Sunday, May 31, 2009

Echoes from blog posts past....

Today's horrific assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita Kansas, reminded me of a item I blogged about back in 2005.

Kansas is a Third World Thuggdom
Tuesday December 6, 2005

If you needed any more proof that Right Wing Fundamentalist here in the US are the SAME as the Taliban of Afghanistan or the Mullahs of Iran, look no further than Kansas - "The Hate State"

Professor beaten; Attackers cite KU creationism class:

Associated Press LAWRENCE - A professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he sent e-mails deriding Christian conservatives was hospitalized Monday after what appeared to be a roadside beating. University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki said that the two men who beat him made references to the class that was to be offered for the first time this spring.

Originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," the course was canceled last week at Mirecki's request. The class was added after the Kansas State Board of Education decided to include more criticism of evolution in science standards for elementary and secondary students.

"I didn't know them," Mirecki said of his assailants, "but I'm sure they knew me."

Lt. Kari Wempe, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, said a deputy was dispatched to Lawrence Memorial Hospital after receiving a call around 7 a.m. regarding a battery. She said Mirecki reported he was attacked around 6:40 a.m. in rural Douglas County south of Lawrence. Mirecki told the Lawrence Journal-World that he was driving to breakfast when he noticed the men tailgating him in a pickup truck.

"I just pulled over hoping they would pass, and then they pulled up real close behind," he said. "They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out."

He said the men beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object. Wempe said Mirecki drove himself to the hospital after the attack. Mirecki told the student newspaper, the University Daily Kansan, that he spent between three and four hours at the hospital. He said his injuries included a broken tooth.

"I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots," he told the Lawrence Journal-World.

Wempe said Mirecki described the suspects as two white men between 30 and 40 years of age. One of the men was described as wearing a red, visorlike ball cap and wool gloves. Mirecki said the men left in a large pickup. Wempe said the department would investigate "every aspect," but couldn't discuss specifics.
Interestingly enough in 2009, it is in Kansas that George W. Bush still enjoys a higher than 50% approval rating...

In the words of the great Ian Richardson in BBC's House of Cards:

You might want to draw correlations between that and other events in Kansas...but I couldn't possibly comment...

Kansas Church attacked by Terrorist.

**UPDATE*** President Obama issued the following statement about Dr. George Tiller's murder:

"I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence."

***UPDATE*** At an afternoon news conference, Wichita Police confirmed that a suspect, a 51-year-old man, had been arrested for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, reports KSN-3 News:

The suspect is currently facing one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault for threatening onlookers who tried to intervene.
Several witnesses to the shooting attempted to intervene and chase down Tiller's killer, but he was able to flee in his blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB. Several hours later, the suspect was arrested near Gardner, Kansas on Interstate 35, reports the Kansas City Star.

***UPDATE*** The AP reports that a suspect is in custody:

A Wichita city official says a suspect is in custody in the shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller.

The city official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The official did not provide additional details.

An attorney for Tiller, Dan Monnat, says the doctor was shot Sunday as he served as an usher during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church. Monnat said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.

WICHITA, Kansas -- Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas doctor whose clinic received national attention for performing late-term abortions, was shot to death as he entered his Wichita church on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

How Homophobia Makes America Less Safe....

I admit I have not really felt the urge to blog about "Don't Ask - Don't Tell" for a couple of reasons.

The first is just the sheer stupidity of the entire policy. There are thousands of dedicated men and women currently serving in all branches of the U.S. Military with honor and distinction. They also just happen to be Gay or Lesbian. The idea that the practice of discharging Gays and Lesbians from the armed forces is somehow protecting military effectiveness is simply insane.

The second reason is that it's hard not to let emotion take over the debate on this issue. I have several good friends still in the military, some who are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. All whom, are Gay. Some on their third and fourth tours overseas. Their "gay agenda" is pretty simple. - Stay alive and come home.

Speaking before a Senate Hearing in the Fall of 2007, then outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace became something of a poster boy for the nonsensical arguments for the current policy. In his testimony, Pace noted that the U.S. Military Code of Justice prohibits adultery as well as homosexual activity.

Actually no, adultery is not listed as an offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ detail what are "punitive offenses" (things military personnel can be prosecuted for), and Adultery isn't on the list.

Adultery is covered under Article 134, which is also known as the "General Article." It prohibits conduct which is of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, or conduct which is prejudicial to good order and discipline.

There is a street in the Itaewon district of Seoul, South Korea just a short walk from the main gate of Yongsan Garrison , one of the largest American Military bases in the world. The street is commonly known as "Hooker Hill." On any given Friday or Saturday night you can see pleanty of American Military personnel, many of them married, frequenting the impressive concentration of brothels found there.

General Pace never mentioned his outrage over this in his testamony. Yet he expressed at length his deep personal concerns over the danger to the military posed by homosexual conduct.

To hear General Pace tell it, the real threat to good order and dicilpline was not, extended tour after extended tour, or a VA system that failed wounded soldiers, or contractors getting paid ten times the average salary of enlisted personnel. Not even the lack of adequate equipment or an exit strategy from an Iraqi civil war seem to have had the same weight on General Pace's moral threat scales as the idea of two men and one cot did.

The obsession by conservatives and their various mouthpieces over all things Gay is not hard to understand. If I were a former Bush Administration official, I too would be looking for something else, anything else to talk about, besides the colossal blunders and potential war crimes that are their legacy.

Which brings us to the curious case of Army Lt. Daniel Choi. Choi is a West Point graduate, an Iraq War veteran and an Arabic linguist. On March 19th of this year, Lt. Choi appeared on the "Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC:

Let's set aside for the moment that Lt. Choi is a West Point graduate, and all the qualifications and skills it takes to even get in to West Point let alone graduate with distinction. Let's also set aside for the moment the fact that Lt. Choi has already served his country with great honor and success in a war zone. (A resume item that neither of the past two, nor the present Commander-in-Chief can claim.)

Instead let's just look at one thing. Lt. Choi is an Arabic Linguist. He speaks and reads Arabic. In fact, Lt. Choi is one of 54 Arabic Linguists and translators that have been, or are currently being kicked out of the Military for their sexual orientation.

I could go on and on here about how firing people who speak the language of the country we are currently fighting a war in is damaging to our national security. But John Stewart says it far better than I can...

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Apparently the supporters of "Don't Ask - Don't Tell", would rather have our troops in a a war zone with far fewer people who speak the local language than allow brave and dedicated Americans like my friends, and Lt. Daniel Choi to continue to serve.

To all the Republicans who pound their chests about how the policies of the Obama Administration are "making us less safe", here is a prime example of exactly that.

You want to make America safer? Allow people like Lt. Daniel Choi to do their job.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Matthew's Mom Responds...

Judy Shepard appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the recent expansion of Federal hate crimes legislation and the remarks made by North Carolina representative Virginia Foxx, who, in testifying against the expansion, suggested that Shepard was merely the victim of a robbery, and that suggestions that he was targeted because he was gay were all a part of "a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

I had the great honor of meeting Judy Shepard and hearing her speak two years ago. It is unthinkable yet true that today, over ten years after Matthew's murder she still has to deal with atttacks on her son. Attacks now being propogated by the Republican Party.