Monday, April 30, 2007


Bush says he's going to veto any bill for war funding that has even a hint of a timetable for a withdrawal of our troops. And he points out that Congress doesn't have enough votes to override a veto.

Okay. So what?

He's the one who wants to continue the war. He can't do that without funding approval from Congress. They don't need to override a veto in order to deny him funds for the war. His veto already does that; if he doesn't want the money with the conditions then the withdrawal becomes a done deal -- ahead of schedule as far as the majority of Congress goes.

Bush -- and it appears, most of the press -- seems to assume that a veto will automatically get him the funding bill he wants, without any demands that he make a plan to end the war eventually. But it doesn't do that at all. There's no reason for Congress to give Bush the unrestricted funding bill he seems to think they have an obligation to give him. They have no such obligation. Not a legal obligation, not a moral one, no obligation at all.

No, I think it's likely that the Democratic leadership of Congress will cave and give Bush what he wants, but they might not. I don't think they have the balls to do the right thing, but they might fool me, and fool Bush.

Bush is counting on these legislators to be afraid of being accused of being unpatriotic and unsupportive of the troops if they don't give him a funding bill he wants. And I'm sure that if they just send the bill right back to him after he vetoes it that he will accuse them of just that, and so will the entire Republican Smear Machine. But so what?

Recently Nancy Pelosi got wide criticism for her trip to Syria; from Cheney, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, even generally liberal Matt Lauer jumped on the bandwagon to trash Pelosi. But how did the public react?

Comparing public approval ratings between January, and right after Pelosi's trip, one poll found that although Pelosi's approval took a dip from the high point right after her swearing in as speaker, the public's attitude about Bush's foreign policy performance was flat, and the public's attitude about the foreign policy performance of Congress improved.

Not exactly strong evidence that the public will turn against Congress just because Bush calls them names.

It's really time for the U.S. Congress to stand up. If Bush vetoes the Iraq funding bill, just re-vote and send it right back to him. Let him veto it again, and again if he wants to.

Bush wants to be the decider. Well, Congress needs to let him decide. He can fund the current activities in Iraq or not. But what he can't do is have an indefinite war.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tenet on 60 minutes

He's lying. Very simple, very obvious

He said nobody was tortured. He says we did "enhanced interrogations" and that when he gave the okay to do that it kept him awake nights. Huh? He also says he won't discuss whether the enhanced interrogations includes anything specific such as water boarding.

That's all such an obvious lie it's laughable. Of course we tortured people. Changing words doesn't change the deeds.

The other early lie was whether anyone died in interrogations. First he said, No. When quizzed further he qualified, "Not in the program you a and I are talking about right now". Which, of course means that somebody did die in enhanced interrogations, just not on the Thursday interregations.

They all lied to us then, they're all lying to us now.

Impeach all those sonsofbitches.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

He probably started it

When I was a kid the football coaches in junior high and high school were violent bullies. Everyone I came across. Without exception. Human garbage.

When I was in the 9th grade one of the kids hit our PE teacher (a football coach) in the locker room. Hit him hard, knocked him down. This was in Sinton, Texas and the kids daddy owned the local Chevy dealership plus was an elected member of the school board. So he got a 3 day suspension and a class schedule change so he had a different PE teacher the rest of the year. What had happened was the coach was talking and the kid had been walking away, and the coach grabbed him by the arm, jerked him around, and yelled in has face, "Don't you walk away from me when I'm talking".

My first job had been in a kitchen where the head line cook had quit school at 14 because he was a Mexican who hit an anglo football coach during PE, so the kid just ran off and never bothered to go back. He knew he was going to be expelled. In his case the coach had shoved him pretty hard before he hit back.

Times sure have changed. Now when you respond to some nutcase football coach trying to manhandle you the result is a little prison time for you, leaving the football coach free to prey on other defenseless boys. Some of those guys are worse than Catholic Priests.
GRAPEVINE — A 15-year-old high school football player faces a felony assault charge after being accused of punching his coach in the face during practice.

The Grapevine High School freshman, whose name wasn't released, left a small cut under assistant coach Aaron Clark's eye after hitting him Thursday, police said.

The student had been quarreling with a teammate when he punched Clark after the coach tried breaking up the fight, Grapevine police Sgt. Todd Dearing said.

The teenager was arrested and faces a felony charge of delinquent conduct/assault on a public servant, Dearing said.

Clark, who returned to school the next day, declined comment through a Grapevine-Colleyville school district spokeswoman.

Grapevine is about 25 miles northwest of Dallas.

The story doesn't say the coach tried to manhandle the kid. But, trust me, he did.

Two students were involved in a quarrel. Then it's not a quarrel, it's a fight. Which is it? According to the story it wasn't a fight until the coach interseded.

Am I reading between the lines?

Yes, I am. But I've seen those lines before, I know what the story between them has been when I've seen them.

We really don't need to have the police involved in every damn conflict. Especially when the police job is to just support the official version of the story.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Bad ideas need safety to survive

For some reason I'll never understand feminists seem to often have a strong need to provide sanctuary for bad ideas, to make sure bad ideas are protected from criticisms.

I give a cursory read to a handful of feminists blogs and I think I see this kind of behavior a lot. In most blogs I don't even read the comments, the only blog I read the comments regularly are my own. I don't want my own blogs cluttered with spam from gay porno or insurance sites (what is it that gay porno and insurance sales have in common?) Not because I think my few readers will be offended by them but because I think a comment thread full of that kind of trash will make it less likely that my
real readers will comment. Who wants their comment buried in a mound of ads for zoo sex, fisting, and naked young boys. If I want to fantasize about fisting I can just think about the feminist site Feministing, I can't think of any other reason they picked that name. I supposed they think it's an in your face, girl power kind of a name. I think most people think of it as more of a 14 year old boy kind of thing, but whatever makes them happy.

The moderation policy of some of the feminist blogs I look at from time to time

Feminist Law Professors

Comments from outsiders, however, are moderated.

That's a good idea just to keep the spam down, moderation of first time posters. But I find it interesting that they don't use that term, they use the term "outsiders". An interesting view of the world.

I'm not sure what the moderation policy is, but they give a hint when they say this -
I would note that the tagline here quotes Alice Walker for the proposition that “No person is your friend who demands your silence,” and if your comments are not getting posted, it’s probably because this blogger is not your friend. I’d also like to thank some folks for recent kindnesses. The blogosphere has a lot of very nice people, and they make everything worthwhile.

So they have a quote on their bloghead that says women should not be silenced, but their practice is to silence those other people, whoever that might be.


They don't say much about moderation policy either, just
(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Again the exact language is interesting. The post doesn't have to be approved, just the poster. If you aren't the right kind of person then you shouldn't be commenting. They illustrate that by a statement in the About Us section
Young women are rarely given the opportunity to speak on their own behalf on issues that affect their lives and futures. Feministing provides a platform for us to comment, analyze and influence.

Old women and men of any age should find another platform. That's not ageist or sexist, not at all. That's a feminist attitude at its finest.

Alas, a blog
This blog recently made a post about moderation, it's the one that put the thought into my head to make this post.
First of all, as many folks have noticed, there’s now a “report this comment to the moderators” link at the bottom of every comment. The link leads to this form; complaints put into that form are emailed to all the moderators. Hopefully, this will allow all of the moderators to be more aware of and quicker to respond to problems.

Second, we’re increasing the number of moderators. We now have five moderators: Rachel, Maia, and myself, and also two reader-moderators, Mandolin (welcome, Mandolin!) and Charles. If you’d like to be a moderator as well, please let me know; being a moderator is limited to feminists only, and only to those who aren’t opposed to enforcing moderately polite behavior on “Alas.”

Third, we’re adding a “progressive anti-racist commenters only” checkbox for some posts about racism. The goal of this is to prevent almost every discussion of racism from being turned into endless repeats of the same discussion (to paraphrase what someone said, “Rachel posts that something is racist, Brandon argues that it isn’t racist, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.”)1

Fourth, we’re resolving to do a better job moderating out the Chrises and the Stevens and so on.

They have long-winded moderation policy on the blog, which mostly talks about their moderation goals, not really the moderation policy. The goals are all nice sounding stuff about you can disagree, but be nice and disagreements should be well written. They even have a long footnote to the moderation policy.
To Anti-Feminist, Mens’ Right Activist, and Right-Wing Guests

Hello to “Alas’” MRA, anti-feminist, and right-wing guests! Please make sure you read and respect the moderation policy.

Please note that some posts are marked as “feminist, pro-feminist and feminist-friendly only,” or some variation on that theme.1 Please do not post comments on those posts without explicit permission to post there from the thread-starter. The purpose of this policy is to allow some intra-feminist conversations to take place on “Alas,” while still leaving other conversations open to non-feminist participation. Please respect the spirit of this policy, and not just the letter. Attempts to play “rules lawyer” will not be well taken by the moderator.

It's certainly not as exclusionary as the policy in other feminists blogs, but they still can't help themselves and create these "discussion free zones" for feminists to talk without any intellectual challange.
Reno and its Discontents
I'm not even sure this is a feminist blog. It appears to be a blog by a left-wing feminist, but only some of the posts are about feminists politics, it's more a blog about Reno than a blog about feminism. I see no discussion at all about comment or moderation policy.


I gotta love this blog. The sidebar has an Amazon ad for a bunch of game theory books (my other blog is math and poker.

I can't find a moderation policy written anywhere, but after looking through a couple of the comment threads I'd guess they don't exclude non-feminists and don't have a be nice policy.

Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog
This one is more an extened FAQ on feminism than a blog. But they do have comments and a comment policy.
On-topic, constructive suggestions and criticism welcome. Obnoxious comments will be deleted. Feuds/Flamewars etc will not be tolerated on this blog. Take it here instead, where all feminists and allies may flame freely.

At least they exclude posts based on content rather than origin. They don't ban you if you aren't one of them, they ban your post if they deem it lacking.

This post is getting long. There's a couple of other feminists blogs I look at sometimes, I hadn't realized my list was this long. But I'm going to skip them.

I've looked at enough to realize that the exclusionary policies of a couple of feminist blogs aren't shared by as many of them as I'd thought.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Innocent Man Spends 20 Years in Prison

He eventually got released though. This one wasn't released because of DNA exoneration, this one was released because the witness recanted. That's something that almost never happens.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jail beatings are more common than most think

Two cops beat up a guy in jail for not paying a traffic ticket. They were provoked, he said something rude to him.
Two Jefferson County sheriff's deputies have been suspended without pay over the beating of an inmate that was caught on videotape.
Authorities said the video showed Cole punching the man in the face multiple times after a verbal confrontation.

A few years ago I had a period of pretty severe depression and was homeless and living in my car in Austin, Texas. I got a lot of tickets during that period, and didn't pay them. So I'd go to jail on a traffic warrant. It's a cycle that's hard to get out of when you're broke, not only do you have tickets to pay, they impound your car when they arrest you on the warrant, so you have two and impound fees to pay before you pay the most recent ticket.

But, anyway, the jail was very overcrowded, often with 5 men in a two bed cell. But they had a suicide watch cell that was visible to the guards with about 6 beds and typically only 2-3 inmates. So after the first arrest on a traffic warrant (it happened to me 5-6 times in a period of a few months) I asked to see the jail nurse and I'd tell her I was depressed and concerned that I might become suicidal (not that I was suicidal, that might have gotten me locked up in a mental hospital). So I'd get assigned to the suicide watch cell and get to sleep in a bed rather than on the floor next to the toilet.

One day when I was being booked the jailer ignored me when I asked to see a nurse. I refused to tell him anything about my medical history, insisting on seeing the nurse, and I think he got mad about that. He put me in a holding cell with about 20 inmates and benches for about 15. I was standing near the door.

He came up to the door to add another recent arrestee and told me to move back. "When can I see a nurse?", I asked. "Move back, asshole", he responded. I moved back, and said over my shoulder, "Fuck you".

He'd opened the door, he yelled for more guards, left the handcuffed new inmate in the hall, and knocked me down. About 5-6 guards came in and held me down while he grabbed my head by my hair and hit my face against the concrete floor a couple of times. Even though I was nuts I knew enough to know that resistance was pretty much suicidal.

Later I did see a nurse, told her where the scrapes on my face came from. Of course nothing was done about it. It very seldom is, such assaults on inmates for verbal abuse are pretty frequent in most jails.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Bad shot cops

I don't understand much about this story of cops and robbers.
Houston police participating in a sting operation Tuesday afternoon opened fire on a vehicle that rammed their car, officials said.

No one was hurt in the shooting, which took place about 3 p.m. in the 5700 block of South Loop East. Officers with the auto theft division were conducting a sting operation using a "bait" car loaded with tires and rims when at least two people took the property from the vehicle and tried to flee, said Houston Police Department spokesman Sgt. Nate McDuell.

"They were attempting their getaway when confronted by officers," McDuell said.

At that point, the suspects drove toward the officers' car and rammed it, he said.

Fearing for their lives, two officers opened fire with a shotgun and pistol, McDuell said.

Two men were taken into custody and could face charges from assault with a deadly weapon to attempted capital murder, he said.

1. What kind of stakeout is it where the bad guys can take a bunch of tires out of one car, put them into another car, and start driving away before the cops on the stakeout intervene?
2. How far away are these guys that the cop with the shotgun missed? Far enough away to miss, but close enough that they think the bad guys tried to run over them?


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Leave it to Beaver

In the Leave it to Beaver episode on TV Land right now, Wally buys an old car, a 1953 Chevy convertible. My first car was a 1954 Chevy convertible, they look very similar, just a slight difference in the shape of the grill and the taillight. Nostalgia.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs


Atheism is a religious concept.

When I was 11/12 I took confirmation classes in the Lutheran Church every Saturday morning. It kind of had the opposite effect of what was intended. Those classes managed to convince me that religion was just nonsense.

I was never a favorite of teachers, I had a habit of questioning almost anything they told me. Our preacher taught the confirmation classes and the first think I started seriously question was his explanation for why we should memorize various bible passages.

He said that then we'd be able to quote the bible in any debates with unbelievers we might have in our lifetime. What?

Someone who doesn't believe the truth of the bible will change their mind if you argue using vague quotes from the bible?

Somehow that just translated into nonsense. Believing that was some kind of winning debate strategy just seemed delusional to this 11 year old.

The idea of the reality of a God is so central to the thinking of Christians that they just can't get past the idea that believe in something isn't sufficient to make that something true. Wanting something isn't evidence of the existence of that something.

And since the reality of a God is central to their own thinking, they just assume it's central to the thinking of everyone. They even think that the reality of God is central to the way of thinking of those who don't believe in the reality of God.

That's how they come up with definitions of atheists and agnostics. The typical definitions of those terms had to have been developed by religious believers.

The real atheist doesn't believe there is no God. The real atheist doesn't think about God at all, doesn't have any belief about the reality of God.

Atheists who try to defend atheism are simply letting some religious nutcase set the terms of a debate. Why? That makes about as much sense as quoting the bible to prove the existence of God.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Death penalty and justice

In the comments on my post about a possible death penalty moratorium in Tennessee, DutchMaus said
I wonder if the concept of justice in many Americans' minds must always involve death. .... no state should be killing its citizens.

Following along with that thought, the Dallas paper had a story about the 3 death penalty cases that the Supremes overturned the other day.
Even so, Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz, who argued the cases, lamented the decisions. He said in a prepared statement that state and federal appeals courts had struggled for years with the Supreme Court's "rapidly changing and sometimes inconsistent rulings" in death cases. "Unfortunately, today's 5-4 opinion causes yet another delay for the victims' families, who are still awaiting justice in the wake of these senseless deaths," he said.

Other than the fact that it's not the responsibility of the state to provide justice to the family of crime victims (if somebody steals my brother's car does the state reimburse me for his damages?), it seems that the official position of the State of Texas is that justice is never served until somebody dies.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, April 23, 2007

Flawed death penalty

The death penalty system in Tennessee is so flawed that they're at least thinking about a moratorium so they can "fix" the problems.

I don' think it's possible to have a death penalty system that's not flawed.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

American Experience

I'm watching American Experience on PBS. "The Summer of Love". I was 18, in a Navy uniform, and in San Francisco for two weeks in the summer of 1967. It was certainly an interesting experience.

Three things about that two weeks stands out in my memory.

1. I was walking down Haight street with 3 friends, we were all in uniform, and two hippie girls sitting on the sidewalk spit at our shows. They missed. It was the closest I got to being spit on during the war. I don't think it was about the war though, they didn't strike me as aware enough to be anti-war. I think it was just an anti-establishment act, our uniforms could have just as well been postal worker uniforms or dairy queen employee shirts.

2. Free love among hippies was more about drugs than about sex. Me and a friend did pick up two girls, we picked up a couple of redneck types at a roller rink in the East Bay. Hippie girls wouldn't talk to us.

3. The only hippie types that would talk to someone in uniform were the ones hawking the plethora of alternative newspapers being sold on the streets around North Beach, near City Lights. I think they were more left over beatniks than hippie types though, they just published hippie oriented weekly papers.

San Francisco Chronicle has a series of stories on the Summer of Love.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gun Control, Texas style

From the Houston Chronicle
Forty-eight firearms are missing from the Nueces County Sheriff's Department

He said the serial numbers of the missing guns, which include shotguns, rifles and handguns, have been reported to a national law enforcement database and classified as stolen.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs


When I was in grade school, in the 50's, one of my teachers told us that the main thing that separated us from those evil, godless commies, and in the recent past had separated us from those evil, godless Nazis, was that in Russia and Germany the government encouraged citizens to inform on each other to the government.

I'm not making that up, that's what she really said. Since my mother had been a war bride, had grown up in Nazi Germany, I remember vividly pretty much everything I was told in grade school about those Nazis.

Also, in the 50's, if went to your teacher and said, "Billy did something bad", she'd go check on Billy, but before she did she'd chastise you for being such a tattletale. Nobody likes a tattletale, she'd tell you.

That was the world I grew up in. The world I live in if just chock full of newspaper articles about the government encouraging you to inform on your neighbor. According to that 4th grade teacher that's the definition of an evil government.

That leads to all kinds of neat stuff, like a student arrested for putting a robot part into his car, or a college teacher reported for putting a box of paper out for re-cycling.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rural homeless

In rural America the homeless don't have the transportation systems to move around so they tend to stay hidden. But the homeless are there
It's easy to see homeless people in Wilmington downtown or in different areas. People with signs work for money, but in the rural areas, they tend to live in abandoned houses or trailers, and you just don't see them on the street, but they are there," said Anita Oldham of the Southeastern Center.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Long Island homeless

I'm not sure what to think of this story. Local government in long island wants to build a large homeless facility and local operators of homeless shelters are arguing that the number of homeless are falling and it's not needed.

I'm not sure what a private homeless shelter operation is.
Social services officials said Suffolk now uses 43 smaller shelters housing 2-to-9 families each.

The proposal would create a shelter of up to 99 apartment-styled units, similar to the Bellport shelter in operation since 1989 and run by Project Help, a group once headed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Are these small shelters owned by the city? By various charities? Or by for profit organizations that contract with the city? It's just not clear and the story makes no sense without making that clear.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Student charged with coming in contact with stupid cops

A student who studies robotics at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh is arrested for no reason other than the Pittsburgh hires really stupid people as police officers.

He was seen putting a large metal cylinder in his car. I know it's surprising, but sometimes robots are made out of metal parts and sometimes those parts are cylindrical. And sometimes students of robotics might actually put robot parts into their car. Hard to believe, I know.

Anyway. Some twit watches too much cable news and called the cops who arrested him for possession of a a facsimile of a weapon of mass destruction

I'm not making this up.

A Carnegie Mellon University student was arraigned Friday on charges of disorderly conduct and possessing a facsimile of a weapon of mass destruction after police initially thought he had a bomb.

someone called 911 to report him loading a metal cylinder that looked like a bomb into his Toyota Echo.

Police briefly locked down the CMU campus until the city bomb squad determined the cylinder was not a bomb.

Chestnutt has owned the 4-foot-high, silver-and-green cylinder for four years, according to a police affidavit

Chestnutt was charged because he "caused undue concern" and should not have anything that "mimics or could be construed as a bomb."

Ever heard of a pipe bomb? If you live in Pittsburgh and need to do any plumbing repairs I'd suggest using plastic pipe. Of course that probably violates city building codes.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Congress has no balls

Really. No one in Congress has any balls. They're just mealy-mouthed cowards.

Vermont, apparently a state full of weirdos, has passed a resolution in the State Congress, urging the one congressman from Vermont to introduce a bill of impeachment for Bush and, and they even added Dick Cheney. Impeach him too.
Declaring that the Bush administration's actions in foreign and domestic affairs raise "serious questions of constitutionality," Vermont state senators voted yesterday to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in what officials say was the first such vote by state lawmakers in the country.

But the one congressman (it's a really small state) and two senators all reject the idea.
Vermont's congressional delegation, which includes Welch and Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, promptly rejected the call.

They issued a statement saying that the three shared the anger of many Vermonters with the Bush administration, "one of the worst and most destructive in American history."

But, they said that, for the first time since Bush took office, Congress is investigating several of the administration's key actions, ranging from the decision to invade Iraq to the recent firings of eight US attorneys.

"Before we talk about impeachment, it is imperative that these investigations be allowed to run their course, and we should then follow wherever the facts lead," the delegation said.

That's just such bullshit.

The truth is that they are afraid they won't get any Republican support for impeachment because the result will be Nancy Pelosi as President. But they don't have the balls to just say that, they have to come up with some kind of mealy-mouthed, "We're investigating it".

That's why we got in the mess we're in. We don't have anybody in Washington with any interest in just talking truthfully. Nobody is, Democrats or Republicans. Until that happens we're just screwed.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, April 20, 2007

Texas lege reorganizes TYC

The Texas legislature is reorganizing the scandal ridden Texas Youth Commission.

It might be needed, certainly change is needed, but I'm not so sure that management by the lege is a good idea. TYC has been run by incompetent boobs. So long as incompetent boobs continue to run things then organization isn't going to help anything

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

More on guns and schools

From a comment in the thread at deadmonywalking
The summer before my senior year we had a kid blow up the auditorium. Nobody was hurt. He went to prison. Because of the Apollo program a lot of kids got interested in rockets and rocket related explosives.

When I was 15 (10th grade) I took vocational ag and one kid got rattlesnake bit at the ag barn (school property but off campus). Our ag teacher told us to carry a weapon when we went to the ag barn. My dad got me a .45 out of the Army Reserve arms locker (it had to be returned for an Inspector General inventory once a year) and I kept it in the trunk of my '56 chevy.

The main difference between then and now is that now my dad and that teacher would go to prison.

The '56 chevy and the pistol were in the school parking lot everyday. There were a lot of guns in the school parking lot, deer rifles in gun racks mostly. It was a different world. People took care of themselves pretty much.

That's also when Whitman drug his footlocker full of rifles up the stairs of the University of Texas clock tower. That was the same year I was taking a gun to school everyday.

So, yes, we had stuff happen every once in a while. But nobody thought Whitman went nuts because he'd been in the marines and had guns. We just figured he went nuts because that's what happens sometimes.

We didn't have 24 hour cable news though. We had 30 minutes a day of TV news.

The police don't control things any better now than people did on their own back then. In most ways the police do a worse job of it.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Talking heads need to just shut up

MSNBC had a talking head prattling on about rationalizations for NBC broadcasting the film sent to them by the Virginia Tech shooter.

He said, "They might as well have published the film because if they hadn't the guy could have just put it up on UTube or something".

The brain dead news anchor doing the interview just nodded her head and said, "Uh Uh".

Who hires this kind of person? How can anybody be that stupid and actually hold a job?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Guns at school

A high school student has 3 pistols with him at school, he's caught trying to sell them.
The guns had been stolen hours earlier from a state trooper's home outside of Puyallup, said Detective Ed Troyer, a Pierce County sheriff's spokesman. Four other guns taken from the home were recovered Thursday in a Federal Way apartment, and a second suspect was detained, police said.

Let's crack down on gun ownership. Then the only way to get a gun is steal them from a cop.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Facing the homeless

From Jewish
Helen was one of about 25 homeless people -- Jews and non-Jews -- who come once a month to have lunch and schmooze with members of the B'nai David Judea Congregation, located in the heart of the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. The program started a year and a half ago, and it has become so crowded that they now hand out tickets....more

From Orange County Register
Now Wendy and Pete Morris of Ladera Ranch do even more by helping the homeless transition into furnished living quarters.

"They (the homeless) would have an apartment and have nothing, no furnishings like a couch, bed, or refrigerator," said Wendy Morris of the outreach efforts. ...more


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Predicting Virginia Tech

When are people going to get it through their pointy little heads that we don't know how top predict violence?

The Agitator, one of my favorite bloggers, gets it right with the basic idea that if you think we can call whatever happened before the violence a predictor that's pretty much equivalent to saying you can't predict. The problem being that to many people don't realize that.

Deadmonywalking points out that just because his history of mental illness might explain his behavior doesn't mean that history could have predicted it.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

My post about Virginia Tech

Deadmoneywalking made a comment about my not deleting this embarrassing post I'd made about the Virginia Tech massacre.

He flattered me a little.

I made this comment on his blog ---

That post is embarrassing. But I don't think it was wrong. I do think that the public schools did over-react.

I'm going to write more about that event later but I'm sure how to say what it is I want to say.

I might have deleted it if it had been both wrong and embarrassing.

I think the cops reacted in the wrong way, they reacted the way cops always react --- they focused on control, a campus lock down. Like I said, I'll talk about that in more detail on my blog -- but probably not for a couple of days.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

TDC firing felons

Texas has so many prisons that they simply hire enough guards. They have a larger percentage of open slots for corrections officers than any other state.

That's why the Texas Youth Commission got a little slack in background requirements for their hiring -- the juvenile prison system had even more problems finding qualified people to hire than the adult system. Little things like felony convections got overlooked.

Then they started getting some problems. Things like guards, staff, and administrators getting into some sexual escapades with the juvenile inmates.

Now they're firing all those felons they previously hired, even the ones that haven't been raping

Hawkins said some of the agency staffers suspected of abusing youths had criminal records and some didn't.

They should be covering the ass of the inmates. Instead they're covering their own ass.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Protecting the public

One cop (actually Secret Service agent) accidentally shoots two others on the White House grounds.

Maybe he just had too much espresso coffee.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, April 16, 2007

Espresso Coffee

I'm a real fan of espresso coffee.

That can sometimes be a problem living in Cushing, Oklahoma. In this part of the country people like their coffee weak, tepid, and flavorless. The local grocery store does sell one type of espresso -- a Folger's premium type coffee. It's actually not all that bad but lacks that strong bitter/sweet flavor of a good espresso coffee. And, I can't help but think "I'm drinking Folger's" when I drink it.

It would probably help is I had a good espresso machine. I have one that does the job, but just barely. It's a Mr. Coffee Espresso Coffee Machine that I got at Wal-Mart for something under $30.

When I first moved to Cushing there was one coffee shop that served espresso. But they refused to brew shots. A shot is an ounce or ounce and a half. They had an espresso machine that was set up push 8 oz of water through a scoop of ground coffee. Once it's been diluted that badly there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.

I can get some decent espresso whenever I visit Stillwater or Tulsa, I'm not far from either of them. But my car broke down and I'm not going to be going to either place for a while and was running out of coffee. So I ordered some Sultan Turkish Coffee at Amazon. $24 for a pack of three 14 oz cans, with free shipping if you buy something else to get the cost over $25. You can also by one can of it at Amazon, for $7 plus shipping. The one can purchase is through Sultan's so it doesn't qualify for the free shippin. You end up paying an extra $1 a can for the free shipping.

I havn't opened the can yet to see if it's really a Turkish grind. Turkish grind is even finer than an espresso grind and I think makes even better espresso coffee than your typical espresso roast and grind. We'll see if this brand comes through for me soon, when I run out of that old Folger's Expresso Coffee and I open a can of the Sultan's.

Some other posts on espresso coffee.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs


I'm watching TV coverage of a campus manhunt at Virginia Tech for somebody who went nuts and shot someone on the campus.

It's a lot of hype, but I guess that's okay, they have to fill the time with something.

But what's really stupid about it is an announcement they just made -- all schools in the county have been closed. All of them, countywide, not just the ones close to the university campus?

What the hell is that all about? I guess they're thinking that because of the slim possibility that the shooting on campus is part of some larger plan of some nutcases to attack many nearby schools they should err on the side of caution.

We have idiots running our school systems and law enforcement agencies. I mean real, certifiable idiots.

Even if the risk of a shooting at a school in that county has doubled today because of that shooting (part of a larger plot, copycat, whatever) that doesn't mean the risk is worth closing the schools.

What's the risk of their being a shooting at a given school on a given day? One out of a million? I don't know, probably something like that. Triple that risk. Is that a big risk? I don't think so.

When I made this post the body count was 1 dead, 17 wounded. Even though the body count has exploded since then, what I said still stands. I probably wouldn't have made the post if I'd known over 20 had been killed, but it's still would have been true that they were way over-estimating the risk to the public schools in the county.

I didn't say that locking down the university campus was a mistake, the risks on campus were very real and very large.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Ed Rosenthal used to grow medical marijuana in Oakland, California. That was before his arrest and conviction on Federal charges of growing marijuana. At trial he wasn't allowed to provide the defense he wanted to provide -- that he was actually an official in the medical marijuana distribution program of the City of Oakland and his cultivation activity was part of his duties in that position.

Although that argument probably wasn't really a defense based on the legality of his activities, it certainly would have been a strong argument for jury nullification. It made the political nature of his charges pretty clear. It really was more of a political case than a criminal case.

But, he wasn't allowed to make that argument to the jury and was convicted. A sympathetic Federal Judge sentenced him to one day. He appealed the conviction, again as much for political reasons as for personal reasons. One of the jurors had consulted an attorney about the charges and that provided a basis for the conviction being overturned, for jury misconduct. Juries are not supposed to consult outside sources and are supposed to rule on the facts, not the law.

So the guy has been sentenced and has served his time. The Feds want to retry him. Even if they convict him, he can't serve any extra time, he's already served his time for the offense. But, Federal prosecutors really don't have anything worthwhile to do.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Worked for the same wages

I'm watching a show on the History Channel about the cattle trail days of Dodge City, Kansas. A short segment was on black cowboys.

The claim was that the black cowboys on the trial were treated the same as the white cowboys, while in town they were segregated and treated very poorly. There was one funny line, about how in town the blacks only had the lowest menial jobs -- as if cowboying was high status.

But the line that triggered this post is that black cowboys and white cowboys did the same job and worked for the same wages.

I suspect that's complete bullshit.

In one of his books, J. Frank Dobie wrote of his youth as a South Texas cowboy early in the Twentieth Century. He talked about the difference in pay between anglo cowboys and Mexican cowboys. They weren't paid the same. The rancher's claim was that the pay differential was based on whether the cowboy owned his own horse or used a ranch horse. Dobie pointed out the he used a ranch horse, but was paid the same as the anglo cowboys who used their own horses.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, April 15, 2007


A revocation of parole means you go back to prison. It seems that the standards to revoke a parole are even looser than you might suspect. You have to actually do anything to have your parole revoked, just having a cop accuse you of doing something is enough.

Is there any wonder our prisons are full?


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Does Don Ho have nappy hair?

Just wondering.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Unarmed cops? In America?

Boston School District cops are actually unarmed. I'm very surprised.

But the cops don't want to stay unarmed.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

DNA lab gone wrong

Another incompetent DNA lab, but at least this one doesn't seem to be framing people.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

I thought Turkey was an ally?

It seems that Turkey is preparing to attack Iraq.

Is the American military able to protect Iraq from attack? Turkey doesn't think so. This stuff is working out just great.

Maybe we should get Iraq to rewrite that constitution giving Kurdistan independence from Iraq, that way we wouldn't have an responsibility to provide protection. Or maybe we could institute a draft.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The crime of having a sex life

This news story is accompanied by a short news clip of two people having sex in an office. The action's all blurred over but it appears they were both fully clothed.

It's news because the man is an elementary school principle and the woman is a school teacher. That and whoever videotaped them send a DVD of it to parents of students in the school.

That's just awful, they all seem to think. They just can't allow their kids to go to a school were actual adults with actual sex lives work. The teachers involved have resigned.

No one seems to be asking who the hell made the tape and distributed it to strangers? They don't seem to care. They don't mind having that kind of person in their community. Just get rid of the adults with normal sex lives.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More on Imus

Well, MSNBC dropped Imus and CBS Radio says they're keeping him on. Maybe his income will drop from 10 million a year down to only 8 million or so. That'll teach him.

The blog world isn't as fixated on Imus as cable news shows are, but we're still talking about it.

Ed Brayton compares Imus to rap singers.
However, there are two other aspects of the situation that have gotten a lot of attention. One is that it is hypocritical of some people to criticize Imus for using a phrase like that while praising rappers who call women the same thing and worse in virtually every rap song. Dead on accurate. And it's been disappointing to me to see even some otherwise intelligent people not grasping this idea.

Ed thinks he's getting it right, but he's not. Song lyrics are basically a form of fiction. References in song lyrics aren't to individual people, they are references to fictional people, to things that are in the mind, not flesh and blood. Imus might have used the same words that some gangsta-rap singers use, but there's a big difference in that Imus directed his words at specific, identifiable, individual people. That makes it very different.

I agree with him in the other part of his complaint.
The other aspect is the inevitable spectacle of watching Imus prostrate himself before, of all people, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Of all people, we're going to listen to Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson about saying racially insensitive things? We're going to have to say penance to a shabby race pimp like Al "Please don't bring up Tawana Brawley" Sharpton? It's long since past time that we stopped paying attention to these men. There are serious civil rights leaders who deserve our respect and whose counsel we should keep in situation like this; Jackson and Sharpton are not among them.

Alec Baldwin actually makes what I think is a somewhat rational observation,
Imus is an entertainer. He is not Tim Russert. In order to appeal to a crowd that is a notch or two above Hannity's, however, he must combine a bit of Russert to his persona. He must walk a line between informed, reliable broadcaster and witty madman. Jon Stewart walks that line effectively, or one similar to it. Letterman walks it better than anyone. Intelligent, yet free. Sometimes even loopy, but always in a controlled way.

Imus said something that sounded racist without really being a racist. His only crime was that he didn't walk that line very carefully. And that's his job. Don't fire Imus because he's racially insensitive. His employers should have let his audience decide that. But, perhaps, fire him because his talent is diminishing. Imus was once one of the smartest guys in radio. Maybe he's just another radio host now. Like when the Jayson Blair scandal made people realize that the New York Times had, basically, become just another newspaper. Imus isn't a bad guy. He's just not the old Imus anymore. He's no longer that guy who always keeps that line in the corner of his eye.

Ann Althouse seems to think that Imus is holding too many racist thoughts in his head.

Now, Imus wasn't drunk, but he was doing ad lib comedy. How can you do that but to let go of the inhibitions that allow ordinary people to function in social situations? He's got to take that risk to give a comic performance. But what comes out must in some way be in there. He's funny -- when he is -- because he's got a mix of interesting things in his head, some of which are the bad and unkind thoughts that may make us laugh because they are things that we hold in too.

Okay, so maybe Imus is racist, maybe not. I really don't think that even matters. Apparently neither does Ann.

We are all flawed, and we do need our comedians. We should talk back and express outrage about some things, but when is the censuring too much? How long must a man abase himself and apologize? How much do we want to see a man grovel?

I'm starting to get sick of the cable news talking heads going on and on about how this is an opportunity to have a public dialogue about race relations in this country. Nonsense. This Imus stuff pretty much ensures we won't have such a dialogue. You can't have a dialogue when one side of the conversation is constrained in a way where their number one concern is not saying something that might offend somebody.

If we really want to have a dialogue we need to start ignoring some of the thin-skinned twits that yell for firing everyone that offends somebody.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Those brave sailors of the Royal Navy

Ann Althouse quotes a British newspaper.

Tinkerty Tonk quotes the London Times.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Texas Youth Commission, a model for America

The number one responsibility of a prison is to protect the inmates. By taking away their freedoms we take away their ability to protect themselves so the government has a greater responsibility to provide protection to inmates than it does to citizens in general.

Serving time in a prison isn't supposed to be just a period of torture and it's not supposed to be a death sentence. You aren't supposed to be raped by employees of the state either.

What's been going on at the Texas Youth Commission is really, really unacceptable to any civilized society.

This is an ongoing story that I haven't really talked about. Here's a recent Austin newspaper story on it.
Two former administrators at a Texas Youth Commission lockup were indicted on felony sex charges Tuesday, almost two months after allegations that they had preyed on incarcerated teenage boys ignited a statewide corruption scandal.

It's not just guards. It's administrators, wardens. The bosses.

It was ignored for two years.
The development came as the West Texas prosecutor who did not file charges after learning of the accusations in 2005 was named in two ouster petitions and he filed one against his chief local critic, the county attorney.

The story isn't over.
Tuesday's indictments did not mention a third case of sexual-assault allegations investigated by Texas Ranger Sgt. Brian Burzynski: a female correctional officer accused of having an improper relationship with a male youth. Declining to discuss any further details, an Abbott spokeswoman in Austin said the investigation was continuing.


NPR has picked up the story.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Observations on Imus and his nappy hair

Should Imus be fired?

I don't know, I don't really care. But the whole thing sure is interesting.

I often watch Imus on MSNBC and although I missed the day of the nappy hair comment I did notice that during the week before that he was apologizing about something almost every day.

An example is some comments he'd made about General Motors. They had donated a few hundred thousand dollars worth of trucks to the Imus Ranch, his wholly owned charity subsidiary, and Imus made the comment on the air that they'd given the trucks to the ranch because they couldn't sell them.

No, no, no, Don.

The next day he was apologizing for it every 20 minutes or so. Two days later he was still apologizing every half hour or so. He even brought in a GM marketing VP as a guest and interviewed him about what great vehicles GM was making and how the news about a possible bankruptcy was all a misunderstanding. I was actually embarrassed for Imus.

Then he came up with his nappy headed hos. What a twit.

He apologized, and apologized, and just won't shut up about it.

On Tuesday he made the absurd claim that he's not running a PR campaign about the issue. He should be fired for saying that, of course he's running a PR campaign to try to frame it as a "good man who did a bad thing". To pretend he's not is just insulting. Every interview he did Tuesday was centered on what they thought about Imus's public relations problems. Every one.

He did an interview of Bill Maher that started out with what happens to people who say something stupid on the air. Bill Maher certainly knows about that. After a minute or two of that Maher tried to change the subject to politics, what the show is supposed to be about. Imus was having none of that. Everytime Maher brought up Bush Imus changed the subject to race relations in the US and what Imus was on record with about race relations in the US. Pathetic.

For two weeks Imus has been hyping an appearance by his wife to promote a new book she's written. It was supposed to be yesterday. She didn't show up. Imus mumbled some excuse. Even his wife is deserting the sinking ship.

The really funny part of all this, that I haven't seen any TV commentator comment about, is the basketball team's press conference on Tuesday. I guess they waited until Tuesday to meet the public so they could all go to the beauty shop. None of them had nappy hair.

I'm watching him right now (Wednesday morning) and he's relating a story about how he sent some kids with cancer home from his charity ranch because they were calling the girls "bitches and whores". Sent them home. Is he suggesting he should be sent home? Maybe that's how this all will end up.

Some other blog comments on Imus:

The Trouble With Imus' "It's Not Fair, Other People Do It" Defense

Sponsors yanking ads from Imus

Firing Imus is Too Good

When is an apology not enough?

Meet Al Roker, Fired-Up Blogger

The Spocko Effect

Imus Should Get Sirius

Don Imus and Megan Kanka In A Soundbite Nation

Re: Don Imus and the Rutgers Basketball Team

Department of huh?

From the NYT

More from NYT

USA Today on Imus

Real race issues (not about Imus)

Prom night in Georgia

Wednesday Imus keeps re-running clips of the basketball teams press conference. Over and over. Including the speech the team captain made where she talked about the biggest problem being all the unwanted media attention they are getting as a result of all this. Good thinking Imus. Just exploit the hell out of those girls, fill your airtime with their pleas to be left alone. Then apologize. That ought to work.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Comparing NYC and Alabama

I've been to Alabama and I've been to New York City. Rudy Giullani is insane.

Giuliani: Alabama on verge of major growth
MONTGOMERY -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told the Alabama Legislature today that his city and the state of Alabama share “considerable common ground.”


He did even better.
But when asked about more mundane matters _ like the price of some basic staples _ Giuliani had trouble with a reporter's question.

"A gallon of milk is probably about a $1.50, a loaf of bread about a $1.25, $1.30," he said.

A check of the Web site for D'Agostino supermarket on Manhattan's Upper East Side showed a gallon of milk priced at $4.19 and a loaf of white bread at $2.99 to $3.39. In Montgomery, Ala., a gallon of milk goes for about $3.39 and bread is about $2.

Giuliani was closer to the mark on the price of a gallon of gasoline.

"Gas, I think, is $2.89," he said

He also says he didn't see any confederate flags while he was in Alabama.


The MSNBC talking heads were excusing his cost estimates by saying that NY has higher prices than the rest of the country and that he might not have been far off for most Americans. They just don't pay attention before they go on the air. You know better, the prices above are from Montgomery Alabama.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, April 09, 2007

Some Christians are Very Scary

This is scary stuff.

The old-time revival preachers have moved from tents to auditoriums and are enlisting teenagers into an Army for God.
His Christian code requires a "wartime mentality": a "survival orientation" and a readiness to face "real enemies." The queers and communists, feminists and Muslims, to be sure, but also the entire American cultural apparatus of marketing and merchandising, the "techno-terrorists" of mass media, doing to the morality of a generation what Osama bin Laden did to the Twin Towers.

Marxism is basically a cultural model based on class conflict. What we have here is a bunch of teenage Marxist Christians. That's a hell of a force.
In the hall outside the arena, kids line up to buy BattleCry T-shirts and hoodies and trucker caps, a dozen designs scrolled with goth and skater patterns. A brown tee for boys features a white silhouette of a kid with a baseball bat, a devil behind him rubbing his horns after a beat down

Just what this country needs -- more angry, uneducated teenage boys roaming the streets with baseball bats.
Luce recruits the politically powerless -- kids too young to vote. "That makes 'em want to fight," he tells me backstage after one of his events. "They get so livid. They're mad.

Read the article.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Airport security

Retired Princeton professor of Jurisprudence, retired Marine Corp Colonel, combat veteran, Purple Heart, former faculty of Marine Corp Command and Staff College, taught at Annapolis, Irish name, and is trying to board an airplane.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Forced sterilization

I didn't even know that the US had a history of forced sterilization, apparently we do.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, April 06, 2007

Keystone Cops

An FBI agent was killed by another FBI agent while trying to arrest 3 men who were armed but did not fire at the FBI and so far there's not even a claim that anyone pointed a gun at the cops. The claim is that it was an accidental discharge. One witness claims to have heard a pop, pop, pop. So I guess it was three accidents.

There are a couple of things about the use of language in the story that strike me.

One is that the FBI uses the term "dynamic arrest situation"

Preliminarily, information suggests the agent may have been fatally wounded as a result of the accidental discharge of another agent's weapon during a dynamic arrest situation," the FBI said in a statement Thursday night.

I'm not sure what that means. When cops use the term "dynamic entry" they mean busting into an occupied dwelling with guns drawn and either no announcement or just yelling "police, police" as they knock down the door. Another way to describe it might be "planned, uncontrolled violence". But dynamic entry sounds better.

The other quote of interest is
Bush, 52, and his team were tracking a group of men believed to be responsible for at least four bank robberies, the FBI said. In two of them, the suspects had fired assault weapons while inside the bank, the agency said.

Fired assault weapons while inside the bank?

How much you want to bet that they fired the weapons into the air, that they've never shot at anyone?

Of course these guys should have been arrested, but it's really not safe for anyone, cops, bad guys, or bystanders, to create these kinds of "dynamic arrest situations". This dynamic nonsense makes the cops feel powerful and all, and it makes good press when it works. But it's just not necessary and causes big problems when it doesn't work.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Words just don't mean anything anymore

Particularly in politics and journalism, words seem to more and more be used for effect, not to convey meaning. I think it's becoming a real problem, it promotes acting out from emotion rather than rational decision making. It's manipulative, dishonest. I've had a few posts that touch on this before.

The Huffington Post has an observation along these lines about the inappropriate use of the term terrorism by Tony Blair. When we just use words for effect we basically are just spouting nonsense.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Contraband lobster

You have to click thru a couple of times to get to the story, but it's worth reading.

Shipping lobster tails to the US, 4% of which where undersized according to an old foreign law (not US law) is good for 8 years in US prison. He didn't live in the US, his fishery wasn't in the US, the US law he violated was shipping fish products to the US that were harvested in violation of another country's laws (Honduras claims he wasn't in violation of their law), he could not have been extradited. When he heard about the indictment he came to the US on his own to clear things up. He won't do that again.

If the US hasn't become a rogue country then I just don't know what a rogue country is.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Prisoner released

Another Gitmo prisoner has been released -- this time the charges of possession of a battery charger where dropped after 4 or 5 years of solitary confinement.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Setting priorities

PYOTE, Tex., March 29 — To most Texans, the West Texas State School here is the troubled institution at the center of a sexual abuse scandal that has shaken the state’s juvenile detention system.

But to the residents of this town of 129 and the neighboring communities, it is a source of badly needed jobs.

read the rest of the article

Lifestyle and Political Blogs


Here's a summery of the trail of the first guy at Gitmo to go through the new Military Tribunal system. It looks just like what the government has always told us a Cuban trial is like.

I particularly like the part where his plea agreement required a recant of previous statements about mistreatment and forbids him to talk to the press for a year.


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