in the NYT today:

No wonder our capacities in nation-building and strategic communications have withered — their practitioners are second-class citizens behind traditional foreign service officers.
Have we ever had ANY capacity (let alone business) in nation-building??? But wait! There's more:

If we expand [USAID's] ranks, it could become our lead nation-building agency, sort of a global FEMA, marshaling the kind of resources that have been lacking in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Exporting FEMA? Doesn't the world hate us enough already?

Friedman: Tax The Poor

In his column in the NYT today, DNC lackey Thomas Friedman uses a hypothetical Democratic candidate to extol the virtues of putting a $1/gallon tax on gasoline immediately following 9/11:

I do favor a gasoline tax phased in over 12 months. But let’s get one thing straight: My opponent and I are both for a tax. I just prefer that my taxes go to the U.S. Treasury, and he’s ready to see his go to the Russian, Venezuelan, Saudi and Iranian treasuries. His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security.

There are some serious problems with this rationale.

First, he assumes that this tax would offset the payroll taxes Americans pay. Since when does Congress lower one tax when raising another? While the "starve the beast" (cut revenues, expect lower spending) hypothesis seems to have fallen flat, I would bet that increasing the coffers of Congress would not inspire fiscal responsibility either.

Second, while rightfully blaming collusion in the oil markets on the OPEC cartel, he infers that they are using the post-9/11 world as an excuse. Hmm. I happened to take a tour of New Orleans last summer and saw an abandoned gas station with its gas prices from that fateful week in 2005 still posted. The price? $1.89/gallon. Friedman is apparently borrowing from Giuliani's play book by channeling 9/11 every time he decides he wants to make a point, whether it applies or not.

Finally, he neglects to mention that most of the income taxes are drawn from the highest incomes, not the lower classes. Thus, his argument is that we should punish poorer Americans so that the Treasury can benevolently redistribute their money to pay for Charlie Rangel's ego.

UPDATE: I shouldn't have said "DNC lackey." I had recently seen a pandering interview with fellow columnist Paul Krugman that attributed America's wealth to the central planning of FDR. Frankly, I confused the two in my mind. The rest of the piece still stands. mea culpa

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Teen Intimidates Family...Via SWAT

While Justice Kennedy may not see botched SWAT raids as fitting a pattern of abuse, a kid in California tried to use SWAT to intimidate -- and possibly kill -- an innocent couple:

MUKILTEO — A teen is accused of using a computer in his Mukilteo home to report a fake homicide in California, which sent a SWAT team to the house of an innocent couple and their two sleeping toddlers.
Money quote from the Orange County DA's office:

“And the SWAT team saw a man armed with a weapon at the house where they believed a murder had occurred. We’re thankful no one was killed. It easily could have escalated to that point.”
If the D.A. knows that SWAT can go into a situation and "easily" kill innocent people, you would think the tactic would be used only sparingly.

Cato's 'botched raid map' here. Radley Balko's must-read white paper on paramilitary police tactics and abuse here.

A First-Hand Account of Chinese Adoption

Jacob Sullum has a great piece over on Here's an excerpt:

Karin Evans, the author of The Lost Daughters of China, wants to think the best of these parents, especially the mothers. Rather than say her Chinese daughter, whom she adopted in 1997, was abandoned at the market where she was found, Evans prefers to think “she was ‘delivered’ to safety in that busy place—so clearly was it her mother’s intention to save her.” [Author and adoptive parent Kay Ann] Johnson, who became the mother of a Chinese girl in 1991, soon after the Chinese government began to allow such adoptions, is less sentimental. She notes with dismay that Americans sometimes refer to their adopted Chinese daughters’ abandonment as the Chinese equivalent of “an adoption plan.” She points out the obvious: that newborns left on their own, even in busy areas, are highly vulnerable, and many do not survive.

Yet the parents of these children often find themselves in difficult situations, as reflected in this note quoted by Evans, which accompanied a baby abandoned, like Mei, in Hunan province: “This baby girl is now 100 days old. She is in good health and has never suffered any illness. Due to the current political situation and heavy pressures that are difficult to explain we, who were her parents for these first days, cannot continue taking care of her. We can only hope that in this world there is a kind-hearted person who will care for her. Thank you. In regret and shame, your father and mother.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cojones Grande!

Radley has a great post over at reason (money quote):

But to call for tossing online gamblers in prison while pushing for new casinos in the same bill? Points to Patrick for testicular fortitude, I guess. And for at least being open and transparent about his bald protectionism.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Because Whites' Shit Don't Stink

I'm just too disgusted to write anything pithy about this:

Lisa Woods contacted us almost a year ago. She worked at Georgia-Pacific near Brunswick at the scaling house where truckers come to weigh their logs.

She says for months the restroom had a sign saying, "OUT OF ORDER." She alleges her co-worker, Anthony Lee, believed the races shouldn't mix. Lee had no comment.

An independent trucker, Donald Jones, says when he went to the scaling house he saw the same "OUT OF ORDER" sign.

Jones says, "I had to go off in the woods and do what I had to do."

But Lisa Wagner, a former security guard at the scaling house, says if a white truck driver came through, "No problem, no problem at all." Whites were invited to use the toilet, Wagner says.

Was the toilet really broken? First Coast News Jeannie Blaylock went to the scale house with a photographer to find out. She flushed the toilet and it seemed to be working just fine.

Coincidentally, I'm sure:

Several hours after our news crew stopped at the job site, Georgia-Pacific fired Woods.

Assuming that this story is as it seems, some would say that this is evidence that anti-discrimination legislation is necessary. I would argue that this is evidence that racists will get around whatever laws you throw at them. Laws are only as powerful as the people who respect and enforce them.

The challenge in race relations, and discrimination generally, is to get people to change their minds -- not just submit to some law they find contemptible.

My thoughts on job protection for homosexuals here; America's still-sorry state of race relations here and here (and make sure to check the comments).