Wednesday, May 28, 2008

So What!

The psychologically-challenged Peter DiGuadio joined the rest of the conservative blogosphere this morning as they jumped all over Barack Obama's statement that an uncle of his had helped liberate Auschwitz. Doesn't he know that Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz and wait a sec, Obama doesn't have an uncle, they twittered.

In the history of misspeaks, I wonder which will be given more weight for its ability to do harm; Obama's slip or G.W. Bush's premature ejaculation that the mission was somehow accomplished.

I do know this, Obama has come out and corrected himself. It seems that his great uncle, Charlie Payne, was a member of the 89th Infantry Division that liberated Ohrduf camp, which was a part of Buchenwald, not Auschwitz. Obama referred to the wrong camp. On the stump, in the middle of a news conference, with all the pressure of a national campaign on your shoulders and the press hanging on your every word, it's surprising that candidates don't misspeak more often.

But the fact is that a member of Obama's family did help liberate a concentration camp. His family and we Americans should be proud.

I have yet to hear Bush apologize for his gaffe, or, for that matter have I heard that DiGuadio has apologized for referring to a group of Hispanics as chattering chihuahuas. But then, you know the pressure of being in need of immediate psychological therapy must be immense. Get help, Peter. Do it now and then maybe your comments regarding others will be taken half seriously.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And I Love Her

Even at the age of 48, when I first met my wife Kelly, I was a hopeless romantic. I made a cd of love songs soon into our relationship. However, one song that I did not include was this one ... And I Love Her, by the Beatles.

We're coming up on our third wedding anniversary. We have a baby girl, we garden, we talk and we listen. I could not imagine a day without Kelly.

Is it Braun or Mineo at the Plate?

I was not privy to the entire conversation Sunday, at the big birthday party, but apparently there was a discussion as to whether Milwaukee Brewer's left fielder Ryan Braun and the late actor, Sal Mineo, look similar. You be the judge.

Affirmative Action for Conservatives

And I thought all this time conservatives were all for personal responsibility and no quotas.

At his blog, Professor Stanley Fish skewers the reasoning behind the creation of a Chair for Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado ... the same university that appointed a Republican fund-raiser as its president.

The reason for the chair. Well, it's because the university is left-leaning and this will help balance things out. Whine, sniff. Gee, sounds kind of like the rationale given for affirmative action, the one rejected by conservatives. You know, there are too many whites getting into our schools scot-free and not enough minorities, so let's redress the problem and give more opportunity to those less fortunate.

Fish writes this about the left-leaning rationale:

Wrong on all counts. First, what does “left-leaning” mean? Does the university issue policy statements on controversial matters? Does its administration come out for gay marriage or for gun control or for reproductive rights? Does the university endorse liberal candidates, or criticize Supreme Court decisions, or contribute to Move If the answer to any of these questions were “yes,” “left-leaning” would be an accurate designation. It would also be a reason to deny the university its tax exempt status and demand that it register as a lobbyist. But of course the university does none of these things. How then does it lean left?

The answer appears a little further down in the story when it is reported that emeritus professor Ed Rozek surveyed the Boulder faculty and found that out of 825, only 23 were registered Republicans.
Gee, every university must have its nutty professor McAdams. Anyway, it is affirmative action. Read more here, if you like. The victim class has struck again.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reverse Birthday Fun

Upon hearing that her daddy would be turning 52 on May 25th, Abby chirped that it was her daddy's reverse birthday. Consequently, the name stuck and while there was no official theme (other than the aside on the invite) reverse birthday was on the lips of many throughout the day. Here are a few pictures of family and dear friends who helped Abby's daddy celebrate.

l-r Here's Blaine (my sister Kate's friend); my little sister Kate; and her eldest, Haley, who happens to share the 25th of May as a birthdate and who turned 20.

l-r Haley's boyfriend, T.J.; Doreen Wigderson, my father, behind my father's head Bill Wigderson and his wife Molly (who made some really incredible potato salad) and my Aunt Sue.

Blogging buddy (and co-UWM graduate) James Wigderson and his cute little girl, Maura.

l-r In the front, facing away is Will, Doreen and James' little boy; that's my wife's little sister Kim holding up our little angel, Quin; and my other little sweetheart, Abby.

l-r Four old codgers and one lovely lady ... Tim Heilman; the birthday boy; Steve Kissinger and his wife Lynn; and Dave Fellenz.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

WD-40 Helps the Spin

Rick Esenberg, esteemed Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Marquette University recently wrote in the comment section at Illusory Tenant regarding John Hagee's ties to John McCain:

He's not and never was McCain's pastor. He's some guy that endorsed him and there isn't a shred of evidence that McCain knew anything about him other than that he was a religious leader of some prominence. There is no equivalence between McCain/Hagee and Obama/Wright.
I hate to say Rick's fibbing, because having only met him once and shared only a couple hurried pleasantries over burnt coffee and stale doughnuts, he did not seem the type to prevaricate. It may be more accurate to say he's bending the truth, spinning furiously (those desk chairs at Marquette are kept nicely oiled I've heard) or better yet, stating his opinion without any facts to back it. Because, you know, this is pretty damning from Editor and Publisher, March 20, 2008 ...

In an interview that will appear in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, controversial televangelist Rev. John Hagee declares, "It's true that [John] McCain's campaign sought my endorsement."

McCain has attempted to distance himself from some of Hagee's views, much as Barack Obama has done in relation to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But unlike McCain, Obama has not stood on stage with Wright and accepted his accolades this year.
All right, the article doesn't come right out and say McCain sought Hagee out. Nor does it say anything about Hagee being McCain's pastor. I've no gripe there. There have been no reports of McCain sitting in on one of Haggee's megachurch sessions. So we should give the presumptive Republican candidate, and Rick, some slack, right?

Well, then ... maybe not. Here is a link to an interview McCain did with George Stephanopoulus on ABC News (sorry for the ad). With about seven minutes left in the video, McCain drops the bombshell that he did seek out the endorsement from Hagee.

Hmmm. What was that Rick wrote? “... there isn't a shred of evidence that McCain knew anything about him other than that he was a religious leader of some prominence.” Yes, with some prominent baggage. I wonder how many white supremacist groups McCain has sought endorsements from without, you know, doing a little detective work?

What do you think is worse? Pandering blindly because one is so desperate to win that he doesn't care whose endorsements he receives, or a man who found a community to share his faith with and found it difficult to break ties with the goofy uncle who was known to say the occasional stupid thang.

Or the professor furiously spinning away ... again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Backyard Views

The garden and patio area is coming around nicely; recovering from the winter slam. The arbor vitaes suffered a little from the weight of snow, but otherwise survived. Here are some pictures around the patio, along the side of the house and views of the new play area for the kids.

It's a Beautiful Day

Off to a good start today.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius is an amazing person. He was born without tibias and had his lower legs amputated when he was young. Yet, he won the right to compete for a spot in the 2008 Olympics today after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled the carbon fiber blades he uses to run did not provide him a mechanical advantage. Here is as link to the story. How soon before he will be referred to as simply the sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

Perhaps it's not too late for science to figure a way to implant a heart and soul into the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

btw: I thought of the title for this post when I first saw the video, but someone else beat me to it in actual use. Still, it's a cool title and the movie by the same name is one of my favorites, so what the hell.

The times, they are a-Changin'

For some, increased African-American participation in the electoral process due to excitement generated by Barack Obama's candidacy is racist because the vast majority of them will vote for Obama, not for a white candidate. Of course, this kind of attitude begs the question: what about the decades of white refusal in large numbers to vote for any African-American candidate. From the NY Times:

... in Southern states with large black populations, like Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia, an energized black electorate could create a countervailing force, particularly if conservative white voters choose not to flock to Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, predicts “the largest black turnout in the history of the United States” this fall if Mr. Obama is the nominee.

To hold these states, Republicans may have to work harder than ever. Already, turnout in Democratic primaries this year has substantially exceeded Republican turnout in states like Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Some analysts suggest that North Carolina and Virginia may even be within reach for the Democratic nominee, and they point to the surprising result in a Congressional special election in Mississippi this week as an indicator of things to come.

What goes around comes around.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Herculean Feat

From my mum ...

This young man is lucky to have survived. Read caption under picture.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

El camino del Rey

Whoa. If you are afraid of heights, this will freak you out. It did me. Watch it in full screen. The effect is better.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Childish Superstition

Albert Einstein described belief in God as "childish superstition" and said Jews were not the chosen people, in a letter to be sold in London this week, an auctioneer said Tuesday.

The father of relativity, whose previously known views on religion have been more ambivalent and fuelled much discussion, made the comments in response to a philosopher in 1954.

As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish people but said they "have no different quality for me than all other people".

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.

"No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this," he wrote in the letter written on January 3, 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, cited by The Guardian newspaper.
The German-language letter is being sold Thursday by Bloomsbury Auctions in Mayfair after being in a private collection for more than 50 years, said the auction house's managing director Rupert Powell.

In it, the renowned scientist, who declined an invitation to become Israel's second president, rejected the idea that the Jews are God's chosen people. "For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions," he said.

"And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people."

And he added: "As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

Previously the great scientist's comments on religion -- such as "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind" -- have been the subject of much debate, used notably to back up arguments in favour of faith.

Powell said the letter being sold this week gave a clear reflection of Einstein's real thoughts on the subject. "He's fairly unequivocal as to what he's saying. There's no beating about the bush," he told AFP.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Again With the Heart ... Damn

As I reported almost exactly one month ago, I had to make an emergency visit to Froedert for an irregular heart beat (arrhythmia) and rapid heart rate (tachyardia). Within three hours or so, my heart went back into rhythm and I was sent home.

Well, this past Thursday, it happened again. It was about 6:45 am. I had just gotten back inside from taking the dog for its morning constitutional when I began feeling the familiar symptoms: a knot in the bottom of my throat that soon branched to the rest of my neck and head as an uncomfortable pressure. I checked my pulse and it was erratic. Damn!

I told my wife. She canceled her work day and took me back to Froedert. By this time I was feeling perilously close to passing out. However, by 11:00 am, my heart was back into rhythm (with the help of some meds delivered by IV). However, I was informed this time my stay was to be overnight, at least.

Anyway, again, I'm fine. All tests showed that the heart is in good shape physically, and blood pressure is fine, too. I am now taking a med that will help keep my heart rate normal, though the heart may go into irregular beats again. That one can live with ... the high speed race is potentially dangerous. I do have to wear a medical holter to monitor my heart for 48 hours, including all activities. Those are none of your business, dear readers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It's Injection Time Again

One of my biggest objections with those on the right is their raw support for capital punishment (not all).

It seems to me that the the wrong focus, recently, was pressed upon the Supreme Court for review. I agree with John Holdridge, director of the A.C.L.U. Capital Punishment Project. It is not the method of execution that should have been reviewed, but the issue of “poor people getting lousy lawyers.”

Let me add, prosecutors whose zeal overwhelms their ability to discern right from wrong should be removed from their posts immediately. Witness the case below.

The court-appointed trial lawyers for Mr. Hoffman, convicted of killing a jewelry store owner during a robbery, were not told that the main witness against him had been paid for his cooperation and was given immunity from prosecution and a reduced sentence for bank robbery. Mr. Cheshire said that a copy of the district attorney’s notes was altered to conceal those facts before they were provided to the defense for discovery. Mr. Hoffman was released in December.


The man who prosecuted Mr. Jones, however, does not concede that the defendant was innocent. The prosecutor, G. Dewey Hudson, said that he still believed that Mr. Jones was involved in the murder, but that he could not retry him because crucial witnesses had died and one had recanted.

“It has taken 15 years for the court system to make the determination that Mr. Jones’s original counsel was ineffective,” Mr. Hudson said in a statement released Friday. “As a result of this delay, the State has been severely handcuffed in its obligation to prosecute Mr. Jones for the murder of Leamon Grady.

Handcuffed in its obligation to prosecute? I thought Mr. Jones was already prosecuted successfully. What Hudson really means is the state was handcuffed in its obligation to “execute.”

So much for the Constitution and the right to a fair trial. Come to think of it, be very frightened because the state of Wisconsin just elected a judge who thinks much like Mr. Hudson.

ACLU for Everyone

I always find the condemnations of the ACLU from those on the right to be petty and uninformed. This is especially true in light of the numerous times that those on their side have been supported by the ACLU. Thanks to Midtopia for making this list possible (and saving me oodles of time).

2004: Indiana Civil Liberties Union defends the rights of Baptist minister to preach his message on public streets.

2004: After ACLU intervention on behalf of Christian valedictorian, Michigan high school agrees to stop censoring religious yearbook entries.

2004: ACLU of Washington defends right of evangelical minister to preach on sidewalks.

2004: ACLU of Virginia threatens lawsuit and officials agree not to prohibit baptisms on public property in Falmouth Waterside Park in Stafford County.

2004: ACLU of Nevada supports free speech rights of evangelists to preach on the sidewalks of the Strip in Las Vegas.

2004: ACLU of Nebraska defends church facing eviction by the City of Lincoln.

2003: ACLU of Rhode Island supports rights of carolers to sing outside women's prison on Christmas Eve. Prison officials back down, agree to let the caroling take place.

2003: ACLU of Massachusetts defends students punished for distributing candy canes with religious messages.

2002: ACLU of Pennsylvania files discrimination lawsuit over denial of zoning permit for African American Baptist church.

2002: ACLU of Massachusetts files brief supporting right of Church of the Good News to run ads criticizing the securalization of Christmas and promoting Christianity as the "one true religion" after the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Agency refuses to allow the ads on subways.

2002: ACLU of Iowa supports right of students to distribute Christian literature in public schools during non-instructional times. Files amicus brief in case for students barred from doing so in Davenport.

2002: ACLU helps Reverend Jerry Falwell win ruling that state of Virginia must allow churches to incorporate. (Of course, this did not stop Falwell from thundering on about the evils of the ACLU)

2002: ACLU defends Christian church's right to run "Anti-Santa" ads in Boston subways.

2001: ACLU of Utah negotiates settlement enabling evangelical Christian ministry to set up booth at state fair on same terms as other vendors. Group previously had been excluded from the fair because some patrons objected to content of their message.

2000: ACLU of Maryland supports Baltimore police officer suspended for wearing his hair in locks for religious reasons.

1999: The ACLU of Maryland assists the March for Life Committee in getting a permit for an anti-abortion march in Annapolis without having to pay a $5,400 fee the city was seeking. The ACLU worked with the American Center for Law & Justice to revise a proposed city ordinance so as to keep free speech free.

1999: ACLU of West Virginia files suit on behalf of a minister who declined, for religious reasons, to have his photograph taken for a driver license.

1998: ACLU of New Jersey files a lawsuit on behalf of the right of two police officers in Newark to wear beards as a matter of religious freedom. As Muslims, the officers wore beards as part of their religious beliefs.

1998: ACLU of Eastern Missouri wins job back and permission to wear pin for a nurse who lost her job because she refused to remove a cross-shaped lapel pin from her uniform. The hospital had claimed the nurse violated its employee dress code when she expressed her Christian beliefs by wearing the pin.

1997: Arizona Civil Liberties Union sues City of Phoenix to challenge an ordinance under which the City refused to allow the Children of the Rosary, an anti-abortion group, to place ads on City buses. The lawsuit was filed jointly with the American Center for Law and Justice.

1996: ACLU of Virginia files lawsuit for church in Richmond threatened with closure of its Sunday meal program by city officials because of zoning regulations.

1995: ACLU of Washington supports right of a Baptist minister to distribute religious tracts in a park in Renton after police asked him to desist because he lacked City permission. The City relented after the ACLU pointed out that the law cited against the minister applied only to commercial activities.

1995: ACLU of Vermont wins ruling from state Human Services Board waiving state Social Welfare Dept. requirement for use of Social Security numbers by students receiving Medicaid and food stamp benefits. Their parents believed that such permanent numbers represent mark of the Anti-Christ, according to the Book of Revelations. ACLU argued that their religious beliefs could be protected by use of random identifying numbers.

1995: ACLU of Massachusetts successfully defended rights of prisoners to possess and use religious articles in their cells. Worcester County Sheriff had seized rosaries, prayer beads, religious medals, books and symbols, claiming they were signs of gang membership. ACLU of MA filed suit on behalf of the prisoners' rights to practice their religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and the state constitution.

1995: ACLU of Massachusetts filed friend of the court brief in support of two women who were fired for refusing to work at the racetrack on Christmas Day.

1995: ACLU of Iowa successfully sued City of Waterloo to defend right of conservative Christian activist to broadcast on public access television.

1994: ACLU of Rhode Island files a federal lawsuit on behalf of the RI State Right to Life Committee, the RI State Rifle and Revolver Association and numerous other non-profit groups challenging a House of Representatives rule that bars private, but not government, lobbyists from the floor of the House while it is in session.

1994: ACLU of Pennsylvania assisted a pregnant 17-year-old whose parents wanted her to have an abortion she didn't want. She had moved away from home to continue her pregnancy, but her parents called police to have her brought home. ACLU convinced officials to let her continue her pregnancy and live away from parents.

1993: ACLU successfully defends the right of a woman to refuse, on religious grounds, to submit to a court-ordered caesarian section.

1993: ACLU of Northern California defends an 8th-grade student's right to wear a shirt saying "Real Women Love Jesus" in school by writing letters to principal. Result: School district lifts ban on shirt.

1993: ACLU of New Jersey files an amicus brief on behalf of anti-abortion picketers. "Our defense of freedom of speech clearly cannot vary, and has not varied, with the views expressed." -- ACLU attorney Frank Corrado.

1993: ACLU of Florida offers legal assistance to Operation Rescue, who refused the offer.

1993: ACLU joins battle to overturn a court ruling which banned a minister from holding meetings at a public school in New York State.

1992: ACLU of Rhode Island files a friend-of-the-court brief challenging a state judge's increase of bail for anti-abortion defendants, charged with obstructing a clinic, who refused to provide their Social Security numbers.

1991: ACLU of Northern California offers support for man arrested for displaying photographs of human fetuses. "The ACLU is pro-choice, but the fact that we might disagree with their message would never dissuade us from defending their right to speak out." --Elaine Elinson, Public Information director, ACLU-Northern California.

1990: ACLU of Southern California files a brief supporting Operation Rescue's appeal of a federal judge's ruling upholding the use of "pain compliance" techniques by L.A. police.

1990: ACLU of Rhode Island files a friend-of-the-court brief in state Supreme Court in support of anti-abortion protesters challenging the constitutionality of a town ordinance limiting residential picketing.

1990: ACLU of Central Florida backs televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker's attempt to challenge to zoning laws in Orlando, claiming the law's prohibition of churches in industrial zones violates church/state separation.

1990: ACLU of Iowa supports anti-abortionists' challenge to an Iowa City picketing ordinance.

1989: ACLU of Connecticut offers assistance to Operation Rescue demonstrators subjected to pain compliance holds. ACLU state director calls for state legislature to hold hearings on the issue and consideration forbidding their use.

1988: ACLU of Rhode Island favorably settles an administrative complaint challenging the use on police applicants of a standardized psychological test which asks questions relating to fundamentalist religious beliefs.

1982: ACLU of Rhode Island mounts a successful federal challenge on behalf of an unendorsed Democratic right to life candidate, to a state law allowing only political party committees to hold raffles to raise funds for political campaigns.

The next time alleged professor John McAdams rails about secular liberals and their supposed intolerance, refer him or any of his uninformed associates here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Knife Wouldn't Have Done This

Yes, but those gun safety classes will ensure this kind of thing never happens.

A sport utility vehicle was tailgating a car on a rural Washington County highway late Saturday before it pulled alongside and someone inside fired a gun, critically injuring a girl sleeping in the back seat, according to two people close to another teen in the car.

Monday, May 5, 2008

McAdams, Sykes Against Free Speech

This clinches it ... I absolutely will not be spending any excess dollars at American TV after its cave in to John (No Way He's a Perfesser) McAdams and Charlie (Liar) Sykes. Those who scream loudest whenever there is a sniff of disagreement from the left, calling it attempts to shut the right up, apparently have no problem when the shoe is on the other foot.

Shame on Marquette for continuing to employ this stooge. I'd place shame on Charlie, but he knows no shame anyway so what is the point?