John Wayne is the Duke. Elvis is the King.

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

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bush’s Confessed Incompetence



Alan Keyes, a former Ambassador to the United Nations and Presidential Candidate, gave a speech last week in Provo, Utah on the issue of US immigration policy. Those interested in reading the transcript or downloading an mp3 file of the speech can visit Alan Keyes' website here.

The speech was quite long – about an hour in length. I trust that most readers have heard quite a bit on this subject – everything from “militarize the border and throw them all out” to “open the borders and give them all amnesty”. Rather than go through all the points of Keyes’ speech, I will simply state that it is safe to say that Keyes subscribes to the “militarize and deport” philosophy.

I reference the speech for one major reason. Keyes delivered a stinging assessment of the President. Here is an edited excerpt.

Keyes: I watched the President's speech on [immigration] and at the moment when he looked the American people in the eye and said, "We're not in full control of our borders," I found myself totally gasping in disbelief…. I'm sitting there listening to a president halfway through the sixth year of his term of office, into the second term, he's been reelected and everything, and he's sitting there looking at us and saying…"I have not done my job for the last six years"--and then announcing, as if we're supposed to be enthusiastic about this, "Now I'm going to do it!"

This is one of the reasons I have always admired Ambassador Keyes. I may not always agree with him, but it can not be denied that he is an eleoquent, straight-shooting man of principle. A statesman! Not a politician.

That statement made me sit back and rethink my position on the immigration issue, particularly as it applied to the Mexican border. I mulled over everthing from immigration law, our political system and the humanitarian issues as they applied to the immigrants and US citizens.

For starters, most of the so-called "illegals" were invited here! When I say invited, I don’t mean that they were literally sent invitation cards in the mail and asked to RSVP. Rather, corporations in this country were hungry for cheap labor. Corporate America could not force Americans to work for the pitiful wages they were offering, and involuntary servitude (slavery) was out of the question - thanks to the 13th Amendment. So the corporations did the next best thing – they exploited third world labor. In most cases, they just moved their operations overseas. In other cases, they encouraged the labor to come here, i.e. they “invited” the Mexicans.

Our government knew it. The sad fact is that our elected officials simply turned a blind eye to it - so long as the endorsements, campaign contributions, and kick-backs kept rolling in. Is it any wonder that they are running scared over the possibility that their congressional offices could be searched. As P.J. O’Rourke so aptly put it, our government is nothing more than a Parliament of Whores.

So we invited them. And they came! Now we want them to leave.

Many of the invited immigrants are hard-working people just trying to better their lives - much like our grandparents and great-grandparents did. Many of them started families here. Are we to deport them now that we have already used and exploited them? Or should we keep them here under GW’s guest-worker program and continue to exploit them while denying them a voice in government? Fortunately, these are not the only choices we have.

When you really break the issue down, it is our elected officials - from GW Bush on down – who failed in their duty to enforce our existing immigration laws. They are the ones who should be punished and thrown out of office. As for the immigration question, there are many related issues that I will not cover here, such as entitlements, drug-trafficking, terrorism, etc. that also need to be dealt with. I will save those issues for another time. For now, I will stick to the problem of the immigrants who come here for jobs.

I think there are a number of steps that should be taken. First, our government must get control of the border. If that means militarization or a fence, then fine! We must plug up the holes before we can begin bailing out the boat. Controlling the border is not as hard to do as GW pretends it is. If a group of grass-roots volunteers can get control of parts of the border, there is no reason our National Guard troops can not do the same. Just roll out the Guard and build the friggin’ fence. Second, we should grant amnesty to the immigrants (and their families) that are contributing members of society. It would not be fair to make the immigrants, whom they invited here to be exploited, suffer for the government's derelictions. Third, we need to create a window – say five years – during which all the immigrants who are here need to register or apply for citizenship. Those undocumented immigrants caught here after that time should be deported! Fourth, corporations that continue to hire illegals should be very heavily fined. That would translate into no jobs for illegals - eliminating a great part of the incentive that entices the immigrants to climb the fence or swim the Rio Grande.

These suggestions may not add up to an ideal solution - perhaps there is no such solution. The bottom line is this - our government created the current problem through their own negligence and ineptness, now they have to fix it in a realistic and humanitarian manner.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Get-Out-of-Jail Free, Part II

The post below was originally written in response to a comment made by Roy over at Roy's Corner Store. Check out his blog when you get a chance.

I reproduced part of that response here, as I think it is important to point out the potential downside of the "No-Knock" legislation. I did not want it too be buried in a place where it had less of chance of being seen (not that many people read my blog to begin with). Anyway, here it is, out in the open.

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As far as No-Knock goes, I think the potential danger here is that the ruling party could use this ruling as a tool to target polical rivals or leaders of politically motivated action groups like EarthFirst! or MoveOn.org. or whoever.

Anyone remember the King Alfred Plan?

It is not hard to come up with some charges of drug possession or whatever – be they trumped up or legit – to try and take down the leaders of these groups. Similarly, there is also the fear of the overzealous cop knowingly following the lead of unreliable info and engaging on a witch-hunt for a chance of making that “big bust” in an attempt to get accommodations and/or promotions.

Reminds me of the Gil Scott-Heron poem No-Knock, which was written in protest of the no-knock legistlation supported by attorney general John Mitchell in the early 70's.

No-Knock
From the album Free Will

You explained it to me, but I must admit,
But just for the record you are talking shit.
Long rap about no-knock being legislated
For the people you always hated.
In this hell-hole you weave, called home.

No-knock the man will say
To keep that man from beating his wife
No-knock the man will say
To protect people from themselves.

No-knocking, head rocking, intershocking ,
Shooting, cussing, killing & crying,
Lying and being white.

No-knock

No-knock on my brother Fred Hampton,
Bullet holes all over the place,
No-knock on my brother Michael Harris,
Jammed a shot gun against his skull

For My protection?
Who is going to protect me from you?
The likes of you? The nerve of you!

[edit]

If you are wise no-knocker,
You’ll tell your no-knocking lackeys

No-knock on my brother’s head,
No-knock on my sisters’s head,
No-knock on my brother’s head,
No-knock on my sisters’s head,

And double-lock your door,
Cause soon,
Someone will be no-knocking…
For you!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

No More "Get-Out-of-Jail-Free" Cards



"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" - Constitution of the United States, Fourth Amendment


Late last week, the SCOTUS ruled that the government does not have to forfeit evidence gathered during improperly conducted “no knock” searches.

The majority opinion issued by Justice Scalia centered on defendants who are set free due to the fact that otherwise valid evidence is excluded from court. Scalia concluded that the social cost of maintaining the exclusionary rule is simply too high. He pointed out that in many cases, it resulted in the suppression of evidence in othewise solid cases, resulting in “setting the guilty free and the dangerous at large” – essentially giving them a “get-out-of-jail-free card”.

Scalia explained that the so-called “knock-and-announce” rules were instituted for three main reasons: (1) to “[protect] human life and limb, because an unannounced entry may provoke violence in supposed self-defense by the surprised resident, (2) to give individuals “ the opportunity to comply with the law and to avoid the destruction of property occasioned by a forcible entry” and (3) to protect “those elements of privacy and dignity that can be destroyed by a sudden entrance.

Scalia continued, "What the knock-and-announce rule has never protected...is one's interest in preventing the government from seeing or taking evidence described in a warrant. Since the interests that were violated…have nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence, the exclusionary rule is inapplicable,"

Civil liberties groups and other liberal commentators were quick to point the finger at the Bush White House and the recently confirmed SCOTUS justices. They tossed around their incendiary rhetoric - laden with terms such as facism and police state. They also expressed fears that the ruling could encourage police with search warrants to conduct more aggressive raids.

Quite frankly, I do not see what the liberals are all up in arms about. Under the ruling, police still need to have a search warrant to enter a home or other property, and there is nothing to prevent a person from suing the police if they believe that their civil rights were violated. In addition, it does not prevent the exclusion of evidence obtained in illegal warrantless searches.

What the ruling does do is give police more effective measures for prosecuting criminals. The previous “knock-and-annouce” rules gave criminals time to destroy evidence or prepare weapons for defense. Now they will not have the time to do that. The ruling also prevents sleazy defense attorneys from getting their otherwise guilty clients from getting off scott-free due to legal technicalities.

I suppose that the fear of “more aggressive police raids” may hold some validity, but that may not be as far reaching as liberals are leading us to believe. I beleive police will tread cautiously here. For starters, they do put themselves under additional risks during "no-knock" entries, and therefore will proceed cautiously. In addition, if too many mistakes or unjustifed searches are made, cases like this one may very well end up back in SCOTUS, and law enforcement would lose a valuable prosecution tool.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cold Impersonal Darkness or the Hand of God?



I hate to admit it, but Ann Coulter’s June 7th column, entitled “Hey You, Browsing 'Godless' — Buy the Book or Get Out!” was a real letdown for me. Ann Coulter is still one of my heroes, but like hillbilly crooner Steve Earle says (paraphrasing), ‘Sometimes it is our heroes that disappoint us the most’.

Although I still maintain a “certain fondness” for Ms. Coulter, I believe I have moved beyond the stage of the involuntary nocturnal emission. But thanks to my friends over at the church of liberalism, voluntary auto-manipulation is still a viable option, should the mood strike.

In the above-referenced column, the beloved Ms. Coulter suggests that Darwinism is incompatible with a belief in God. Like so many issues in the political realm, extremists on both sides of the argument have dominated the debate. As such, this issue is being painted black and white. It seems that we only have two options to choose from. We can choose to believe that God is real and He created man from dust (Gen 2: 7) or there is no god and we are just products of an impersonal evolutionary process.

I guess if you are an extremist, then these are your only options. For the neo-Darwinists, God is not a measurable quantity and therefore can not be included in any scientific theory regarding the origin of man. (Incidentally, this is why Creationism has no place in the science class). At the other end of the spectrum lurks the Christian fundamentalist. For the fundamentalist, the Bible is the literal word of God. Case closed!

If on the other hand, one were to actually exercise the cognitive faculties endowed upon him by the creator, perhaps he would realize that evolution is not incompatible with a belief in God.

For such a thing to happen, the extremists on both sides would have to abandon their closely held ideologies and expand their comfort zones. Personally, I do not see that happening. As such, I would suggest removing them from the debate. This is my soapbox, so that is what I will do.

For starters, I believe in God. And I believe He created man in his own image and likeness – just like the good book says he did (Gen 1: 26). I also believe that the Bible is not the literal word of God. It is an allegorical representation of His words as perceived by those who were inspired to put those words to paper – or papyrus as the case may be. Any rational examination of the Bible will make this apparent to all who have eyes to see it. Take the Noah’s Ark story as an example (Gen 6-7). The Bible is explicit is detailing the actual dimensions of the ark (300 x 50 x 30 cubits). Noah was told to take two of every animal on board. Although I do not have my calculator handy, a quick thumbnail calculation tells me that there was simply not enough physical space on the boat for that many beasts – barring a miracle of course.

The creation story should be looked at the same way – as an allegory. It was a story told to men in a way they could understand it. Accepting the Bible as allegorical does not require one to abandon any notion of God. And it does not diminish the inherent truths laid out on its pages.

Likewise, neo-Darwinists should not dismiss the hand of God in the creation of man. Just because you can not measure something does not mean that it does not exist. Science has a long tradition of bridging the realms of the quantifiable with the philosophical, as indicated by the suffix PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). Unfortunately, the philosophical realm has gone the way of the Hippocratic oath and has apparently been banished from modern academic training. As a result, the modern crop of PhD grads are, for the most part, nothing more that glorified science technicians. Most lack the ability to think independently and/or are afraid to challenge established scientific dogma (I will take up this issue in a future blog article).

I would suggest that evolution and creationism are not incompatible. All that is required to synthesize the two schools of though is to accept that at some point during the evolution of men from monkeys, God gave his blessing to the process. As Cardinal John Henry Newman said in 1868, “the theory of Darwin...may simply be suggesting a larger idea of divine providence and skill.

In other words, God created man, and Darwin has a pretty good idea of how He did it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I’ll Be A Monkey's Uncle


Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!


As the late Dr. Bill Marks, my Genetics professor at Villanova University, used to say, the simplest way to define evolution is the change in the frequency of alleles (genes) over time. As changes in the frequency of many alleles begin to accumulate within populations, those populations begin to diverge from their ancestral group. At some point, a new species emerges. Granted, this is a gross oversimplification, but will suffice for the present time. Those interested in a more detailed explanation can go here.

When one considers the origin of man, evolution contends that man and apes arose from a common ancestor. Certainly there is a great deal of controversy on this subject, particularly when the Bible is thrown into the mix. Creationism and intelligent design aside, the vast majority of scientific evidence supports the claims made by neo-Darwinists.

It is not my intention to take up the Darwin vs. Creationism issue here. Anyone interested in reading about that can Google those terms and spend the rest of their natural life in front of their computer. However, spending too much time could result in your removal from the gene pool.

Not to throw more fuel on the fire, but recently this issue got a lot more interesting. Early last month, a group from the Broad Institute published an article in Nature claiming that ”… human and chimpanzee lineages initially diverged, then later exchanged genes...” In other words, humans and chimps interbred.

Wow! Seems that someone must have torn that page out of my Bible.