John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

John Wayne's Holster: March 2006
John Wayne's Holster
Visit my main blog at Monkey Wrench Revival. Visit my birdwatching blog at The Birding Nerd.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bang! Bang! Bang! Who’s There?

When I was a kid, we used to have a sign in the front window of our house. The sign had a picture of a hand pointing a pistol at the reader. The sign read “Never Mind the Dog. Beware of Owner!” Needless to say, our house was never robbed.

Every person should have the right to self-defense. They should be able to protect themselves and their families by whatever means necessary – including deadly force! Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Many states require victims of crimes to withdraw from their attackers rather than defending themselves. Those that do not withdraw risk the chance of criminal prosecution if they kill or seriously injure their perpetrators. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that is the law. Fortunately, the tide is beginning to turn.

A dozen or so states have so-called “castle statutes” on the books. Castle statues essentially allow citizens to use deadly force to protect themselves and their families against intruders in their home. A handful of states are expanding the right of self-defense to public places. Florida was the first state to do so. South Dakota and Indiana recently followed suit. Fifteen other states, including my home state of Pennsylvania, have similar bills under consideration.

Under these new public self-defense laws, a person who is the victim of a crime in a public place has the right to use deadly force to fend of any unlawful entry or attack. In addition, the measures grant immunity from prosecution to those who use deadly force under such circumstances. These laws "make it very clear that the good guy has the advantage, not the bad guy," says Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association.

Personally, I am glad to see this expansion of our rights for self-defense. The liberals in this country, led by groups like the ACLU, have worked diligently to erode our rights. It has gotten to the point where the criminals seem to have more rights and protections than honest citizens. Many citizens are fed up! We are demanding our rights. And that starts with the right to defend ourselves.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Some Poetry for St. Paddy's Day

The Rebel
by Pádraig Pearse

I come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage,
in bondage my mother was born,
I am the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played,
the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them,
they have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine,
the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles,
have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people's masters,
I have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.

And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have gone in want,
while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailers
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!
I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them,
and stronger and purer,
That they have put need of courage,
and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples for whom he died naked, suffering shame.

And I say to my people's masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what we would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men's desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Its Still Too Early for Pro-Lifers to Celebrate

I recently read an article on the New Media Journal which suggested that the end of legalized abortion in the United States may be near. The article highlights recent legislative steps taken by the Pro-Life movement to restrict access to abortion.

Currently, there are about 29 or so states that have so-called informed consent laws which require that women seeking abortions must be given information regarding the “procedure”. Although the information given to women varies from state to state, the informed consent laws do not restrict access to abortion. The goal of these laws is to allow women to make fully informed choice.

In Michigan, there is currently a movement underway to amend the state constitution. According to the amendment, personhood would begin at conception. As New Media Journal points out, “Such a designation would serve to give the unborn constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.”.

Perhaps the strongest challenge to legalized abortion comes from South Dakota. The state recently passed the Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act. The law states that "life begins at the time of conception." In addition, the law makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions, except to save the life of the mother. There is no exception for cases involving rape or incest.

Personally, I applaud South Dakota’s courage on this issue. I hope other states will follow suit.

That being said, I think it is a little premature for we Pro-Lifers to pop the cork on the champagne bottle. The fact that South Dakota governor Mike Rounds signed the bill into law is not the end of the story. Planned Parenthood is preparing to file a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the Human Life Protection Act. In all likelihood, the issue will wind up in SCOTUS.

Despite the Right’s excitement at the recent appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to SCOTUS, in my opinion it is unlikely that the South Dakota law will stand. In order for the law the stand, the court would have to overturn the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and turn the abortion issue back to the individual states.

But that is not going to happen unless the make-up of the court changes more (i.e. Bush makes another appointment).

Take a look at the current members of SCOTUS. As The Baptist Press points out, only two sitting justices (Scalia and Clarence Thomas) have expressed opposition to Roe. It is a widely shared belief among many conservatives that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito would also oppose Roe, but that it not a foregone conclusion. Even if they do oppose Roe, that still only adds up to four votes. The remaining five Justices (John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) have all shown support for Roe. So unless one of them changes their view on the issue, Roe v. Wade will stand!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Villification of Barry Bonds

Sports Illustrated recently released an excerpt from a forthcoming book entitled Game of Shadows, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. The book details alleged steroid use by Giants outfielder Barry Bonds over a period of about five years.

For the record, Bonds has denied knowingly using steroids, and he had never failed a drug test. However, one must admit that the evidence against him is mounting.

Lets just suppose, for the sake of argument, that Bonds did use steroids. So what!

The position that the media and Major League Baseball (MLB) are taking on this issue is ridiculous. Are we supposed to believe that all this steroid business is a shocking revelation to them. And Barry Bonds is the only player who used them. If you believe that, you probably believe Clinton never inhaled and the Iraq war is about spreading freedom and democracy.

MLB and the media both knew steroid use among players was rampant. They turned a blind eye to it. After the last players strike, baseball was in big trouble of loosing its fan base. To put people in the stands, the league took a number of steps to make the game more exciting. They started building parks with shorter outfields, wound the baseballs tighter, and allowed the players to use hard maple bats. This increased the number of home runs and made the games more exciting for fans to watch.

As Michael Reagan points out, the players followed suit. They started “juicing up” themselves with supplements, performance enhancers, and steroids. And MLB knew it. The media knew it as well. But they didn’t care. The headlines were great. Fans were coming to the games and the money was rolling in.

MLB tries to pretend they didn’t know. They will tell you they had a drug testing policy. But the policy in place at the time was a joke, thanks to the MLB Players Association. Testing was infrequent and the penalties were milder than a slap on the wrist.

The league even publicly promoted and celebrated the home run chase by Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire in 1998, despite the fact it was openly known within the league that both players were taking steroids and other supplements. This benign neglect on part of the league was a de facto endorsement of steroid use. Any player wanting to break into the league or players within the league who wanted to keep pace with the McGwire’s and Sosa’s has little choice but to “juice up” or fall between the cracks.

It was recently estimated by MLB players themselves that as many as 65% of the players were using steroids. Obviously, they were all not hitting 70+ home runs a season, like Barry Bonds. So maybe there is something about Bond’s game that just makes him a better player. Maybe the smaller parks, the harder bats, or the tightly wound baseballs have something to do with the inflated home run numbers. Maybe the steroids do too.

So what do we do now? Put an asterisk next to Bond’s numbers? Wipe his name and stats from the books? Toss him out of the league? Make him ineligible for Cooperstown?

I say, leave Bonds alone! He is the best all around player of his time – with or without steroids. He has always had a great eye for the ball. Steroids didn’t change that. He could always hit. Steroids didn't change that. He has always been a great fielder. Steroids didn’t chance that either. And what if it can’t be proven that Bonds used steroids? Should the league act on unproven allegations? After all, he has never failed a drug test.

The steroid problem is much bigger than Barry Bonds. If the league takes any action against him, they will have to take action against the estimated 500 or so players who have also taken steroids. This is something the league simply can not afford to do.

Baseball made their bed. Now they have to lie in it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Passing the Buck on Parental Responsibility

The National Center for Men filed a lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Michigan. The lawsuit, which is being dubbed as Roe v. Wade for Men, is aimed at extending the rights of the father in cases of an unwanted pregnancy. The bottom line of the argument, as reported by CNN, is this: If a pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood.

The suit was filed on behalf of Matt Dubay, who contends that his girlfriend repeatedly told him she could not get pregnant due to a “physical condition”. Well, lo and behold, the girlfriend got pregnant and now has a child. Dubay is currently responsible for paying $500.00 per month in child support. He feels that he shouldn’t have to pay it, and essentially wants the right to opt out of his moral and financial responsibilities for his child.

Let me get my soapbox and a bullhorn. I don't mean to sound like Jerry Falwell here, for I too have committed my share of moral transgressions. But I also had to pay a price for them. Not so for most people.

This lawsuit is ridiculous and shamelessly selfish. Most legal scholars do not feel that the National Center for Men has any chance of winning the lawsuit. I tend to agree. However, the fact that this suit is even being brought to court is nauseating and is a sign that something is dreadfully wrong with the values of our society.

No one wants to be responsible for their actions!

I remember once as a young lad, I drank a few too many shots of Jameson’s at a St. Paddy’s Day party. The next morning, I was “a little green under the gills”, and could not get out of bed. My mother forced me to get up and get my ass out the door to school. Her mantra that morning still rings in my ears – “If you wanna dance, you gotta pay the piper!” It was an important lesson that I never forgot.

It comes down to responsibility. Licentiousness is rampant in our society. Everyone wants to have fun, but no one wants to take responsibility for their actions. It suppose that it is just easier to be irresponsible.

This lawsuit is right up that alley. It represents an undrlying attitude among many men and women in regard to their parental responsibilities. Too many people treat sex as a recreational activity. People are having relations with others that they don’t particularly care for personally – or even worse - people that they do not even know. When a pregnancy results, many women opt out on their responsibilities by seeking abortions. If the woman chooses to have the child, the father may skip town or otherwise neglect his responsibilities toward the child. In recent years, courts have made efforts to track down the so-called “dead-beat dads” and force them to live up to their financial responsibilities.

Now the National Center for Men is seeking to take this issue to the next step – by legally allowing men to opt out of their financial responsibilities for children they do not want. They are essentially taking the Pro-Choice argument to the next level by giving men some say in a decision regarding parenthood.

Personally, I think the whole lawsuit, as well as the whole abortion issue, are both abhorrent. The child in these cases is being treated as if it were a thing, rather than a human person. If people insist on being Pro-Choice, they should make that choice before they pull their pants down.