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I lived the first years of my life only blocks away from North Ave and Pennsylvania where the events surrounding the death of Freddy Gray took place.  I recently visited that house on Smallwood and Baker Streets that was bought new by my Grandfather in 1920, a few years ago with my 100 plus year old Aunt, and chatted with the current residents. So, this event has a special meaning to me.  

First of all, I hate mobs, the contagious ecstasy, being of joy or rage,  that builds on itself, allowing no demurral from the will of the crowd.  But I'm not immune.  When I first heard the charges announced against the six Baltimore police officers, I wrote this email to a friend:  
   

Byrt,

Not only were you right about the need to make waves, and let the country know that what happened, -- not even though by police, but especially because they are police -- is not acceptable.  I had disagreed with you  on Wednesday saying that rioting was counterproductive (as did our President) but he was wrong, and certainly I was.

The thing that separates this case from all the other recent ones, Garner in Staten Island and Brown in Furgeson, is both of them had broken the law, and then resisted arrest.  The consequences were tragic, disproportional to the precipitating act, yet they were resisting arrest  Everything followed from this.

In Baltimore, we now know that the knife that Mr. Gray was carrying was not an illegal switchblade, but a pocket knife, legal to carry under law, that he never had committed a crime,or an infraction of any kind.  He was abducted, shackled and thrown unsecured by seat belt into a truck to be punished by the rough ride.  (this is not a rare form of summary "justice" as this article shows).

These six police (half white and half black) will get prison terms, of this I'm certain.  And actually, while there was some property damage, unlike the Rodney King riot, there was no deaths, and no widespread hatred against all whites.

It could be that this tragic death is a turning point for our country, that is too long in coming. This makes me proud of our nation and the city of my birth.

Al

After I sent this, I gave it some more thought.  I had listened to the report on CNN and decided to hear how Fox news was handling this story; could they have the nerve to oppose what I felt so strongly.  It's not what they said, but what was described by two police officers who were disguised as they would have lost their jobs if they were identified.

Listening to them and doing the research on the narrative that made it appear that it all started with Mr. Gray "making eye contact" led me to write a comment here that was unnecessarily confrontational to those on this website, with a reaction in kind leading to its removal.  I was hurt by the hostility, knowing that only recently I spoke at my city's public safety commission where I described how selective enforcement of laws leads to police corruption, and dealt with the hostile response for my daring to use the words police and corruption in the same breath.  I was there, in person, taking the heat, and now I was being condemned by those on a website that I drew emotional support from.

After that meeting I had a long talk with the official from our police force about the very issues that are now in the public eye.  There was no confrontation, as we were on the same side, both of us trying to reach the ideal of "to protect and to serve."  When we were done he said how much he values conversations like we just had.  

As far as my having any illusions, I had an experience myself some half century ago.  Yeah, even if I don't know where I put my keys, I remember that interaction on Third Avenue and 80th Street in Manhattan.  I was crossing the street slowly, when a car sped up barely missing me. When the passenger jumped out aggressively, I pulled the pint bottle I had from my back pocket and and raised it in defense.  Stopping, he flashed his badge and ordered me into the back seat.  

I had already had a few sips from the bottle, and I guess I was relieved that it was only  cops, and not thugs who were going to attack me.  We were all white, in this upscale neighborhood, even then, and I never felt any fear.  They asked if I had a job, which I did, and then the driver said, "You know what we could do to you with just what we have in this car, not even using our guns?"  That's threat was verbatim, as was my response of simply saying, "No, I don't know" -- which I repeated when he asked what it would cost for a lawyer if he arrested me -- followed up with "take a guess, what would it cost for a retainer?" -- his attempt to get an opening offer for letting me walk.  Eventually, they did;  and I went along my way to meet my friends at the "Lorelei" bar.

These two men seemed pretty confident that they could have gotten some cash for their trouble, and if I were different, perhaps with a record, or if I had refused to get in the car-- or if I had been of another race.  No big deal- now just an amusing story, but things could have gone bad. But those two bums were not every police officer.  A family friend when I was a child in D.C. had joined the force and worked his way up to the rank of Inspector.  His job was to ride around the city, not unlike Baltimore in many ways, and to report police who weren't doing their jobs, or doing it wrong, or trying to shake down random people.  He rode alone.

He was in line for making Chief of Police, and retired when passed over.  A few years later, maybe in the late 1980s, I was chatting with a couple of older policemen and mentioned his name, and they almost spit in their contempt for this man who was not part of the club.  Yes, so when all police are lumped together with the worst, I have a sense of guilt, that I'm not standing up for my family friend Inspector Alan Wolf who was as tough as nails and I'm certain never did anything other than try to serve the community.

For every cop that shakes down someone, or who plants a gun on someone whom he shot, there are others who risk their lives on a daily basis just because they want to. So, I will continue to express these truths on this site just as I did in my official capacity in my city last year.  I will continue to attempt to insert reason and compassion, and resist the broad generalizations of police officers, cops, as either thugs or heroes.  

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I'll include some items after the break below dealing with the actual consequences of running from a police officer who engages a citizen.  The general consensus here that one may legally do so is countered by the recommendation of the Maryland ACLU. I will also include links to two articles from today's New York Times.

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Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 12:58 PM PDT

B-24 Bombers over San Diego

by arodb

It was a perfect Sunday morning for my regular tennis session, a loose congregation of people who get great pleasure out of enjoying each others company while we pretend to give a damn about winning a set.  I've been joining in with this group for several years now, and the chemistry, the good feelings is something that's somewhat rare for me.  And today was a special one for me, the end of the third quarter of a my life - the beginning of the last one.  

Out of the quiet of the morning, broken by the cries of joy and agony over shots made or missed, there was the beginning of a distant soft roar, not a motorcycle or train, but something else.  Then I saw it, only a thousand or so feet in the air, with the unique shape of the WWII heavy bomber, the B-24  (picture here)  

As it slowly flew past, I stopped our set for brief time, just to allow the moment to resonate, as that plane and what it represented meant something to me.  I realized that seeing the outline of this machine in the sky had a very different meaning to the millions of people around the time of my own infancy all across the world.  For millions that shape and others like it meant showers of destruction, whether the insignia on the wing was that of the Allies or the Axis forces.

And those who were flying the plane, unlike today it being to commemorate something and their risk being negligible,  for some crews the chance of surviving their tours of duty were miniscule, to be in a flight crew in the early years for allies, U.S., England, Russia was a death sentence, as it was in the later years for the Axis forces.  

There was a sense of the feeling of patriotism, evoking my earliest memories of my country having won something that I could only feel, but that I knew was very important. My war experience was in Washington D.C. where we had air raid tests, not the real thing.  But it was the center of the victory celebrations, and the parades down Pennsylvania Avenue had squadrons of planes of all types flying overhead.

That plane evoked other thoughts, those millions upon millions of children like myself who never were to experience life, whose existence ended to the sound of planes such as this one overhead.  They were as innocent as I, yet they were the enemy, and forces so incomprehensible to them, and probably their parents, set a path that ended with such a catastrophe that is a fading memory to those who survived it.
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Here's a terrific diary from someone who was on one of these planes last year.

Discuss

WaPo Headline reads:  "FBI overstated forensic hair matches in nearly all trials before 2000" with this lead:

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

snip

The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.

It took quite a bit of time to acknowledge this, since a simple experiment of taking a few hundred hair samples and then having "experts" match them would have provided the evidence of what has taken a decade and a half to disclose.  

Crime happens, and the public demands that their law enforcement apparatus finds those who did it.  There is a reality that is not up for discussion, which is that most criminal evidence is as shaky as hair samples.  I took on "fingerprinting" in Wikipedia a decade ago, knowing that the FBI at that time claimed that when they made an identification it was certain, 100%.  I made some corrections by myself, but the "professional experts" fought back and removed them.  I finally found one who was actually doing graduate work in the field, and got him to participate.  

If you go on the site you wouldn't recognize what it had been, and I'm sure this would have been corrected, but I may have done it a bit earlier, since I realized that a juror could be checking out Wikipedia.  But, we still have the illusion that when a witness swears that the accused was who she saw, that it is true.  And she/he believes it is.  There has been a slew of studies on the variables in eye witness testimony that defies a simple percentage of error, but I have my own experience.

This was 64 years ago, yes, May 1951,  And I was playing outside our apartment when three men ran down the middle of the street and we got their license plate.  You can still read the article in the Washington Post!  They had robbed grocery store at gunpoint, and I was one of the two who the police spoke to, got the license number, and they arrested the three guys.  I remember the lineup, and actually, what I recognized was the khaki jackets and couldn't be sure of the faces, but I said it was them.

There was no cross examination at the trial, and the men were convicted and served time. But, was I sure?  There were other witness, including the owners and their child, so my identification wasn't the key; but I remember that it was the jacket, not their face that I had connected with them.

Perhaps it had been too easy for the so called experts to get away with their certainty of identification all those years.  They compared the strands of hair, or swirls of the prints under microscopes and quantified the unique characteristics - and they were certified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These experts weren't scientists, and had never taken a statistics course -- nor had the jurors or judge, for that matter.  Yet, many scientists possessed such skills during this time.  Where were they, as professionals, when these perversions of justice were taking place?  

Another tool of forensic science has just fallen -- too late for those who are beyond any compensation for this systematic perversion of justice.

 

Discuss

The trial of Craig Stephen Hicks who killed three neighbors over a disagreement about use of a parking space in the condominium where they all lived has begun.  North Carolina Killing Detailed gives the description in this LA Times, as the facts are not in dispute.

I'm posting this essay under the Dailykos Group, Atheist in America, but not for the usual reasons;  which is to express our grievances, presenting various examples of how we are annoyed by having to recite the words "under God" and see crosses on public property.  We also protest how religious groups gets preferred treatment, not only by tax relief but by different standards of law as defined by the "Restoration of Religious Freedom Acts."  This story fits the literal title of this group, that I chose to give it when I set it up a few years back, since the murderer (I'll forgo "alleged") has expressed his atheistic beliefs.  This confessed killer of three, whatever else he may be,  is one of us!    

Continue Reading

There are fundamental principles that are being addressed by this Memories Pizza event, one that is primary, but ignored, is that of Freedom of Association.  Anti-Discrimination laws are a carve-out of this principle, and as such must always be balanced with this primary essential part of a free society.  Anti-discrimination laws are recent, first with Brown v. Board which mandated that public schools must be inclusive, then broader laws mostly justified by the history of slavery that had created a caste that a consensus evolved to combat.

An example of the concept of Freedom of Association is not too far away , as you are looking at right now.  The justification of banning those who are trolls, whose purpose is antithetical to the stated identity of this liberal web site rests on this principle.  Those whose goal is to disrupt what transpires here may be banned, banished --- discriminated against, based on their beliefs. "Discrimination" first meaning was originally neutral, the recognition of differences, while now the invidious meaning has superseded it.  

It's sad that this word is now used with the same emotion as if it meant lynching the outsider, as was a reality in some dark corners of the American South only a brief time in the past.  Yet, the reaction, the rage of what is expressed by many on this web site has taken on the tone, and this hurts me to say, not only of contempt for those who joined the lynch crowd, but of the lynch mob itself towards the object of contempt.  

The owner of Memories Pizza does not share our views, yet what did he do to arouse such calumny.  He never insulted anyone, but refused to be a part of a ceremony that he did not believe was right.  It could have been the marriage of an elderly wealthy man to a 16 year old girl that he felt was wrong, or anything else. He is not an emergency physician who is withholding life-saving treatment.   In fact he made a distinction between serving gays, which he would gladly do and catering their wedding.  Reported here

O'Connor (the owner)  wants to clear up one thing: He says he would never deny service to gay people in his restaurant. However, due to his religious beliefs, he does not believe in gay marriage ... and that's why he wouldn't service one.

Memories Pizza -- the first Indiana business to declare it would refuse LGBT business -- got blasted on the Internet and by phone, but the owner says there's been a huge misunderstanding ... sorta.

Kevin O’Connor tells TMZ he's had to temporarily close his business after he told a reporter he would refuse to cater a gay wedding under Indiana's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. O'Connor says he was immediately flooded by threatening phone calls, and social media postings.

I understand the passion that has been aroused by the passage of state versions of "Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993"  which I happened to have criticized when first proposed by two staunch liberals, Ted Kennedy and Representative Charles Schumer.  Most decision of the recent Supreme Courts can seen as Liberal against Conservative with one or at most two wild cards.  Yet this was the breakdown of the key decision that overruled this law:

 Majority     Kennedy, joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia (all but part III-A-1), Thomas, Ginsburg
Concurrence     Stevens
Concurrence     Scalia, joined by Stevens
Dissent     O'Connor, joined by Breyer (except a portion of part I)
Dissent     Souter
Dissent     Breyer

I'm not going to even attempt an analysis of this law, except to say that I condemned it, and remember Justice Stevens reasoning for his dissent, which was to the effect, "do not atheists have rights of conscience that this court must recognize."   So, I begin with my antipathy towards this law in 1993 when no one could have even conceived it being used to oppose something not even on the horizon.  I oppose this law intrinsically, not that it is used to deny gays personal services. Most outrageous to me was it being against the spirit of our secular constitution, yet was supported by the liberal party that I identify with.  For reasoning too complex for me to follow, much less explain, this was allowed if states pass the law, but not to apply to states when passed by congress.

Now what has occurred in the last few weeks is not an aberration of this law, but follows from it.  Where is the anger at the Democrats who promoted this original law, and an Illinois Senator named Barack Obama who voted for the state version of it.   The rage of this website is focused on one aspect, that it is being used as a weapon against gay rights,yet it is elevation of those of religion over secularists that should have anticipated such excesses.  

This diary is written about this political-legal issue of discrimination and freedom of association, but it is also about this web site. That's it.  In a world that seems to thrive on contention  lets see how this turns out.
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Addendum on personal services exception to anti-discrimination laws.

Here's one example.  While the law does not allow a pharmacist to refuse to provide birth control pills, there is no law that I know of that requires a physician to provide an abortion.  Catering a wedding has elements of both, purveying a fungible good and providing a personal service -- which in this case, the primary principle of freedom of association should prevail, in my view.  
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Here's another example, Elton John performing at Rush Limbaugh's wedding a few years back.  

John chose to do so; but consider this different scenario: What if Limbaugh had contacted someone like him anonymously, both agreeing to a fee, and then Limbaugh sent the contract for confirmation.   And then John, or anyone else, perhaps someone on this site, realized who he would be entertaining, and said, "Hell no, I'm not going to interact with this man, to sing songs that would not be sincere, which if possible at all, would be a travesty of the words and music that I have written."

Do those here accuse my hypothetical entertainer of invidious discrimination that trumps his right of free association?
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Let's consider that instead of a wedding this was for a Super Bowl party, and imagine a caterer is disgusted with a sport that causes so much brain damage, and simply refuses to provide his services to celebration of such an event.   I say, he has this right, with no religious belief needed.  

We live in a world of increasing contention, where consideration of commonly held principles are subordinated to gut emotion, mainly hatred at political opponents.  I would like to think that Dailykos is better than this, that it welcomes being challenged and engaging in discussions even with those they disagree with.

I think I'm about to find out.

Discuss

Wed Apr 01, 2015 at 09:24 PM PDT

Kicking Indiana when it's Down

by arodb

How dumb is the Indiana Government?  

O.K., most of us know that the world "law" has two distinct meanings.  One is what governments do, a rule, a legal code, that creates the due process that ends in either civil or criminal sanctions.   That's what Indiana did with their "Religion Protection Act" or whatever they called it.

Now there's another definition of law, which is the discovery of a fact of nature that has nothing to do with governments.   The law of gravity was first articulated by Newton, and defined bythe formula here, not that this is important, but it sort of makes this a serious diary.  

Well, would you believe that the same State that this week couldn't quite accept the natural law of culture, which is that it changes over time, and cannot always be reversed by a legislature, even if signed by the governor had attempted this once before-- confusing the first definition of legislated law with the second of discovered fact of nature.

The year was 1897; and while it didn't get signed by the governor, or even presented to the senate, the assembly actually did pass it.  These legislators didn't like the idea that the calculation of the ratio between the diameter and circumstance of a circle just kept going on and on.  You know that thing called Pi.   So they used the kind of law that they could control to put an end to this number, this calculation that was so disturbing.

Hey, although this is still April first, this is no April fools joke.  It's described in this Wikipedia Article with the name, Indiana Pi Bill.  Excerpted and condensed here:

The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most famous attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat.

The bill never became law, due to the intervention of Professor C. A. Waldo of Purdue University, who happened to be present in the legislature on the day it went up for a vote.

The impossibility of squaring the circle using only compass and straightedge constructions, suspected since ancient times, was rigorously proven in 1882 by Ferdinand von Lindemann. Better approximations of π than those inferred from the bill have been known since ancient times.

After a long discussion of Pi among friends, I did some research and happened to come across this.  What a perfect day to bring this up on this website.
Discuss

Sat Mar 28, 2015 at 01:00 PM PDT

Suicide by Cop in my Neighborhood

by arodb

Here's the article, with this abbreviated description:  

The woman told the 911 operator that he was inside with a shotgun, saying he wanted to die.

When the police arrived, a neighbor told them that the distraught man was in a nearby grassy area behind some homes .... armed with a shotgun. They went to the spot, finding the man sitting on the ground with the weapon pointed at himself,

"When the deputy ordered (him) to drop the shotgun, he told the deputy to shoot him and began to point the shotgun in the direction of the deputy,"  After again refusing to drop the gun, a volley was fired, The man, barely alive,  pointed the gun at the deputies, eliciting the final shots.

The deceased, who did not fire his gun, died at the scene. His name was withheld pending full family notification.

My wife or myself walk our dog by his condo every day,  and he may be someone I would recognize, maybe even have a nodding relationship with.   It wouldn't be much more than that, since that's how things are here.  But the nods, the smiles, the simple interactions like when a toddler points at our pooch happily singing "doggie" and I connect with, "You can pet him if you want to, he's very friendly."  And as she and her mom approach, the child maybe a bit hesitant, I joke, "The worst thing he will do is lick your face."

Our city of 60,000 has about one murder every three years, but unlike such crimes there's no local data on suicides, and really can't be.  How many auto deaths, when someone gets loaded and takes to the highway are really suicides.  We also have a railroad that goes right through the best part of town, and every once in a while there is a fatal "accident."  These don't count as suicides.  

The world is focusing on another suicide this week where the instrument of death wasn't a cop, but a plane, one filled with people who didn't have a hint that their lives about to end, anticipating reuniting with friends or other pleasures.  

My neighbor's death, unlike Andreus Lubitz, the co-pilot, won't be noted past this metropolitan area.  Yet, such suicides, or risks likely resulting in death,  like my neighbors, or with multiple variations, take vastly more lives than this rare event over the Alps.   It's hard to do research on this topic except for the small percentage under medical care.  But, human connections matter, that we know. They matter when you are walking along a suburban street and you pass someone, and smile, maybe even see if the person is looking for a conversation.  It could be that taking a bit of time can make a difference, as the person will know, if this guy likes me, maybe others can.

And it matters on websites like this one.  When people express something, anything, there are ways of disagreeing that still convey that the person is valued, that he's not an enemy even if he (or, of course, she) has different views.  

In California there will be an initiative in the next election for an Oregon style physician assisted suicide law.  It is limited to someone with a disease with a short life expectancy.  Most suicides are for other reasons, that we have placed in a context of mental illness.  Yet it's not always so.  If someone's grief over loss of a loved one is enduring, if their life isn't worth living, our society does not acknowledge self "deliverance" as one's inherent right.  So, the action must be violent, with no moral support available at all.  

I don't want to simplify or trivialize this complex question, but I think it sheds light on why one would choose death from a police officers gun. If life sucks, if a person feels there is no way out, the cause of the suffering can be put on society, those with power; so in this final act the distressed person can confront such power.  The last moment of existence will be participation in a drama where he is the star, the focus of attention, the protagonist that he for once will never have any regrets for the path taken.

 

Discuss

I am Jewish.  While at my advanced age, and being completely secular, this may not seem too important in my life; yet it is.  I was born in a time when there was only a small minority of Americans who cared about that walled in place in Poland where those of my extended family were corralled.  I was struck by the similarity of these two locations, these virtual nation-prisons by this article in today's L.A. Times.  It begins:

Almost seven months after the cease-fire that ended a devastating war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the militant group Hamas, the fighting's ruinous effects are visible everywhere in this ragged coastal enclave.

Reconstruction efforts have barely gotten off the rubble-strewn ground. Electricity flickers feebly through just six to eight hours each day. The economy, never robust, is in tatters. Government salaries mainly go unpaid. The infighting between Hamas, still the dominant power in Gaza, and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority has grown even more bitter after a stillborn unity accord.

Continue on to a different era, almost 80 years ago, to another Gaza like enclave.......
Continue Reading

Here's the full article from the N.Y. Times.  The shooter(s) are unknown, having fired from a hill a distance away.  The officers were seriously injured but are expected to live.   First paragraphs:

FERGUSON, Mo. — Two police officers were shot and injured here early Thursday morning as gunfire rang out in front of the police station, throwing into panic what had been a spirited but largely peaceful night of protests.

Demonstrators and police officers alike hit the ground when the gunshots echoed through the crisp air. Many people ran for cover. The police, clad in riot gear, dragged their wounded fellow officers to safety. Other officers crouched behind cars and walls, drawing their handguns or rifles as they rapidly swiveled their heads every which way to survey their surroundings.

This reminds me of the concept of Revolutions of Rising Expectations, where some progress can create a groundswell for further remediation of injustice.  While "revolution" has different images to different people, I see it as a disaster.  For those who need examples lets look at the French of 1789, the Russian of 1917 and only recently the "Arab Spring."  The last one has resulted in violence followed by chaos in Syria and autocracy in Egypt, conditions worse than what had been before.

The words of the departing U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, in castigating the city of Ferguson for their targeting the poorest of their citizens with minor infractions, not for the crime but for revenue production, was clear and cogent.  He was correct in focusing on the systemic, rather than the actions of the one single incident, Officer Michael Wilson's killing of Michael Brown.  

The statement by Brown's family of gratification for Holders response, words to the effect of, "If this changes this city the death of our son will not be in vain."  were powerfully meaningful.  Unlike a few generations ago, the Federal Government now has the authority to change cultures such as exist (ed) in cities such as this one.  

There are times when a violent revolution, the destruction of an entire political regime, may be necessary.   But it's not in this country, not in this era, while breaches of civil rights when they do exist, are on the defensive.  

Those who shot those policemen should be condemned and punished for what is a hate crime. It matters not whether the precipitating color is blue or black,  the damage to our society is just as pernicious

Discuss

Justice Samuel Alito's Law - from today's oral argument of "King v Burwell."

I was reading the live blogging from the W.S. Journal this morning, when the subject of "Standing was raised."  First, let me give the most common understanding of what this qualification to bring a suit means from the Wikipedia article, which also happens to provide the expanded meaning of the term.  (This detail was debated among some friends this morning)

The party is directly subject to an adverse effect by the statute or action in question, and the harm suffered will continue unless the court grants relief in the form of damages or a finding that the law either does not apply to the party or that the law is void or can be nullified. This is called the "something to lose" doctrine, in which the party has standing because they directly will be harmed by the conditions for which they are asking the court for relief.
It was this specific element that was being discussed when Alito said this from the W.S.Journal at 8:46
Justice Alito strongly suggested that the Supreme Court was no place for the issue of standing to be hashed out for the first time. You want us to have a trial on whether any of these plaintiffs have standing, he asked with some derision. (The Supreme Court doesn’t hold trials.)
This happened to strike me, first, because I personally find Alito to a stain on this court for his wanton manipulation of the traditions of the august body in several cases that I will describe.  Both have to do with challenging the dominant religious beliefs of this country.  This comment, that the Supreme Court does not address the standing of challengers (plaintiffs) is willfully ignorant of another case, where a Supreme Court decision on lack of standing of Mike Newdow caused his case to be dismissed, without ever considering the merits:
While all eight justices who participated in the case voted to overturn a 2003 federal appeals court decision that would have barred the phrase (under God) in public schools as a violation of the constitutional ban on state-sponsored religion, a majority of five did so exclusively on procedural grounds, ruling that the atheist who brought the case, Michael A. Newdow, lacked legal standing to sue.
While Alito was not on the court then, his obliviousness to this landmark case shows the level of his legal acumen, or more likely that he has a selective understanding, knowing what games he can play to serve his anti-secular goals for this country.  One example is in a three decade long legal saga, that should have ended when the Supreme Court refused to take an appeal that had determined that a 42 high cross in San Diego on government property must be removed, this in spite of numerous sham transfers of ownership.  

His ploy has worked.  Since our pusillanimous congress and president don't have the courage to let the constitutional prohibition of a national religion take its course.   He did this by writing a denial of certiorari  statement in 2012, that was treated by the public as being from the entire court, which it was not.  I wrote this extensive article on this event..  (No other commentary on this one, so I guess my view prevails!!!)

The Cross still stands, and with every year that goes by, this constitutional breach becomes a "fact on the ground" like the settlements in occupied Palestine.  This is Samuel Alito, who is a living realization of the fear that was expressed over JFK that he would be an agent of the Pope.  Kennedy transcended this, but Samuel Alito seems to answer to a power higher than our constitution in many areas of jurisprudence, especially that of our secular Constitution.

There is no doubt that he will cast his lot with ending the Affordable Healthcare Act on a technicality, that a random sentence overrides the entire premise of a complex law.  His delaying the decision on the Soledad Cross will only make enforcing the constitutional requirement to remove it that much more divisive.  He may have made it so great, that this example of "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied" will take on a new meaning.  No longer an admonition but a prescription to beat the spirit of any law, and principle of Justice.

And so it goes.

Discuss

Thu Feb 26, 2015 at 01:06 PM PST

Stolen Valor - Beyond Williams & O'Reilly

by arodb

Combat Service - and talking to conservatives

I sometimes refer to my post tennis group, a bunch of guys, from age mid fifties to 93,  different ethnic backgrounds, education, native languages and political orientation.  Yet, for the most part, we happen to like each other in a way that transcends all of these things.  It's one of the most valuable things in my life.

Yesterday, the subject got around to "stolen valor" a specific term meaning a2005 law (ruled unconstitutional) that would have made it a federal crime to claim possession of a given medal of honor for combat service in wartime.  But the term also fits on a given level the acusation against first Brian Williams, and later Bill O'Reilly.  At first it became just another example of the left (this time me) and the right having a different world view, but it became more than that, which is why I want to share the conversation on this site

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Sun Feb 22, 2015 at 02:19 PM PST

"You have to be carefully taught....."

by arodb

"You have to be carefully taught....."

Readers of my age will recognize the lyrics from South Pacific that I was reminded of yesterday walking our dog near a little league game that was about to begin.  The song includes,

"You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

This was about the age of the boys who were lined up, who were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Pledge is something I've taken personally for a long time.  I went so far as recently protesting it as an agenda item at our city council when I was there in an official capacity, and for the only time the Mayor stated explicitly that it was "of course, voluntary."

There are a few councils though out the country that are taking up this issue, but mostly it's a loser for anyone who wants a political career.  This has taken on even more currency with Rudolf Guiliani's recent claim that President Obama "does not love America."

My wife and I were able to see the twenty or so children following instruction of their coaches in proudly reciting the pledge.   As we started to walk away, we heard a new affirmation, this time something I had never head in this setting, "I love my God, I love my country........."  We shook our heads and walked away.  If the gate had been open, I just may have walked down and pleasantly started to chat with the coaches, maybe asking what kind of league it was, without even a hint of what I'm expressing here.

But, that wasn't possible.  But as we walked away, I said, "This is where we live.  This is their mentality and we are in the middle of it."  This was not "compelling children to recite a mantra" which is explicitly unconstitutional based on the 1943 decision of West  Virginia v. Barnette.    This was a voluntary organization with children just learning about being part of a team, and getting praise from the men when they get a hit, nab a line drive or affirm their love of God and Country.

The song from South Pacific is about learning to hate those who are different, but when children join in saying whom they love, is this not also defining those who would not join in as being different, maybe even as worthy of hatred --perhaps someone who is even the President, who is accused of not loving either their God or their Country.  

You have to be carefully taught

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