Archive for the ‘Roy and the Clones’ category

Roy Is Slippn’

April 25, 2007

So we know that the Virgina Tech Massacre was the fault of atheists, video games, terrorists, lax immigration policies, the gun culture, the Supreme Court, Hollywood, liberal university professors, and Darwin. And this is all Roy Moore has to say?

Within hours of the tragic murder of 32 students last week on the campus of Virginia Tech, liberals both at home and abroad began to cry out for “gun control,” as if the two handguns that were used in the killings were more to blame than the disturbed student who pulled the trigger. While Cho Seung-Hui blamed everybody else in his chilling videotaped rant, the liberals and many in the media also wanted to place the blame on something else for Cho’s cruel and immoral actions, once again exploiting this tragedy to push their agenda of taking away guns from law-abiding citizens.

I’m very disapointed. I was really looking forward to his rant about Virginia Tech. I figured he’d join all the other nutjobs in placing the blame for the massacre on every part of society that they do not like. 

Instead, he goes and defends the constitution:

The right to keep and bear arms is not just a means of protecting life, but an indispensable safeguard of our liberties against oppressive government. Our Founding Fathers enshrined in the Second Amendment that this right of the people “shall not be infringed” because “the security of a free state” requires a “well-regulated militia.”

And cheers a court decision in which three robed members of the judiciary struck down a law duly enacted by the people:

Liberals choosing to ignore the historical evidence claim that this is an outdated “collective” right of the state, not the individual. But in Parker v. District of Columbia on March 9, 2007, the D.C. Court of Appeals found that the right to keep and bear arms was an “individual right” held by “the people,” and that it “existed prior to the formation of” the Second Amendment.

And he even questions the wisdom and goodness of government officials:

Tyrannical governments like those of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, China and Cuba all disarmed their citizens before the unprecedented oppression and murder of millions began. Back in 1833, Justice Joseph Story wrote in his “Commentaries on the Constitution” about the “importance” of the Second Amendment “as the palladium of the liberties of a republic since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers.” History has indeed proven the truth of Story’s comment and what every oppressive government knows: You must take away the people’s guns before you can take away their rights and liberties.

Like I said, I’m very disappointed. This has been a feeding frenzy of crazies, and no one can bring the insanity quite like Roy Moore.

But there’s some consolation. The next time Roy tells us that governments ought to be trusted with the power to place ten commandments monuments in courthouses, I am going to remember his belief – apparently confined to issues of gun control – that governments are untrustworthy and that tyranny begins with small seemingly innocuous assertions of power.  I’ll also remember his love of judicial review the next time he cries about it being used outside the context of the Second Amendment.  

I agree with just about everything he says in the column. I just wish he’d apply the same principles to the rest of our rights.  


Free Speech? Fine By Me.

April 20, 2007

Wednesday, I said that I agreed with Roy Moore that a public school in California acted unconstitutionally when it banned a student from wearing a shirt that said “Homosexuality is shameful.”

Today, via Bessemer Opinions, I read this story about Elizabeth Esser-Stuart, a student at the Alabama School of Fine Arts here in B’ham, and to whom the ACLU just awarded a $4,000 college scholarship in recognition of her work to protect civil liberties:

Elizabeth and 14 other students wore T-shirts to school that said, “Gay? Fine by me.” The shirts had come from a diversity program started by students at Duke University.

Deciding that the shirts might be offensive, the principal began pulling the students aside and telling them they could no longer wear the shirts. Elizabeth, only a sophomore at the time, did copious legal research on the students’ constitutional right to free expression. She met with the principal several times, urging him to lift the ban. She spent her days, nights, and early mornings working in support of the issue, despite confronting apathy from friends and peers.

In December 2004, Elizabeth contacted the ACLU of Alabama which, with the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, notified the principal that the censorship was unconstitutional. The principal lifted the ban.

Three points.

One, good for her. This country needs more people like that.

Two, consider how her actions undercut any argument that schools somehow need to protect the young minds of students from pernicious and offensive ideas. As Ms. Esser-Stuart demonstrated, students are perfectly capable of rationally judging ideas. In fact, she showed a whole lot more wisdom than did the ostensible protector: The school principal. 

Three, there is absolutely no fair way to distinguish an anti-gay shirt from a pro-gay shirt. Every argument in favor of banning one also supports banning the other. I think the much better practice – constitutional requirements notwithstanding – is complete freedom of speech. Let ideas succeed or fail on their own merits, not based on what some state official thinks is offensive.

Even When Roy Moore Is Right, He’s Wrong

April 18, 2007

Here’s his latest column.

First, he is dead right that the recent Ninth Circuit case Harper v. Poway Unified School District is a really, really, really bad decision.

Basically, the court held that a local school was allowed to prohibit a student from wearing a t-shirt because the message on the shirt might have caused other students “to question their self-worth and their rightful place in society.”

What was the message, you ask? It should not matter, like I said here, schools ought have no power whatsoever to regulate the content of student speech absent some concrete disruption. But if you must know, it was this:

Appellant in this action is a sophomore at Poway High School who was ordered not to wear a T-shirt to school that read, “BE ASHAMED, OUR SCHOOL EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED” handwritten on the front, and “HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL” handwritten on the back.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that my views on homosexuality are about as far from Roy Moore’s as can be. But I agree with him that in this case the school acted unconstitutionally. The possibility of psychological harm does not justify eliminating free speech.

So how is he wrong? Two ways.

First, according to his disciples, he’s wrong to suggest that the school acted unconstitutionally. Here’s Roy’s take (emphasis added):

Obviously, the liberal judges on the court cared little for traditional rights of free speech

And here’s a statement by his underlings on the Roy Moore Blog. Speaking about the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case (in which a principal disciplined a student for waiving a banner with those words on it) the mini-Moores say (emphasis added):

If one follows the original interpretation of the Free Speech Clause, there is no need to side with Frederick in this case.  The clause states, in pertinent part: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.”  Take the analysis a step at a time.  In the first place, the government actor involved here is not “Congress,” but rather a local school administrator.  Thus, from a traditional standpoint, the First Amendment has no application in this case. 

So which is it guys? Does the first amendment apply to schools, or not? Or does it apply when kids want to condemn gay students, but not when kids want to question drug policies?

Second, he is wrong about the Ninth Circuit. Moore uses the Harper case for a broader argument:

The United States Supreme Court properly vacated their opinion, which is nothing new for the high court, as it has reversed all eight of the other 9th Circuit cases that have come before it this term, an appalling reversal record for any circuit court of appeals. Since 1978, no other circuit court of appeals has had more decisions overturned. In the 1995-96 term of the Supreme Court, 27 of 28 cases from the 9th Circuit were reversed, and in the 2003-04 term, 19 of 25 cases were reversed, most by unanimous decision of all nine justices of the Supreme Court. . . .

The solution to the problem is simple. Rather than burden our high court with wrong decisions by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Congress has the authority to abolish that court altogether and create a new court in its place or divide the circuit into two smaller circuits, thus reducing the reach of its radical decisions. In the alternative, Congress can impeach a few judges for their irresponsibility, holding them accountable for their wayward rulings. Our respect for law and reverence for the Constitution demand that we no longer tolerate the behavior of the judges of the 9th Circuit!

For starters, I can’t be the only person scratching my head trying to figure why Roy Moore – Scotus basher extrodinaire – now thinks an appellate court’s worth depends on how often that court pleases Scotus.

More to the point, if the problem is burdening the high court with wrong decisions, then congress is going to have to get rid of much more than just the Ninth Circuit. 

It is probably accurate that the Ninth is reversed more than any other court. But that is because it covers a much bigger area than any other court. Hence, more cases to appeal. So the real question is how the reversal percentage of Ninth cases taken by Scotus compares to other jurisdictions.  

Roy is correct that in 03-04, Scotus reversed 19 of twenty five Ninth cases, or 76%. What he does not tell his readers is that the average for all the circuit courts in that same year was . . . 77%.

Roy is also correct that the Ninth had a few bad years in the mid-nineties. But consider the long view.

Over the last fifty years, Scotus reversed 57% of Ninth Circuit cases. For comparison’s sake, the Eight’s rate is 55%; the Fifth, Sixth, and Tenth are at 56%; D.C is 62% and none are below 46%. That’s just federal cases. 25 states have a higher reversal rate, among them Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. In fact, the state average is the same as the Ninth Circuit’s: 57%.

Things don’t change much when the period of comparison is the last 12 years. The Ninth, at 61%, comes in behind the Second, at 62%, while 16 states have higher reversal rates.

In short, with the exception of a few crazy years in the mid-nineties, the Ninth gets reversed at a perfectly normal rate. There may be reasons to split the Ninth, but the reversal rate is not one of them.

Plea Bargains Suck

April 12, 2007

Man. The one time I wanted to see Troy King in all out glory hound mode, he goes and settles the case.

A political consultant from Vestavia Hills admitted Tuesday to misdemeanor crimes that he ran a false ad during the 2006 Jefferson County Commission primary race, and he failed to register a political action committee.

Rick Spina, 48, said he pleaded guilty rather than going through the expense and trouble of fighting the charges in court. . . .

Jefferson County District Judge Katrina Ross fined Spina $2,000 on the charge of fraudulently saying he was representing a candidate in a damaging manner. She suspended a 12-month sentence.

As I explained in this post, the reason I was so giddily looking forward to a trial was that the alleged “damaging manner” was linking Jim Carns to Roy Moore:

Man I hope this goes to trial. They have to introduce evidence that linking Moore to Carns was damaging. Someone’s got to take the stand and explain that Moore is a joke. The closing argument will have to emphasize that Moore is such a well-recognized idiot that the mere association of his name with a candidate would cause that candidate to lose. This is just too awesome. I promise you I will think of some reason to be at the courthouse that day.

Oh well, I guess we all know that’s the truth anyway.

Troy King Thinks Roy Moore Is Political Poison

January 24, 2007

Jeff has already highlighted this story, but I wanted to add some thoughts.

Basically, Troy King’s office is prosecuting a political consultant named Rick Spina because, prior to the last election, Spina allegedly took out an ad in the B’Ham news that included false and damaging information about Jim Carns, a candidate for the JeffCo commission.

Spina is accused of violating Code Section 17-5-6:

It shall be unlawful for any person fraudulently to misrepresent himself or herself, or any other person or organization with which he or she is affiliated, as speaking or writing or otherwise acting for or on behalf of any candidate, principal campaign committee, political action committee, or political party, or agent or employee thereof, in a manner which is damaging or is intended to be damaging to such other candidate, principal campaign committee, political action committee, or political party.

Right. In other words, what the statute is trying to prohibit is person A taking out an ad without authorization from candidate B, but that says something like: “I’m candidate B, and I hump donkeys.”

The paper sums up the charges against Spina as follows:

[Spina allegedly] Intentionally misrepresented that he or an organization with which he was affiliated spoke on behalf of Carns, and did so in a manner that was damaging to the candidate.

Now here is where this story gets really, really funny (unless you are Rick Spina, anyway). What dastardly, disgusting, humiliating, act did the ad accuse Carns of committing? What horrific, unimaginable, donkey-humping individual did the ad associate with Carns?

According to a statement issued by King, investigators found Spina was behind a fraudulent ad linking Jefferson County Commissioner Jim Carns to Roy Moore and several Supreme Court candidates. The ad was published May 31 in The Birmingham News while Carns was a member of the Alabama House but was running for election to the county commission.

Carns defeated his opponent in the November general election. Before election results were tallied, though, Carns said the ad had hurt his campaign. . . .

The May 31 ad copy read, “Vote for our slate,” and included pictures of the former Chief Justice Moore, and several candidates for chief justice, associate justice and lieutenant governor.

Do you get it? Not only is Troy King essentially saying that linking a candidate to Roy Moore is just as bad as saying a candidate humps donkeys, but Troy King is saying it! Roy Moore is anathema even in the eyes of our Attorney General. Wow.

Man I hope this goes to trial. They have to introduce evidence that linking Moore to Carns was damaging. Someone’s got to take the stand and explain that Moore is a joke. The closing argument will have to emphasize that Moore is such a well-recognized idiot that the mere association of his name with a candidate would cause that candidate to lose. This is just too awesome. I promise you I will think of some reason to be at the courthouse that day.

Religion, Politics, Virgil Goode, and DBT

December 22, 2006

Yesterday, I wanted to comment on the latest development in the Keith Ellison story, but because all I would have said was something like “Virgil Goode is a dumba** racist f**king P.O.S.” I decided to wait and comment on it today.

You know the background, Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress and plans on taking his oath with his hand on a Quran. That has some folks extremely mad. Dennis Prager started it with his demand that Ellison swear on a Bible or not at all. Roy Moore upped the theocratic ante by saying Congress ought to ban Ellison from even serving in Congress. I’ve got links to all these stories, and refutations of Prager and Moore, here.

Then yesterday, this story broke nationally:

In a letter sent to hundreds of voters this month, Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., Republican of Virginia, warned that the recent election of the first Muslim to Congress posed a serious threat to the nation’s traditional values.

Mr. Goode was referring to Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat and criminal defense lawyer who converted to Islam as a college student and was elected to the House in November. Mr. Ellison’s plan to use the Koran during his private swearing-in ceremony in January had outraged some Virginia voters, prompting Mr. Goode to issue a written response to them, a spokesman for Mr. Goode said.

Here’s Goode’s written response:

Dear Mr. Cruickshank:

   Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Suite 215
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

Well, I waited a day to comment, and still all I want to do is agree with the Charlottesville Weekly, the paper that first broke the story, doing so with the headline “Goode makes complete ass of self.”

Really, where do you start? The ridiculous non-sequitur of using as a reason for restricting immigration the election to Congress of a person born and raised in the United States? The incredible hubris and ignorance displayed when Goode proudly declares that, though he represents an entire district of people, he has no concern for the religious beliefs of anyone except his fellow Christians? The clap-trap about traditional values?

And of course, Goode completely embraces the stupidity of Moore and Prager. An oath only matters if the swearer respects the thing on which he swears. So of course a Muslim ought to swear on a Quran and a Christian on a Bible. This is a non-issue. Besides, Congress is totally powerless to require one book or another, or that its members be one religion or another. The Constitution is clear: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

But this letter got to me even more than the idiocy of Prager and Moore. I’ve spent the last day thinking about it, and I’m not sure why. But here’s my best guess.

Goode’s letter was in response to letters and e-mails he received from his constituents. I understand their concern. Like it or not, fair or not, reasonable or not, for plenty of people Muslim is a proxy for theocratic insanity. Based on the behavior of some Muslims as reported in the news, I do not think that is an entirely unreasonable presumption. Nor would I think it unreasonable for someone to presume Christians are violent, ignorant bigots. Or that Mormons are fools.

I think what makes me mad about Virgil Goode is that he heard this concern and inflamed it. Instead of trying to explain how oaths work, and that our Constitution gives people of all religions – or none – equal treatment, and that the people of Minnessota chose Mr. Ellison as their representative just like the people of Virginia chose him, rather than any of that, Goode encouraged his constituents’ prejudices.

A real leader would have explained that in America, we judge people as individuals. Sure, some Muslims are insane. So are some Christians. And no, I would never, ever vote for a Muslim who thought the Quran was the Supreme Law of the Land, any more than I would vote for a Christian who thinks the Bible is the Supreme Law of the Land. But I would not draw from those particular examples of lunacy the conclusion that no Muslims or Christians can serve in public office. There are far too many rational believers to make such a rule.

As for Keith Ellision the individual, unless the people who elected him are truly foolish, I think we can assume he is not one of the wackos. And he certainly sounds like a reasonable person:

Mr. Ellison dismissed Mr. Goode’s comments, saying they seemed ill informed about his personal origins as well as about Constitutional protections of religious freedom. “I’m not an immigrant,” added Mr. Ellison, who traces his American ancestors back to 1742. “I’m an African-American.”

Since the November election, Mr. Ellison said, he has received hostile phone calls and e-mail messages along with some death threats. But in an interview on Wednesday, he emphasized that members of Congress and ordinary citizens had been overwhelmingly supportive and said he was focusing on setting up his Congressional office, getting phone lines hooked up and staff members hired, not on negative comments.

“I’m not a religious scholar, I’m a politician, and I do what politicians do, which is hopefully pass legislation to help the nation,” said Mr. Ellison, who said he planned to focus on secular issues like increasing the federal minimum wage and getting health insurance for the uninsured.

“I’m looking forward to making friends with Representative Goode, or at least getting to know him,” Mr. Ellison said, speaking by telephone from Minneapolis. “I want to let him know that there’s nothing to fear. The fact that there are many different faiths, many different colors and many different cultures in America is a great strength.”

So there is nothing to fear about Mr. Ellison’s election.

That’s what Goode ought to have said. But he did not. Instead of educating people, he reinforced their prejudices, assuring them he does not like Muslims either.

I do not know if he actually believes the ignorant garbage in that letter, or if he just used it to pander. Ultimately it does not matter. As DBT says about George Wallace:

Now, he said he was the best friend a black man from Alabama ever had,

And I have to admit, compared to Fob James, George Wallace don’t seem that bad

And if it’s true that he wasn’t a racist and he just did all them things for the votes

I guess Hell’s just the place for “kiss ass politicians” who pander to assholes.

Oh well, at least Goode isn’t from Alabama.

Roy Moore Admits He Is A Theocrat

December 14, 2006

Here’s his latest column. 

You remember the recent argument by Dennis Prager that Keith Ellison – the first Muslim elected to congress – should not be allowed to swear an oath of office on the Quran, but should be required to swear an oath on the Bible? Complete stupidity, as fully explained here, herehere, and here. The basic objection is that making someone swear on a book in which they do not believe serves no purpose but to denigrate the idea of an oath. The second objection is that nasty ol’ Constitution, which states in Article VI: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

But reasoning, truth, and law not being very important to Roy Moore, he takes Prager’s stupidity and runs with it. I was going to spend some time picking Moore’s column apart, but someone else did a much better job than I ever could:

Good ol’ Roy Moore is back at it again and he’s playing poker. He’s seeing Dennis Prager’s stupidity and raising it a heaping dose of theocratic insanity. He’s also showing, yet again, his ignorance of American history. Prager only claimed that a Muslim shouldn’t be allowed to swear an oath on the Quran instead of the Bible. Moore ups the ante: no Muslim should be allowed to serve in Congress at all. And his reasoning is astonishingly ignorant.

Read the column, and then read the critique. If you ever had any doubts that Moore’s use of the phrase “religious freedom” meant anything other than “christian theocracy” those two reads will settle things.

Of interest, here’s the accompanying post from Moore’s disciples at the Roy Moore Blog:

Judge Moore’s latest column contends that Congress should prevent Representative-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN.) from taking his seat in that body unless he backs off his request to be sworn in on the Koran rather than the Bible.  Judge Moore points out that the founding principles of this country–including freedom of conscience–were based on the Bible, whereas, the Koran was not a source used by the Founders and its teachings on the unity of church and state contradict freedom of conscience.  Because of this, the judge concludes, if Ellison takes the oath on the Koran he will be contradicting his constituitonal oath. . . .

Judge Moore calls on Congress to prevent Ellison from being able to take his seat in Congress. 

Is it just me, or does that read objectively? As if the author is trying his best to describe Moore’s argument, rather than adopt it? Could Moore have gone too far for even his most devoted followers?