Thursday, July 29, 2010

Self Defense?

[From Joel] In previous times article IV section 4 of the Constitution has been considered to be without consequence either being obvious or unenforceable. It reads:

Section 4.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

It would seem that illegal immigration in great numbers is a form of foreign invasion and that the federal government has an obligation which it is not meeting. The philosophical question is whether or not the failure to fulfill an obligation forecloses a protected party from defending itself. Does the existence of the police prevent an individual from acting to defend one's property?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Racism - Real and Imagined - Sherrod Timeline

The incomplete and misleading Media Matters timeline for USDA official Shirley Sherrod's recent travail starts on Monday, 19 July, the day she was forced to resign by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Here is my timeline that starts three days prior. It is based on Sherrod's own accounting in an interview with MSNBC [click for video].

THURSDAY, 15 July 2010:

Shirley Sherrod says she was first alerted the previous Thursday, 15 July, when someone sent her a nasty email about the deceptively edited Internet video of her talk to a March 2010 NAACP event. She says she replied with her side of the story and then forwarded it all to the USDA that very day. Thus, three days before she was forced to resign, the USDA knew her NAACP talk was about a redemptive event in her life where she overcame race-based emotions and helped a white farmer and his wife save their land.

MONDAY, 19 July 2010:

Again according to Sherrod herself, around 2:30PM on Monday, while at an official USDA meeting, she received a call and was told she was being put on administrative leave. During her drive home from the meeting, she received multiple calls from the USDA, culminating in one where she was told the White House wanted her out immediately and demanding that she pull over and send her resignation using her Blackberry, which she did. It is clear their urgency was prompted by a rumor the incendiary video would appear on FoxNews that evening.

Thus, although the USDA had Sherrod's explanation and three days to view the entire video, they forced her to resign prior to the deceptively edited video appearing on FoxNews. The O'Reilly Factor, apparently recorded earlier that evening, was the first FoxNews show to play a 30-second clip, with a subtitle noting she had already resigned.

TUESDAY, 20 July 2010

Ag Secretary Vilsack stood by his decision to terminate Sherrod even after the full context of her NAACP talk was known. His statement said:
"Yesterday, I asked for and accepted Ms. Sherrod's resignation for two reasons. First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices. Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. ... The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia."

The NAACP, in lockstep with the Administration, initially condemned Sherrod's remarks as "shameful" and stated they were "appalled by her actions". Later that day they said they would review the whole tape, which was in their possession. After doing so, they concluded they had been "snookered" by FoxNews.

WEDNESDAY, 21 July 2010

Hasty backtracking by all! Vilsack, having reviewed the full video, apologized for forcing Sherrod to resign. He announced he had offered her a new position at the USDA. O'Reilly apologized, saying he had not done his homework, should have read the whole transcript before jumping to unjustified conclusions, and should not have called for her to be ousted. The White House press secretary, on behalf of the Administration, joined the chorus. (President Obama called Sherrod the following day to add his apology.)


We all hoped the election of our first Black President would lead us further down the I have a Dream road where, in the words of Martin Luther King:
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. ... I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
We have a ways to go but we have made a tremendous amount of progress. As a child I was apalled when "coloreds" were ordered to sit in the back of the Greyhound bus when we crossed into Maryland on our trip to Washington DC from New York.

Thank goodness government-imposed segregation is a thing of the past. Thank goodness the highest USDA official in Georgia was able to sit down "at a table of brotherhood" [and sisterhood] "on the red hills of Georgia [with] the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners". It was going so well until false accusations of racism by an Internet blogger, and a hair-trigger response by an overly-anxious Administration, forced her out.


The "bomb-throwing" rightwing blogger who posted the deceptively edited video of Sherrod excused his actions on the basis that the NAACP and other leftist groups have leveled similar untrue charges of racism at the Tea Party and the Republican Party and FoxNews and others on the right. Yes, extremists on both sides continue to make false charges of racism.

I am not a member of the Tea Party nor have I attended any of their events, but I generally support their views. They are a loosely associated group of local grassroots organizations. A few idiots (mostly provocateurs sent by Lyndon LaRouche as far as I can tell) attend Tea Party rallies with disgusting racist signs and the entire Tea Party is falsely labeled as racist.

I was pleased when the National Tea Party Federation, a coalition of local and regional Tea Party groups, soundly rejected a racist satire posted by a prominent person in the Tea Party Express group. The Federation demanded that the racial satirist be expelled by the Express group. When the Express group failed to do so, they were expelled from the Federation.

In keeping with the key tenets of the Tea Party movement of Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets, local and regional groups value their independence and reject any hint of a tightly controlled national body. That makes it more difficult to police their ranks. However, when the Northern Iowa Tea Party recently put up a disgusting billboard grouping President Obama with Hitler and Lenin, there was a clear outcry and the sign was taken down the next day!

The radical left seems to have adopted the tactic of falsely labeling the right in general, and the Tea Party in particular, as racists and worse. The media overplay the few nutcases with disgusting signs and generally ignore the overwhelming majority who are orderly and civil and even pick up the garbage when their rallies are over!

I am encouraged that the National Tea Party Federation (NTPF) has established strong membership rules, including:

  • Our organization rejects Birthers.
  • Our organization rejects 9/11 Truthers.
  • Our organization rejects racial discrimination.
  • Our organization rejects hate speech.
  • Our organization rejects acts of violence or subversive behavior.

Ira Glickstein

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Let them Build the 9/11 Mosque at Ground Zero


No doubt the group funding the proposed "Cordoba House" mosque and Islamic cultural center two blocks from the sacred 9/11 Ground Zero site are being intentionally provocative and disingenuous regarding their main motivation.

There are a thousand more suitable sites in Manhattan that would be just as convenient for promotion of Islamic worship and culture.

Currently, we don't know if the funding comes from a foreign source and what the real interests and policies are behind this poke in the eye for New Yorkers in general and victims of 9/11 and their families and friends in particular.

Yes, all the 9/11 hijackers were Muslims. Yes, they used Islamic religious principles to justify their actions. Yes, some Muslims in the US and many worldwide cheered as the World Trade Center Towers came tumbling down, killing some 3000 innocent civilians at the New York site, along with many others at the Pentagon and in the other 9/11 aircraft.

Yes, our righteous indignation over this terrorist attack on the US mainland justified our military response, resulting in the deaths of additional thousands of our best and bravest young men and women as well as those of our allies. Yes, nearly all terrorists worldwide are Muslims who use their religion to justify their actions. They martyr themselves in the belief they will ascend immediately to paradise for all sorts of rewards their religion denies them here on Earth.

I have received many e-mails from relatives and friends with links to websites that are in opposition to the buillding of this 9/11 mosque. Most, while understandably passionate, are well-reasoned in their arguments. Unfortunately, some cross the line into outright religious bigotry, even trivializing the Holocaust by violating Godwin's Law. (I favor Dennis Miller's version: Don't call someone a Nazi unless they have croaked at least a million people.)


Some of the 9/11 victims were innocent Muslims at work in the World Trade Towers. Nearly all American Muslims were and are as enraged as you and me about the attack.

I personally hope the backers of the new mosque and Islamic cultural center find a more appropriate location. But, I do not support those who would twist the "historic building" laws to prevent the former Burlington Coat Factory from being torn down. Official permitting and other government oversight must be neutral to religion unless it can be shown that the new facility will be involved in recruiting additional terrorists. Freedom of religion is part of what makes the US the greatest country in the world and makes me proud to be a citizen.

Let us not battle darkness with more darkness, but rather with light!

Here is a good CNN video on the topic.

Here is what New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said in a recent radio address:

“If somebody wants to build a religious house of worship, they should do it and we shouldn’t be in the business of picking which religions can and which religions can’t. I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try to on that piece of property build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming. And the fact of the matter is that Muslims have a right to do it too. What is great about America and particularly New York is we welcome everybody and I just- you know, if we are so afraid of something like this, what does it say about us? Democracy is stronger than this. You know, the ability to practice your religion is the- was one of the real reasons America was founded. And for us to say no is just, I think, not appropriate is a nice way to phrase it.”
Here is a link to the site run by backers of Cordoba House, where they say, in part:

"Why the Cordoba House?

"Cordoba House is a Muslim-led project which will build a world-class facility that promotes tolerance, reflecting the rich diversity of New York City. The center will be community-driven, serving as a platform for inter-community gatherings and cooperation at all levels, providing a space for all New Yorkers to enjoy.

"This proposed project is about promoting integration, tolerance of difference and community cohesion through arts and culture. Cordoba House will provide a place where individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, will find a center of learning, art and culture; and most importantly, a center guided by universal values in their truest form - compassion, generosity, and respect for all.

"The site will contain tremendous amounts of resources that otherwise would not exist in Lower Manhattan; a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, bookstores, restaurants - all these services would form a cultural nexus for a region of New York City that, as it continues to grow, requires the sort of hub that Cordoba House will provide."
Yes, of course I know in many Islamic countries it is currently illegal to build a church or synagogue in certain locations, and, if you do build one it must not be higher that any nearby mosque, and must not display a cross or a star of David, etc. Not too long ago (and perhaps even today) there were similar restrictions on the design and permission for building synagogues in parts of Christian Europe. All the more reason to demonstrate American Exceptionalism! If the backers of Cordoba House insist on their right to build what they want where they want, LET THEM DO IT so long as the design and construction meets the same standards applied to any other similar building in New York City.

Ira Glickstein

Saturday, July 3, 2010

BP Dummies and Federal Officials Acting Like Bungling Fools

[From Billlifka, posted by Ira with his permission. Image added by Ira.] Federal officials continue to act like bungling fools so much they overshadow the BP dummies. The good news about the bad guys at BP is that many will lose their jobs and their company will lose much money on spilled oil and cleanup. Let’s hope it doesn’t take so much money that the company declares bankruptcy. If that were to happen, the company could not be forced to pay claimants what they deserve. Congress and President Obama might want to keep that in mind.

It’s useful to remember how badly BP screwed up. They used the “long string” design, one of two drilling options. That option is cheaper and faster but is inherently riskier because it allows a dangerous pathway for gas to rise outside the pipe. The alternative has more places that prevent gas flowing uncontrolled. BP maintains there is nothing inherently unsafe in long string design. However, most oil exploration companies avoid using the technique except in wells that have been proven to be low pressure. The Deepwater Horizon well was exploratory and (obviously) high pressure. BP used long string design on 35% of its Gulf wells since 2003; Chevron has 15%; Shell has 8%; BHP Billiton has 4%. BP has been fined for safety violations hundreds of times more than its competitors in the Gulf, another sign of poor operating practices. As bad as that may be, BP’s continuing operations were approved by the federal government.

It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of drilling operations in the Gulf are safe and those that require rechecking are of the long string variety and especially if they’re BP’s. Obama’s action was to close down all of them for some undefined period subject to some undefined re-approval process. This exacerbates economic impact on Gulf States at a particularly bad time for America. At this writing, a federal judge has ruled against the legality of Obama’s moratorium. The Justice Department is scrambling to appeal the ruling and rephrase moratorium language that might pass legal scrutiny. Sea bottom for the Deepwater Horizon well was 5000+ feet. The moratorium was for all drilling over 500 feet.

BP and other oil drillers have been bashed for having near identical and inadequate cleanup plans in event of spillage. It has been revealed, reluctantly, that all companies were required to submit a plan that addressed, precisely, the federal model for oil leakage. It has turned out that the model is grossly in error. Each of the oil companies’ cleanup plan was approved by the feds. When all is considered, it’s hard to blame the oil companies for more than 50% of this deficiency. This is not to give the oil companies a free pass, but to criticize the popular view that federal regulatory action is the solution to problems. The most regulated industries in America are the banking and petroleum industries. We’ve had the banking failure and now this. We need more regulation?

As a typical political response, Obama has appointed a committee to investigate the disaster and recommend action. All members are academics without appropriate technical knowledge.

Information keeps leaking, along with the crude oil. At least thirteen countries offered the use of their specialized cleanup capabilities immediately after the explosion. The feds refused. A 1920 bill called the Jones Act prohibits the use of foreign vessels and crews laboring in U.S. waters. It was designed to please American Unions. Although Bush II exempted Katrina cleanup efforts from this outdated legislation, Obama’s people chose to favor the unions over the environment.

[From Billlifka, posted by Ira with his permission. Image added by Ira.]